Today’s Headlines for Thursday, November 29

  • Kling: Car Makers Shift Focus to “Mobility,” but Results May Not Be Benign (Sun-Times)
  • Bill Daley Says Chicago Should Consider a Commuter Tax for Suburbanites (Tribune)
  • Ex-Forest Preserve Worker Accused of DUI in Deadly Crash has been jailed (Tribune)
  • Man Who Fell Onto Tracks While Walking Bike on Platform Is Suing CTA (Sun-Times)
  • Commuters: Using Sand Instead of Salt on CTA Platforms Isn’t Cutting It (CBS)
  • Tribune: Strollers Prevent CTA Bus Drivers From Picking up People in Wheelchairs
  • Big Delays on Metra’s MD-W Line Yesterday Due to Stalled Train in Roselle (WGN)
  • ChiGov.com Looks at the Lincoln Yards TIF Proposal
  • Fundraiser on 12/15 for Scholarship Fund to Honor Alma Zamudio (Block Club)

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  • Chicagoan

    Is the CTA using sand as opposed to salt because the former does less damage than the latter?

  • planetshwoop

    A commuter tax is a terrible, terrible idea. What a small-minded, miserable suggestion from Daley. Commuters already pay for police and firefighter services with the copious sales taxes Chicago adds over other places in the region.

    The city needs revenue. Everyone knows that. But a tax like that is really poorly designed and would do nothing but breed resentment.

  • Courtney

    I believe that’s the case. I feel like I read that earlier this year/ late last year.

  • Tooscrapps

    A per head commuter tax is indeed dumb.

    A better idea would be congestion pricing. It serves the similar purpose, raises revenue, and actually has positive benefits.

  • Courtney

    Congestion pricing with the revenue funding bus-only lanes.

  • Samuel King’s Sun-Times article veers around all of the touchstones of current transit iconology without ever striking gold. As I read it i was able to regularly nod “yes, okay,” but then I would ask myself “and…” And get nowhere.

    The tell is that he misses the biggest touchstone of all: dedicated bus lanes. His degree in urban history must have been earned before Streetsblog and he must not have kept up on current thought beyond the acquisition of buzzwords.

    He has missed the studies that show public transit creating quality urban environments. He has missed the studies that show ride-hailers creating a net increase in congestion. And he has missed the reality that autonomous vehicles also do nothing to reduce congestion. He also does not address the concept of “induced demand.” Where has this man been the last ten years. We here on Streetsblog are more sophisticated transit wise and without a Phd in urban history.

    Perhaps we need to form our own think tank institute and pass on a roll-a-Dex card to the Sun-Times so when they need a filler editorial/letter they can take seriously those of us here who can speak intelligently about transit.

  • Carter O’Brien

    This community would really benefit from some more in-depth research and conversation on the topic of induced demand, because we’re all over the place and the inconsistency is a problem.

    To wit:

    1) are induced demand studies that were made specific to highway lanes and congestion truly applicable on smaller scales in neighborhoods? I think massive projects like the proposed Illiana expressway and the project to remove the infamous Hillside Strangler bottleneck are at one end of that extreme. Both of those connect to larger issues of urban sprawl and related infrastructure and commerce needs. At the other extreme would be weird inconsistent approaches in the City proper where we’ve allowed IDOT to add lanes of traffic in close proximity to expressway entrances and exits, where we have streets that open up from two to four lanes, but only briefly (river crossings, especially), and then the challenge/inconsistency of larger arterial streets on the 8s on the grid, except not always – Kedzie specifically is a weird outlier. Would be better off if Kedzie was more like Western or Ashland, as that would make Sacramento and Kimball less congested? I don’t know – I don’t think anyone has ever studied this (except the lack of a Kedzie bus is certainly disturbing).

    And then 2) if we’re using the broadest definition of induced demand, then this has major implications for so-called “Transit Oriented Development,” which to date has been largely dense, amenity rich housing built for a non-family, upper-income demographic. What are those implications? That by furthering access to transit for this demographic we’re fueling the fires of gentrification and thus actually reducing access to transit for the populations that are most dependent on it. This is turn impacts bus ridership, school enrollments, and so on.

  • I guess I too would appreciate a research list of links around the topic of induced demand. Wouldn’t you be the best person to do that? Maybe not. But I agree it would be useful to have, especially if we go forward with the think-tank institute :).

    Right now Paris is reducing car laneage in the central city. And if ancedotes (or are they doing studies?) indicate that while the remaining streets are maybe more congested, the total number of cars is being reduced. That’s sort of a local effect you wonder about isn’t it?

    That’s a good question. Why no Kedzie bus. But widen it? Heavens no, imho.

    As for your TOD question: family rich amenity apartment buildings are rare birds indeed. At least in my experience. I’ve given it brief thought, like incorporating open-ended play spaces with in high-rises for an easy one. The other huge difficulty is that as soon as a neighborhood is made “safe” enough for free range kids and especially near transit, it gets gentrified out of reach especially affordable units. Well for your and my demographic free range needs.

    Affordable housing is where the distinctions between progressive economics and neo-liberal economics clash dramatically. Neo-liberals want to know how can we reduce social benefits so we can funnel the money into gentrifiable housing. You and I have never seen how a progressive-style economics mayor might work to create affordable housing. My guess is that the Daley-era CHA housing was really a conduit to funnel money to builders. Once built they were not maintained sufficiently neither physically nor socially security wise.

    I don’t recall what Harold was able to due, and maybe nothing because the council was against him for most of his one term plus. It’s a real good question.

    My thinking right now is along the lines of Pawar’s city bank a la North Dakota I assume. And the lines of Ohio accepting bitcoin for taxes. And along the lines of alternate currencies. Could the city create a crypto currency that paid out “Section CH” vouchers to make housing affordable and that receiving landlords could use to pay their taxes with? Governments are supposed to grease economic skids by printing money then taxing it back where it goes astray.

    That sort of thing.

  • sam K

    Huh, I think you missed the point. The whole point of the piece was that even though the auto lobby did terrible things to cities, we should also be wary of the new Uber and Lyft lobby, in spite of their trendy publicity speak about “streets for people” etc.

    I suggest you give it another read, because the piece is saying the opposite of what you think it’s saying. And it does discuss induced demand, how ride-hail increases congestion, and how Uber/Lyft/etc threaten public transit and equity.

    In any case, the purpose wasn’t to advocate for policies like bus lanes, but to identify a pivotal moment: that the auto lobby, which shaped cities for the past 100 years, is giving way to an “urban mobility” lobby that wants to shape cities for its own interests–and not the public’s.

  • It’s easier to criticize when one doesn’t expect the object of criticism to read much less reply. So hey thanks so much.

    I reread your article. It held up to my expectations of intelligent understanding of the issues we are facing today in urban transit. My criticism is actually quite narrow and meant for the Streetsblog audience rather than the audience you were writing to. In my humble opinion, since of course I can’t read your mind.

    It is my strong opinion that the most important thing that cities need to be doing at this moment is one of the most boring, un-exciting, over-looked, cheapest, yet difficult of transit projects, namely bus lanes. Right now, imho, they verge on panacea.

    The fact that you understand the danger that we face today from “new mobility”, and that you are aware of the destructive history of the old “new mobility”, cars, and further recognize just as they claimed for their exclusive use so much of precious urban geometry, and promptly made things worse, that we too will be facing an onslaught of new demands for more of that space… Wait that sentence is too long.

    Yes we can already see that autonomous vehicles will be demanding more pedestrian exclusion zones in order to try to make their technology work (and likely still fail). For that reason it so behooves us to proactively claim that space for buses.

    So no I did not get that from your article; not a single mention of bus lanes; no specific mention of removing pedestrians form city streets for AVs just as they were removed from expressways. You allude to induced demand perhaps. But that is especially not good enough for Sun Times readers. Just as alluding to “induced demand” does not prepare them for writers who use the term without defining and describing it with examples. So yes you are right to describe the effect. But not educating your readers that the effect has a name, yes somewhat jargonish, is, imho, an oversight on your part.

    That’s all. Otherwise your article was a refreshing and enjoyable read. And sorry if i have missed articles you have written for Streetsblog.

  • sam K

    I agree with your points about AVs and bus lanes, but didn’t discuss those in the piece because I thought it strayed from the central theme.

    But, in retrospect, I think it would’ve been good to include a sentence or two stressing the advantages of traditional mass transit compared to Uber/Lyft/GM/whoever else’s vision of urban transportation. The auto lobby obviously didn’t care for buses and trains, and Uber and Lyft don’t seem to care for them either (which isn’t too surprising). I agree–people shouldn’t get distracted by shiny new things when traditional transit has huge, unmatched benefits.