Letter to the editor sent to the Chicago Tribune on September 1, 2011:
The Illinois Tollway Board voted 7-1 on August 25, 2011 to increase the basic I-Pass toll rates from 40 cents to 75 cents and to increase the basic cash price from 80 cents to $1.50. The Chicago Tribune has identified this increase in an editorial as a jobs bill that has little to do with better serving motorists.
The Trib is correct, but here is how the problem can be fixed.
If the increase is imposed only during times when the traffic is normally congested and not during the off-peak times, then motorists will see a reduction in congestion. That will be a huge benefit to the motorists who have to drive during rush hours. It will also be a savings to drivers who normally use or switch to using the tollways during off-peak times.
Moreover, if the Tollway Authority keeps track of the new traffic patterns, it will have better guidance on where the revenue should be invested.
Peak-load pricing is better for the motorists who use the Illinois tollways. A similar fare regime for the CTA and RTA will also better serve the users of the mass transit systems.