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According to a study released last week by the Texas Traffic Institute, Chicago has the worst congestion in the nation. Our combination of high gas prices and crowded highways is costing every commuter an average of $1,738 a year.
It’s not as bad if you live in Chicago, obviously, but we’d still like to know what the mayoral candidates will do to make this less of a traffic hell. Public transportation wasn’t mentioned once during Thursday’s debate, so Ward Room did some research. Here are the candidates’ plans for improving bus and rail service, and lowering gasoline costs.
Rahm Emanuel: CTA riders are Emanuel’s number one constituency. Every evening, he’s out there shaking hands at an L stop. Emanuel is a big supporter of extending the Red Line to 130th Street, which could reduce traffic on the Bishop Ford Freeway up to 20 percent. His green fleets strategy will require city employees to reduce their miles driven by 10 percent, and take 10 percent of their trips by car pool, bicycle or train. Not only favors making Chicago the hub of a Midwestern high-speed rail network, but wants to build a terminal to connect bullet train riders to the CTA and Metra. On Sunday, Emanuel brought out a plan to triple the miles of bike lanes built each year, complete the Bloomingdale Trail, and require office buildings with more than 200 tenants to provide bike storage.
Carol Moseley Braun: Moseley Braun calls Chicago’s public transportation “second rate,” and wants to double transit ridership. “Investing in the CTA, Metra and a new high speed rail network to bring the entire Midwest into one economic unit with Chicago as the hub is absolutely necessary,” she says on her website. “I’ll also get the job done on modernizing O’Hare, especially with a new high-speed rail connection to the Loop, in partnership with the airlines. I’ll follow New York City’s example to roll out bus rapid transit lines, to replace many of the express buses that have been cut from the CTA, to make riding the bus faster than driving.”
Miguel del Valle: Del Valle, a former state senator, thinks Chicago isn’t getting its fair share of state transportation dollars. "The Chicago area currently gets 45% and downstate gets 55% of state transportation funds even though the Chicago region represents 70% of the state’s population and 78% of the state’s economy,” he said in response to a questionnaire from Environment Illinois. Like Emanuel, he favors extending the Red Line. As mayor, he would use “my bully pulpit” to promote car sharing services, such as I-GO.
Gery Chico: “Gery is going to roll out some proposals on transit shortly,” campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. But she did offer a couple specifics. Chico wants to extend the Red Line to 130-th Street, and possibly into the south suburbs. He also favors making Chicago a high-speed rail hub. According to Chico’s Environment Illinois questionnaire, he also favors increasing CTA funding, implementing the 2015 Bike Plan, and promoting car sharing.
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