Traffic jams cost Chicagoland residents more than $7.3 billion every year in wasted time and fuel, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council’s 2008 report “Moving at the Speed of Congestion.” And we’re not headed in the right direction: The share of drive-alone commuters in the region increased from 46 percent to 51 percent from 1990 to 2008.
This is “not a sustainable trend, not something we want to see continue in the future,” said MPC executive vice president Peter Skosey in his opening remarks at Friday’s Making the Case for Commute Options roundtable.
“Employers are a great way to reach employees and begin to change some of these patterns,” Skosey said. “Indeed, that’s what MPC embarked on a couple years ago.” The event unveiled the organization’s report, “Chicago Demands Transportation Management: The Case for TDM in Chicagoland.” TDM, short for “transportation demand management,” strengthens commute options other than driving alone. And in 2014 MPC wants to promote a region-wide TDM program, in partnership with agencies like the Regional Transportation Authority.
The three speakers Friday included Kate Gantzer-Hayes from Goose Island Beer Company, David Kleinwachter from Christopher Burke Engineering, and Thomas Cerny, director of TDM services for URS Corporation, a transportation engineering firm.
In 2011 and 2012, MPC ran a pilot TDM program called Commute Options, tailoring surveys for 16 different companies across the region, as well as recommendations to cut single-occupant vehicle usage. MPC then conducted another survey to assess changes. Goose Island and Christopher Burke Engineering were two of participating companies.
“My office is trying to lead by example,” Kleinwachter said. “We’re trying to be the shining star for offices around us.” His firm is located in Rosemont, less than a mile from the eponymous Blue Line stop and less than three miles from four Metra stops. However, last-mile connections are lacking. “We are surrounded by pavement,” he said. “It’s easy to see why people travel here by car. It’s accessible [by car] from every direction.” According to survey results, 80 percent of employees drive five days a week.