Bay Bridge tolls a boost for congestion pricing?

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San Francisco officials are watching closely to see if higher tolls on the Bay Bridge might help the city make the case for charging fees to drive into downtown in high-traffice periods -- and so far, the evidence is promising.

Since tolls increased July 1, an additional 4,000 commuters turning to BART -- and that means fewer cars on the bridge.
The Bay Area Toll Authority elevated fees during the hours of 5 am to 10 am and 3 pm until 7 pm for crossing all bridges except the Golden Gate, which is managed by a different agency.

Drivers crossing the Bay Bridge during weekday commute hours are now expected to pay $6. During other hours, the weekday toll remains at $4. The toll is $5 on both Saturday and Sunday.

The toll has also been bumped up to $5 on the Antioch, Carquinez, Dumbarton, San Mateo, Benicia-Martinez and Richmond bridges. Although previously exempt from charges, occupants in the carpool lane now pay $2.50.
These increased costs may have prompted discontented commuters to add to the approximately 335,000 individuals that use BART each day, spokesman Jim Allison said.

“We have seen 2,000 to 4,000 more people riding BART on an average weekday this month compared with last,” he said.
Allison was careful to note that because of the brief time element and other seasonal changes, it is hard to determine higher tolls as the only reason for a boost in ridership.

“It is just too soon to draw any conclusions,” he said. “While it may be a factor, the increase cannot necessarily be attributed to the changes on the Bay Bridge.”

However, executives from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority planning to bring a citywide congestion pricing plan before the Board of Supervisors this fall were encouraged by the trend toward public transit.
“We do think that it is too early to draw any conclusions,” SFCTA deputy director for planning Tilly Chang said. “But the general indication is that people are shifting their behavior in some way, which is the goal of congestion pricing.”
The toll hikes mark the Bay Area’s first quasi-attempt at congestion pricing, with officials hoping to encourage the use of public transportation while simultaneously decreasing travel time for those who choose to stay in the driver’s seat.
According to a preliminary study on the compounded tolls, there were more than 12,000 fewer carpoolers and 2,300 more drivers paying the full fare on their commutes.

Spokesman John Goodwin said that the increase in solo drivers could be due to the new system’s ability to weed out cheaters, with FasTrak identification and a guaranteed minimum toll putting a damper on disobedience.
“It may very well be that we didn’t have as many real carpoolers as we thought we did,” Goodwin said. “There is, of course, no way of quantifying exactly how many drivers who didn’t meet the occupancy requirement are now recalibrating

Comments

District 6 Supervisors who do not support congestion pricing are dead on arrival to me ... That is Theresa Sparks and a couple of others who were asked the question at the D6 business association candidate forum last week.

The Rincon Hill neighborhood is a smart growth development .... High density housing near the jobs and transit hubs of downtown that residents could easily walk to. The irony is that our homes sit between those jobs and public transit hubs and tye highway onramps, notably the Bay Bridge entry at 1st Street that results in my neighborhood being under siege by automobiles every weekday from about 4pm until 7pm and the air pollution going through the roof.

BAAQMD says...
"Motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, industrial emissions and household chemicals contain volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that combine with oxygen in the presence of heat and sunlight to form ground-level ozone. Breathing ozone can cause throat irritation, congestion and chest pain. It can trigger asthma, inflame the lining of the lungs and worsen bronchitis and emphysema.

Long-term exposure to ozone can reduce lung function. High levels of ozone pollution are particularly harmful for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. Vigorous outdoor exercise should be undertaken only in the early morning hours when ozone concentrations are lower."

Now, I cannot wait for an outbound, evening weekday congestion charge to get implemented. Theresa Sparks and any other Supervisor candidate for District 6 who is against congestion pricing would prefer my neighbors and I lose our lungs so they can drive for "free" ... No thanks.

Posted by Jamie Whitaker on Aug. 23, 2010 @ 6:45 pm
Posted by matlock on Aug. 24, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

I know you are but what am I.

Posted by Jamie Whitaker on Aug. 24, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

Move into a neighborhood and complain about what was there when you got there.

In this case it is for the good of all that you get less traffic where you moved. How egalitarian.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

The logic behind the belief that increase in BART ridership represents a success of the regressive congestion pricing system is flawed. The truth can not reasonably be guessed without specific data about bridge traffic. Why was this data not present?

As explained in the article, a charge for carpoolers was implemented at the same time; is it not possible that these BART riders are former carpool riders who got booted from their carpools because the drivers no longer felt the savings justified the extra time and bother of picking those people up?

The bottom line is that any time congestion pricing is implemented it affects those of lower socioeconomic strata while clearing the roadways and the selected neighborhoods for those for whom the increased costs is completely negligible.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2010 @ 8:54 am

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