Chicago Mobility and Transportation - CAE Q4 2018

-Bridget Hardy, AEG Fellow and DeLaine Mayer, Assistant Program Manager

Advanced Energy Group’s Q4 Breakfast on Mobility and Transportation in Chicago comes at a unique time: the city is navigating a pivot in urban infrastructure and departmental design. In September, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of a Transportation and Mobility Task Force led by Ray LaHood, the former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary. In the first City Hall meeting on the topic in October, Emanuel linked Chicago’s historical role as a national transportation hub with its technological innovation, calling on the city to write a new “blueprint for the future.” This future blueprint has to contend with the past: consumer preference for ride-sharing over buses due to congestion and delays, funding challenges to extend the Red Line from 95th to 130th, and questions of the city’s departments being flexible enough to adapt to new systems.

The goals of the task force, outlined in the Mayor’s Press Office October 12, 2018 press release, are as follows:

  • “Expanding and ensuring equitable and sustainable access to high-quality, reliable, accessible public transit and mobility options through a variety of potential approaches, including a value-driven bus network plan; integrated fares and ride payment technologies for multi-modal transportation; and synchronized policies for improving access for low-income, disabled and senior resident communities.

  • Guiding integration and prioritization of new mobility providers and technologies, including autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; new ride- sharing options; new forms of bikeshare and scooters; and smart traffic infrastructure, including those that protect pedestrians, those that make deliveries easier and more seamless and those that showcase automated traffic control.

  • Improving the City’s overall livability and environment through transportation and mobility innovation, such as the roll-out of electric charging infrastructure, development of metrics to track environmental impacts, development of commuter demand management policies and the expansion of transit-oriented incentives to high-frequency bus corridors.”

Questions of longevity for the task force and its deliverables abound, including how the force will operate once a new mayor is elected in 2019. Of these, new technological deployment will be crucial to meeting transportation goals. As Mayor Emanuel noted, “How do we invest in a world that is changing rapidly? And are we structured in a way to handle it?...We have to start thinking and asking.”

Traffic congestion is a growing challenge in the Chicagoland area. In 2008, the Metropolitan Planning Council estimated that, as a result of traffic, $7.3 billion was lost annually in productivity, freight delays, fuel, and environmental damages. MPC forecasted a loss of $11.3 billion by 2030 if nothing was done.  With this challenge in mind, Emanuel is focusing on navigating urban density while promoting greener travel. Chicago has a plan to expand bike-sharing programs to 100 percent of the city and has promised the creation of a 12-minute, underground high-speed rail route from downtown to O’Hare International Airport. The Illinois Commerce Commission this year held two policy sessions to discuss electric vehicle deployment and the potential grid stability benefits as well. Both political parties are getting involved in the effort -- Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s office announced in October 2018 the launch of Autonomous Illinois, a multiagency program designed to research the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles in Illinois.

Lastly, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) Go To 2040 identified efficient and effective regional mobility as crucial to maintaining high quality of life for residents. CMAP’s newest iteration of its comprehensive plan, On To 2050, further identifies transportation, including extreme temperature- and weather-resistant mobility infrastructure, as a key to urban resilience, with sustainable and flexible funding required to maintain and operate these systems.

The future of transportation in Chicago and Illinois require statewide, party-wide participation. Join the discussion at Chicago’s Q4 Transportation & Mobility Series on December 6. Together with AEG’s discussion leaders, we can discuss solutions to the challenges of transportation electrification and automation:

  • Maria Race, Director, Sustainability and Air Emission Strategy & Programs, United Airlines

  • David Chandler, Director, Economic Development, Center for Neighborhood Technology

  • Pete Ballard, Project Consultant, Chicago Transit Authority  

  • Vig Krishnamurthy, Senior Manager of City Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility    

Advanced Energy Group is a stakeholder member-supported organization committed to developing and delivering advanced energy policies and solutions in key cities.  Stakeholder sessions are by invitation only.  For details of our programming please visit:

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