MPC research assistant Adrienne Masterton wrote this blog post.
The Illinois Tollway Transition Team wants your opinion on how they can improve customer service. If you’re an Illinois Tollway customer, you can offer your suggestions by visiting the Tollway’s web site, scrolling down to the middle of the homepage, and clicking on the "Talk to Us" button on the right.
I’m a frequent Tollway user who loves driving but hates traffic. There’s so much I could say, but I’ll keep this short and sweet. Here are my top three suggestions for the Tollway to make me a happier customer:
- Use congestion pricing. I had never heard of the concept before my internship here, but after doing my own research, reading the congestion pricing report recently released by MPC, the Tollway, and Wilbur Smith Associates, and attending a presentation on the success of Minneapolis’ success with it, I am sold. Implementation could involve minimal construction if done well, be relatively inexpensive – relative to building more lanes that would fill up in a few years anyway – and be effective in the long term at relieving congestion and reducing travel times. I would be more than willing to pay a few bucks if I never have to come to a complete stop on my route.
- Make it easier on the eyes. I’m under no illusion that there is any solution that will completely eradicate congestion. If I am going to be crawling along, at least give me something other than concrete sound walls to look at. Installing some green space or art along the toll roads could make enjoying a traffic jam realistic. I love driving down Lake Shore Drive, even if traffic is not moving, simply because I am in a pretty place. Just some flowerpots at the toll booths, or vines on the oases, or anything to brighten up those boring sound barriers, perhaps some paintings like those on the Bank of America (LaSalle Bank) Mural Building you can see from I-94. In addition to beautifying my travel, landscaping would help with air quality, making up for some of my car’s emissions.
- Make the signs easy to understand. As someone who uses the Tollway often, I have no problem navigating, even in the endless construction. However, not all drivers are frequent Tollway users. With inconsistencies in which lanes are for cash and which are for I-PASS, a technology that should move traffic faster sometimes actually complicates the situation. Drivers have to slow down or cut people off to get to the proper lane, or risk skipping the toll. Also, drivers can never get too much of a “heads up” on construction-related changes. Recently I saw two fender-benders while going from I-88 to I-294 because there was only one lane that would exit, not the usual two lanes. People panic when they think they are going to miss the exit, and end up rushing into a lane where there’s no room. Then when someone gets hit and has to pull off, everybody else has to slow down and see what’s going on.
These are just a few of my own suggestions, but I have seen a lot of other good ideas: showing how much your I-PASS is getting charged, making I-PASS compatible with other toll systems like it is with EZ PASS, eliminating signs saying what politician got the road built, variable speed limits, car pool lanes, allowing public transit, and so much more. Follow this link to have your say and see what others had to say!