Value Pricing in San Francisco
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This document is a proposal by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (the Authority) for a grant from FHWA under the Value Pricing Pilot Program to conduct a conceptual planning and design study for an area road charging project in the downtown San Francisco area as well as a feasibility study and initial pilot of a parking assessment program to be implemented citywide.
San Francisco's colorful neighborhoods, walkable streets, and dramatic landscape make the city one of the world's top destinations to live, work and visit. Home to over 770,000 residents, the city has long been a magnet for business, culture, retailing, tourism and education. Its rich 150-year history reflects the cultures of the world and gives energetic diversity to its neighborhoods. San Francisco serves as the retail and cultural center of the region, drawing workers and visitors from a wide range of economic and cultural activities including jobs, restaurants, theaters and other nightlife, museums, shopping, special events and festivals, historical sites, and other attractions. At any time of the day, a distinctive combination of cars, buses, streetcars, cable cars, bicyclists and pedestrians can be found moving up, over and under the city's many streets and hills.
As a world-class city, San Francisco requires a transportation system to match – one that moves people and goods efficiently and reliably in an integrated way. The 2004 Countywide Transportation Plan's (CWTP) goal of economic vitality is best captured through strategies that comprehensively manage system efficiency (mode shares) and mobility (vehicle miles travelled, automobile vehicle speeds, transit speeds), through the regulation of the various modes (allocation of right of way, signal time, etc.) and pricing signals (incentives, fees and taxes).
The early 2000's saw unprecedented demands placed on the city's transportation network, and although those pressures have largely abated for now, they will return in the future. In the meantime, the trends of regional through commuting and slow but steady decline of internal San Francisco transit mode shares has continued to erode system performance. The growth of 3+ car households and insatiable demand for parking is also a constant challenge. Finally, the city's transit operator – San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) – service, though extensive in its coverage, and effective in meeting the most basic transportation needs, has inadequate funding to build and operate priority bus treatments that are needed to needed to raise transit performance so that transit can compete effectively with the automobile for choice riders.
The pricing of road and parking space – in combination with the use of generated funds for transit, pedestrian and streetscape enhancements – offers a comprehensive and ambitious new approach to integrated demand management for San Francisco. The time is now to explore effective and appropriate ways to add this innovative strategy to the City's transportation system and congestion management toolbox.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority was created in 1989 by the voters of the City and County of San Francisco (the City) to impose a voter-approved transaction and use tax (i.e., sales tax) of one-half of one percent to fund essential traffic and transportation projects as set forth in the San Francisco County Transportation Expenditure Plan (the Plan) for a period not to exceed twenty years (Prop B). Beginning in April of 1990, the State of California Board of Equalization started collecting the sales tax revenues for the Authority. In November 2003, San Francisco voters approved a new Expenditure Plan (Prop K) that superceded Prop B and continued the � cent sales tax for 30 years.
The members of the Authority (the Board of Commissioners) are the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco; however pursuant to State Code Section 131.000, the Authority is governed by a separate administrative code from that of the City's and operates as a special purpose government, independent of the City. The Authority is designated under State law as the Congestion Management Agency (CMA) for San Francisco. In this capacity, the Authority has a wide range of responsibilities, including prioritizing state and federal transportation funds for San Francisco, preparing the long-range Countywide Transportation Plan, and developing a computerized travel demand forecasting model and supporting databases. The Authority is also the designated local Program Manager for the Transportation Fund for Clear Air (TFCA) Program, which collects a vehicle registration surcharge and earmarks the funds for transportation projects that improve air quality.
Appendix A further describes the roles and capabilities of the Authority.
There are several ways in which vehicular congestion hinders mobility and accessibility in San Francisco:
3.1.1 Vehicular Congestion
The automobile is the predominant mode of travel on San Francisco's transportation network, accounting for over 60% of all trips. Automobile users experience slow and unreliable trip-making, particularly in peak times and directions. Average speeds documented during the Authority's most recent Congestion Management Program Network monitoring cycle in April 2004 show a worsening of travel conditions over the past decade, including the recent period from 2001 to 2004.i As shown in Appendix B Table 1, twelve (12) of the arterial segments and five (5) freeway segments studied during the AM peak period were measured to operate at Level of Service (LOS) F. As shown in Appendix B Table 2, twenty (20) of the arterial segments and seven (7) freeway segments studied during the PM peak period were measured to operate at LOS F. These results indicate that traffic conditions on the CMP network have worsened since the 2001 monitoring cycle, particularly in the downtown and South of Market area. Travel speed decreased for approximately 41% of the segments studied in the a.m. peak period and 33% of segments in the p.m. peak period.
Indeed the 2004 Urban Mobility Report confirms these trends over time. In fact, in 2002 (the latest year reported in the 2004 Urban Mobility Report) San Francisco ranked second amongst the nation's most congested urban areas, both in terms of annual hours of delay per traveler (73 hours) and the ratio of travel time in the peak period to free flow conditions (travel time index = 1.55)ii
Moreover, congestion is projected to worsen in the future. Transportation demand analysis in the 2004 Countywide Transportation Plan found that, even with the implementation of the 30-year sales tax investment program (known as the Prop K Expenditure Plan), total vehicle miles traveled at level of service F are expected to more than double (117.4%) from 920,900 in 2000 to 2,002,500 by 2025.iii
As a result, society's costs related to congestion continue to increase. These include: 1) direct costs borne by automobile users such as fuel consumption and other vehicle operating costs, and by the highway system manager/operator for traffic management or enforcement (to the extent these are not fully covered by user fees; 2) costs to the economy, such as the value of uncertain or longer travel times for road users (including freight users); and 3) environmental costs such as of energy dependency and degradation of air quality through emissions of numerous vehicular pollutants resulting from congested conditions (these also contribute to public health damage).
Transit passengers, accounting for over 17% of all trips, experience much slower and unreliable travel times than automobile users, due in large part to the effects of traveling San Francisco County Transportation Authority- Value Pricing in San Francisco in mixed traffic and right-hand lanes where parking and right-turn conflicts exist. As noted in the 2004 Countywide Transportation Plan, on average, transit travel times are three times longer than automobile times–or conversely, transit speeds are one-third that of automobile (6.2 mph for transit and 8.1 mph for cars).iv
While bus travel will always be expected to take longer than automobile travel due to the need to pick up and drop off passengers, a recent bus speed and delay study conducted as part of the Caltrans-funded Van Ness Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Study found that, net of dwell times, buses are still 9%-35% slower than cars, depending on the time of day and direction of travel measured. Headway variability and bus bunching also were found to worsen as transit vehicles proceeded south from the northern terminus toward Market Street, where freeway-related congestion predominates.
Congestion hinders bus productivity, and this translates into significant additional transit-related costs. For example, adding just a minute of delay due to traffic congestion to every MUNI bus run along Mission St. increases MUNI's costs by an estimated $43,000 a year.v Among them are the direct costs borne by transit operators for fuel and other operating costs; the costs to the economy, such as the value of travel time for transit users (it has been argued that transit delays place unfair burdens on the transit dependent and the poor); and the environmental opportunity costs of not attracting more users to transit (this is the same cost as cited above for automobile congestion, just stated differently).
Parking-related congestion describes the neighborhood circulation phenomenon that results when car users circle their destination looking for unregulated or metered parking. This phenomenon occurs when curb parking is under-priced relative to demand and the market prices of off-street supply. Shoup reports that a 1997 parking study found that the average search time for a parking space in San Francisco was 6.5 minutes.vi This parkingrelated circling contributes significantly to vehicle miles traveled and congested speeds on city streets.
Shoup further cites research explaining the economic rationale behind this type of behavior: a 50% savings in the first hour of parking at an on-street meter, as compared to an off-street garage, during the weekday noon hour, near City Hall. A recent article in the S[an] F[rancisco] Weekly, a major citywide paper, documented an even greater 400%-500% gap in the downtown area: $2/hour meter rates vs. $7.50 to $10/hour in garages, and called for a significant increase in meter rates to close this gap.vii
3.2.1 Overall Project Goals and Objectives
The overall project goal of this proposed Value Pricing Study and Parking Management Pilot is to conceptualize and develop for feasibility testing a method to manage demand in an integrated and comprehensive way, in order to reduce system-wide person-delay through the pricing of road use and enhancement of alternative modes, particularly transit.
The two main objectives of the Value Pricing Study and Parking Management Pilot are to:
The rationale for linking the area-facilit(ies) pricing concept with a study and initial pilot of parking assessment districts is threefold:
3.2.2 Description of Tasks
Specific tasks for the Value Pricing Study and Parking Management Pilot are described further as follows:
Task 1: Startup Activities. Refine overall study scope, schedule and budget; establish and staff a Management Steering Committee with a specific work program; establish and staff a Technical Advisory Committee with a specific work program; periodically brief the Authority's Citizens Advisory Committee; procure technical consultant services. Deliverables: study Workplan, establishment of Committees and procurement of Consulants.
Task 2: Policy, Institutional and Legal Framework. Establish a policy basis for the value pricing initiative in the context of the 2004 General Plan, Countywide Transportation Plan, 2003 Congestion Management Program Update; Identify legal barriers at the federal, state or local level to carrying out road charging on selected facilities and to use revenues for mobility enhancements (e.g. nexus requirements, environmental clearance); institutional roles and responsibilities for implementation of the road pricing/mobility enhancement and parking assessment/mobility enhancement pilots including setting regulatory policies (e.g. safety, pricing, and privacy), procurement of services and equipment (see Task 7), operations and management of the charging system and provision of mobility enhancements, revenue collection, administration and distribution. Deliverables: Memo on Policy Framework and Legal Barriers, Memo on Institutional and Regulatory Options for Implementation and Management of Charging/Mobility Enhancement Systems.
Task 3: Travel Demand Model. The Authority has developed and maintains one of the nation's most sophisticated travel demand forecasting models–the Chained Activity Model Process (CHAMP) (see a description of the Authority's model in Appendix C). This task will identify needed enhancements to this tour-based model, which recently incorporated model the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Regional Travel Demand Forecasting Model. The Authority is also working with FHWA to refine it's time-of-day forecasting capabilities (from 5 time periods to the � hour). Activities in this task include: collect of traffic, transit and parking data at various times of day and locations; conduct demand elasticity studies with respect to price and levels of service for automobile use, parking and transit use (willingness to pay; ranked choice/conjoint analysis studies); calibrate model parameters; conduct model runs of alternatives to be evaluated in Task 6. Deliverables: Demand Studies, Model Enhancement Summary, Modeling Results.
Task 4: Public Involvement. Conduct public education and awareness campaign through a combination of public outreach, education and involvement activities (print and web). Develop marketing messages and educational materials. Hold a minimum of four citywide and regional forums (with multi-language access) and conduct focus groups and stakeholder interviews to gather public input on design of the pricing and mobility enhancement program; Hold a minimum of 2 neighborhood workshops and consult periodically with neighborhood stakeholders to gather input on the design, implementation and evaluation of the parking assessment and mobility enhancement programs in each pilot area. Staff a Management Steering Committee, Technical Advisory Committee and Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. Deliverables: Public Outreach Plan, Newsletters, Workshop Summaries.
Task 5: San Francisco's ITS System Architecture Review and Development. Conduct a review of the Municipal Transportation Agency's (MTA) SFGo!TM Program (traffic management and area control systems) including transit priority systems; real time traffic and transit information systems; status of Translink–the regional universal farecard system; and related transit vehicle-based data and communications systems (see further descriptions of current MTA ITS projects in Appendix D). Review Federal Intelligent Transportation System Architecture requirements and also Caltrans and Metropolitan Transportation Commission ITS systems and standards,viii and incorporate these as necessary into MTA systems design concepts to ensure compliance and interoperability. Deliverables: San Francisco Charging and Mobility Enhancement ITS Concept Plan.
Task 6a: Road Pricing and Mobility Enhancement System Concepts and Evaluation (area-facilit(ies) pricing program only).
Task 6b: Parking Assessment District and Mobility Enhancement System Concepts and Evaluation (parking pricing only).
The goal of the parking management pilot–to be implemented in parallel with the value pricing study during the grant period–is to conduct a feasibility study and two initial pilot parking assessment district pilots that can be replicated citywide,xiv including to:
Task 7a: Pre-Implementation of the Preferred Road Pricing/Mobility Enhancement Alternative. This task includes developing procurement documents for design and integration (or design-integrate-build) of hardware and software systems based on identified system functional and business requirements. Also included are development of detailed plans and designs for enhanced transit and traffic management capital requirements and services. The task will clearly identify institutional roles in the collection, administration and distribution of charging revenues. Deliverables: Procurement Documents, Functional Specifications including Performance Targets, Institutional Roles for Implementation and Management of Concept. Task 7b: Implementation of two Parking Assessment Districts with Mobility Enhancements. This task includes developing procurement documents for design and integration (or design-integrate-build) of hardware and software systems based on identified system functional and business requirements. Also included are development of plans to fund the pilot and streetscape enhancements. The task will clearly identify institutional roles in the collection, administration and distribution of revenues. Additionally, it will include an evaluation of the pilot, after 6 months, including conducting "after" studies and outreach surveys. Deliverables: Procurement Documents, Procurement of Services, Equipment and Civil Works, and Evaluation of Concept.
3.2.3 Facilities to be Included
The facilities which would be impacted by an area road charging project would include:
Figure 1: Likely Areas and Facilities to be Considered
3.2.4 Expected Pricing Schedules, Technology to be Used and Enforcement Programs
The specific pricing schedules, technology to be used, and enforcement programs would be determined as part of the study.
Pricing. Pricing studies conducted for the study will support transportation demand and revenue forecasting model development. The charging study will require consultant services to conduct willingness to pay survey design and analysis, and to advise on charging options. Consultations with key stakeholders and other regulatory agencies will also inform decisionmaking in this area.
Technology. It is anticipated that a review of international examples and best practice in ITS charging applications will help to inform the design of a state of the art system which can meet San Francisco's needs and expectations in terms of functionality and performance.
This proposal anticipates utilizing the services of several consultant teams with knowledge and capabilities in:
Enforcement. Several agencies share responsibility for enforcing various traffic codes in San Francisco, including the Department of Parking and Traffic, MUNI, the San Francisco Police Department and Caltrans. Enforcement policies, technologies and methods will be a focus of the alternatives design within the study.
3.2.5 Role of Alternative Transportation Modes in the Project and Enhancements Proposed to be Included in the Pricing Program
As described above, alternative transportation modes are an integral part of the concept to be studied and demonstrated in this project. Charging of vehicle roadway use and parking enables provision of better transit, traffic management, and pedestrian, bicycle and streetscape conditions through the revenue generated, and these additional mobility enhancements in turn make the demonstration feasible by enabling and encouraging mode shift to occur and vehicle miles of travel to be reduced. This integrated approach is integral to the political acceptability of charging, given the severe equity impacts that would otherwise exist.
This proposal will build on several current transit initiatives in San Francisco, including development of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Network and Transit Preferential Streets System, one of the signature projects of the Authority's 30-year Prop K Transportation Sales Tax Expenditure Plan, passed by voters in November 2003 (see Appendix E).xvii The Expenditure Plan also identifies significantly increased funding for bicycle network and pedestrian projects.
The overall schedule for completion of the tasks identified in this proposal is 3 years.
3.3.1 Area and/or Facility Road Charging/Mobility Enhancement Study
The expected duration of the main charging/mobility enhancement study is approximately 18 months. This would be followed by a detailed design and procurement planning phase, where the major deliverable is a set of procurement documents (RFQs and RFPs) for civil works, services and equipment to support the project as designed.
Depending on the success of the study and degree of public support and consensus (2 months for presentation and approvals to proceed), this detailed design and procurement study could take place in month 21 through 30 (9 months) followed by procurement activities for an initial Phase 1 of the project over the next 6 months (month 31–36). Realistically, we anticipate that the timeline for a full implementation of a road pricing scheme in downtown San Francisco could be up to four years from the inception of the feasibility study. Figure 2a: Project Schedule for Charging/Mobility Enhancement Study illustrates one potential breakdown of this period into key tasks.
Figure 2a: Project Schedule for Charging/Mobility Study
3.3.2 Parking Assessment District Study and Pilot
The expected duration of the parking management pilot is 24 months. The study would be conducted over 12 months, with presentation and approvals taking 2 months. This would be followed by a 4 month procurement period and 6 month launch and evaluation period.
Figure 2b: Project Schedule for Parking/Mobility Enhancement Study illustrates one potential breakdown of this period into key tasks.
Figure 2b: Project Schedule for Parking/Mobility Enhancement Study
In addition to the Transportation Authority, we anticipate signatories to include: the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), Transportation Commission (the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization) and Caltrans (state DOT).
We have been in contact with all three agencies and hope to provide a letter of support from each shortly.
Congestion pricing is a hot-button issue in the Bay Area as it is elsewhere in the world. The issues are complex and examples of real-world successes of comprehensive road pricing/transit development schemes are limited and recent.
However, in recent weeks, Transportation Authority Chairman Jake McGoldrick has lead the charge to study the possibility of an area road pricing demonstration project for San Francisco, primarily as a congestion management and air quality strategy, but also as an opportunity to provide support to MUNI, the city's main transit operator, which is facing yet another annual budget deficit.
"The key issue here is if we can kill three birds with one stone -- relieve congestion, clean up the air, and give money to MUNI–we would have hit a home run,"
Chair Jake McGoldrick, February 15, 2005xviii
Chair McGoldrick's proposal comes at an opportune time, when MUNI is considering a controversial 25-cent raise in fares, and transit activists are mounting an increasingly vocal campaign to shift MUNI's budget difficulties away from the people who ride the buses.
Shortly thereafter, the San Francisco Examiner newspaper recently published an editorial supporting the study of a congestion pricing scheme for downtown San Francisco:
"The San Francisco Transportation Authority should explore the possibility of charging for automobile access to a special zone in a downtown sector of The City, says Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who as chairman of the Authority on Tuesday asked its staff to pursue federal grant funding for a study. A downtown traffic toll is, at the least, a fresh and fascinating idea."
San Francisco Examiner, February 16, 2005xix
Subsequent reaction on the part of City leaders was more circumspect, but most indicate a willingness to "keep an open mind", including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.xx Other local media, stakeholder and advocacy groups have also voiced support for the study and concept of congestion pricing of roadway and parking space, including:
Other stakeholders, such as transportation and non-transportation agencies with a stake in San Francisco, include regional transit operators Caltrain (San Francisco is one of the three members of the Joint Powers Board for Caltrain), Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Alameda County Transit, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans (San Mateo Transit), emergency services, and others. These groups will be consulted during the study through the study Technical Advisory Committee.
Continuous effective engagement of the stakeholders in the project design and decisionmaking process will be crucial to the success of the feasibility study and parking pilot. As described above, the proposed public participation approach has three main parts:
This program is designed to gain support and build coalitions (among civic and opinion leaders, media and advocates) for carrying out the feasibility study, to elicit active participation when the study is underway, and to secure support for the area road pricing pilot program after completion of the study.
The elements below are an initial overview of the likely contents of the first stakeholder marketing materials (to be distributed in print and over the Authority's website at www.sfcta.org). We envision a newsletter or brochure similar to the one used for the 2004 Countywide Plan (see Appendix J), with several issues produced as the study progresses.
Purpose of initial marketing. The purpose of the first newsletter is to communicate the value of carrying out a feasibility study, and to educate stakeholders about ongoing applications in other parts of the world and about the likely benefits of a potential pilot implementation. The importance of this initial opinion-shaping step cannot be overstated, since there are compelling dollars-and-cents reasons for establishing a pricing program, particularly at a time when transportation resources are scarce at the state and federal levels and likely to remain so for some time.
Key messages. "Congestion in San Francisco is a significant and increasing problem, and there are very limited opportunities for changing the road infrastructure to address it. There is a case, however, for using demand management, as can be seen working successfully in other cities, such as London, to mitigate congestion. We believe that San Francisco could benefit from a demand management program, and therefore propose to examine it as an option for the city's wider transportation system management strategy. The FHWA, in support of this, has provided a grant for a study to examine the feasibility of road pricing options in downtown San Francisco. In carrying out this study, we will actively involve all key stakeholders. The results of the study, conducted with ongoing input from all stakeholders, will determine whether and how a pilot pricing program will be conducted in San Francisco."
3.7 Discussion of Potential Equity Impacts of the Proposal and Preliminary Plans to Respond to Such Issues if They Should Arise
Since the main proposed area-facilit(ies) pricing/enhanced mobility project is a feasibility study of a road pricing scheme rather than a pilot program, it does not pose any immediate equity consequences. However, it is acknowledged that implementation of such a scheme may have equity consequences for different user groups: e.g. businesses inside the proposed area, drivers, residents, low-income users and zero-car households, emergency service providers, etc. Thus, the area charging study tasks include a distributional analysis of benefits and impacts as part of the evaluation methodology of alternative charging scenarios/mobility enhancements.
It is also acknowledged that, even at the feasibility study stage, the public will be keen to express its concerns on the equity issues associated with potential pricing schemes. The proposed concerted public information and consultation campaign will reassure the public that equity concerns and public input will be taken into account when considering pricing structure and mobility enhancement package options.
Proposed Budget by Task
The proposed budget for this proposal is $1.3 million and is shown below in Figure 3: Proposed Study Budget by Task.xxi
Figure 3: Proposed Study Budget by Task
3.8.2 Description of all funding sources
A 20% local match of $260,000 would be required if this proposal is accepted for funding by the FHWA. The anticipated main funding source for the local match is Prop K � cent transportation local transportation sales tax revenues. We will also be working with our State and regional partners such as Caltrans, MTC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to identify other potential sources of funds.
3.8.3 Planned expenditures
Planned expenditures under the grant are outlined above in Figure 4.
3.8.4 Monitoring and Evaluation
The parking assessment district study and pilot will include study of "before" and "after" conditions in order to document the effect of the pilot. In addition, we note that enabling Federal legislation includes a reporting requirement related to driver behavior, traffic volume, transit ridership, air quality, and availability of funds for transit every other year for 10 years.xxii
3.8.5 Plan for projects to become financially self-sustaining within 3 years
The parking assessment district programs will be designed to be self-sustaining from the start. The area-facilit(ies) pricing program will require a substantial initial capital investment but should thereafter be self-sustaining from road charging revenues.
The importance of addressing the legal, institutional, regulatory and administrative issues associated with the implementation of a congestion pricing program, especially in a location like San Francisco, cannot be overstated. In addition to the needed legislative authority, because of San Francisco's position as the most important transit hub and densest employment center of the region, there will be an imperative to anticipate and address issues of jurisdiction, affecting multiple City agencies, regional carriers and state and federal agencies. These include meeting the requirements of the Federal aid planning and environmental requirements.
The Authority is ideally positioned to manage this process. As Congestion Management Agency for San Francisco, the Authority already prepares the city's long-range transportation plan and serves as overall strategist for transportation investment, policy (in close coordination with the Mayor's office and the legislative delegations in Sacramento and Washington, DC), and project implementation. The Authority also leads and oversees many projects seeking Federal approvals (Doyle Drive, 3rd Street Light Rail and New Central Subway). Moreover, the membership of the Authority's governing Board is comprised of all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, and it provides membership overlap with the governing boards of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the Caltrain Joint Powers Board and other public agencies which will have a stake in the outcome of the study and in the development of a base of support for legislative or other initiatives related to the implementation of a pricing program.
The Authority has extensive experience in identifying legal issues affecting transportation programs and questions of agency jurisdiction, and it has at its disposal considerable legal acumen on City Charter issues through the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, and on state transportation policy issues through its independent general counsel.
Discussion and thought leadership have been developing globally in this arena for many years now. In California, this grant application has been preceded by a symposium held by the MTC in January 2004, entitled "Roadway Pricing as Demand Management Tool." This event witnessed a panel of experts in this field addressing a group of MTC, Authority and other government officials on the wide variety of demand management strategies available, and their positive effects in dealing with congestion. This symposium also included discussions on the application of pricing strategies in the Bay Area, including bridge tolls. At the recent International Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) funding conference much discussion centered on the applicability of charging schemes to the US in general and to urban congestion problems in particular.
There are existing schemes in urban areas, such as London and Singapore, which provide useful models, lessons and case studies for such a feasibility study. Also in Europe, Stockholm and Edinburgh are undertaking the implementation of urban schemes, due to go live in 2006. Each of these four schemes demonstrate different technologies and pricing strategies which will prove invaluable in conducting a feasibility study into road pricing options for San Francisco.
Similarly, there have been numerous studies conducted into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and toll bridges in the State of California, and elsewhere in the United States. These also underpin the case for pricing as an option for reducing congestion, improving environmental conditions, improving transit and structuring an overall transportation system management strategy.
San Francisco County Transportation Authority
A OVERVIEW OF AUTHORITY FUNCTIONS
The Authority has long-range, strategic and project planning capabilities that stem from its multiple roles, as described above. As Congestion Management Agency, the Authority produces the long-range Countywide Transportation Plan. It must also develop the travel demand model and database of transportation impacts for San Francisco. The Authority also prepares Strategic Analysis Reports on emerging policy issues. As sales tax administrator, the Authority conducts planning studies to advance Prop K projects and supports other citywide transportation planning efforts.
The Authority's modeling group is part of the Planning section. The model is used in two manners: as an internal tool for project planning and analysis, and under the auspices of the Model Service Bureau which performs model runs for external city departments and third parties. In addition, model development is continuously being performed to keep the model up-to-date with the latest data and methods available.
The Authority is the administrator of San Francisco's half-cent sales tax for transportation. The program is known as Prop K. Allocations to projects and programs are made according to the specifications and priorities established in the Prop K Expenditure Plan. The plan establishes four broad categories of investment: transit, streets and roads, paratransit, and strategic initiatives. The Authority biennially updates a Strategic Plan for the use of Prop K, intended to establish investment priorities, and to incorporate cash flow and other strategic considerations about the management of Prop K revenues, to maximize their leverage potential.
As Congestion Management Agency for San Francisco, the Authority also programs state and federal funds for transportation projects, developing in coordination with City departments the San Francisco portion of the State Transportation Improvement Program, advocating for discretionary funds from both the state and federal governments, acting as sponsoring agency, lead agency or funding advocacy lead agency on projects of regional scope, like the Caltrain Downtown Extension and Transbay Terminal and the Doyle Drive replacement project, and representing the interests of San Francisco's transportation program before the California Transportation Commission and other governmental bodies. The Authority also receives and programs the San Francisco share (40% funds Program Manager) portion of the funds from the Transportation Fund for Clean Air, which helps local jurisdictions fund transportation projects that contribute to cleaning up the air. The Authority's funding role is inextricably connected to its long range planning and project implementation support functions, since all three are part of a strategic continuum of project delivery, from planning, to funding advocacy, to programming of funds, to project development, to tracking of grant funds, to oversight of project delivery.
Project Implementation Support and Oversight
Beyond its role as a funding agency, the Authority provides project implementation support to City departments, and it must exercise an adequate level of management oversight of all projects funded by Prop K. The Authority also has project management oversight responsibilities under SB45, for project funded with state dollars. This function includes the provision or facilitation of professional service contracts to help expedite project delivery, as well as assisting sponsoring departments in negotiating multiple-party agreements for joint delivery of projects. It also includes reviewing supporting documentation for change orders or other reimbursement requests involving complex cost allocation mechanisms or technical issues. The Authority funds recurring maintenance and rehabilitation activities in addition to the construction of new projects. Our project monitoring role includes the development, maintenance and periodic update of database management tools and project control guidelines.
In some instances the Authority, as CMA, also acts as lead agency for project development and implementation. Such is the case for the Doyle Drive Replacement Project, where the Authority is in the process of completing the environmental clearances, in preparation for the engineering design phase. The Authority also plays the fiscal agent role for non-Prop K projects being implemented by the City through specific project offices, like the Octavia Blvd. project.
B 2004 Congestion Management Network Segments at LOS F
Table 1–AM Peak Period LOS F Segments
Table 2–PM Peak Period LOS F Segments
C Overview of San Francisco Travel Demand Forecasting Model
The San Francisco Model incorporates a state of the art approach to forecasting travel demand. This activity-based model is more sensitive than traditional four-step models to a broader array of conditions that influence travelers' choices. One of the fundamental differences between the San Francisco Model and traditional models is that it is tour-based not trip-based. A tour is a sequence of trips made by an individual that begins and ends at home without any intermediate stops at home, whereas a trip is a single movement from an origin to a destination. As such the model structure is more complex than the traditional four-step process. See Attachment 1, "San Francisco Travel Demand Model Development – Executive Summary" for a fuller description of the model.
The model system was designed to use the "full day pattern" activity modeling approach. Key features of this approach are:
The following subsections provide very brief descriptions of some San Francisco Model components, in order to illuminate the types of information required for recalibration.
Workplace Location Choice
Each tour leaving home (home-based) or work (work-based) is modeled to have a number of stops ranging from one to nine–the primary destination and a maximum of four stops on each half tour. Following the hierarchy of trip purposes, and depending upon the time or distance traveled, one of these stops is classified as the primary destination. All other stops on the tour are considered to be intermediate stops made on the way to or from the primary destination. Two types of destination choice models are estimated–tour or primary destination choice models, that predict the location of the primary destination; and intermediate stop location choice models, that predict the locations of the intermediate stops on the tour. The traffic analysis zones are the potential alternatives of choice for these models.
The work location choice model is at the "top" of the decision tree. Therefore, this model is conditional on the variables in the Census Public Use Microsample (PUMS)-based sample, including residence location, household characteristics, and person characteristics, and origin-destination level of service. The primary destination choice models for the other purposes come further down the decision tree, and are conditional on the predicted vehicle availability, tour type (number of intermediate stops), and times of day (the time periods of the forward and backward half tours) for the tour.
The trip level intermediate stop location models are applied after all tour level models are applied. In addition, information on the number of intermediate stops on each half leg of the tour and the specific time periods during which these trips are made are obtained by applying pertinent models prior to applying the trip destination models.
Full Day Tour Pattern Choice
The "full day tour pattern" model predicts the key inputs to the subsequent models. This model predicts:
The second type of model is the time of day model for primary home-based tours. This model is conditional on the type of pattern predicted by the full day pattern model. It predicts the period when the traveler leaves home to begin the primary tour, simultaneously with the period when the traveler leaves the primary destination to return home. The time periods used for the models are defined as:
Work-Based and Secondary Tour Type and Tour Time Period
Several models fill in the details for the secondary tours and work-based subtours, if any. These details include:
For tours that contain intermediate stops, models then predict:
These models predict the structure of the activity pattern, and are estimated using full logit choice models. The remaining tour models fill in the details of the activity pattern, conditional on the predicted structure. These are simple classification models, based on observed distributions in the survey data.
The mode choice models differ from traditional "trip-based" mode choice models in that there are two distinct sets of mode choice models. The tour mode choice model determines the primary mode for the tour, while the trip mode choice models determine the mode for each individual trip made on that tour, based on the mode chosen for the tour. There is one Based). The following modes are defined in the trip mode choice models:
Transit Modes (access/egress mode–transit mode):
(Premium is defined as Caltrain, Ferry, and Regional Express Bus)
Note that each transit mode maintains the access and egress mode observed in the data, because the trip mode choice models are estimated using origin-destination trip records, as opposed to the traditional trip-based models that use production-attraction trip records.
There are almost no drive access or egress transit trips made by San Francisco residents for transit modes other than "Premium" (CalTrain, Ferries, Regional Express Buses) or BART. This is logical given the transit-rich environment in San Francisco that allows most residents walk-access to transit, and the relatively high cost and limited supply of parking.
The following modes are defined in the tour mode choice models:
Tour modes are defined based on the combinations of modes used for trips on tours, and reflect the fact that travelers often switch between modes on a single tour. Tour modes were coded according to the following rules:
The tour mode definitions listed above allow the traveler to utilize walk as a mode for trips on any tour, and allow the traveler to switch between transit modes and auto-passenger modes for trips on transit tours.
The visitor models were developed by estimating destination choice and trip generation from the visitor surveys that were available for San Francisco. The mode choice model structure and coefficients were based on the Honolulu, Hawaii model development effort, since these tourist markets are somewhat similar and because the Honolulu model is one of the only visitor models estimated from visitor survey data. The visitor survey data in San Francisco did not have the available data needed to estimate mode choice models.
Time of day factors were estimated from available traffic count data at select tourist destinations in San Francisco. These were applied to generate trip tables for each of the five time periods: early AM, AM peak, midday, PM peak and evening.
Transit Services in San Francisco
Fixed route transit services in San Francisco are provided by a number of operators, including MUNI, BART, Golden Gate Transit and other ferry operators, AC Transit, Samtrans, and Caltrain.
MUNI provides local bus, trolleybus, modern LRT, subway, historic streetcar, and cable car services throughout San Francisco. MUNI provides 24 hour service on many lines, and has over 700,000 boardings on an average weekday.
The Authority recently completed a full transit onboard survey for all scheduled MUNI lines. This rich dataset will be used in the near future for recalibrating the travel demand model, and for various planning studies. The onboard survey included origin/destination information, access and egress mode, trip purpose, fare, frequency of transit use, demographics and reason for using transit. Approximately 15,000 completed surveys are in the dataset.
The final report from the onboard survey will be available soon.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides heavy rail service for the Bay Area and San Francisco, including eight stations within the city limits. East Bay counties are connected to San Francisco via BART's Transbay Tube, and service south of the city has recently been extended to the San Francisco International Airport and Millbrae. BART does not operate late-night service.
BART carries approximately 175,000 commuter trips to and from San Francisco on an average weekday, and many of these passengers transfer to MUNI. BART also carries more than 60,000 internal San Francisco trips.
In the San Francisco travel model, BART service is modeled as a separate, unique transit mode.
Other Transit Modes
Samtrans and Caltrain provide transit services along the Peninsula and into San Francisco. Samtrans provides commuter bus services to the Transbay Terminal, and Caltrain has four rail stations in the city: Bayshore, Paul Avenue, 22nd Street, and the Caltrain Terminal at 4th/Townsend Street. Caltrain and Samtrans do not operate late-night service to or from San Francisco. Combined, these operators carry approximately 30,000 trips to and from San Francisco on a typical weekday. However, it is expected that the recent opening of the BART extension to Millbrae and the airport will significantly alter transit ridership patterns for all three peninsula operators.
Golden Gate Transit provides bus and ferry services between San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Golden Gate buses do not provide local services within San Francisco; rather, they only provide commuter-type services to and from the city. Average daily ridership is 30,000 passengers, over 16,000 of which are in the Golden Gate Bridge corridor. Key transfer points are the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza and the Transbay Terminal. AC Transit provides 104 local East Bay routes and 37 commuter bus routes from the East Bay to the Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco. Daily ridership on AC Transit is approximately 230,000 trips, 14,000 of which are in the Bay Bridge transbay corridor. AC Transit does not provide late-night service to or from San Francisco.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) maintains a regional travel demand forecasting model, which has been brought in-house to the Authority. To maintain consistency with MTC regional forecasts, the San Francisco model is only used to forecast trips inside the city. All intercounty movements are forecast using the MTC Model. MTC has recently updated their model for the 2005 Regional Transportation Plan and these updates are currently being incorporated into the San Francisco Model.
D MTA Intelligent Transportation Systems Projects
The Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) has initiated an umber of technology efforts to improve quality of service and system management.xxiii
SFgo Traffic Management and Transit Signal Priority Systems. SFgo is a Department of Parking and Traffic project to build a Transportation Management Center (TMC) and link it with traffic devices at key locations over a high-speed, high capacity data network. There are approximately 1200 traffic signals within the City and County of San Francisco. The SFgo program will upgrade all the traffic signal controllers and connect them via fiber optics to the TMC. From the TMC, DPT will have the ability to implement enhanced realtime signal operations and to facilitate intelligent transit signal priority at all signalized locations. The SFgo Initial Phase consists of a model deployment in the South of Market Area (SOMA).
Phases of the program will be implemented over the next 30 years, with one of the goals being to improve MUNI's on-time performance. The new Third Street light rail route includes the traffic signal infrastructure and communications network to provide transit signal priority along the entire corridor. Transit signal priority has also been implemented along portions of the Mission St. and Geary Blvd. corridors, and will be implemented citywide in phases along with the expansion of the SFgo program and Bus Rapid Transit/Transit Preferential Streets Program.
Automated Vehicle Locator System (AVL). AVL systems are primarily used to provide real-time vehicle location information and arrival schedules to transit patrons. AVL systems are also used to assist operations managers in recovery from service disruptions, providing line managers continuous updates of vehicle locations. In addition, archived AVL data provides the basis for performance and schedule adherence analysis and reporting. MUNI's AVL project currently provides real-time information on the MUNI metro (rail) lines and a portion of one trolleybus line (22-Fillmore). Real-time passenger information systems and reporting are key features of San Francisco's Bus Rapid Transit system. Prop K Expenditure Plan identifies a total expected investment of $500 million in the MUNI Metro Rapid Network and Real Time Information Systems category, including $110 million from Prop K sales tax revenues.
Wireless Radio System. MUNI has embarked on a program to replace its obsolete radio system with a state-of -the art wireless communications system. The new system will provide the wireless "backbone" to support a variety of ITS applications dependent upon reliable and high capacity communications between MUNI's Central Control and its revenue fleet. MUNI has secured a federal ITS grant for the development of procurement specifications for an ITS backbone" voice and data radio system, and is seeking funding for procurement of the replacement radio system by 2010.
ITS Vehicle projects. MUNI's new motorcoaches and electric trolleys, purchased with transportation sales tax revenues administered by the Authority, are equipped with automatic announcements and displays of the next scheduled stop based on a GPS locator. MUNI has a project to retrofit the entire fleet with this system. In addition, MUNI is implementing a project to install automatic passenger counters (APC's) and maintenance yard wireless networking. The project installs APC's on a subset of the fleet, and the wireless network is used to acquire data from the APC equipment and other on-board systems, such as closed circuit television (CCTV) and vehicle conditions.
TransLink Regional Fare Card Program. TransLink is a regional fare coordination program, designed to develop a single fare instrument that can be used on all of the region's public transportation services. The goal of the program is to make transferring between operators easier for riders through the use of a single fare instrument for multiple operators. At the regional level, procurement is proceeding for a contactless "smart card" system, which the user will simply place in proximity to a card reader either on board a vehicle or at rail station.
A demonstration project using the smart card technology was completed in the fall of 2002, and was installed only on the N-Judah line. Fare equipment to read the smart cards was placed at all MUNI Metro stations and on board all Light Rail Vehicles (LRV)s. MTC and MUNI are now analyzing the demonstration project results and the planned system-wide roll-out is scheduled for Fall 2005.
E San Francisco Bus Rapid Transit Network and Transit Preferential Streets System
This proposal integrates road charging with mobility enhancements, particularly transit improvements in order to enable provision of alternatives to driving. The Prop K Sales Tax Expenditure Plan identifies development of a Bus Rapid Network and Transit Priority Corridors as a signature project. Below is a map of the Transit Priority Network:
Below is a possible vision for BRT on Van Ness Avenue, one of the facilities to be studied in this proposal. For more information about Authority's Van Ness Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Study, please visit: http://www.sfcta.org/vanness/index.htm.
F San Francisco Examiner Articles and Editorial
Toll to drive downtown?
By Justin Nyberg
San Francisco would become the first city in the nation to charge drivers just for driving in its chronically congested downtown under a sure-to-be controversial proposal being aired today.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, chair of the San Francisco Transportation Authority, will ask the agency to study a downtown toll zone -- whereby drivers would need to purchase a daily pass to drive in The City's most congested streets -- as a potential solution to the Municipal Transportation Agency's woeful budget problems.
"The key issue here is if we can kill three birds with one stone -- relieve congestion, clean up the air, and give money to Muni–we would have hit a home run," McGoldrick said.
Modeled on similar "congestion charging" zones in London, cameras would record license plates and tickets would be issued for motorists who failed to purchase a pass. The intent is for drivers to pick other routes, avoid coming downtown or switch to MUNI, which would travel more efficiently in the faster flowing streets.
"When you have a situation where traffic is not moving, Muni is not moving," McGoldrick said. "If we are ever going to get Muni to move, we are going to have to get those cars out of there."
Traffic in downtown San Francisco streets has been an intractable problem since the day the Bay Bridge opened in 1936. Several downtown streets are consistently rated "F" by the Department of Parking and Traffic for low travel speeds at rush hour.
The study would determine the size of the toll zone, how much money it would generate and how much congestion it could eliminate.
McGoldrick's proposal comes at a politically opportune time, with MUNI considering a controversial 25 cent raise in fares, and transit activists mounting an increasingly vocal campaign to shift MUNI's budget difficulties away from the people who ride the buses. Several long-term solutions to MUNI's budget deficit have also been floated over the past few months, including the creation of a downtown "assessment district," which would essentially impose an additional tax on property owners. But that would have to be approved by two-thirds of the voters in that district and, if it were to pass, the money would not be seen for at least a year.
Additional longer term options include other taxes -- including an environmental impact fee for vehicles driving in The City; a local vehicle registration fee; an increase in the parking tax; a special parcel tax on properties within The City; and a local gas tax. All of those options would require approval by San Francisco voters, the Board of Supervisors or the California Legislature.
Sean Comey, spokesman for the American Automobile Association in San Francisco, said a downtown toll zone would unfairly punish commuters who can't take public transit. "I don't think its going to get too much further than concept," he said. Lee Blitch, president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, worried the extra expense and hassle to get to downtown could hurt business. "We are trying to get out of the recession, but go back into it," Blitch said.
Staff writer Marisa Lagos contributed to this report.
Source: Department of Parking and Transportation
Toll proposal draws strong reactions
By Justin Nyberg
"Making drivers pay to motor through downtown at rush hour is either a "win-win" solution to traffic congestion or a yet another hare-brained San Francisco scheme to raise its own cost of living, depending on whom you ask.
City officials, advocacy groups and commuters offered mixed reactions Tuesday to a proposed downtown toll zone -- an area where drivers would pay for the right to use chronically congested city streets.
"That's crazy," said Angelo Ibenez, 19, a student advisor at Golden Gate University and occasional downtown driver. "It's bad enough to pay for parking. But it seems plausible."
Tuesday, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick asked the San Francisco Transportation Authority to study the idea, which would be the first of its kind in the nation. The details -- such as how large the toll zone would be, how much the toll would cost -- remain to be worked out. "I think it's a good idea. It captures fees from people who don't live in The City but use its streets on a regular basis," said Mike McMahon, 47, an investment banker from Alameda who occasionally drives downtown.
While the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and some commuters are worried the tolls may drive business away from The City, the Bay Area Council -- coalition of large employers -- is open to the idea.
"It could greatly relieve congestion in the central San Francisco area, so it makes sense to study how that would work and study what the revenue would be used for," said Michael Cunningham, the council's vice president for transportation.
McGoldrick has suggested using it for public transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, which drew the support of transit advocates. City officials were slow to take a stand on the controversial idea before a more concrete plan can be developed.
"The devil is in the details," said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, echoing comments by others, including the mayor. A similar "congestion-charging zone" in London has dramatically reduced congestion and increased transit usage.
"I'm open to exploring creative ways to raise revenues," Mayor Gavin Newsom said. "But London's not San Francisco and San Francisco's not London."
Source: Examiner research, AAA. Reporter Jo Stanley contributed to this report.
Downtown toll zone?
THE SAN FRANCISCO Transportation Authority should explore the possibility of charging for automobile access to a special zone in a downtown sector of The City, says Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who as chairman of the authority on Tuesday asked its staff to pursue federal grant funding for a study.
Drivers in such a zone would have to buy a pass, with cameras monitoring compliance. The system would be aimed at discouraging the use of cars downtown, and money from fees would be directed to The City's MUNI transit system.
It sounds farfetched, and it is unprecedented in the United States. But London, Rome and Singapore all have their own toll zones. Some smaller European cities have them as well. And San Francisco's downtown congestion is so bad that any idea with potential to alleviate it is worth serious consideration. As The Examiner reported Tuesday, a number of city streets have average evening commute speeds from just less than 10 mph to only 2.6 mph.
That's not to say there are no potential drawbacks to a downtown toll zone. While such zones are intended in part to encourage people to use public transportation, would such a zone here discourage people from going downtown at all? Downtown businesses might derive some benefit from lighter automobile traffic, but if that goes too far it might mean fewer shoppers. And what of workers who commute from places where public transportation into The City is not an option? Should some commuters get exemptions or discounts? Should shoppers be allowed free entry if they park in a city-owned garage? It also would require oversight to ensure that the money generated from the toll would not be used for other purposes, as money for the upkeep of the Hetch Hetchy water system was diverted for many years.
A downtown traffic toll is, at the least, a fresh and fascinating idea. If a study can be done with federal grant money at little or no cost to San Francisco, it should by all means be pursued. But no one should expect this idea to be easy to implement, even if it proves to be feasible. If nothing else, it would likely take a considerable effort to convince skeptical residents and businesses, along with elected officials, of the merit of such a plan before pushing it forward. Still, transportation is one of the core challenges of life and business in San Francisco, and the people who live and work here should expect that every possible resolution will be explored. The only option that should be off the table is to do nothing.
G SF Weekly Article Calling for Raising Downtown Parking Charges
The city's proposed parking-rate increases are a scandal. They aren't nearly large enough.
BY MATT SMITH
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency -- the bureaucracy that runs our bus and light-rail systems, city-owned parking garages, and street-parking enforcement operations -- plans to raise parking fees at garages and parking meters citywide by 50 cents per hour, while raising bus and rail fares by 25 cents to $1.50. To help patch a $55 million budget shortfall for the Municipal Railway, the fines for illegal parking will also go up as much as $25, depending on the infraction.
But as policy, it's the parking-fee hike that's ridiculous. It discriminates against the little guy, and it's an abuse of the powers of the commonweal.
The parking-fee increase is not nearly large enough. It should be perhaps 20 times as much. The reasons? Arithmetic and economics.
The city's proposed rate hike will take downtown metered street-parking fees from $2 up to $2.50 per hour. That's an increase of 25 percent, but the rate still constitutes a subsidy of between $5 and $7.50 per hour to downtown streetside parkers. That's right, California Parking Co., a private garage operator, charges $7.50 to $10 an hour to park in its various Financial District facilities. By definition, what those private garages charge is what the Financial District parking market will bear. The city has chosen to offer up to a 75 percent discount on that market rate at its 2,707 downtown parking meters. We're talking millions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies here.
Before you choke on the idea that charging $2.50 per hour for downtown parking is a misguided government subsidy, contemplate the obvious (but rarely contemplated, at least in California) idea that parking spaces aren't free.
Every 150 square feet the city uses to provide a parking space at the curb rather than a wider sidewalk, a transit lane, or a greenway that reduces runoff into the bay is a piece of city property that doesn't provide space for people to walk, ride bikes, take transit, or simply enjoy. And every time the city rents that space at a below-market rate for car parking, people are encouraged to drive, rather than move about in other ways. Even with the meter increases, at $2.50 per hour for convenient streetside parking the official city policy will lure motorists into our congested downtown area, which happens to be one of the most mass transit-rich neighborhoods in western North America. That's simply stupid.
"We're looking at a balanced way to share the solution," is how Stuart Sunshine, deputy executive director at the MTA, described this madly lopsided budget fix to the San Francisco Chronicle.
If maintaining huge downtown parking subsidies is dumb, the other half of this supposedly balanced plan -- an increase in transit fares -- is plain loony.
The picayune hike in meter fees will only make up $13.5 million of the $55 million MUNI budget shortfall. MUNI plans to close the rest of the gap by hiking San Francisco's current $1.25 bus and rail fare to $1.50, raising an additional $24 million. The agency proposes to save another $15 million by reducing service.
Need I mention that making it that much less attractive to ride the train and bus -- and therefore a better option to drive -- will further increase congestion downtown and anywhere else buses and trains go frequently and affordably? Transit subsidies improve our quality of life by reducing traffic and increasing access. Parking subsidies in congested, transit-served areas make that quality worse.
Rincon Hill, a neighborhood just southeast of Market and the Embarcadero, is experiencing a high-rise housing boom. The adjoining South of Market area is transforming from a derelict industrial area into a mixed-use, high-rise neighborhood with thousands of new residents.
The MTA's "balanced solution" is a budget-year fix that pays no apparent attention to what's best, long-term, for the city: reduced congestion, increased access, and better quality of life. By discouraging transit use while leaving in place incentives to drive, it sets in motion a scenario in which downtown neighborhoods, old and new, will be incrementally more choked with smelly, loud, ugly, dangerous, space-hogging automobile traffic.
That's not balanced.
H Rescue MUNI Opinion Piece
San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Another year, another MUNI budget crisis. Each year, it seems, San Francisco's Municipal Railway is stuck with hard choices on service cuts and increases in parking fees and fares, all to deal with the increasing costs of providing public transit in San Francisco. Last week, the Municipal Transportation Agency proposed raising fares and parking fees again, for the second time in three years, to address a $57 million budget gap -- and it is almost certain that the exact same issues will come back in the next year or two. The MUNI's operating costs, particularly labor costs such as wages, health care and retirement benefits, are rising much faster than are MUNI's revenues, and the dedicated general fund subsidy established in 1999 (Proposition E) is not sufficient to cover these cost increases.
More than in previous years, MUNI's board has taken a transit-first approach toward the budget this year, raising more ($20 million) from projected increases in parking fees and fines as from fares ($13 million), while cutting service less than would be required otherwise. In doing so, the board followed the voters' guidance, as expressed in Prop. E, to provide incentives to switch to the MUNI from driving.
This budget isn't ideal by any means -- transit advocates like Rescue MUNI would prefer that more come from parking and less from the riders -- but at least it keeps fares relatively low at $1.50 -- much less than in New York City, for example, where the fare is $2. However, this rate of increase in fares, fees and fines is not sustainable over the long haul. Unless riders want to pay $2 or more per trip, and auto drivers can afford $100 per parking ticket, there is a real need to find alternative sources of revenue for MUNI.
San Franciscans have repeatedly voted to fund public-transit capital projects in recent years, voting for Proposition K in 2003 to extend the half- cent sales tax for transportation, and also approving BART seismic-retrofit bonds last year. But operating funds have been historically more difficult: Voters rejected a proposed downtown transit-assessment district (Proposition O) in 1994. So it is important that any proposal for MUNI funding have broad public support. And -- because voters have repeatedly approved the transit-first policy -- it is critical that any new source provide incentives for people to use transit instead of driving.
Two proposals that would both raise money for the MTA and encourage transit use are a vehicle environmental-impact fee (in essence, a local vehicle license fee) and an increase in the commercial parking tax. Both of these would make driving somewhat more expensive and less desirable, helping to reduce MUNI delays by reducing congestion.
According to the MUNI's own projections, a 10 percent increase in the parking tax (to 35 percent) would raise $4.3 million for the MUNI (and $4.3 million for the general fund, as required by the city charter), but would require approval by two-thirds of voters.
A local vehicle fee would require a change in state law, which San Mateo County recently negotiated. The revenue from this fee could be substantial: a $100-per-vehicle fee would raise approximately $40 million annually for MUNI, based on the Department of Motor Vehicle's tally of more than 450,000 cars in San Francisco. It would also be possible to charge larger vehicles, such as the overweight SUVs that cause excessive damage to our streets, more under such a fee; this would help improve traffic safety as well as encouraging transit ridership.
A more conventional proposal for funding the MUNI is to increase the city sales tax by another quarter percent, from 8.25 percent to 8.5 percent, with the money dedicated to MUNI operations. This would generate approximately $32 million per year. By state law, San Francisco's sales tax is capped at 8.75 percent, so if this increase is adopted, there will be no option to increase it in the future. This is attractive for the MUNI, however, because it generates a substantial amount of revenue, and because the sales tax excludes food and rent, it is not as regressive as other taxes. The MTA could put a sales tax for the MUNI on the ballot; it, too, would require a two-thirds vote to be approved.
A final proposal that merits consideration is congestion charging, recently proposed by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick for downtown San Francisco. London, Singapore, Rome and other major cities issue paid permits to all motorists traveling downtown during business hours on weekdays, both to raise money for transit and to reduce delays. This has been a huge success in London, reducing congestion by 30 percent and bus delays by 20 percent in the downtown area, according to Transport for London.
While it would require a change in state law, congestion charging is a terrific idea for San Francisco. Even if it didn't raise a penny for the MUNI, the improvement in reliability would be huge, and the MUNI would be able to save millions in operating costs by running buses faster and more reliably.
But why should nonriders pay higher taxes and fees to support the MUNI? The answer is that reliable transit service is critical for everyone to get around San Francisco, transit riders and nonriders alike. And, of course, most auto drivers also take transit from time to time. When transit riders are driven off the MUNI by higher fares or lengthy delays, traffic increases substantially, and everyone is delayed as a result. So it just makes sense for everyone to contribute to a reliable and low-cost Municipal Railway.
A higher sales tax, an annual vehicle fee or a small congestion charge is well worth it for reliable public transportation -- and the reduced automobile traffic it brings. San Francisco voters have repeatedly voted to make San Francisco a transit-first city. It's time to put our money where our mouth is.
Andrew Sullivan is chairman of Rescue MUNI (www.rescuemuni.org), a nonprofit made up transit riders in San Francisco.
I San Francisco Planning and Urban Research on Parking
[The following are excerpts from the report. Please see the full report at http://www.spur.org/documents/050101_report_01.shtm]
PARKING AND LIVABILITY IN DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO
PARKING POLICIES TO DISCOURAGE CONGESTION AND IMPROVE THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEW, MIXED-USE DOWNTOWN
This report was written by the SPUR Transportation Committee, Dave Snyder, committee chairman and principal author. Kearstin Dischinger, as an intern for Transportation for a Livable City, researched and wrote portions of the paper. The paper was studied, debated, and edited by the entire SPUR Board, and adopted as official SPUR policy on October 20, 2004.
THE IMPACT OF PARKING ON CONGESTION
The cost of parking and its availability, most transportation analyses agree, have the most significant impacts on travelers' mode choice. A 1987 study that compared nearly identical buildings with different parking supplies found that solo driving occurred where parking supply was more than ample. According to the Citywide Transportation Behavior Study the availability of parking is one of the three most crucial factors cited by automobile users when making travel mode decisions. An older study of transit use for San Francisco hospitals found that the availability of parking was the second most important determinant in mode split, preceded only by parking price.
Numerous cities have somewhat mitigated congestion by limiting the over-development of parking spaces by instituting parking maximums instead of traditional parking minimums. Eugene and Portland, Oregon; Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts; Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue, Washington are among the first cities to apply parking maximums. Data indicate that parking maximums result in a slight increase in public transportation use and slight decreases in traffic congestion.
Another effective parking policy to limit peak hour congestion is to eliminate subsidies for employee parking. In May 2002 the State of California adopted the "parking cash-out" law that prohibits employers from offering free parking for their employees unless they offer those employees the option to accept cash in lieu of the cost of parking. The law applies to companies in counties that do not meet California air quality standards (all but two) and that do not own their employee parking spaces, but lease them from another owner on behalf of their employees. This program is very effective. In one study of eight companies (ranging in size from 120 to 300 employees with 1,694 employees total), after employees were given the option to accept cash in lieu of free parking, solo driving to work fell by 17 percent. Carpooling increased by 64 percent. Transit ridership increased by 50 percent. Walking and bicycling increased by 33 percent.Commuter parking demand fell by 11 percent.
Through adjustments in price and supply of parking, we can reduce the commuter parking demand, and reduce peak hour traffic enough to implement the variety of transit, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements that will help downtown San Francisco to continue to flourish as it evolves into a vital 24-hour district.
Implementation of the following recommendations will help reduce automobile travel demand, by providing the right amount of parking. Implementation and enforcement of most of these measures is the responsibility of the Planning Department. However, the Mayor's Office, the Municipal Transportation Agency, and the SFCTA should also review and consider these recommendations.
J COUNTYWIDE TRANSPORTATION PLAN OUTREACH NEWSLETTER
iv SFCTA, 2004 Countywide Transportation Plan, July 2004, p. 40. http://www.sfcta.org/documents-and-data/documents/countywide-transportation-plan-2004
vii "By definition, what those private garages charge is what the Financial District parking market will bear. The city has chosen to offer up to a 75 percent discount on that market rate at its 2,707 downtown parking meters. We're talking millions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies here." Matt Smith, "The city's proposed parking-rate increases are a scandal. They aren't nearly large enough." SF Weekly, February 16, 2005.
viii A key resource has been the publication Developing Traveler Information Systems Using the National ITS Architecture, US Department of Tranpsortation, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, August 1998.
ix Variable pricing is a subset of value pricing that involves changing the value of the price over time. The most common variable pricing scheme is the one currently implemented by the SR91 Express Lanes: time-of-day pricing. A subset of variable pricing is dynamic pricing, in which the pricing changes based on feedback from the system (most commonly real-time feedback). The FHWA and states have funded over 50 demonstration, evaluation, and implementation projects for dynamic pricing across the U.S. since 2000. California, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington have been most actively developing dynamic pricing projects and continue to lead the way with an increasing numbers of studies occurring over the next year or two. In the U.S., corridor projects and HOV-HOT lane conversion projects receive the most attention. In California, I-15 is demonstrating dynamic pricing and SR-91 is demonstrating variable pricing by time of day. Cambridge Systematics. 2005.
x In February 2003, the largest and most extensive road pricing project in the world launched in London. Vehicles are electronically charged a flat fee (now ranging from �5 to �10, depending on time of paymentx) between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. to enter the CBD during weekdays. According to one study (Deloitte & Touche LLP, 2003), traffic speeds have increased 37 percent, congestion has dropped 40 percent during charging hours, and round-trip travel times have reduced 13 percent. These results have led to a flood of interest from other cities (European and some American). Historically, several cities in Europe have had some form of CBD charging or restrictions, including Trondheim (Norway), and Stuttgart (Germany). With the success of the London scheme, several cities are considering converting existing restrictions or initiating new projects, including Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and Stockholm (Sweden). CSI Value Pricing Paper.
xi The Authority has created and maintains complex financial models to support decision-making for managing the Prop K Strategic Plan, a 30-year sales tax program that includes substantial borrowing. The Authority maintains a credit rating of AA-.
xiii The use of public-private models is discussed in DeCorla-Souza and Barker, "Innovative Public Private Partnership Models for Road Pricing/BRT Initiatives", Journal of Public Transport, January 2005.
xiv Discussed in 2004 Countywide Transportation Plan, Chapter 5, based on the work of Shoup, see Kolozsvari and Shoup's documentation of Pasadena's demonstration of the parking assessment district concept in "Turning Small Change into Big Changes", Access No.23, Fall 2003.
xv With 10 mph speeds, London launched its "congestion charging zone" Feb. 17, 2003. Between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., driving into an eight-square-mile section of the city center requires a $10 pass -- purchased ahead of time online, over the phone or at places throughout the city. A network of more than 700 cameras photograph vehicles' license plates and computers issue violations of at least $90 for drivers who failed to buy the pass by midnight. Six months after the system went on line, traffic was reduced by 18 percent, with a 30 percent reduction in cars and 20 percent increase in buses and taxis, according to the Commission for Integrated Transport, an advisory body to the British government. An average of 10,000 people now pay the charge each day. An estimated $1.5 billion in toll revenue it is expected by 2008 and the system is expected to cost London about $944 million by the same date. Justin Nyberg, "London's experiment a success" SF Examiner, February 15, 2005.
xvi At least 8 San Francisco neighborhoods are considering establishing "community benefit districts" in which property owners vote to tax themselves in order to provide services above and beyond those offered by city government (a parking assessment district overlay could add incremental parking revenue to the sources of funding for desired enhancements). Adriel Hampton, "Community benefit districts catch on" San Francisco Independent, February 26, 2005.
xvii We note that Federal authorizing legislation for the FHWA Value Pricing Program enables funds to be used for transit–provided transit is required to mitigate the impacts on low-income drivers–in which case it is considered a "project cost"Section 1012(b)(7) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), as amended by 1216(a) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA–21).
xxi The budget amount reflects the fact that the proposed initiative is comprised of a road pricing study plus a parking pricing study/pilot. Consequently, the budget addresses the categories called out in the FHWA application only for those categories that are applicable. For example, it does not address the "after" assessment or "long term monitoring" for the road pricing portion, since those would require that there first be some form of implementation.
xxiii Municipal Transportation Agency, Short Range Transportation Plan FY 2004-2023, pg. 43, 48- 49. The MTA includes the Department of Parking and Traffic and the Municipal Railway (MUNI), which operates the local transit system within the city limits of San Francisco.
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