Thursday, August 4, 2016

Carpool lanes still not coming to the Windy City 

What do Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Boston, NYC, Denver, Minneapolis, and Salt lake City all have in common? They all have carpool lanes! But not Chicago. I wonder why? Is it because the State of Illinois, IDOT, or even the City of Chicago doesn't want them? Or is it because there is more money to be made in keeping things the way they are?

If you live in the Chicago area, you already know how horrible the traffic is. In fact, it's so bad that there's a saying that goes like this:

" There are only two seasons in Chicago - Winter and construction."  

Sounds funny but it's no laughing matter for the millions of Chicagoans who have to put up with one of the worst commutes in the country. Not only do we pay some of the highest auto insurance and gasoline prices in the nation, but we have to deal with a system of commuter highways that is guaranteed to give even the meekest  of drivers a good case of road rage every now and then.

OK, so I've stated the problem, and it's pretty clear what it is. Now, I'm going to offer up the solution. It's so simple that you won't believe it, or maybe you've already had the same thought yourself.

Carpool lanes! That's right carpool lanes. Duh, you say. So what's standing in the way? Mayor Emanuel, Governor Rauner, and Mr. Randall S. Blankenhorn, ( he's the Secretary of Transportation for Illinois), I hope you are all reading this. I see absolutely no reason why the reversible express lanes can't be turned into carpool lanes.

The only thing really needed would be some new signage, a PR campaign, and some HD cameras at the entrances to the newly renamed carpool lanes. Actually, the term being used by the US DOT is " HOV " or high occupancy vehicles. And enforcement really shouldn't be that much of an issue.  Let's say that the cameras can be programmed to get a good freeze frame of every vehicle entering the HOV lanes. Shouldn't be that hard considering how they already do it with the red light cameras. If a 2 person per vehicle occupancy minimum is established, anyone caught with only themselves at the wheel is automatically issued a ticket. Bing! Instant revenue for the City of Chicago. What's not to like, Mayor Emanuel?

Aside from the extra revenue for the perennially cash-strapped city of big shoulders, the additional benefits are many. Fewer cars equal less congestion, shorter commute times, more available parking, fewer accidents, lower insurance rates, and lower fuel costs. It's a win-win for everybody!

So, I ask you all again. What's standing in the way, can you give a good answer?