MTA suffers with Doyle Drive toll failure

Funding for Doyle Drive isn’t all that San Francisco will lose if state legislation isn’t passed to implement a toll on the seismically unsafe road — federal funds for city programs aimed at improving traffic flow and making parking easier to find will also be withheld.

SFgo, a transit signal priority system in development by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for years, will miss out on $58 million in federal funding; and SFpark, an MTA-incubated program that explores expedient parking options, will lose $20 million, if legislation regarding the toll isn’t approved by March 31.

In August, the San Francisco region was awarded $158.7 million in federal funding for transportation upgrades through a government grant program. The funding, however, is contingent upon a resolution for the Doyle Drive toll — a fare proposal opposed by many North Bay politicians who believe it will unfairly tax commuters from Marin and Sonoma counties.

“Losing $78 million to make it easier to park and take the bus, while running the risk of catastrophic destruction at Doyle Drive, should have people up in arms,” said Dave Snyder, the transportation policy director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a public-policy think tank. “All because Marin commuters don't want to pay an extra $1 or $2 toll?”

The SFgo program, aligned with bus rapid transit projects proposed for Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue, would hold signal lights for transit vehicles, helping to improve the flow of traffic, MTA spokeswoman Janis Yuen said.

SFpark would provide information about available parking information spots via cell phone messages, install on-street sensors and accept more forms of payment for meters, Yuen said.

“Without federal funding, only Proposition K funds will support capital improvements,” Yuen said, referring to the 2003 voter-approved measure that allocated a portion of sales tax income to public transportation funding. “It will greatly deplete resources for the next five years.”

Andrew Sullivan, of the citizen advocacy group Rescue Muni, said The City could use congestion-management tactics such as SFgo and SFpark.

“San Francisco transit riders and automobiles will definitely benefit from federal funding for the MTA programs,” Sullivan said. “This is one more reason we should support congestion pricing methods like the Doyle Drive toll.”

wreisman@examiner.com

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