According to the “TomTom Traffic Index of 2017,” released on February 21, San Francisco is the 3rd most congested city in the United States. To anyone who has witnessed recent traffic conditions in San Francisco this will come as no surprise. Let’s face it, City Government has dropped the ball on traffic congestion. Here are a few of the more obvious problems in need of solutions:
1.) The daily inflow of vehicles from the Peninsula will soon hit 300,000 cars and trucks a day. (More than from the two bridges combined). And yet no one seems to notice. There are ways of moderating this daily inflow.
2.) San Francisco’s transportation capital program is mostly a disaster. While there are some bright spots here and there (e.g. Red Lanes, DTX conceptual design, new buses), much of the City’s transportation resources seem to get spent on enterprises of small consequence. Needed is a better and more analytical way of establishing transportation capital priorities.
3.) Lyft and Uber are privately owned computer-dispatched vehicles that many have found to be convenient. Failing to anticipate the problems that such services would cause in San Francisco, City Hall initially sanctioned and even encouraged their development. We are now seeing the results. The estimated 45,000 Lyft and Uber vehicles currently operating in San Francisco are both further clogging city streets and cutting into Muni ridership.
City Hall does not appear to understand is that if people in San Francisco start abandoning collective travel in favor of individual conveyances….especially Lyft and Uber….the traffic will get gradually increase until congestion itself becomes the limiting factor….and no one is going to like that very much.
A Supervisor has suggested that a $0.20 tax per trip be imposed on Lyft and Uber travel. She’s shooting too low. The tax should be at least $0.20 a mile. In fact the tax or other disincentives should be sufficient to hold the number of computer-dispatched automobiles operating in San Francisco to a predetermined City-established limit, below 45,000 vehicles.
As San Francisco develops and becomes more populated, it becomes increasingly necessary to get smarter about how we plan and develop the accompanying infrastructure.