Congestion in San Francisco has reached record levels. A rising population and job growth—combined with a growing presence of ride-hail vehicles—has resulted in clogged streets, particularly downtown and in SoMa.
San Francisco has made concerted efforts to reduce congestion: from adding transit-only lanes to our streets, to implementing street safety measures to make it easier to walk and bike, to a forthcoming ballot measure that will tax ride-hail trips to fund transit. These efforts are crucial pieces of the puzzle, but we must do more if we want to make a substantial dent in congestion.
Without action, gridlock is projected to get worse: Between now and 2040, the city is expected to add another 200,000 new residents and 150,000 new jobs.
Congestion pricing involves charging drivers a fee to drive in specific congested areas in order to keep traffic and transit moving. Downtown congestion pricing is one of the most effective tools we can use to reduce congestion. The best practice is to combine the fee with discounts, subsidies, and incentives to make the system more fair and encourage the use of sustainable transportation modes like transit, walking, and biking.
Downtown congestion pricing would make Muni faster and more reliable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and generate revenue for transit and pedestrian, bicycle, and street improvements. London, Stockholm, and others have demonstrated how revenues from congestion pricing can be used to improve alternatives to driving.
San Francisco explored congestion pricing a decade ago. Numerous city and regional plans have recommended downtown congestion pricing, including the City's Climate Action Strategy, past San Francisco Transportation Plans, and Plan Bay Area 2040.
Timeline and Status
In winter 2018, the Transportation Authority Board directed our staff to take a fresh look at the idea of congestion pricing with updated data and analysis and a full community engagement process. We are preparing to kick off this effort in 2019. This effort is expected to take 18 months.
This work will build off a 2010 Transportation Authority report which explored the feasibility of managing congestion, reducing greenhouse gases, and supporting sustainable growth through congestion pricing. We found that a feasible program can be designed for San Francisco that reduces congestion, speeds up transit, and reduces pollution and traffic collisions, all while maintaining economic vitality.
Presentation: Proposed scope for congestion pricing study, December 4, 2018 (PDF). Watch on SFGovTV (starts at 18:35)
Presentation: Review of past work on congestion pricing, October 23, 2018 (PDF). Watch on SFGovTV (starts at 28:50)
Colin Dentel-Post, Senior Transportation Planner, firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco Policies & Plans that Recommend Downtown Congestion Pricing
- Transportation Task Force 2045 Report, 2018, (PDF)
- Emerging Mobility Evaluation Report, 2018 (PDF)
- SF Transportation Plan, 2017, (PDF)
- Plan Bay Area 2040, 2017, (PDF)
- Inter-Agency Transportation Demand Management Strategy, 2014 (PDF)
- SF Climate Action Strategy, 2013, (PDF)
- Transit Center District Plan, 2012, (PDF)
2010 Mobility, Access and Pricing Study
Our 2010 Mobility, Access and Pricing Study (PDF) 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 Transportation Authority determined that feasible congestion pricing options exist and would deliver significant benefits to the city.
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.
The 2010 Mobility, Access and Pricing Study recommended further consideration of the Northeast Cordon scenario:
As the Transportation Authority takes a fresh look at the idea of congestion pricing, we will engage the public to gather ideas from community stakeholders and better understand the issues we should consider in our study. Please sign up for email updates on this page to get information on future outreach and engagement activities.
Outreach for the 2010 Mobility, Access and Pricing Study
We conducted four rounds of outreach over the course of the study, receiving a wide range of feedback. View Outreach Chapter (chapter 3) of the Study Report (PDF) and the outreach fact sheet (PDF) for more information.