The Case for Congestion Pricing

CongestionPricing-DoesItReallyHaveToComeToThis?Excerpted from Streetsblog LA January 16, 2019: “At today’s meeting of L.A. Metro’s Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee, UCLA professor Michael Manville made a convincing case for implementing congestion pricing”

Excerpted from the Los Angeles Times January 22, 2019: “For years, Southern California lawmakers have tried to steer clear of decisions that make driving more expensive or miserable, afraid of angering one of their largest groups of constituents.

“But now, transportation officials say, congestion has grown so bad in Los Angeles County that politicians have no choice but to contemplate charging motorists more to drive — a strategy that has stirred controversy but helped cities in other parts of the world tame their own traffic. The [LA] Metropolitan Transportation Authority is pushing to study how what’s commonly referred to as congestion pricing could work in L.A….”  Continue reading

Report from Union City: “City Hall looks Back”

Despite its mega-freeways, the Bay Area is the second or third most traffic-choked region in the entire country. So why do we have such bad traffic and why do larger cities with smaller roads have better mobility?

Perhaps the problem is that roads are virtually all we have. Like a foolish investor, maybe we’ve placed most of our eggs in one basket; namely in a transportation straightjacket that makes most of us overly dependent upon auto travel, to the point where much of the Region is now saturated in cars. What little mass transit we have is fragmented and often unreliable; a far cry from the world class network of trains and buses the Region needs and deserves. As a result, most Bay Area residents are forced to haul bulky personal vehicles with them virtually everywhere they go. Anyone who thinks that this is a good way of to get 4 million bay area employees to their jobs every day just isn’t paying attention. Continue reading

Last Year’s SB1 Gas Tax Increase: Yes or No


SB1 was enacted by the State of California on April 28, 2017. Per
SB1, beginning on November 1, 2017 Californians started paying an
additional twelve cents a gallon for gasoline and an additional twenty cents
a gallon for diesel fuel. SB1 also provides that beginning on July 1, 2020
these taxes will rise with inflation.

Where will the SB1 money go? According to an April 28, 2017 article in
the Sacramento Bee, 70% of the funds raised by SB1 will go to the
Roadway Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program, State highways and
local streets and roads, with the remainder divided up among public transit,
goods movement, traffic-reduction measures, bicycle/ pedestrian
improvements and miscellaneous administrative and other uses.

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Comparing Cities

On June 24, 2018, the SF Chronicle published San Francisco-based journalist Steven Hill’s thoughtful comparison of certain European cities with San Francisco. 

Transportation: Here’s what Mr. Hill had to say about transportation:

“Public transportation in Berlin: It was such a relief to get away from the crowded Uber congestion of San Francisco streets. Berlin’s public transportation system works so well that I never needed a car. A transit stop is a short walk away, and I could get most places within 30 minutes (often far less). A $70 monthly pass (less than SF’s Clipper card) gave me unlimited use of a combination of underground subways, above ground trains, buses and trams. Decent taxi service and car-sharing services like Car2Go are available for those rare times when you need a car. Consequently, congestion and gridlock are far less of a problem.”

Cities.png“Unfortunately San Francisco’s public transportation is underfunded, inefficient and unpopular, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By letting Uber ridesharing flood the streets instead of investing heavily in public transportation, San Francisco is failing environmentally and reducing overall living standards.”

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Bay Area Traffic Gridlock is Third Worst in the Nation

Bay Area traffic gridlock is the third worst in the Nation, topped only by Los Angeles and Honolulu. Was this dismal situation inevitable?

No….it resulted from decades of bad local and regional transportation decisions. Can things improve? We think so, but it will take time and a whole new way of addressing regional transportation problems.  Read BATWG’s 10 important steps that should be taken to clean up the mess.

Bay Area Express Lanes – a Step Backward

We are told that Express Lanes will let us neatly bypass congestion.  It you think that sounds too good to be true, you’d be right. HOT lanes (now euphemistically called “Express Lanes”) sound good.  But here’s the rest of the story:  The Interstate Highway System was launched by President Eisenhower in 1956.  For a while the emphasis on auto travel worked, but it wasn’t long before the freeway backups and the urban traffic impacts began to cause problems. By the early 1960’s some city dwellers, San Franciscans for instance, were strongly resisting attempts to jam brutal elevated freeways through their sensitive urban districts. By the early 1970’s it was widely recognized that expanded freeways always brought more traffic that eventually caused harried freeway users to end up with the same freeway backup misery as before and the  traffic congestion in the cities at the ends of the freeways to be even worse than before. Continue reading