Mobility, Access and Pricing Study | About

Off-peak congestion at Union Square

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Background

The dominant mode of travel in San Francisco is the automobile, despite the slow and unreliable travel times that drivers in the city have come to expect, particularly during rush hour.  While we are a Transit First city, we have a responsibility to keep both public and private modes of transportation moving through our streets.

Congestion pricing is a demand management strategy implemented on existing roadways to both reduce traffic congestion and encourage public transit ridership.  Charging drivers a fee for the use of specific roadways is a way to reduce demand for driving on the most congested streets and at the same time make traffic flow efficiently for the remaining car traffic and for public transportation.  It also makes the street more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists.  As London, Stockholm, and others have demonstrated, the revenues generated by a congestion fee can be used to improve alternatives to driving such as public transportation, pedestrian, and bicyle travel.

In 2005, at the Authority Board's direction our staff applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Value Pricing Program to study congestion pricing in San Francisco.  This Study is a direct result of the Board request, and the award of the $1 million grant to the Authority to undertake this effort.

Our analyses have found that a feasible "right-sized" program can be designed for San Francisco that enhances mobility and access to the downtown while maintaining economic vitality. This Winter 2010, we will present the final report to the Authority Board (a commission of the full 11 members of the Board of Supervisors) who will determine any next steps in evaluating or potentially implementing congestion pricing. The report, and their decision, will consider a combination of the technical analysis and the range of public input about the benefits and impacts of the various scenarios.

Purpose

The Mobility, Access and Pricing Study aim was to assess whether implementing a congestion pricing program in San Francisco makes sense.  Through the Study's technical feasibility assessment and a public input process, the Authority has determined that feasible congestion pricing options exist and will deliver significant benefits to the city.

The Authority's approach has been to study roadway pricing in the larger context of congestion management, which does not envision solely congestion charging, but also includes providing competitve alternatives to driving.  This can be accomplished by using the revenues generated through congestion charging to fund a package of mobility improvements that raise the level of service for alternatives to the private automobile, such as transit, cycling, walking, and carpooling.  This integrated approach has been successful in Singapore, London, Stockholm, and other cities at redefining the set of transportation choices in a way that improves a region's quality of life while maintaining a vibrant economy.

Scope

The Study consists of technical analyses to develop and evaluate possible pricing scenarios; planning to identify potential funding sources and outline legislative/regulatory requirements; and public involvement activities to engage stakeholders and solicit public input.  The Study includes a comprehensive assessment of congestion pricing programs, and an assessment of benefits and impacts on private vehicles, public transit, cyclists, and pedestrians.  The Study has three main components:

Policy Development

  • Goals and evaluation framework
  • Institutional/regulatory impacts
  • Economic/financial benefit and impact analysis

Public Communication and Involvement

  • Public workshops and community meetings
  • Public opinion polls and surveys
  • Focus groups and stakeholder meetings

Technical Analysis

  • Demand modeling and market research
  • Transportation system benefit and impact analysis
  • Technology system design and management

The Study will conclude with a final report describing potential benefits and impacts, recommendations, and a possible implementation plan, expected to be presented to the Transportation Authority Board this Winter 2010.

Study Report

Additional Study Information

  • Download the latest MAPS Fact Sheet (1.5MB PDF) for basic information on the Study results.
  • See our Myths vs. Facts page, where we clarify some common misconceptions about the Study, or 
  • Also see the Case Studies: Stockholm and London Fact Sheet (2MB PDF) for information on how congestion pricing has been implemented in those cities.  
  • See our outreach page for more information on the feedback we've heard throughout the Study, and how the Study was refined based on that feedback.
  • View past presentations to the Transportation Authority Board, Plans & Programs Committee, and Citizens Advisory Committee.