Chicago Mayor’s Office Initiates Mobility Task Force

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to oversee a mobility task force for the city of Chicago. The purpose of the task force was to create a vision for the ever changing transportation systems including: roads; trains; buses; electric scooters; ride sharing; and bicycles. More specifically, the mayor’s office asked the task force to look at the following aspects of transportation:

  • Establishing clear mobility goals and effective governance that serve as a framework for planning for, evaluating and managing current and future mobility options and identifying the appropriate City leadership to ensure future decisions align with such goals.
  • Proposing changes to technology, policy, and public way use management to support the City’s mobility goals, including regulatory incentives, transit improvements, curbside use policies and data-sharing requirements/infrastructure.
  • Reviewing the areas of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; enhancing CTA and other City transportation assets; promoting low and no carbon mobility choices; and finding sufficient and sustainable funding sources.

Secretary LaHood’s task force has recommended that the city hire a “mobility chief,” who would oversee all aspects of improving transportation and how to pay for it. I think this makes sense as the type of overhauls this task force is recommending would need some sort of CEO type to oversee the implementation of these new infrastructures and programs.

I am all for improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. This includes reducing traffic, reducing the carbon imprint, reducing costs etc.. But to be honest, this entire task force seems to be more of a question mark than answer. The media reports state that the task force’s report recommend “50 specific actions, policy changes or studies.” I have not seen a press release showing us what these “specific actions” include. There have merely been snippets, such as hiring mobility chief, adding toll roads and possibly a gas tax and new mobility services and technology, with “smart lanes” dedicated to bicycles, van pools and other shared rides.

This is all great, but there has been no explanation on how to achieve these “50 specific” actions. I will be anxiously awaiting more information from the mayor’s office on how to achieve these goals, and whether the new mayor (Lightfood or Preckwinkle) will carry the torch and follow through on what the task force has recommended.

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