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Chicago Gets Federal Cash to Raise Parking Taxes
$153 million in federal gas tax dollars will go to plan to raise taxes on motorists who park in Chicago, Illinois.

Bendy bus
Gas tax dollars from motorists around the country will be used to help Chicago, Illinois implement an innovative system to raise the cost of parking in the city. Under a $153 million federal grant approved in April, Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) will remove lanes from general purpose use on the city's busiest streets and devote them exclusively to a new rapid transit service using sixty-foot long articulated buses. The program also means more red lights for motorists as the double-sized buses will have the ability to change traffic lights.

"A million people a day ride the CTA buses, and too many of them are stuck in traffic," Daley said in a statement announcing the program.

Drivers who make it through the extra congestion will face significant new fees at their destination. To receive its share of the $1 billion in federal gas tax dollars the US Department of Transportation set aside for new tolling plans, Chicago had to come up with a form of congestion tax. The city decided on a unique plan to impose variable rate taxes on parking at off-street lots and at street-side parking meters. Using "peak period pricing," rates will go up sharply during work hours as a means of collecting more money from drivers when the city is most congested. A private contractor will be awarded a multimillion dollar contract to handle the complicated system needed to manage the pricing. The program will also increase fees on commercial trucks making deliveries downtown.

Chicago has already signed a lease agreement for the new buses, and the new taxing scheme is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2010.

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