Congestion pricing: San Francisco considers charging drivers traveling downtown

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Transportation officials are refining a plan that would charge drivers every time they drive into San Francisco’s busiest areas.

The idea is to reduce gridlock. 

What used to be horrendous traffic in downtown San Francisco has lightened considerably due to the pandemic — Still, the gridlock is expected to return.  

That’s why transportations officials are pushing ahead with the idea of congestion pricing.

“Since you are charging a fee it disincentives people to drive into an area at a certain time,” Eric Young, S.F. County Transportation Authority, said. 

Under the plan, those who drive into the downtown core weekdays during commute hours would be charged as much as $6.50 each of the first two times they enter the zone.  

The fee would be on a sliding scale based on annual income so as not to price out those who make less money.   

But drivers aren’t sure this is what’s best. 

“I agree there needs to be some kind of solution but an economic pricing out for people who need to commute downtown or those who need to drive through downtown is really the correct solution,” a city driver said.

The current proposal has two versions of the downtown core, the area in yellow basically is bordered by Van Ness and Laguna to the west, the Embarcadero to the east, Broadway to the north, and Division and Mission Creek to the south. 

A larger core adds the areas in brown, Mission Bay to the south and Russian Hill, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf to the north.

“The money that could be raised from congestion pricing would go to making other forms of transit better like muni service,” Young said.

Taxis would not be charged, but rideshare drivers would pay each time they entered the zone, and every time there’s a trip within the zone.   

“Because they are going in the zone so often that activity is contributing disproportionately to congestion downtown,” Young said.

The transportation authority hopes to get something to the board of supervisors by the end of the year. 

Even if that proposal is approved, congestion pricing would be at least three to five years off.

Read More