WBEZ | congestion premium http://www.wbez.org/tags/congestion-premium Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Traffic congestion's carbon footprint http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/traffic-congestions-carbon-footprint-105367 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/carusophoto/4017256834/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic-by-john-caruso-via-flickr.jpg" title="Traffic on I-94 from the Van Buren street bridge. (John Caruso via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Traffic congestion produced 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) pollution in 2011 &mdash; roughly equivalent to the emissions from the electricity use of 3.8 million homes for one year &mdash; according to the Texas A&amp;M Transportation Institute&rsquo;s <a href="http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/">Urban Mobility Report</a> released Tuesday.</p><p>While the report&rsquo;s main innovation was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-chicago-traffic-bad-leave-early-105360">a new metric that predicted the unpredictably of metro area traffic</a>, it also included for the first time an estimate of the additional CO<sub>2</sub> emissions attributed to traffic congestion. That does not include emissions from cars traveling when roadways are uncongested.</p><p>Transportation is responsible for roughly one third of U.S. carbon emissions, making it the second largest-emitting sector (behind electricity generation). Worldwide transportation represents <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080836.htm">20 percent</a> of total energy consumption.</p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CEAQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.uctc.net%2Faccess%2F35%2Faccess35_Traffic_Congestion_and_Grenhouse_Gases.shtml&amp;ei=pasRUbSzLO7xyAHCnIH4Cg&amp;usg=AFQjCNH6HMuR6qigf7k9-9XQbAVN5T1IIA&amp;sig2=FlwgZ9weMMItgkzxSXWgLQ&amp;bvm=bv.41934586,d.aWc">It is difficult to measure</a> congestion&rsquo;s contribution to national carbon emissions &mdash; estimates are sensitive to highly variable factors like driving behavior, vehicle and roadway types, and local traffic conditions &mdash;but the report&rsquo;s stab at quantifying the issue could help further visualize a largely ignored pollution problem.</p><p>Noted climate scientist <a href="http://www3.geosc.psu.edu/people/faculty/personalpages/ralley/">Richard Alley</a> has pointed out that if the roughly 1 pound of CO<sub>2</sub> per mile that cars emit were &ldquo;horse ploppies,&rdquo; instead of invisible gas, every road in the country would be underneath an inch of poop within one year.</p><p>&ldquo;Fuel wasted in congested traffic reached a total of 2.9 billion gallons &mdash; enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome four times,&rdquo; the report reads. That is the same as in 2010, but less than the 3.2 billion gallons wasted in 2005.</p><p>There are a few key ways to improve the fuel efficiency of cars. Scientists and engineers are working on lighter vehicles, more efficient engines, and engines that run on alternative fuels. But advocates of policy solutions say just changing driving patterns can also have a significant impact.</p><p>The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning touts <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/congestion-pricing">congestion pricing</a> as one such intervention, citing <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/policy-updates/-/blogs/economic-impacts-of-express-toll-lanes-in-the-chicago-region">long-term economic impacts</a> to boot &mdash; CMAP&rsquo;s Jesse Elam <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-02-05/afternoon-shift-road-rage-105356">talked about their plan on The Afternoon Shift</a>.</p><p>Research out of the <a href="http://www.uctc.net/papers/846.pdf">University of California at Riverside</a>, which has its fair share of traffic, found metering ramp entry, lowering average driving speeds to 55 mph and reducing traffic congestion through variable speed limits could each potentially lower CO<sub>2</sub> emissions 7 to 12 percent. The combined effects of one or more of these changes could be greater, their report said.</p><p>&ldquo;Including CO<sub>2</sub>&nbsp;emissions into the [Urban Mobility Report] provides another dimension to the urban congestion problem,&rdquo; said researcher and co-author David Schrank in <a href="http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/media-information/press-release/">a press release</a>.&nbsp; &ldquo;It points to the importance of implementing transportation improvements to reduce congestion.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Researchers said they plan to include more metrics of air quality in future reports.</p></p> Wed, 06 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/traffic-congestions-carbon-footprint-105367 Suburbanites feel sting of Emanuel's budget http://www.wbez.org/story/suburbanites-feel-sting-emanuels-budget-93904 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/ParkingGarage_Flickr_SamDickey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, when introducing his first budget, declared that people who use city services need to pay for them, "even if they are not residents of Chicago."</p><p>That rationale has allowed Emanuel to deflect some criticism from his budget proposal, by reminding aldermen that he's spreading out the pain. An increase to the hotel tax is just one of Emanuel's revenue schemes that'll hit visitors to the city. As part of our coverage this week of the new mayor's budget, we look at the suburban impact.</p><p>Izetta McGee drives downtown from Oak Park nearly every weekday, and she pays dearly to park.</p><p>"Three hundred dollars a month, which is cheap within the Loop area," McGee said.</p><p>It's likely to get a bit less cheap. Emanuel's budget includes a $2 per-weekday tax increase that'll affect the city's most expensive parking areas.</p><p>"That's a lot," McGee said. "When you think about it, that's $40 a month."</p><p>And $480 more each year on McGee's parking bill.</p><p>Emanuel is calling this a "congestion premium." It'll raise cash to pay for some public transit improvements and bike lanes, and - the mayor said - discourage folks from driving downtown.</p><p>"I really don't have a choice," said McGee, who is a court reporter. "On any given day, I could have to be in Chicago, I might have to be in Schaumburg. I might have to be in Markham. And you know a lot of times I'm downtown and somebody will say, 'Can you come to Markham?' So I have to have my car. I have to have my car."</p><p>The parking tax hike isn't the only part of Chicago's budget that could sting suburbanites. McGee's hometown of Oak Park is one of more than 100 communities that get Lake Michigan water from Chicago. They'll all be affected by the city's plan to finance infrastructure work by just about doubling what Chicago charges them for water over the next four years.</p><p>In the first year alone, "You're talking about an average cost to an average Oak Park resident of 80-to-100 dollars a year," said Tom Barwin, Oak Park village manager.</p><p>Barwin sent Chicago a letter protesting the rapid increase in water fees, but hasn't heard back.</p><p>The good news on this front for Izetta McGee is she rents her apartment, and doesn't have to pay the water bill. But she expects her landlord to use it as a reason to raise her rent.</p><p>"Oh yeah," she said, laughing. "That's what business is all about."</p><p>And as for that higher parking tax McGee would have to pay, she said she may just pass it on to her customers.</p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/suburbanites-feel-sting-emanuels-budget-93904