San Francisco Considers Nation’s First Congestion Pricing Plan

by , 12/02/08

san francisco congestion pricing, san francisco traffic tax, urban traffic policy, sustainable transportation, green transportation

Today San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is meeting to review plans that would combat congested roadways by instituting the United States’ first traffic toll. A congestion pricing plan would most likely create a charge for motorists entering the city via the Bay Bridge or Golden Gate Bridge, encouraging the use of environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Although the initiative comes at a turbulent economic time, the plan stands to get people out of their cars and empower San Francisco’s public transportation, pedestrian, and bicycle projects while increasing traffic speed and cutting carbon emissions.

san francisco congestion pricing, san francisco traffic tax, urban traffic policy, sustainable transportation, green transportation

Congestion pricing plans are currently enacted in London, Stockholm, Singapore, and Milan, and in the past similar initiatives have been proposed in New York, although they’ve met with fierce opposition.

Jose Luis Mpscovich, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority has stated that “congestion pricing is totally doable in San Francisco . . . there are alternatives that can be implemented with ways to mitigate the impacts”. The plans being proposed include discounted tolls for commercial fleets as well as exemptions for low income residents and drivers with disabilities.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has said that “a sensible congestion-pricing plan is the single greatest step we can take to protect our environment and improve our quality of life.” The money collected by a congestion plan would stand to benefit San Francisco’s increasingly sustainable public transportation options, from the BART system to biodiesel buses and electric muni trams and trolleys.

The city has already instigated several initiatives to help cut down on traffic including the SFpark program, which varies parking meter prices according to the current demand.


Via SF Gate and Treehugger

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  1. xcen December 8, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    badlydrawnbear, you’re absolutely right. I’m from NYC manhattan. I’ve made one recent trip to san fran, luckily on a weekend so I didn’t get to experience the traffic that congestion pricing is trying to rid. But I don’t think san fran traffic is anywhere near as bad as NYC. On a normal business rush hour day in NYC you can be sitting on canal Street for 2 hours just to go 1 mile to get to the holland tunnel to leave NY to NJ, (if you kow the shortcut like I do under 1 hr). If you would look at the manhattan map on google. The CBD in which NY was trying to impose congestion pricing to has 6 bridges connecting to the other boroughs. And 2 tunnels going to NJ. San fran only has 2 bridges out of the CBD south of market street if i’m correct. So you should simply build more highways (above ground) or tunnels directly going out of the CBD. NY has 2 tunnels that basically go directly out of a much more busy area. Brooklyn battery tunnel which goes from the downtown financial district (wall street) to brooklyn. And the queens midtown tunnel or midtown tunnel. It goes from 34th street (midtown where empire state building is) out to 495 Long island expressway in queens. Of course in NY during rush hour everyone one of these has lots of traffic already. But we’re a city of 8 million. San fran is what, just under 1 million? I’d have to laugh if san fran has congestion pricing and NY doesn’t :-)

  2. ziebra December 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm
  3. jmork December 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Is that smart car photo for real? Scaaary!

  4. Dallas Ward December 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Where do scooters and motorcycles fall into this plan? Both offer lower carbon emissions than cars (though they do emit more of other compounds), and their size makes them naturally less congestive with regard to both traffic and parking.

  5. badlydrawnbear December 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    I hate to write this on a sustainable website but I must point out that San Francisco ALREADY has congestion pricing, it is the 5 dollar toll for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge or Bay Bridge to drive into San Francisco.

    I am all for congestion pricing if there was a reliable alternative, unfortunately in San Francisco there is not. Muni is over crowded and unreliable. BART does not run from North Bay into San Francisco, residents of Marin county must cross the golden gate bridge. Additionally, families looking for affordable housing in the bay area must often live farther out and have no choice but to drive through the congestion zone because they have NO alternative transportation to work.

    San Francisco congestion does not even come close to NYC, Chicago, London, or any other major city in that has initiated this plan. Nor does San Francisco have the well run expansive public transit system these cities have. This is a poorly thought out plan in it’s current form and the city has much more work to do to address public transit needs before it enacts congestion pricing.

  6. lplank December 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    What a great article! I’ve recently been working with an Eco-friendly car service, PlanetTran ( which is based out of both Boston and San Francisco. They offer a really great, and environmentally friendly, way to travel and are definitely worth checking out as an alternative means of transportation.

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