Eric Young, SFCTA
415-522-4816 office, 415-306-4509 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
In support of the Downtown Congestion Pricing study, the Transportation Authority is announcing multiple ways for the public to provide feedback and get involved. The study is exploring how a fee to drive downtown could keep traffic moving and achieve goals around street safety, clean air, and equity.
The public is invited to go to sfcta.org/downtown to:
• Play an online game that allows users to design their own congestion pricing program
• Participate in upcoming virtual/telephone town halls
• Request a presentation to a community/neighborhood group
• Sign up for email updates
• Learn more about the study
People can also text TRAFFIC to 415-449-4214 to complete a quick survey.
Feedback from the public will be used to help the study team determine recommendations on:
• The fee level for a private vehicle trip during rush hour
• What discounts, exemptions and investments should be included
• The boundaries of a congestion pricing zone
Background on the study
The study formally launched in summer 2019 focusing on involvement from historically underinvested communities and the formation of a Policy Advisory Committee, composed of neighborhood, business, advocacy, and community representatives.
We recognize the pandemic led to congestion largely disappearing in spring 2020. But we are already starting to see it increase again. The future beyond the pandemic is uncertain, but San Francisco has been resilient in the past and without intervention we expect to see a return of congestion and its negative impacts. The work we do now can help us plan and prepare for the recovery. The study is being funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and City of San Francisco.
Goals of San Francisco's Congestion Pricing program
To significantly reduce congestion, we estimate a congestion pricing program would need to reduce downtown car trips during rush hour by at least 15% from 2019 levels. This could help us achieve four key goals:
• Get traffic moving so people and goods get where they need to go
• Increase safety for people walking, biking, and driving
• Clean the air to support public health and fight climate change
• Advance equity by improving health and transportation for disadvantaged communities
The best practice is to combine the congestion fee with discounts, subsidies, and incentives to make the system fair and encourage the use of sustainable transportation modes like transit, walking, and biking. Income-based discounts and exemptions could protect low-income travelers, maintaining or even reducing their transportation costs. Revenue from the program would be reinvested into safer streets and better transit, particularly for low-income communities and communities of color.
Study findings so far
The congestion pricing zone under consideration is in northeastern San Francisco, including the Downtown and SoMa neighborhoods.
The study team has conducted analysis to understand what scenarios will meet our goals, including a 15% vehicle trip reduction and protecting low-income households from transportation cost increases.
One of the best-performing options we have defined so far would include a fee exemption for very low-income drivers, a 50% discount for low-income drivers, and a fee of $10-$12 to drive into the congestion pricing zone during rush hours. Under this scenario, vehicles would not be charged when drivers exit the congestion pricing zone. This option would also include a 20-25% increase in bus service to downtown.
The study team continues to look at other options that include a lower fee that would apply both when entering and leaving the congestion pricing zone as well as further discounts, such as for people with disabilities, zone residents, bridge toll payers, and a daily fee cap.
Public input will continue to help shape those other scenarios.
What is next?
Based on outreach and technical work, staff will identify options that meet the goals for a congestion pricing program.
We will share these tradeoffs in congestion pricing program design with the public in fall/winter 2020. A study recommendation is scheduled to be presented to the Transportation Authority Board in spring 2021.
Once this study is complete, it would take at least two more years before any congestion pricing program could be implemented. Additional work includes:
• Securing local and state legislative approval
• Completing policy and system design and additional community outreach
• Program funding and implementation plans
About the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (sfcta.org)
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s mission is to make travel safer, healthier, and easier for all. We plan, fund, and deliver local and regional projects to improve travel choices for residents, commuters, and visitors throughout the city. The Transportation Authority Board consists of the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who act as Transportation Authority Commissioners. Commissioner Aaron Peskin is Chair of the Board. Tilly Chang is the Transportation Authority’s Executive Director.