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-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

OhioGuy Dec 20, 2008 2:52 AM

The Damen brown line station reopened today, a week shy of being closed for 13 months. When I lived in Lincoln Square last year, the Damen station was my local stop. So I'm kind of anxious to check it out. They kept the old station house (à la Sedgwick) which is nice to see.

Also, I'm wondering if we'll be going to 4 track operation this weekend at Belmont? This afternoon I saw an empty brown line train partially into the new station. CTA workers were also removing the separator that divided the already-completed inner track platform from the nearing-completion outer track platform. I took a couple photos of the train partially in the station, but I can't figure out how the get the damn photos transferred from my new cell phone (with a 5 megapixel camera) to my computer. I can't get it to sync with my pc.

Mr Downtown Dec 20, 2008 4:19 AM

There's no state infrastructure investment program to handle the local match. There won't be a state infrastructure investment program as long as Gov. Tinyteeth and the legislative leaders are locked in a death match.

the urban politician Dec 20, 2008 3:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3983297)
More pain parking downtown?
TRANSPORTATION | 'Congestion reduction' fee considered as part of effort to get people to change their driving habits

^ Not to belabor this, but does anybody else have any thoughts about this plan?

It seems as if it's intended in part to fund the CTA, but some doubts about that were expressed in the previous page. The usual chorus of Daley-bashing has already commenced in the commentary section, but I was hoping to hear what our more level-headed urbanophile SSP forumers think about this.

Just to summarize, Daley is trying to pass legislation that authorizes an increase in parking taxes (both in meters and garages) downtown and in a manner that will not require City Council approval in the future. This essentially gives the city's Revenue Director carte blanche to raise rates as (s)he sees fit in a way that attempts to squeeze people out of their cars and into transit, if you will.

Mr Downtown Dec 20, 2008 4:30 PM

It's a boneheaded, poorly targeted policy that will make downtown Chicago a less attractive place for businesses and retailers.

It makes the simple-minded assumption that I often see on this forum: that everyone driving alone to a downtown job or store is a healthy person with no before- or after-work responsibilities who lives near convenient transit and places little value on her time—that she drives alone because she's too good for public transportation or because her driving is subsidized by the rest of us or because she secretly wants to speed global warming and sunburn the poor penguins under the ozone hole. But there are almost as many logical reasons for driving downtown as there are downtown drivers. People have complex lives that include children, multiple work locations, odd hours, dangerous neighborhoods, and carrying packages and purchases. Those of us who live downtown may have suburban jobs or hope to get visits from friends, family members, or service providers who need to drive.

If you want to attract discretionary riders, then attract them with speedier service, shorter headways, more comfortable vehicles and waiting areas. Punishing people for working or shopping or visiting clients or friends in the CBD is a shortsighted policy. If the mayor wants more money for transit, he should increase the city's laughable $3 million annual contribution to the CTA, or raise property taxes on downtown office buildings that benefit most from the service.

the urban politician Dec 20, 2008 4:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985133)
It makes the simple-minded assumption that I often see on this forum:

Yeah, we're all morons :rolleyes:

Moving on..

Quote:

that everyone driving alone to a downtown job or store is a healthy person with no before- or after-work responsibilities who lives near convenient transit and places little value on her time—that she drives alone because she's too good for public transportation or because her driving is subsidized by the rest of us or because she secretly wants to speed global warming and sunburn the poor penguins under the ozone hole. But there are almost as many logical reasons for driving downtown as there are downtown drivers. People have complex lives that include children, multiple work locations, odd hours, dangerous neighborhoods, and carrying packages and purchases.
^ Sure, thats true (minus all the hyperbole) but lets face it. A LOT of people do drive because they just prefer their car. You can't tell me there aren't a hell of a lot of people like this; I haven't lived in Chicago for a while but I used to know plenty of people who lived in transit-rich north side neighborhoods like that--the $6 Early Bird Special was made just for them.

Quote:

Those of us who live downtown may have suburban jobs or hope to get visits from friends, family members, or service providers who need to drive.
^ How will driving to your suburban job be affected? And friends/family members usually don't visit during rush hour on Monday-Friday, the hours that the congestion charge would be highest.

Quote:

If you want to attract discretionary riders, then attract them with speedier service, shorter headways, more comfortable vehicles and waiting areas. Punishing people for working or shopping or visiting clients or friends in the CBD is a shortsighted policy. If the mayor wants more money for transit, he should increase the city's laughable $3 million annual contribution to the CTA, or raise property taxes on downtown office buildings that benefit most from the service.
^ Right on. No argument there. But will high property tax not translate to higher office rents? I imagine that could also turn businesses away from downtown.

Mr Downtown Dec 20, 2008 5:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3985158)
^ How will driving to your suburban job be affected? And friends/family members usually don't visit during rush hour on Monday-Friday, the hours that the congestion charge would be highest.

Unlike New York, Chicago doesn't exempt or rebate the downtown parking tax to residents. When my family comes to visit, we have to pay $24 every day they're here to store their car. My neighbor who's a state social services caseworker (visiting clients all over the county) pays $200 a month to park at night. Why not crank it up some more so he'll think twice about living downtown?

Quote:

will high property tax not translate to higher office rents? I imagine that could also turn businesses away from downtown.
In economic theory, where information is perfect and all decisions are rational, they would have that effect. In real life, I think a 0.3% increase in rent seems much less dramatic to the managing partner than a $3/day increase in parking rates. When a Downers Grove office park is not only closer to home, cheaper, and much less hassle, the notion that a downtown office draws from a wider labor supply or offers more networking opportunities starts to seem rather abstract. When the insurance website says I can take mom to the orthopedist in Edison Park or the one with the $14/hour—no, wait, $17/hour parking, which one do you think we'll choose?

pip Dec 20, 2008 6:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985224)
Unlike New York, Chicago doesn't exempt or rebate the downtown parking tax to residents. When my family comes to visit, we have to pay $24 every day they're here to store their car. My neighbor who's a state social services caseworker (visiting clients all over the county) pays $200 a month to park at night. Why not crank it up some more so he'll think twice about living downtown?



In economic theory, where information is perfect and all decisions are rational, they would have that effect. In real life, I think a 0.3% increase in rent seems much less dramatic to the managing partner than a $3/day increase in parking rates. When a Downers Grove office park is not only closer to home, cheaper, and much less hassle, the notion that a downtown office draws from a wider labor supply or offers more networking opportunities starts to seem rather abstract. When the insurance website says I can take mom to the orthopedist in Edison Park or the one with the $14/hour—no, wait, $17/hour parking, which one do you think we'll choose?

don't you just love it. Increase everyone else's taxes except mine

honte Dec 20, 2008 6:21 PM

I think Mr. Downtown's argument here is a strong one.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 20, 2008 6:47 PM

I agree, Mr. Downtown has a point, but why not argue for exemptions instead of against increasing the taxes? The taxes are there either way, so isn't not having an exemption or rebate program really the problem?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985224)
In economic theory, where information is perfect and all decisions are rational, they would have that effect. In real life, I think a 0.3% increase in rent seems much less dramatic to the managing partner than a $3/day increase in parking rates. When a Downers Grove office park is not only closer to home, cheaper, and much less hassle, the notion that a downtown office draws from a wider labor supply or offers more networking opportunities starts to seem rather abstract. When the insurance website says I can take mom to the orthopedist in Edison Park or the one with the $14/hour—no, wait, $17/hour parking, which one do you think we'll choose?

Actually, I would rethink that, any reasonable person would be much more turned off by a .3% increase in rent, say a company rents 100k sqft at 30 dollars a sqft. That's 3 million dollars a year in rent. If you increase that by .3%, you are looking at a loss of $900,000 a year. Which do you think is really more disturbing to the management of a company? A personal loss of $3 a day (which could potentially be avoided by taking the Metra to Ogilivie or Union) or an unavoidable loss for the company of nearly a million dollars a year? People aren't as irrational as you assume, and even if they, they would have to be incredibly stupid to be more effected by $3 a day instead of $1000000 a year...

the urban politician Dec 20, 2008 7:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985224)
Unlike New York, Chicago doesn't exempt or rebate the downtown parking tax to residents. When my family comes to visit, we have to pay $24 every day they're here to store their car. My neighbor who's a state social services caseworker (visiting clients all over the county) pays $200 a month to park at night. Why not crank it up some more so he'll think twice about living downtown?

Certain physicians, attorneys, and some people employed in social services do tend to work out of several sites. But when you look at the vast majority of downtown office workers, I'm willing to bet they have one work site and do one commute every day. Regarding your family, again if they come on the weekend they theoretically shouldn't be affected by a higher parking tax.

And yes, a parking tax exemption to people with a downtown address does make sense, mostly because taxing them goes against the spirit of the tax itself--to encourage transit use for people commuting to the city, not to punish people who already have made their lives there. Has anyone ever pushed for that?

the urban politician Dec 20, 2008 7:51 PM

There seems to be 2 prevailing viewpoints in Chicagoland (with large areas of gray in between, but to simplify I'll discuss 2 extremes):

1. The "Have it your way" city, as supported by suburbanites, the Tribune, and..well..most people. In this model, the city caters to the people who have chosen to live in auto-oriented communities, and provides the cheapest, most user-friendly way to transition them from car to foot while giving them access to the city's amenities and resources. All the while, the city has to foot the bill in some way, shape, or form. This includes not increasing the cost of parking, providing free trolleys, and doing maintenance work on all of the roads and bridges suburbanites use as they drive through the city but don't pay the tax to support. The assumption is, "I'm working and shopping downtown, hence I am contributing taxes anyhow", often also with the belief that any attempt on the part of the city to raise rates at their expense is a result of cronyism, and such monies will be horribly misspent.

2. The "Let suburbanites fend for themselves" model. The city, faced with the exorbitant cost of running services (and paying union pensions), and with the burden of maintaining infrastructure, feels that it has reached a point where it has enough critical mass of goods/resources to no longer require subsidization of its suburban customer base. It assumes that it has enough underutilized transportation infrastructure in place that people will either a) forego conveniences that were previously taken for granted (ie driving & parking), perhaps even eventually forget about them, yet still recognize the value of the city enough to make efforts to access it by these alternative routes; or b) be willing to pay extra for these conveniences. This is a less "safe", riskier model, but can work in a city that has a bright future and for which national models of urban development are expected to trend in its favor.

Okay, I had a bit of free time this afternoon so I thought I'd throw those two out. I think most American metros fall under #1, with the exception of New York and perhaps San Francisco, with Chicago somewhere in between #1 and #2 (and moving towards #2, apparently). Which group do you belong to?

Jibba Dec 20, 2008 8:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985133)
If you want to attract discretionary riders, then attract them with speedier service, shorter headways, more comfortable vehicles and waiting areas.

I certainly agree with these sentiments, but the funding situation that the CTA is currently in isn't going to activate this concept. Aren't federal funds for the CTA contingent on ridership statistics (if I am incorrect here please provide the correct information; the knowledge of many of you goes beyond the extent of the research I have done on this topic)? Something needs to be done to tip the scales in favor of transit ridership, otherwise the cyclic regression of transit usage that continues with many groups of citizens (in my observance, anyway, so this is certainly an anecdotal conclusion) is going to continue, further weakening the CTA's chances for improved relevance and funds, and weakening the chances for improvements to speediness, comfort, etc. Parking for cars will continue to be visibly and perceptively available to many citizens, and many people will find that cars in Chicago are very accommodated. Therefore, parking will continue to be catered to, and the cycle will repeat and worsen the already dire situation.

Furthermore, the cost of parking is one of the automobile's greatest economic externalities, and the raised cost to park in the city hardly compensates for the costs incurred to everyone by the development of parking space, especially those who don't own vehicles. I happen to be one of those who doesn't own a vehicle, and despite the fact that I understand the economic benefit of having parking available and how much of a beneficiary I am of that, it is still a tyranny of the majority to me in many ways. Punishing people for parking downtown? Hardly; I'd say that drivers will be closer to paying their fair share of the costs.

Abner Dec 21, 2008 4:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3985385)
And yes, a parking tax exemption to people with a downtown address does make sense, mostly because taxing them goes against the spirit of the tax itself--to encourage transit use for people commuting to the city, not to punish people who already have made their lives there. Has anyone ever pushed for that?

It's not quite the same thing, but cars whose owners reside within the London congestion fee area are exempt from the rules that apply to everybody else. It certainly doesn't seem very difficult to implement that kind of thing for the proposed fee increase.

Previous experience suggests that when it comes to commuting, people respond more readily to negative incentives (increased costs for the status quo arrangement) than to positive incentives (less costly alternatives). Sometimes negative incentives are used to force people into considering new alternatives. Take Hyde Park, where U of C has for some time been trying to dissuade people from driving to work through a mix of positive and negative incentives: while it has been increasing employment in the central campus area, it has generally reduced parking and replaced it with free shuttles to lots south of the midway, free Hyde Park circulator buses, etc. I wonder if service improvements to the Loop would similarly require some negative changes to encourage people to look around at the alternatives.

Mr Downtown Dec 21, 2008 6:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jibba (Post 3985436)
Aren't federal funds for the CTA contingent on ridership statistics?

No, all federal funding for operations were eliminated several years ago.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 3985333)
say a company rents 100k sqft at 30 dollars a sqft. That's 3 million dollars a year in rent. If you increase that by .3%, you are looking at a loss of $900,000 a year.

Umm, check your math. It's $9,000 a year. For a company taking 100,000 sq ft, (there are probably only 40 such companies in downtown Chicago and they certainly don't pay $30/foot), that's a pretty minor budget item. Companies that big do indeed make their locational decisions based on carefully calculated criteria, but things like availability of contiguous or particularly configured space is generally more important than a small difference in rent.

But consider the managing partner of a 30- or 50-person firm who's already on the fence about downtown vs. a suburban office park. For him, a punitive fee that comes directly out of his pocket may well change his behavior. The way he chooses to avoid the pain of downtown parking may not be the way we want.

the urban politician Dec 21, 2008 6:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3986200)
But consider the managing partner of a 30- or 50-person firm who's already on the fence about downtown vs. a suburban office park. For him, a punitive fee that comes directly out of his pocket may well change his behavior. The way he chooses to avoid the pain of downtown parking may not be the way we want.

^ Mr. D, the problem I have with your logic is that it assumes that the cost of parking is so much of a problem that it will drive people & business away from downtown. You seem to make it sound as if this new tax will take people to some breaking point, arbitrarily set by you, that will essentially be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

The fact of the matter is, downtown Chicago has already been a far, far, far, far, far more expensive place to park (to the 10th power) than anyplace in suburbia--so if businesses were going to turn heel and run they should have done so long ago. I can see from your posts that the cost of parking downtown disturbs you, but whan can be said? I know this sounds cliche, but it's a city, after all. There are plenty of other forms of transportation available, and as I mentioned in my post above, the majority of downtown office workers have just one commute to make.

The more I think about it, I can't think of a single better source to draw funding for transit from than the people who forego transit and choose to drive (and no, I'm not on a witch-hunt as you implied in a previous post, I'm just trying to make a point that seems logical to me). On the other hand, why increase the tax on downtown property owners when, if anything, the city should reward them for wisely investing in the urban center?

Nowhereman1280 Dec 21, 2008 6:43 AM

Yeah, calculation error on my part Mr.D, I missed the point in .3%, thought you said 3%.

Ch.G, Ch.G Dec 21, 2008 10:42 AM

This is absurd. Mr Downtown predicates his entire argument on the difficulty of commuting to the Loop by rail. But there's a Metra stop in nearly every suburb! Am I missing something? What's stopping people from parking at the nearest suburban train station and "really flying" to their office downtown?

And frankly I'm not even sure what to make of this:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3985133)
People have complex lives that include children, multiple work locations, odd hours, dangerous neighborhoods, and carrying packages and purchases.

"Dangerous neighborhoods"? In the Loop? (And presumably you'd still have to leave your car at some point?)

"Odd hours"? The train schedule is pretty accommodating.

"Carrying packages and purchases"? Wait... seriously?

arenn Dec 21, 2008 5:04 PM

urban, I think you nailed it. This is something I've been saying for a while. Chicago has clearly flipped the switch in its mindset about the type of city it is. It no longer views itself like a normal American city, where particular care needs to be taken to keep the core healthy. Rather, it thinks of itself more like New York, London, or Paris, where people will pay any price, bear any burden for the privilege of visiting, working, or living in central Chicago. Time will tell if this works out or not. The real question is how elastic the demand for being in Chicago is.

the urban politician Dec 21, 2008 5:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by arenn (Post 3986563)
urban, I think you nailed it. This is something I've been saying for a while. Chicago has clearly flipped the switch in its mindset about the type of city it is. It no longer views itself like a normal American city, where particular care needs to be taken to keep the core healthy. Rather, it thinks of itself more like New York, London, or Paris, where people will pay any price, bear any burden for the privilege of visiting, working, or living in central Chicago. Time will tell if this works out or not. The real question is how elastic the demand for being in Chicago is.

^ My only concern is with this "flipping of the switch" from a #1 type of city to a #2 type of city. It really should be less of a "flipping", which appears to be what Chicago is doing, and more of a gradual transition. People are less likely to complain and protest if the changes come incrementally, and a lousy economy is a horrible time to suddenly increase the cost of everything.

For example, just a few weeks after news that parking meter rates are going up, news comes out that Daley is pushing for higher parking rates on top of that, just as everybody is losing their job or taking a pay cut. Not to mention that only a few weeks ago the city also announced that it will completely cease running its highly popular free trolley service.

It would have been better to pursue the extra parking tax perhaps another year or two from now, and to continue the trolley service at a surcharge of $1 per person (kids ride free, etc) for a little bit longer. Ultimately I think the city should end this trolley service because it takes business away from established venues (the taxicab industry, CTA, car service, businesses in the loop that would benefit from tourists simply walking by them on the way to their destination, etc), but I don't think suddenly stopping a highly popular service is the way to go about it.

the urban politician Dec 21, 2008 6:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by honte (Post 3985292)
I think Mr. Downtown's argument here is a strong one.

^ All due respect, Honte, the impression I have gotten reading your prior posts is that you mostly drive to get around the city (please correct me if I'm wrong), so of course a higher parking tax would negatively affect you. But as our most ardent preservationist, surely you recognize that it is the accommodation of the automobile that has led to perhaps the greatest destruction of historic buildings in most American cities, Chicago included--and it continues to this day.

Even Blair Kamin is an ardent preservationist, but I wonder if he uses transit? I imagine the downtown garage/lot he parks in must have replaced a century-old treasure.

Change starts from the bottom up.


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