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Chicago to Consider Congestion Tax
Chicago, Illinois joins New York City and San Francisco in the quest to impose a congestion tax on motorists.

Ed Burke
A Chicago, Illinois city councilman yesterday proposed to join San Francisco and New York City as the third US city to attempt to impose a congestion tax on motorists. The council's Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke, 62, made the proposal as a means of raising hundreds of millions in new revenue.

"I thought as long as London is doing it, as long as New York is doing it, that perhaps it's an idea that Chicago ought to consider," Burke said, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. "It could provide a revenue stream for public transit."

In 2003, London charged drivers £5 (US $10) to enter the city center. Once in place, the fee was quickly raised and the charging zone expanded. Beginning in 2009, drivers of popular SUVs, sports cars and luxury vehicles will be charged £25 (US $47) each time they enter the downtown zone. The charge imposes a cost on motorists measured in the billions. As of March 31 last year, London had collected £395 million (US $779 million) from the tax itself and £197 million (US $389 million) in late fees for a total of £592 million (US $1.2 billion) in revenue. In the next four years, Transport for London projects it will add another £1.1 billion (US $2.2 billion) to that figure.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone lavished much of the program's profit on public transport. In 2005, for example, he devoted £120 million (US $240 million) to an extravagant satellite tracking system allowing a central authority to keep track of the location of all public buses at all times.

Burke plans to hold hearings on the plan, although Mayor Richard Daley (D) expressed concerns about the effect the tax would have on trade and tourism.

Source: Alderman: Downtown drivers should pay congestion fee (Chicago Sun-Times, 6/13/2007)

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