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San Francisco plans to introduce downtown entry fees

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is again considering introducing entry fees to the busiest parts of the city center and has begun investigating a so-called "congestion pricing" plan as traffic begins to pick up after the lull caused by the 2020 pandemic. The edition told in more detail Fox Business.

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While the pricing plan will still take three to five years to develop and requires approval from the San Francisco Supervisory Board and the California Legislature, the SFCTA already has an idea of ​​how much potential charges could hit passengers and tourists.

The downtown pricing research team is still weighing the options, but all three scenarios currently being considered would charge $ 6,50 to enter congested areas during peak weekday hours for people who make $ 100. or more, with discounts for people on lower incomes, drivers with disabilities and people living in these areas. Passengers earning less than $ 000 are expected to pay no entry fees at all.

San Francisco has been tackling the congestion tax issue for years, and officials decided to conduct another outlook study in 2019, when the city peaked in congestion. While traffic jams in the city have all but disappeared since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, SFCTA says traffic is on the rise again.

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Proponents of these plans argue that, in addition to reducing congestion, toll entry will also reduce air pollution and reduce pedestrian deaths. Many are concerned about the impact of this decision on low-income residents and passengers, so the SFCTA proposes to reduce or eliminate the tax based on the population's income.

However, there is skepticism about the introduction of the fee, especially as downtown San Francisco continues to rebuild and offices are empty while many workers continue to work remotely.

Wendy Silvani, manager of the Mission Bay Transportation Management Association, told the Chronicle that better transit options should be offered before considering toll fares, and said it would be premature to introduce such tolls amid post-crisis recovery.

“Now is not the right time,” Silvani said. "Everything is changing, and we still don't know how it will be."

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Another issue is whether tourism could be further affected by higher fares to the city center.

“As a visitor and as a person who regularly comes here to see the sights, eat in restaurants and just go for a walk and have fun, knowing that I have to spend money on travel as well, it really might turn me off,” said the regular tourist in San Francisco Ben Flores.

SFCTA notes that paid entry to certain areas already operates in several cities around the world, including Stockholm and London. New York is set to be the first city in the United States to introduce driver fees in 2023. In addition to San Francisco, other West Coast cities are considering similar schemes, including Vancouver, Portland and Los Angeles.

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