San Francisco is considering a plan to charge drivers for the privilege of driving into and out of their city, beginning in 2015.
Tolls would be exacted during morning and afternoon rush hours, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Under consideration would be charging $6 to leave the northeast section of the city during the afternoon rush, and charging $3 to cross the city's southern border.
Congestion pricing has its benefits -- as a way to reduce traffic and encourage public transit in large cities -- but it makes very little sense in a small city like San Francisco with a relatively weak public transit system.
Particularly problematic are the possible fees for motorists coming into the city from the south. That might make sense if the BART subway extended down the peninsula, but it stops around San Francisco International Airport. The CalTRAIN commuter rail that runs down the peninsula lacks capacity and convenience. So there's no real public transit alternative for many of the people who might want to come into the city from the south. So many people would choose not to. Many employers would stay away too.
How does that help San Francisco? It doesn't. This is an example of fear of traffic overwhelming good sense -- and an example of San Francisco as a place totally apart from the rest of the California. (This post was written by an Angeleno, albeit one who presided over an international conference there earlier this year).
The good news is that sometimes reality intrudes on the city; the passage of Prop 26 last week (a very bad policy idea in most respects) may require voters to approve these new fees.