The proposed $2 “Congestion Fee” additional parking tax will cause enormous problems. The tax applies only to those parking in commercial parking garages. This tax will not affect street parking rates nor residential garages and that is part of the problem. By taxing one group of spots and not the other, it causes a litany of issues and other problems.
Traffic Downtown Will Increase
Currently street parking in Chicago is very difficult to find. A study recently done by parking guru Donald Shoup found that 30% of congestion is caused not by people on their way somewhere, but those cruising around looking for a place to park. Currently rising street parking rates have made commercial garages and surface lots competitive with previously artificially low street parking rates. By adding a congestion tax to these lots they become artificially more expensive causing people to cruise around EVEN more looking for that coveting and cheaper street parking spot.
Pedestrian Deaths Could Increase
More people cruising and around looking for street parking spots causes congestion to increase. Frustration from the increased traffic and inability to find street parking spots will only make already stressed drivers more anxious. It’s very possible that more people late to appointments and meetings will be texting while driving in order to alert those they will be late. All of these factors could lead to more pedestrian fatalities.
Increased City Pollution
As more vehicles circle the streets looking for parking, more emissions will result from the extra driving. Cars and trucks that sit idle behind these cruising vehicles emit more emissions than they otherwise would have.
Local Businesses Sales Will Suffer
Increased traffic will make it less pleasant to commute to the city. A planned outing to a theater, restaurant and night on the town becomes prohibitively stressful due to the uncertainty and stress from choking congestion.
Congestion Tax Has Good Intentions but is Misguided
There are good intentions here. Rapid transit and a new rail line could really help the city of Chicago. However, increasing taxes exclusively to only one group of parking spots has unintended and harmful consequences. The commercial parking lot operators already share one of the highest tax burdens. Adding another tax to only them is misguided and certainly needs to be reassessed.