CMAP plan makes case for hiking gas tax, adding a per-mile road-usage fee

The Chicago region’s transportation system needs $24 billion over the next three decades just to keep our highways, buses and trains operating in their current condition, but that money is nowhere in sight, according to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

That’s the dire outlook contained in the agency’s newly approved comprehensive plan, “On to 2050,” which guides transportation investments and outlines regional priorities on development, the environment, the economy, and other issues affecting quality of life.

The new plan, three years in the making, was rolled out Wednesday at an event at Millennium Park attended by an array of public officials, civic leaders and concerned citizens. But unless legislators in Springfield, among others, pay attention to the document’s reasons and recommendations and take action, the status quo won’t change.?

On to 2050 covers much ground, which the Chicago Transportation Journal will start to approach these topics with a look at one of its recommendations: increasing the gas tax and replacing it with a “road-usage charge.”

“Systemic shifts are leading to declining revenues, and structural problems make current revenue sources inadequate for maintaining and operating the system,” the plan notes.

For example, revenues generated from the federal and state motor fuel taxes (MFTs) have lost significant purchasing power due to inflation. Meanwhile, average vehicle fuel economy has been rising and vehicle travel has been stagnant, resulting in less fuel consumption.

“These trends will…

Something new for Chicago

Hello, Chicago. This?marks the debut?of a new source of information for the millions of?Chicago area residents and businesses who must get around?the?metropolitan area each day, whether by car, bus or train (and?bike, too). Just a few years ago, there were at least five reporters working for Chicago?newspapers and radio stations whose?“beat” was transportation and who provided this information.?Not any more.

While those beats have disappeared, the news has not. Chicagoans still need to know the best ways to get around. They need to know how their?expressways and tollways are being managed and maintained.?They need to know if their buses and trains are operating?properly and on time. They need to know who runs?the transit agencies, and why those officials?make the decisions they do. They?need to how their tax money and fares?are being spent. They need a watchdog.

The Chicago Transportation Journal’s goal?is to address those needs.?We’ll do so by providing in-depth coverage of issues unavailable elsewhere.?For example, if your bus or train is consistently late, we’ll?tell you why and what’s being done to fix?the problem.?We’ll delve into the decision-making behind the policies and actions taken by?transportation agencies.?We’ll also provide a forum?for transportation users, providers and experts. We welcome other voices.

Transportation is?a multibillion-dollar industry, and Chicago?is the transportation hub of the nation.?All the major freight railroads, Amtrak, and many of the key interstate highways pass through the region. We?have two of the nation’s busiest airports, O’Hare and Midway.?This site?also?hopes to keep?an eye?on?the freight rail, trucking and aviation industries, areas not covered by other media.

The Chicago Transportation Journal?is making?a…