Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

San Francisco wants a congestion charge

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

San Francisco announced that it wants to implement a toll on cars entering and leaving the city from the south.  The plan calls for charging $3 for cars entering in the morning rush hours and $3 for cars leaving during the afternoon rush.  Taxis and buses would be exempt.  There are already bridge tolls on cars coming from the north and east.  Revenue would be used to improve transit.

As to be expected, there is opposition.  Commuters do not want to pay more.  Others say they have no alternative to drive and they cannot afford higher costs to come into the city.  The plan will need state approval.

I am not sure there are a lot of places that could support a toll or congestion charge.  My back of et envelope scan would include Manhattan, the West Side of Los Angeles, and Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley).  Perhaps any area that has  local parking garage rates greater than $15 or $20 might sustain a charge as well.  But the plethora of free parking means that most Americans are not willing to pay a premium to enter certain areas.  A problem could emerge if a toll or congestion charge results in pushing development out of an area into the outskirts of a city, that would increase sprawl and automobile dependence.

Congestion charges have been implemented in  a number of places, most famously in London.  The experience in that city seems to indicate they can be successful, raising revenues and reducing congestion without hurting local businesses.  New York City tried to put in a charge but it failed to win approval in the New York State legislature.

This is going to be interesting to follow