Saturday, February 16, 2013

San Francisco and Congestion Pricing: A prediction

Treasure Island from the air
Find the traffic "choke point"

Congestion Pricing is part of every bike zealot's fantasy life; they dream about making motorists pay for the sin of driving "death monsters," aka cars.

Longtime Congestion Pricing advocate Charles Komanoff keeps hope alive for the concept in the US with a Streetsblog story on London's system.

San Francisco writer and bike zealot Karen Lynn Allen comments rather wistfully about the practical difficulties of installing such a system in San Francisco:

To do a congestion[pricing] system for downtown San Francisco would require monitoring close to a hundred intersections, and this is with the advantage of the Bay making a natural border on the east and north sides! If a city has some sort of natural choke points entering and exiting (i.e. bridges) it seems easier to do a congestion charge.

But the political opposition is the biggest obstacle, since even New York rejected Congestion Pricing in New York City because of "overwhelming opposition" in the State Assembly. In any event, it's ludicrous to compare London, with a population of more than 8 million, to San Francisco, with a mere 800,000 people. Public opinion polls show that San Francisco residents also overwhelmingly reject the idea of paying to drive downtown in their own city.

But that doesn't mean that City Hall won't try to impose it on the city regardless of the opposition. After all the Bicycle Plan has never been approved by city voters, but they are getting it anyhow.

The San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFCTA), which spends sales tax transportation money---$70 to $80 million a year---thinks that "congestion pricing would be a feasible way of meeting San Francisco's goals for sustainable growth."

So how are the determined anti-car bureaucrats in City Hall going to impose this on us? By creating gridlock on the Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco with City Hall's dumb "Smart Growth" policies, like the Treasure Island project that will put 20,000 residents on the island, which now has a population of 2,500!

After foolishly creating the problem itself, City Hall will then say, "Gee, we have a congestion problem on the Bay Bridge and downtown. We need Congestion Pricing."

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