Monday, June 26th, 2006 at 6:43 pm in Misc. Transportation.
In writing a postmortem on three days of free transit provided by the $7.5 million Spare the Air Program, a largely federally funded anti-smog program, I found an interesting reticence to embrace this utopian ideal.
Instead of free transit, the area leaders seem more intent on charging commuters more, albeit for noble ends.
Theres congestion pricing. In one form, it would allow people who are in a hurry and willing to spend maybe $7 to get past a traffic jam. The idea is being incorporated into the Smart Lanes, a.k.a., “HOT lanes, for high-occupancy/toll lanes.
In another form, it might someday make anyone who wants to drive into San Francisco pay a fee just as Londoners have done for several years.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents the county on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, saw the three Spare the Air Days as a beacon to a future that others dismiss as a pipe dream.
He likes to talk about free transit as a worthy goal, and points to the Spare the Air experience as proof that commuters respond to the idea.
And even if the goal seems other-worldly, the planet we live upon may have it no other way, he told me.
“Theres a bigger question out here; what were seeing with climate change, with extreme winters, extreme heat, he said. “The 10 hottest years that weve had were the last 10 years.
And remember that heat, as Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokesman Aaron Richardson reminds us, is one of the main contributing factors to the chemical reaction that creates smog.
And as our climate heats up and the evidence for that is becoming harder and harder to deny, “we’re going to have to find a way to move people more effectively the single-occupancy vehicle, Haggerty says.
“When you see (ridership) increases that we’re seeing right now, it shows people will ride transit. You just have to give them incentive.