A San Francisco Congestion Charge?

cchxarge.jpgI lived in London when the famous congestion charge went into effect, and I have to say that it definitely reduced the traffic on my street making the neighborhood far more pleasant and less smoggy. To top it off, London seems to have gotten quite used to it, and has sinced raised the daily fee for a car entering central London to £8 without a great deal of griping nor any lost commerce (that I’ve seen).
Thusly, cities around the world are considering doing the same thing, most recently – San Francisco. The idea, of course, is to cut down on the amount of traffic in the central city, which would make things far more pleasant and more convenient for those who choose not to drive. The problem is, it can also been seen as a rather innefficient revenue grab by city officials, and it costs an absolute fortune to implement and run, with no guarantee of even covering the operating expenses of the charging system itself.
London is a really big city, with excellent transportation links (despite local complaints). I could see a congestion charge working well in Manhattan, but I question whether San Francsico is really big enough to pull this off. The public transport in SF is decent, but by no means world class. Bike lanes are lacking, and many other proposals exist that might accomplish the same benefits without costing anywhere near as much such as smart parking meters that adjust their price according to demand.
What do you think?

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

2 responses

  1. I live in Brooklyn and have lived in SF. At this point, I think a congestion charge would create a demand for that kind of infrastructure (especially bike lanes) in both cities. I don’t know what else is proposed, but am really in favor of a huge congestion charge for both cities.

  2. I don’t think a congestion charge would work for SF. There really are no viable transportation alternatives and SF is already suffering from competition from all the other local Bay Area cities for tourists and shoppers. SF has a lot of great small businesses and boutique shops and this charge will hurt them because it will further discourage people from coming into the city. I’m all for reducing our dependence on cars/gas, but I fear that this proposal will have more harm than good.

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