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New Chicago Task Force Report Has Guidelines for Shared Mobility and AV Policy

Photo: City of Chicago

Many Chicagoans would argue that Rahm Emanuel has been pushing hard for the approval of some dubious projects before leaving office, including the $6 billion Lincoln Yards development, the $95 million West Side police and fire academy, and Elon Musk's (supposedly) $1 billion O'Hare Express scheme.

But Emanuel did a solid for the next administration by being proactive about policy challenges that will likely arise in a future where shared mobility and autonomous vehicle technology become increasing dominant forces in society. In September, the mayor announced the creation of a new transportation and mobility task force headed by Ray LaHood, Barack Obama’s former U.S. Department of Transportation secretary.

Today Emanuel released a report outlining the recommendations of the task force, titiled "Roadmap for the Future of Transportation and Mobility in Chicago." The document includes guidance for planning, evaluating and managing current and future mobility services along with integrating new technology into the city’s transportation network.

“Chicago has a world-class transportation system, and we must continue to modernize our mobility services and transit infrastructure to better serve residents, businesses, and visitors,” Emanuel said in a statement. “With Ray LaHood’s leadership and expertise, we brought together the best and the brightest to help inform how Chicago can move forward and build on our status as a leader in transportation.”

While researching the report, the 20-member task force collected input to more than 40 industry professionals and stakeholders. The task force looked at challenges within Chicago’s existing transportation network, from accessibility concerns to the rise in ride-hailing trips and congestion issues, plus the lack of sufficient funding for infrastructure. The task force also brainstormed about the future of transportation, including AVs, electrification, new micro-mobility services, the growth of freight delivery, and data collection and data sharing issues.   

The cover of the new report.
The cover of the new report.
The cover of the new report.

“Through Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago’s transportation system has become a model for the country,” LaHood said in a statement.  “This report doubles down on the investments already made to modernize the City’s mobility infrastructure and provides a vision for the future of transportation in Chicago.”

The new report provides a set of principles for government officials and stakeholders to follow for policy development, infrastructure planning, the launch of new programs and pilot studies, and studies of new innovations and services.  These principles include:

    • A transportation system that is safe for all users
    • Mobility choices that are accessible, equitable, affordable and non-discriminatory
    • Economic development that is inclusive and innovative
    • A city that is "efficient, smart and reliable"
    • Communities that are sustainable, healthy, and built using universal design principles
    • Data and information that is actionable, transparent, shared, and secure
    • Regulation of private providers that is guided by public benefits

Based on these principles, the task force developed a set of seven interdependent recommendations to support an "efficient, affordable, reliable, and accessible multi-modal transportation system":

    1. Streamline governance and management of transportation systems and policies within and across city departments, agencies and private sector;
    2. Develop uniform, detailed and secure data sharing requirements between public and private entities;
    3. Support investments in transportation infrastructure to meet the city’s mobility goals;
    4. Encourage mode shift to right-sized capacity and increased passenger mile efficiency;
    5. Build an accessible, affordable and convenient multi-modal transportation system;
    6. Advance a transportation and mobility system that promotes the environmental health and sustainability and improves overall livability of the city; and
    7. Prepare Chicago for connected and automated vehicles.

The recommendations are supported by over 50 specific proposed actions, policy changes or studies. These include (emphasis added on two of the most notable ones):  increasing funding for transportation by increasing the state’s motor fuel tax (something that Chicago mayoral candidates Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot both say they're against) and developing reliable alternative long-term funding streams; establishing a Chief Mobility Officer; incentivizing business to provide public transit benefits to employees; determining a governance framework for uniform data-sharing; launching a pilot to study the impacts of autonomous vehicles; ensuring that micro-mobility services and new mobility options are accessible for all and do not impede sidewalks; establishing Chicago as a leader in the use of electric vehicles; conducting a scooter-sharing pilot in 2019; and evaluating ways to restructure transportation-related taxes and fees to better support mobility goals, including reducing the reliance on single occupancy vehicles.

The task force also determined the steps the city, its sister agencies, and other key stakeholders should take to implement the actions, policies and studies detailed in the report. The city and Chicago Transit Authority will lead many of the next steps in partnership with task force members including City Tech. In collaboration with government, university and industry organizations, City Tech will develop focused pilots to evaluate how a policy, technology, or new solution can contribute to solving mobility problems.

We'll have to take a deeper dive into the report before passing further judgment on these strategies, but it does appear that the task force has help set the city on the right path towards seriously analyzing shared-mobility and AV issues that promise to become critical in the coming years.

Here's the full roster of the task force, including a number of heavy hitters from the local transportation planning and advocacy communities.

    • Raymond LaHood, Chairman, former Secretary, US Department of Transportation
    • Brenna Berman; Executive Director, City Tech Collaborative
    • Marca Bristo; President & CEO, Access Living (Represented by Adam Ballard)
    • Ron Burke; Executive Director, Active Transportation Alliance
    • Dorval Carter; President, Chicago Transit Authority
    • Brian Collie; Senior Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) / Global Leader, Automotive & Mobility Sector
    • Rosa Escareno; Commissioner, Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
    • Sharon Feigon; Executive Director, Shared-Use Mobility Center
    • Jacky Grimshaw; Vice President, Center for Neighborhood Technology
    • Stefan Gspurning; Head of Urban Mobility, Bosch in North America
    • Ronnie Harris; Visionary Lead, Go Bronzeville
    • Sandy Hogan; Senior Vice President and General Manager of Americas, HERE Technologies 
    • Tom Kotarac; Vice President of Transportation and Infrastructure, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago
    • Angel Mendez; Chief Operating Officer, HERE Technologies
    • Robert Rivkin; Deputy Mayor, City of Chicago
    • Rebekah Scheinfeld; Commissioner, Chicago Department of Transportation
    • Ann M. Schlenker; Director, Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Lab
    • Dr. Joe Schwieterman; Director, DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development
    • Joseph Szabo; Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
    • Karen Tamley; Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
    • Mike Tomas; Executive Director, Garfield Park Community Council
    • Audrey Wennink; Director of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council

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