Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ford's Paradox - Central Subway and Congestion Pricing.

I saw the following snippet on the SF Appeal that I found very humorous, in this article.

During his presentation of the report to the board, Ford said that with local sales tax revenues in decline and other sources of SFMTA revenue susceptible to market fluctuations, "We need to seek out more stable funding sources."

He cited ideas such as congestion pricing and variable parking prices in more parts of the city as ways to add revenue.

"Without these, we will not be able to close critical funding gaps" to pay for projects such as the Central Subway Project, he said. The Muni extension is slated to open in 2018.
Each of the board directors addressed the report and expressed how they would like to see Muni service improved.

This is amusing to me. A lot of transit advocates oppose the Central Subway on the grounds that it's pretty much a waste of money. I am in this camp - the arguments for the Central Subway trumpet the fact it will go to Caltrain, as someone who has taken the MUNI underground to Caltrain I can very clearly state that getting off at Powell and walking 5+ minutes the opposite direction of the Caltrain station, then going down 2 levels to switch to the CS, will not be an improvement. At that point, I'd rather just go to ground level and walk down 4th Street.

Most people advocating for the CS (aside from Construction firms who stand to profit and Politicians who will get photo ops) don't actually take transit. They just know that Stockton Street is a mess, and think that a subway will magically fix that. They look at a map in isolation and see the "connection" at Market which isn't really a connection, or they just assume that since we are building it, that there will actually be a connection. They ignore that the Chinatown stop will be NINE stories underground - tell me how that is an improvement to a ground level stop for the 30/45?

On the flip side, Transit Advocates generally are in favor of congestion pricing, and people who don't take transit think congestion pricing is a dumb idea. Now, Nat Ford is connecting the Central Subway with congestion pricing. In order to have the money to complete and run the Central Subway, we're going to have to raise parking prices and implement congestion pricing.

So if you are against the Central Subway, would you be willing to let them build it if we get congestion pricing? (for the record, I am completely ambivalent on congestion pricing - I rarely drive or bike in the areas affected). If you are for the Central Subway, but were told that if we build it that the city will be implementing congestion pricing, does that change your mind?

Personally, I say no Central Subway, no congestion pricing. The Subway is a waste of money, and I'm not so sure that we really have the traffic to justify congestion pricing - granted I have driven onto the Bay Bridge from SoMa during rush hour once or twice and it wasn't very pleasant, so I can't really speak to this compared to people who deal with that daily. I just wonder how much money the city would take in compared to the implementation, and if it is justified by whatever benefits congestion pricing would bring (vs the unintended side effects).


NadiaMac said...

have you looked at the proposed congestion pricing zone? It currently extends into Potrero Hill (stops at 18th street or so). So I expect that it does impact areas that you ride through (for example, Townsend to 4th and king station). the zone is way larger than just downtown

murphstahoe said...

Well, they aren't charging congestion prices for bikes... so I won't generally be paying (a car trip for us generally means down 19th to the GG Bridge).

Theoretically it could reduce traffic on places like Townsend, but I don't consider that a real trouble area - at least not because of cars. Poor street design yes, traffic no.

Jason said...

Agreed that Central Subway is a dumb idea. Chinatown would be much better served by BRT. Want to clean up the Stockton St. mess? Make it a transit-only street and implement BRT on it.