Mayor’s Budget Includes Loading Zone Pilot Program

By: | October 11, 2016

Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2017 budget includes the creation of a managed pilot whereby the City of Chicago will convert current business-paid loading zones to user-paid loading zones, shifting the responsibility of payment to carriers. The Mayor believes that implementation of user-paid loading zones will create higher turnover in loading zones, reduce downtown congestion, optimize curb space and increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians on busy Chicago streets.  Additionally, user-paid system could reduce costs for local business owners, create greater uniformity and fairness in use of zones and eliminate the burdensome application process.

Under the proposal, the phase-in of the pilot will start in the Loop and Central Business District.  The City will convert current pay boxes and update signage on a block-by-block basis.  Similar to current loading zones, only commercial vehicles will be allowed to park in these spaces. The pilot program affects only commercial loading zones. Current tow zones, standing zones and valet parking zones are unaffected. Commercial drivers will pay through the City’s parking app or through the appropriate pay box.  

The hourly parking rates for the loading zones will be $14. It is expected that the City will exempt loading zones near certain areas including medical centers, private residences, day care centers, government buildings, churches, hotels and schools. Over time any commercial loading zones at exempted locations will be converted to standing zones. The City anticipates the user-paid loading zone program will generate between $13 and $18 million once fully implemented.

Proponents argue that the change will create greater turnover and reduce congestion for delivery services on Chicago streets.  Additionally, delivery companies will see a reduction in inappropriate uses of loading zones. Greater turnover allows carriers to operate more efficiently, decreasing their time and fuel costs. Delivery companies can use the customer-friendly, mobile application to move swiftly through the zones.  Moving commercial vehicles out of bike lines and pedestrian space, the user-paid system will increase safety for all Chicago residents and visitors. Valuable curb space will be more efficiently utilized and allocated for travelers.  Finally, it is believed that a user-paid system will make enforcement easier and more efficient.

The proposal draws from similar user-paid models in New York City, Washington D.C., Houston and Seattle.