San Francisco Congestion Pricing Plan to Be Shopped at Public Meetings

Northeast_cordon.jpgA London-style cordon encompassing the northeast section of the city. Cordon boundaries would be at 18th Street to the south and Guerrero and Laguna Streets to the west. Image: SFCTA.

While the full results of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s (SFCTA) congestion pricing plan, the SF Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study (SFMAPS), have not yet been released, the agency will hold a series of public meetings starting next week to discuss the general principles of congestion pricing and how it could work in San Francisco. At the public meetings, the SFCTA will detail several possible scenarios to charge drivers for driving into San Francisco’s downtown during peak periods, a prospect that should spark significant public and media debate.

In the best-case scenario, the SFCTA predicts raising $80 million for transit and non-driving mobility options like bicycling and pedestrian improvements, with traffic reductions of up to 12 percent, emissions reductions up to 16 percent and transit speed improvements of up to 20 percent.

While these numbers sound great, the agency still has to convince a lot of people about the benefits of congestion pricing, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was an early advocate for the concept, but who is not so sure now is a good time to try it.

"I’ve worked very hard to promote
this construct, but I want to do it in a thoughtful and judicious way
and I want to do it in a way that’s not going to hurt the economic
growth of this city at a time when we’re trying to recruit companies and
trying to recruit people," Newsom told Streetsblog. "We have a lot more work to do on that. We need a lot more outreach, a
lot more consensus."

"I’m not ideologically opposed by any stretch," added Newsom, but "I’m not sure this is the right time to be
having this debate."

Whether or not this is the right time, the SFCTA will present its findings to the public this week and then present the full study to the Board of Supervisors, acting as it’s board of directors, this fall.

Tilly Chang, Deputy Director for Planning at the SFCTA acknowledged the significant political hurdles for congestion pricing and said right now they are primarily concerned with educating the public around the region.

"We’re fighting a huge amount of skepticism," she said. But, she added, there is "no decision to take right now about doing it or
not. We just need to educate people and create awareness. The whole
region needs to understand and see the benefit of it."

Several Options for Pricing Boundary and Fees

According to the models run by the SFCTA, without any action, traffic in San Francisco during rush hours will get significantly worse as the region grows, leading to an increase in traffic related costs. The SFCTA predicts a 20 percent increase in traffic delay in San Francisco by 2030, rising to 30 percent by 2040, or the equivalent of adding 40,000 more vehicles per day in the already busy downtown.

In response to this expected traffic growth, the SFCTA has proposed several pricing options, including a London-style cordon that would use transponder (such as FasTrak) and camera technology to charge drivers crossing certain streets during the peak periods. SFCTA staff would prefer a northeast cordon (pictured above), where the charge boundary would be at 18th Street on the southern border and Guerrero and Laguna Streets on the western edge.

Drivers crossing these new cordon borders could be charged in several ways, depending on what option is finally chosen by the Board of Supervisors, acting as the SFCTA’s board of directors.

With the northeast cordon, the SFCTA has proposed two fee options. The first would charge drivers $3 between 6-9 a.m. and another $3 from 3-7 p.m. on weekdays only. All other times would be free and there would be a cap of $6 per day. This option would raise the most money, a net of $80 million annually, but it has been unpopular with downtown business focus groups because of the perception that it will impact theater goers and evening trips made by car, according to the SFCTA.

revenue_projections_small.jpgProjected revenue from the various options.

Another fee proposal would target the driving commuter by charging $6 for trips leaving the northeast cordon from 3-7 p.m. in the outbound direction only. This would raise only $70 million annually, but would not have any impact on people who choose to drive into the cordon area in the evening. This option would also have fewer traffic and emissions reductions benefits than the morning and evening charges.

The last significant option would be a Southern Gateway fee area paired with citywide parking pricing, including commercial off-street facilities in conjunction with SFPark. While details on this option are not in the SFCTA’s report, Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director of the transportation think tank SPUR and a supporter of this option, said the benefits were significant.

Metcalf said congestion could be reduced by charging the $3 at the cordon boundary or at the parking space and it would have the same congestion reduction benefit because drivers would incorporate the new price of their driving trip into their calculations and decide whether or not to drive in the same way they would with the cordon.

The parking fee, however, "would be infinitely flexible," said Metcalf, and could be applied in any congested area around the city, not just the cordon zone.

"Transportation is absolutely something that can be improved through
better pricing, but I think the jury is still out on whether a London-style cordon is the right answer or whether it might not be
simpler to just charge people at the parking space," said Metcalf.

"We could have demand-based parking pricing all over the city, which
would mean that where there is plenty of parking, it would be free and
where there is not enough parking to meet demand, it would rise."

Common Misconceptions About Driving in San Francisco

No matter which plan might be selected, the SFCTA’s Chang was preparing to dispel a host of common misconceptions about driving in San Francisco, perhaps predicting the issues that would come up at the public meetings this week.

One of the bigger conceits held by many San Franciscans, according to Chang, is that all the traffic in the city is from drivers who don’t live in the city. In fact, 70 percent of driving during rush hour to San Francisco’s downtown is done by San Franciscans.

"It’s one of the big dirty secrets," said Chang, who noted that 20 percent of the driving downtown comes from downtown drivers. "It’s easy to think it’s all the regional people, South Bay
people. It’s
not, it’s San Franciscans."

Another huge misconception is the fallacy that congestion pricing would be a regressive tax on poor people who need to drive into the cordon area. According to SFCTA data, only 10 percent of drivers to, from, and within the downtown area during the morning rush are from households making less than $50,000 annually. What’s more, only 3 percent of total trips to, from, and within dowtown are made by people in this demographic. The vast majority of low-income San Franciscans ride transit, walk, or ride bicycles.

Whether or not this data will help shape the perception of congestion pricing is another matter. Chang said in addition to the public meetings, the SFCTA has applied for federal and state grants to conduct a 6-month congestion pricing pilot, should city stakeholders agree to try it.

No matter what happens in the coming months, the SFCTA will start its environmental impact report for congestion pricing would start in 2011 and likely be completed in 2013. Implementation could happen by 2014.

The first in-person meeting will be held next week, July 27, 2010, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at the San Francisco Ferry Building in the Port Commission Room, 2nd Floor. The second in-person meeting will be held Wednesday, July 28, 2010, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at the SFCTA Hearing Room, 100 Van Ness Avenue, 26th Floor.

Two webinars will be held on Wednesday, August 4, 2010, from 12:00pm – 1:00pm and Thursday, August 5, 2010, from 12:30pm – 1:30pm. You can sign up for the webinars at www.sfmobility.org.

UPDATED: 2:30 pm

Southern_border_and_Parking_pricing.jpgPricing at all the bridge crossings and the southern entries to the city with combined off-street parking pricing, the option preferred by SPUR and some business interests.
Emissions_impacts_small.jpgEmissions benefits from the various options.

traffic_impacts_small.jpgTraffic benefits of the various options.

  • gibraltar

    Why not start with simple things and enforce parking laws and extend metering hours?

  • @gibraltar, because this gives the “green” illusion that they are doing something when they know damn well that all hell is going to break loose at this meeting and nothing will get passed. And even if something comes out of SFCTA, then Newsom (or Dufty or whoever in city hall) will put the kabash on it.

    Extending metering hours, not allowing new parking in downtown (City Place), and enforcement of bus/bike lanes would go much further. They would also require less political capital (one would think) and could be done for much less money.

    Actual, tangible, real-world results are not what is being sought here.

  • Also, why is this the case?
    “70 percent of driving during rush hour to San Francisco’s downtown is done by San Franciscans.”

    Nearly all MUNI lines pass through this part of the city. If that isn’t the biggest statement that MUNI is failing this city, then I don’t know what is.

  • This is crap. How the hell am I supposed to get home in time to watch Seinfeld now?

  • Mario

    mikesonn,

    You are misinterpreting the statement as if it read “70% of San Franciscans who get to San Francisco’s downtown during rush hours drive”. A majority of San Franciscans don’t drive downtown, but a super-majority of drivers downtown are San Franciscans (which is a function of the fact that San Francisco is very populous compared to its neighbors, the tendency of San Franciscans to have higher interest in San Francisco than its neighbors, and the transit accessibility of downtown from neighbors (half of all East Bay trips are on BART).

  • Mario, I know that. But there is still no reason that drivers in downtown should be so disproportionately from the city. Especially with the large amount of vehicles coming from Marin, over the bay bridge and up 101/280. Granted all those cars aren’t stopping in downtown, and some of the 101/280 crowd could be from southern reaches of the city, but still seems like a very high number.

  • Nick J

    Charging the cordon charge at the parking space would make the most sense, but is that not the whole point of SFpark?

  • Future Calling

    The only downside to charging at the point of parking rather than at cordon points would be that you miss a whole section of road users: those who are traveling through the city. One could argue that a lot of traffic, noise, pollution, and danger to humans is created by road users who aren’t even traveling to or from the city, but going through it to reach another destination, usually marin.

    It seems like these are the people you especially want to charge, since not only are they using the resources, they’re not contributing to the economy of the city by coming here to live or work or shop.

    I would suggest cordon charges at peak hours in conjunction with dynamic, demand-based parking fees. Yes, on sundays, too!

  • When you think about it, it really isn’t that surprising that downtown drivers are so overwhelmingly city residents. The Bay Bridge serves as a natural deterrent to commuting by car from the East Bay, not only because of the toll but because of the delay during commute hours. BART is not only cheaper, greener, and less stressful than driving but also faster than driving for many East Bay residents during commute hours.

    But if you live in the Sunset, you are looking at Muni taking at least twice as long to get you downtown compared to driving (assuming they actually make all their runs and haven’t had any breakdowns; if you need to be at work on time you’re probably leaving even 20 minutes early as a contingency on top of that). It’s a symptom of how broken Muni is that it’s more attractive to take transit to downtown from Berkeley than it is from many parts of the city!

  • Nick J

    @Future Parking

    I disagree. It seems like the people you want to charge the most are the people who already live in that zone and who primarily drive and park within that cordon zone. By charging at the point of parking it will avoid implicitly subsidizing their parking.

    Besides, if you want commuters to stop downtown than driving through it then you should subsidize them with free parking or some sort of incentive for them to stop. Know way of knowing who is who in this example, but my point is that a cordon charge not at a point of parking may have unintended consequences.

  • JF

    Love the idea!

    First start charging people a lot to park downtown. That includes all on-street and off-street and then reduce the number of parking spaces built in private homes. This is what London did starting in the late 60’s so that they had control of all parking by the early 80’s. Later Londoners were used to paying a lot to drive into the downtown such that a cordon zone style congestion charge was not so jarring to them.

    One essential part that made it work was that all those people who might have driven into downtown could take the train or bus instead.

  • This is definitely a part of the picture, but there are so many things they need to focus on first to make transit and biking more attractive, and as others mentioned, at least get properly priced parking down (a nice alliteration!).

  • Nick

    Is SF trying to change driver’s behavior or simply generate millions in revenue?

    If they’re after the money, there’s no way in hell Oak or Fell Street will ever be anything other than a residential freeway. MTA knows 70% of downtown traffic is from the city. And my bet is the bulk of that comes from the western neighborhoods.

    If a cycletrack is ever to go in, it has to happen before congestion pricing. There’s no way the city will give up any street space that’s a million-dollar moneymaker.

  • “there’s no way in hell Oak or Fell Street will ever be anything other than a residential freeway.”

    So… redesigning them with bi-directional traffic flow, a cycle track on Fell, more street trees, other traffic calming methods and pedestrian enhancements such as bulbouts wouldn’t do anything?

  • Nick

    Aaron, I agree with you. My point is congestion pricing provides a disincentive for the city to redesign those streets. Why would they if they feed customers into the downtown toll zones?

  • Brandon

    70% of driving to downtown is done by city residents…. if this isnt proof that BART needs to expand within the city (DC Metro anyone?), i dont know what is. It will pay for itself, unlike Livermore, SFO, and Warm Springs. (and Santa Clara… whats the deal with them wanting to duplicate part of the Caltrain line?)

  • Robert F

    When implemented in London, average speed increased from 8mph to 11mph. YAY!

    This, like most things with the city, is people claiming something is about being green when it is really about revenue generation. The $6 fee is JUST low enough to make people complain about it but not drastically change their habits.

    Also, how is the city going to deal with the license plate theft if they are basing it off reading your plates? London has a huge problem with this.

  • BT

    Would someone please help me understand: I live within the “northeast cordon” area. Do I get any sort of discount? Do I pay the charge if, for example, I drive to a restaurant outside the cordon for dinner? Am I functionally trapped within the northeast area during the specified hours if I wantnto avoidnthe charge?

  • FYI: Kind of off topic, but thought that people should know that the police seem to be aggressively ticketing bicyclists right now. Today they decided to raise revenue today by ticketing every bicyclist when they hit a left on Fell coming from Scott. I got one for running the ride light and then angrily sat there for a minute and watched him give the next two consecutive bicyclists tickets too. I went back to Scott and warned people for the next hour and some other nice guy with a mobile sound system hung out with me and announced it to everyone over a loudspeaker. A lot of other people mentioned that in recent weeks they had also gotten tickets for running stop signs and lights. The cop eventually left, but it seems like he will likely be back soon. Beware

  • patrick

    Nate, thanks for the heads up, where is the cop posting up?

  • Ken

    I think this idea dodges the real issue that the transit system in our “transit first” city is completely insufficient. Being “transit first” means investing in making transit such a safe, reliable alternative that driving a car seems like a greater hassle. Simply making driving a hassle does nothing to fix the actual problem. Maybe we could actually fix the transit system?

    I live downtown within 15 minutes walk to work. I don’t even take Muni, so I have zero carbon footprint for my daily commute. It seems like I will be “grounded” during rush hour. I won’t be able to use the car to visit friends in the City for dinner without getting fined for crossing an invisible line. Or is it that once I cross the line, I can’t return home until a certain hour? In that case, I’ll just be driving around the City polluting your neighborhood or parking in your parking spaces.

    I’m not really the problem you are trying to solve, yet I will be most affected by the fines. I need to understand why I should pay more for responsibly living downtown near work? Truth be said, I mostly take Muni in the evenings. I drive my ULEV Nissan Sentra less than 5000 miles a year. If I lived at the beach, I’d certainly drive more because the N-Judah, L-Taraval and 38-Geary are not acceptable transit lines. In fact, most of the people I work with who live in the City drive to work from the west side of town for that reason alone. Maybe if we could focus on fixing these 3 lines, much of the problem with downtown congestion would disappear.

  • I would love for this to be implemented now … More importantly, they need to figure out a way to dissuade everyone from heading to the Bay Bridge all at the same time in order to cut down traffic congestion in SoMa. Charge $3 to leave between 5pm and 6pm … And ratchet it up to that level starting at 3pm and lower it after that hour through 8pm

  • BT

    @ Nate #21 – Are you suggesting that only one class of vehicle on the road–bicycles–should be exempt from traffic laws or should we all be able to ignore them with impunity? Since you’ve made a confession, I’ll confess I often drive my scooter in the bike lane to get around the gridlock caused by left turners and others blocking the only remaining car lane and I have long planned to tell any cyclist who objected that I’m ready to obey all traffic laws when he/she is.

  • The cop is posting up on Fell St. halfway down from the perilous Arco station. A number of people said that the same cop has been posting on different parts of the wiggle for the past week.

    BT- Yes, I am saying that different vehicles have different responsibilities under certain circumstances. I sometimes drive, used to own a car and at a different time a scooter. I don’t hate other forms of transportation. However, I do think that there is a distinction between a car that poses serious risks to everything around it, and a bicycle that can maneuver tight situations and will not (save a few exceptions) kill people.

    The intersection that I just got this huge ticket for (if it is the same as a car will be over $300) is a place where everyone runs the light, because it is timed in a way that bicyclists always hit the red but can travel through without endangering themselves or others. Almost no bicyclist makes a complete stop at every light or sign, because we need to keep our momentum going. If we were forced to, it would be a huge deterrent from riding and a major waste of energy.

    The city could prioritize cycling by making that on block a 1 way street so that we could hit a left on a 1 way turn, as everyone does anyhow. It is THE main corridor for bikes headed to the Western part of the city. Then they could close that fucking ARCO entrance where those people are always blocking the bike lane. Some people who want that thing closed argue that the police should be ticketing vehicles that are blocking the bike lane, but I think that is just a trap. It is stupid planning that sucks drivers in there, and it makes sense why they would line up and block the lane. They should just close the thing.

    But to reiterate. I 100% think that different vehicles should have different laws and penalties. I also think that the Bike Coalition and others shouldn’t accept a few more amenities in exchange for supporting the idea that cars and bikes are the same kind of traffic.

  • When the expected behavior changes, the police give drivers warnings, flyers, education, and tons of leeway. Bicyclists taking their own risks get tickets without even a warning?

  • DT

    Stop complaining about tickets you receive for breaking the law. Ride your bicycle responsibly, stop at STOP signs and stay off the sideWALK.

    I can neither drive a car nor ride a bicycle because of head injuries damaging my optical nerve as the result of being run over while on the sideWALK. My two companions were DOA. Thus, I am either a pedestrian or a MUNI captive.

    I am also very sick of cyclists passing MUNI vehicles in Bus Stops on the right. I was almost hit a couple weeks ago on Divisadero near Kaiser while exiting the bus.

    As to who drives downtown: Those whose employers pay for parking as a perk, those whose occupations require them to visit more than one location (City government employees – one for every 27 SF residents), those who operate service businesses and need to provide materials or services to businesses and residents in high rises. Those who use Limo Services (Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, big cheeses). Those assigned to Fire and Police Stations downtown.

    A lot of downtown congestion also comes through Chinatown, due to being 99% street level retail and almost 0 underground parking.

    I do not even want to get started on the rampant Disabled Placard abuse.

    Congestion pricing does work but the revenues from it must never be channeled into the Board of Supervisors’ pet projects. The funds must be restricted entirely to public transit, street maintenance and improvements, as well as underground parking and delivery areas in congested zones. I do not understand why deliveries are permitted in heavily congested areas during commute hours.

    Further, to ease congestion on MUNI, they should reinstate _no discount fares_ within this congestion zone _during peak commute hours_. This was the case until the Fast Pass was introduced in 1976. I worked downtown during high school and either had to pay full Adult fare to go home right after work or wait until after 6PM to pay youth fare. Similarly ALL Express buses had ONE premium fare, regardless of your age, financial situation (the quietly issued L Fast Pass), or Disability.

    If SF needs more parking downtown, why not set up some pontoons on the Bay.

  • I can see the point of taking BART from the East bay is faster and more predictable then taking the N,L, or 38 from the western sections of the city. But like I said, this speaks volumes to the unreliability of MUNI and is a major slap in the face of the farce that is “transit first”.

    And sadly, since I have no faith in the powers-that-be, I have to agree with Nick. Once this revenue stream is set up, there is zero incentive to then get those people out of their cars and not paying.

  • ryan

    I guess I’m pretty much against this. Someone mentioned that we SHOULD be targeting people travelling through the city for fees like this, but nobody seemed to notice that anyone driving THROUGH the city will have to cross a bridge which do have toll lanes.

    We need more bus lanes and a faster, more frequent rail system before we start making everyone angry. Otherwise people feel like they don’t have a choice between terrible traffic they get charged to experience, or a slow crowded bus or train that they also get charged to experience.

  • Thank you, Matthew, for this coverage, and to everyone for your comments! One concern that was raised in several comments is that congestion pricing relies on having an existing, viable alternative to driving, and transit service today does not always make the cut. By getting traffic moving again, congestion pricing would help buses and other transit vehicles move more quickly and stay on schedule (we can expect a 20% improvement in transit speeds). Additional enhancements funded by pricing revenues, such as bus rapid transit and transit signal priority, would help as well, and would be put in place by Day 1, before the charge would take effect. We are interested in your feedback on what transit and other transportation improvements are necessary to make congestion pricing work. Join the discussion at http://bit.ly/cqfHlh and check out our facebook page to stay up-to-date on the study at http://www.facebook.com/sfmobility

  • voltaire’s mistress

    Recently, San Francisco was noted as the easiest large US city in which to drive (KCBS 740AM). Traffic is problematic only in getting on and off freeways and on the routes to freeways themselves.

    Congestion pricing for an entire section of the City is unnecessary and penalizes people for living or working here.

    The real shortages are parking and swift public transit, and people make their decisions accordingly. Currently, Muni does not provide anything close to the trip times involved driving AND parking at one’s destinations.

    So build real transit, the real deal that gets one from Bay to Breakers in 20 minutes. Make parking reflect its true costs. We would then have a happy community of public transit users, instead of what exists — a City population harassed by local government that is supposed to serve it.

  • I think many SF residents who drive downtown don’t park there, the drop off their partner or relative and drive back to the outer-lands. Since SF is so small, this isn’t a huge undertaking. But it’s still a problem that could be addressed by improving MUNI to the point that driving is much slower or more expensive.
    I predict that if the city implements congestion pricing these same people will drop off their loved ones just outside the toll limits, and the rider will get on transit.
    It will also increase traffic SOMA and Hayes Valley, etc., as drivers try to skirt the toll area.
    I’ve heard that traffic in London is back to pre-congestion-pricing levels. Anyone know if this is true?

  • patrick

    I definitely think the congestion pricing for parking is a good idea, and should be implemented immediately.

    I think a southern gateway has many potential flaws, such as people skirting the gateway in an attempt to avoid the fine, I think a cordon would be required for an effective charge on driving, and jamie’s idea about charging to get on the bridge from within the zone would be an important element as well.

    There are some valid points against the congestion charge, particularly from people who live within it, but I think those can be fairly easily mitigated.

  • ZA

    @Steve S – Good point. Looking at this “70% of downtown drivers are San Franciscans,” my first thought was “which SFians?”

    I wonder how much of that volume of traffic could be eliminated if a really good Geary service was put in place, the equal of BART for reliability, price, & quality.

    Raising fees on that portion of downtown drivers who are already willing to pay the high price in time & $ to use a car across town during congestion hours may not be enough of a disincentive to make the existing MUNI option any more attractive. Can the existing arrangement really handle the projected +6-7% ridership during the peak hours?

    It seems to me that carving out zones within SF is already a problematic proposition, and drawing up a congestion charging zone without parallel investment in the alternatives is probably not going to work.

  • ZA

    The plan projects these mode-changes for peak traffic into the charge zone:

    +4-5% Bike Riding
    +6-7% Transit Ridership

    It seems to me the Hayes, Castro, Mission, Mid-Market, SOMA, and Marina bike infrastructure is starting to get good enough to accommodate this growth, but I’m not as convinced by the transit growth challenge.

    If we’re talking about drivers from the Richmond, Laurel Heights, and the Sunset, the trains and Geary bus are already maxed out during peak.

    If we’re talking Ingleside and Excelsior, a lot more work needs to be done with San Mateo County to make BART across the countyline attractive for these travelers.

  • @DT # 26 –

    You can stick to the hard and fast facts of the current laws, but you’d be ignoring the realities that such laws and designs of the streets and intersections such as this don’t fit the way bicycles operate. Making the left on red on Fell into the bike lane, you won’t intersect anybody’s path unless somebody is turning left, and most people I see check that first – and they’re taking nobody’s risk but their own by doing it. Were you to follow the red light on a bike, you’d end up stacked with probably 10-15 others, all waiting for 1-3 cars to pass through and barely make the short green (many probably not). It simply doesn’t fit the reality of the intersection, and this has thus far been understood and unenforced. For this cop to suddenly change his mind with a huge double-standard of enforcement compared to their treatment of drivers in similar situations (look down the street at the ARCO station) is out of line.

    Additionally, with the bicycle’s maneuverability, short stopping distance, wide field of vision and sensitivity to hearing cars, only yielding is ever necessary at stop signs. Idaho has legally acknowledged this (and had great success) and hopefully other states will follow soon enough. This is not to say more attention couldn’t be paid by many approaching crosswalks on bikes.

    I’m sorry to hear about your accident. Many people unfortunately choose to ride their bikes on the sidewalks due to feeling unsafe with the conditions riding with car traffic. You’re right, they shouldn’t be there, especially with insufficient room and if they’re going much faster than pedestrians. Nor should any bicyclist pass a bus on the right. This takes education, infrastructure and established normative behavior for people to follow as more and more new people get on bikes without such knowledge of safe practices.

  • Who let nzumi in???

    Regards “BT” who rides the scooter in the bike lane – I think that’s where you’re supposed to ride. What speech do you have planned for the cop who dings you for impeding motor vehicle traffic?

  • Sprague

    I’m hopeful that congestion pricing could be sold to the public if the revenues generated would be dedicated to transit improvements, specifically speeding up Muni. More bus lanes (ie. Hayes Street in the vicinity of Van Ness outbound during the pm commute), speedy bus rapid transit on Geary and Van Ness, fewer stop signs for the N along its route through the Sunset and finally consolidating bus stops are all steps that need to be taken to make Muni a more attractive mode of transport. All of these steps can and should be taken unrelated to congestion pricing, but congestion pricing is something that should be implemented to discourage driving and the multitude of harms it imposes on an urban environment.

  • mcas

    DT: “If SF needs more parking downtown, why not set up some pontoons on the Bay.”

    Mind. Blown.

  • I just went back and read DT’s post again, and did anyone else wonder about this?:

    “Ride your bicycle responsibly, stop at STOP signs and stay off the sideWALK.

    I can neither drive a car nor ride a bicycle because of head injuries damaging my optical nerve as the result of being run over while on the sideWALK. My two companions were DOA.”

    Are you telling us that your two companions were killed and you suffered permanent nerve damage by being run over by a bike(s) on the sidewalk? I’m sorry if that really happened, but it just begs a double-take…

  • That whole post took me off guard. What mcas said and what you pointed out. I just tried to ignore it, but it’s been floating in the back of my mind since I read it.

  • kate

    Long overdue, let’s get on it! Less cars downtown and $80 billion for transit, what’s not to like?!

  • kate

    Oops, not to be too overly enthusiastic: I meant $80 million. Still a good chunk of change for starved muni!

  • Fred

    Does anyone know if the plan will charge scooters and motorcycles to enter and leave the congestion zone?

  • It’s lovely to think we’re some progressive city that supports “transit first” but until you replace Mayor Doublespeak with someone who will govern not just speak pretty words at press conferences while in private sabotaging transit, and replace supervisors who come up with bullshit notions and never accept the consequences or take responsibility for their nonsense.

    It’s nice to think too that we’ll fund muni by punishing cars, but if you honestly think that will happen, think again. People like to feel good and go to whole foods in their prius, but the moment you talk about them paying the true cost of their cars and other toys, they will tear everyone a new one. Sad but true!

  • xSEAL

    The majority of the pollution in SF comes from the cars idling (or inching forward slowly), stuck in traffic waiting to cross the Bay Bridge. This congestion tax will do nothing about that.

    Lets call a spade a spade here. This is just another means to raise money for the City, so that Newsom, Dufty, Daly, etc. can dish it out to their cronies.

    Simple fact: if the MUNI was clean and efficient, people would not drive. I know so many people who just can’t stand the thought of riding in the MUNI and drive instead. They’d much rather waste time and energy hunting for parking or pay $12 to park, than ride the MUNI.

    Fix the MUNI first, please. You walk into any business in SF and you’re treated politely and as a customer. You walk into a MUNI station, and you’re treated like filth; and then you sit in the MUNI train (or bus) in filth. This congestion tax will not change that.

  • “Fix the MUNI first, please”

    This is the perfect refrain for those who don’t want anything to change – including first and foremost those who wouldn’t take MUNI if it resembled the first class cabin of Korean Air.

    Improving MUNI is known to be a very difficult task – so saying “Don’t charge me more to drive until you fix MUNI so I’ll have an alternative” is a perfect way to derail congestion pricing or parking meter increases. Bonus points for using the word “filth”. Note that when I take the KLM from the Castro I see far more suits than any other form of dress.

    While there are plenty of opportunities to make MUNI more efficient, a very efficient MUNI will certainly still need more money, and need more support. Congestion charges accomplish both of those goals – money is raised and those who take the cue to switch to public transport because of the stick instead of the carrot will join the chorus of people actually working towards change in MUNI (as opposed to greenwashed commenters like xSEAL). And MUNI will *never* be optimally financially efficient – that’s impossible, so to demand it is another exercise in setting the bar impossibly high to distract from reality.

    You can still spend your time and money hunting for parking, but you should pay the externalities you cause, and that money should be refunded to those who are not causing those externalities.

  • John M, well put!

  • Oh, where to start? I know, MUNI!! It seems almost criminal to have to put this so bluntly, but MUNI is what is known as a “captive” transport system – it is captive of its routes. People who need to go to places MUNI doesn’t go must basically be screwed by this kind of thinking. Actually, its not just those people – it is also people who have deliveries to make, whose jobs require them to go to multiple locations throughout their workday, and, oh, yes, handicapped people for whom public transit is a nightmare. YOU might not mind being thrown to the ground every time a bus or streetcar starts and stops, but maybe it would help people (especially the radical bikers out there) that not all people have the capacity, nor the inclination, to ride bikes, or the capacity for long walks, yet still have a right to hold jobs, go shopping, etc. This “all cars are bad” stuff is what will continue to derail attempts to suck more life out of this once-great city, now reduced to a loud group of so-called progressives, who are anything but.

  • “this once-great city”

    To quote Jules Winnfield – “example?”

    Like maybe it was so much better for “handicapped people for whom public transit is a nightmare” back in the day. When they couldn’t even go to a movie or a ballgame. And there were no handicapped parking spots.

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