Chicago Gets NYC’s Congestion Pricing Money

The New York State Assembly is doing a great job… for the people of Chicago.

Remember the $354.5 million federal grant that New York City was going to get to implement congestion pricing before the deal collapsed in Albany? US DOT Secretary Mary Peters announced today that Chicago will receive $153 million of New York City’s money for the creation of a new bus rapid transit network, the installation of variable rate parking meters and a few other items.

City Room has the story and the Chicago Tribune also reports:

Federal and city officials announced today an ambitious plan to get more commuters out of their cars by freeing CTA buses from traffic congestion and speeding the ride to and from work in Chicago.

Lanes dedicated to buses-only will be created on four major city corridors that were not immediately identified. One could be Lake Shore Drive.

In addition, buses will make fewer stops-four to five blocks apart. Kiosks will be installed at the bus stops to enable passengers to pre-pay their fares and board quickly once the bus arrives.

Technology will be added to some traffic signals to extend green lights for buses running behind schedule, much like the signal-priority equipment that gives the green to ambulances and fire trucks, officials said. Pace has experimented with the technology on Harlem Avenue in the suburbs.

The plan also calls for new parking meters downtown that would charge more during rush-hour to discourage people from driving there.

Another component of the plan involves creating fees for on-street truck-loading zones downtown.

Last week Peters also announced that Los Angeles would receive $213 million for new HOT lanes

  • Dave

    I think now is the time we ask Silver, Brodsky, Glick and the other CP opponents to show us the money and tell us how we are going to move forward without CP and more importantly without the $850 million we would have received the first year.

    Because of their short-sightedness how long until we have totally regressive transit fare increases? Tax hikes? And eventually tolls on all the bridges into Manhattan.

    They don’t have the answer or the money so can some rich person out there please fund a public ad campaign pointing this out to the general public to get all of these hacks out of office? Fidler I meant to include you too. Mike?

    Those who opposed CP will come to rue the day that by endorsing CP they could have saved the general public from the fare increases we will all soon face. Shame on them.

  • Nemo

    Actually, I’m happy for Chicago. We here in New York don’t deserve the funds. Send them somewhere else where the elected representatives are more deserving.

  • Dave

    But why should the people suffer for the sins of the politicians? Sure the politics in NY suck (of which I am reminded every time I see the convicted criminal Al Sharpton given TV coverage) but is Chicago that much better?

    Albany is sick and needs to be cleansed of the Brunos, Silvers and other probable crooks who hold power. Why do we let them hold power?

    Actually I blame the media who put such intense glare on candidates that no one capable will run. But as usual I digress.

    When subway fares reach $3 and the streets are even more clogged maybe we’ll see change. Too bad we’ll have to pay the price until then.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I think now is the time we ask Silver, Brodsky, Glick and the other CP opponents to show us the money and tell us how we are going to move forward without CP and more importantly without the $850 million we would have received the first year.)

    You got that right, and don’t forget Weiner who promised he would secure additional federal funding if CP did not pass.

    Brodsky has come out in favor of a tax on the rich (including those in New York City) to pay for lower property taxes despite soaring spending outside New York City. Isn’t that the same tax on the rich that was going to be used for transportation? We’ll, no one is talking about raising taxes to use for transportation now that CP is gone.

  • I think the MTA needs to produce a new alternative plan that does not include the “hole”, but just the programs in place with current fundings. And annouce the schedule of fare increases for the next ten years to keep service at same levels as today.

  • AM

    I think there’s a lesson to be learned here.

    Chicago gets $153 million for variable pricing parking meters in its CBD, bus rapid transit investment and some other smaller initiatives. New York City gets $0 for putting forth a bold, but complicated and politically charged cordon pricing plan.

    So I wouldn’t put all the blame on the Assembly for not getting the $350 million for NYC. I’d blame the tunnel vision cordon pricing approach to solving the City’s traffic problems.

    Even the cordon pricing opponents suggested that New York change its approach to focus on easier-to-swallow pricing-based approaches, including: parking meter reform, variable pricing the MTA tunnels, variable priced yellow cab and black car fares, etc.

    But in their zeal, cordon pricing proponents wrinkled their noses at these more incremental steps to reducing traffic. Jeff Zupan (who I hate to pick on ’cause I admire the guy) said:
    “Any alternative plan which does not include some form of congestion pricing will forfeit $354.5 million in federal transportation aid — much of which is dedicated to bus improvements in Brooklyn and Queens.”

    Good luck to you, Chicago. You can thank the Assembly and the cordon pricing zealots for starting the process helping to get your transit system (which is in even worse shape than ours) back in shape.

  • Marty Barfowitz


    The State Assembly “won” this debate and we tend to accept the winners’ story as the official story.

    Which is why, I believe, you and quite a few others give the Assembly way too much credit here.

    Every political entity in the state and a remarkably broad coalition of diverse interests came together behind pricing as a solution for the city’s congestion, transit financing and environmental problems. There were flaws in the Mayor’s lobbying effort, obviously. But to put the blame on the City and the advocacy community is just wrong.

    In the end the Assembly showed a profound lack of seriousness in their consideration of congestion pricing. They rejected this proposal without even a public debate or vote. They did it this way so that they wouldn’t be held accountable. The City’s Assembly delegation essentially ceded transportation policy to the suburbs. To me, this is almost criminal.

    They need to be held accountable. Blame needs to be placed on the political entity that killed the plan and lost the money. We never heard or saw them fire the shot but we know that the body was found in the Assembly Democrats’ conference room.

    100% the blame goes to them. And not Brodsky and the suburbanites but the Glicks, Millmans, Jeffries, Bings and O’Donnells — the city delegation. These are the villains. Don’t get distracted and let them get away with it.

  • It should be mentioned that all of this congestion money was actually bus money that first got taken away from small deserving transit agencies around the country. It’s a money shift. Instead of shifting money, how about we raise money for projects everywhere? I mean gas is $4 a gallon, when are we going to learn to stop building huge roads?

  • Spud Spudly

    Marty, I don’t think anyone’s really “giving the Assembly credit.” I also don’t think they showed a lack of seriousness on the issue. Yes, it was handled in the typically opaque Albany way and we’d all like to see that come to an end, but the Assembly probably gave congestion pricing more thought than it does to 99 percent of the stuff it actually votes on. In the end the majority of the Assembly may have disagreed with CP, but it was certainly given much consideration.

    AM is right in that if you look at where the money is going now there aren’t any CP plans that mirror what NYC was proposing. HOT lanes in Los Angeles tied to both congestion and the number of people in the car are not the same as creating a boundary around a city center. A Chicago-style BRT proposal would probably have gotten the federal cash.

  • Marty Barfowitz


    I’m sorry but you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.

    Did you go to the Traffic Mitigtation Commission hearings and actually listen to Vivian Cook, Denny Farrell and Richard Brodsky? Cook and Farrell were virtually brain dead. Brodsky was fighting for the suburbs. He did a great job.

    Did you go up to Albany or any local district offices and talk to Assembly members about the issue?

    I did.

    For the most part, I found AM’s were completely disengaged from the entire issue. Most of the ones who were “informed” were filled with misconceptions, disinformation and windshield perspective prejudices. They were, for the most part, unwilling or unable to have rational conversation. Almost all had complaints and concerns but were unwilling to turn those into negotiating points to try to get something more for their districts. Many seemed almost resentful that they were, for once, being forced to grapple with a serious and controversial policy issue rather than being told what to do by leadership. In the end, most of them tried to shift blame to the mayor’s “arrogance” and supporters’ “elitism” rather than dealing with anything related to the actual policy itself. Quite a few cited Janette Sadik Khan’s speeding on the Thruway as a reason why they shot down pricing.

    Pathetic. Unacceptable.

    While I’ve heard all about Albany dysfunction and whatnot it was incredible to see it up close and personal. We have stunningly low quality people representing us up in Albany.

    That was the problem with congestion pricing.

  • Spud Spudly

    Marty, maybe they didn’t have a firm grasp of the issues, and maybe they had a different opinion than you did, but if it’s true like you say that many “were, for once, being forced to grapple with a serious and controversial policy issue rather than being told what to do by leadership” then what I said about them giving it more thought than 99% of what they actually vote on is true. I don’t like the way business gets done in Albany either, and I don’t mistake our legislators for rocket scientists, but it sounds from what you say that this is one issue that actually got debated and discussed even if not to the level of your liking.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    It got debated and discussed? Really?

    Where’s the transcript?

    Where’s the roll call vote?

    I see nothing on the record.

  • I mean gas is $4 a gallon, when are we going to learn to stop building huge roads?

    You got that right, Pan! Here’s my nomination for a huge road project that needs to be scaled back. What’s yours?

  • bingo

    So happy you guys in NYC lost the money. Now our beneficent dictator here in Chicago will be able to splurge on another pet project. The lesson of Chicago. Send your mayor on many trips. He went to Paris… we got tree lined streets and floral medians. He went to Denmark, we got bike paths, storage racks, and bike lanes. He went to Brazil, now we get BRT. Now where should we send him to fix our crumbling schools?

  • “Now where should we send him to fix our crumbling schools?”


  • JF

    The lesson of Chicago. Send your mayor on many trips.

    I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if NYC wound up like Bermuda.

  • Hilary

    I am very interested to see how the idea of opening up Lake Shore Drive to BRT is developed. As it is, Lake Shore Drive is an excellent model for the NY parkways on which it was patterned. It has the same city-state and DOT-parks shared jurisdictions, same waterfront park setting, and same commuter use. Yet Chicago, under its park-loving mayor and cooperative state DOT, has somehow kept it beautiful and functional as a park. If BRT could allow more people to take this scenic route without degrading the park infrastructure or experience for park users, I say great. It might be coupled with a reduction of private vehicles, and restrictions on emissions/size/advertising/noise etc. Please, Chicago, show us the way.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    From my experience, BRT on Lake Shore Drive wouldn’t accomplish much – unless it had lots of feeder routes. I attended the University of Chicago, and one of the primary ways to get from Hyde Park to the Loop is the #6 Jeffrey Express, which goes down Lake Shore Drive. I also took similar routes going north for medical appointments.

    Maybe it’s because I wasn’t taking the bus at the peak rush hours (the one time I commuted to the Loop I took Metra), but I remember very few traffic jams on Lake Shore Drive itself. Instead, where the buses got stuck was on Michigan Avenue in the Loop, and on the streets of Hyde Park and Lincoln Park.

    If the city is serious about moving buses, the one corridor that needs dedicated, separated bus lanes more than any other is Michigan Avenue.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Maybe it’s because I wasn’t taking the bus at the peak rush hours (the one time I commuted to the Loop I took Metra), but I remember very few traffic jams on Lake Shore Drive itself. Instead, where the buses got stuck was on Michigan Avenue in the Loop, and on the streets of Hyde Park and Lincoln Park.)

    I took the bus at rush hour, up to Wrigley, a couple of years ago. The bus moved at the speed limit the whole way. Michigan Avenue north of the loop wasn’t bad either, by NYC standards. In Chicago more people ride the bus than the subway/el, even though the buses themsevles were (are?) old beaters by NYC standards.


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