And, lower East Bay prices too! Win-win-win!
By Mike Rosenberg, The Oakland Tribune
Posted: 01/31/2011 07:23:07 AM PST, Updated: 01/31/2011 09:26:52 AM PST
A group of city, county and transportation officials this week released the new San Mateo Countywide Transportation Plan, which includes support for congestion pricing on the two bridges that connect the Peninsula and East Bay.
"I think it’s a shame they haven’t done congestion pricing," said Rich Napier, executive director of the county’s congestion management agency, which is overseeing the transportation plan. "It does work."
(Photo, above right: Drivers crossing the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges would pay higher tolls during rush hours under a plan Peninsula officials are urging Bay Area leaders to adopt. File photo, The Oakland Tribune.)
Now, some readers of this site are really clever people, and will simply glance at the headline above and figure it out immediately. Others of you need to be taken by the hand and have a few things spelled out really slowly and carefully.
Congestion pricing, in case you haven’t tried driving across the Bay Bridge during commute hours, means that the toll is higher during rush hour when everyone else is going to work. At present, Bay Bridge congestion pricing is $6 during peak commute hours and $4 other times. The San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges have a $5 toll at all times, rush hour or not.
Now, here’s the part you should have already worked out:
Drivers at the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges typically wait less than two minutes to get through the toll booth, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.
Still, officials said traffic data shows many of the logjams on Highway 101 are caused by commuters who take advantage of cheaper housing in the East Bay and cross the bridges for their jobs in the Peninsula. Slowing traffic on the bridges during the commute could have a ripple effect on Highway 101, where officials have struggled for years to ease bottlenecks, they said.
Ooooh, ripple effect! Double rainbow all the way! Across the sky! By making commuting more expensive or more inconvenient, homes on the Peninsula close to jobs will become even more valuable. Meanwhile, “cheaper housing in the East Bay” won’t be such a bargain once the commute costs more time and money. Expect that desirability deficit to work itself into pricing homes in the East Bay if congestion pricing moves to Peninsula bridges.
In related bridge toll news, the Golden Gate bridge authority is getting rid of all their human toll-takers and switching to an all-electronic system.