San Francisco streets are often jammed during rush hour, making travel times unreliable for motorists and transit riders. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) decided to explore congestion pricing—a fee on motorist entry to the most congested areas of the city—paired with tailored transit service improvements, traffic calming and parking programs, and bicycle and pedestrian network improvements.
Nelson\Nygaard staff member Principal Zabe Bent, then Principal Transportation Planner at SFCTA, led the congestion pricing feasibility study, one of only a handful in the nation. The effort required expanding and refining the city’s activity-based travel demand model to capture effects of the different pricing scenarios as well as exploring conceptual system design, economic impacts, and legal issues.
Coordination with four advisory groups and extensive outreach activities further guided study efforts. As critical questions arose, the team developed tools to address them head-on. A survey of 1,400 shoppers in downtown San Francisco and competing areas was critical in demonstrating that the frequency with which transit riders and pedestrians shop actually amounts to greater average monthly spending than drivers, offsetting many business concerns. Such responsive analyses and communications helped to ensure the successful adoption of the study report.
SFCTA asked Nelson\Nygaard to work on its parking pricing and regulation study, which will be incorporated into environmental analysis of congestion pricing.