Thursday, February 8, 2007

It's Here! MBC's Final Report

The Moving Beyond Congestion project's final report, entitled "2007 - The Year of Decision: Regional Transportation Strategic Plan," has been released.

You can find the Report here.

The Report is 135 pages long. At first glance it appears much improved over the MBC's draft report (yanked from the MBC website). Indeed, it appears filled with crackling good ideas that were largely absent from the draft report--things like congestion pricing, tying new transit investment to transit oriented development requirements, greater coordination of highway and transit service, lessons learned from transit funding overseas. The list of interesting ideas in the Report appears to be a long one.

There are some disturbing things as well, such as an analysis that the net present value of the benefits from the proposed new capital investment in the transit system over the next five years barely equals the price of that investment.

The Report has a five year horizon, which permits a much sharper focus than the 30 year program in the draft report. It proposes $10 billion in new capital dollars and $2 billion in new operating dollars over the next five years. The Report outlines a menu of options for raising that kind of new money, but the MBC proponents throw themselves on the mercy of the General Assembly and the Governor in that regard.

There appear to be no recommendations for changing the organizational structure or governance of regional transit. The list of capital projects appears to be mere roll-ups of the CTA, Metra and Pace wish lists. But at least this time the work is animated by a spark of creativity and a greater sense of confidence. It will be fun to spend some quality time with this Report.

Here are some initial news reports on the Report. (Crain's, Chicago Tribune, Channel 7, Daily Herald). Once the news media move on to other stories, we can dig into the Report in some detail.

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