Monday, July 25, 2016

The Treasure Island Transportation Plan


Looking over the SFCTA's Treasure Island Transportation Implementation Plan is not a reassuring experience. It confirms what the critics of that development project have said all along---that allowing 8,000 new housing units on the island is a dumb idea.

It's dumb because of the traffic that will come with that kind of development, which is what the transportation plan grapples with for 124 pages.

Once the project was okayed by City Hall, some kind of anti-car transportation plan was required to deal with all that traffic, which is why the Bicycle Coalition helped write an earlier transportation plan. Who knows more about anti-carism than the Bicycle Coalition? The updated answer: The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA).

A Very unpopular idea with city voters

The SFCTA's answer to traffic congestion in the city has long been Congestion Pricing. The current head of the SFCTA, Tilly Chang, spent a good part of her career pushing Congestion Pricing for San Francisco. 

She's been unsuccessful pushing the plan pictured above for downtown San Francisco, but Treasure Island is her chance to implement Congestion Pricing ideas, including a $5.00 charge for island residents when they leave the island in their car and another $5.00 when they return in their car (page 102 in the plan): 

The charge will be established at a level that meets the program objectives of reducing off-Island peak travel via private automobile and maximizing revenue generation to fund transit.

The ultimate achievement of the anti-car movement in San Francisco: punish those who insist on driving those wicked automobiles and raise money for the agency that's doing the punishing!

The MTA has already mastered this principle: It now extracts $150 million a year from motorists with parking meters and parking tickets to support its growing bureaucracy of 6,263 employees---as of 2015---up from 5,745 in 2014.

Once San Francisco achieves absolute gridlock in the downtown area---all those new housing units with no parking will help do that---Treasure Island's "maximizing revenue" Congestion Pricing system will be applied in the city itself using some variation of the map pictured above.

Another anti-car measure is called "ramp metering":

Ramp metering controls the traffic volumes accessing the bridge during periods of congestion by manipulating the traffic signals that control ramp traffic. For example, should bridge congestion reach unacceptable levels, Caltrans could increase the length of the red phase of the signal, decreasing the total number of green phases shown to vehicles accessing the bridge at the on-ramps at Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. Ramp metering helps to not only ensure the integrity of traffic flow on the bridge mainline but also puts a cap on automobile use during peak periods...(page 106).

Apparently once congestion on the bridge reaches "unacceptable levels," residents will be stuck behind a red light on the ramp until congestion becomes more acceptable. What could go wrong with that?

The Treasure Island project is part of City Hall's "Smart Growth" development policy.

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