Vehicles entering and leaving Treasure Island will be charged a toll to manage congestion. A large development is planned on the island that could bring around 8,000 new homes. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Treasure Island residents could get a break on tolls

New proposal would exempt current occupants from congestion pricing for at least six years

Update (12:30 p.m.): The Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Committee on Tuesday approved an exemption from a future congestion pricing toll for some 1,800 current Treasure Island residents.

The benefit has been expanded so that current residents will not have to pay a toll of up to $3.50 for trips to the island until the first 4,000 units of a planned 8,000 unit development project on the island are constructed. The estimated date for the units’ completion is 2029.

The proposed exemption must still be approved by the agency’s full board next Tuesday.

Original story: Some 1,800 people currently living on Treasure Island, where around 8,000 new homes are slated to rise in the coming years, could get a break on a proposed toll of up to $3.50 for trips on and off the island.

The exemption would start in 2021 and could last at least six years, according to Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes Treasure Island.

The exemption is expected to be approved at the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency (TIMMA) Committee on Tuesday, after which it will move before the full TIMMA board, made of up city supervisors, next Tuesday for a vote. It is part of a series of policy actions recommended by transportation officials through 2020 to complete the congestion pricing program proposed for the island.

The Treasure Island Development Project, which included a transportation plan calling for a “comprehensive, integrated program to manage travel demand on Treasure Island as it develops,” was first approved in 2011.

Recommended strategies to reduce the project’s traffic impacts included requiring residents to purchase transit passes, implementing parking fees, and “a multimodal congestion pricing program that applies motorist user fees to support enhanced and new bus, ferry, and shuttle transit,” according to a memo the TIMMA committee proposing the exemption.

Treasure Island’s population is expected to increase to 20,000 people by the time the development is completed. Planned as part of the island’s development are additional services from Muni, AC Transit and a new ferry terminal — but these services are not yet fully funded.

Nearly a year ago, a vote on the toll planned for 2021 was shelved in light of stark opposition by residents, according to TIMMA Deputy Director for Planning Rachel Hiatt.

As proposed, drivers will be charged in both directions, entering and leaving the island, and on weekdays the toll will be $3.50 during peak hours and $2 off-peak, the Examiner reported previously.

On weekends the price would drop to $1 during peak hours and would be free during off-peak hours. Trips to Treasure Island from Oakland only will be discounted by half to make up for the bridge toll in that direction. Drivers without FastPass will be charged an extra $1.

“The feedback that we heard from our board and community last fall and through this year identified a couple issues we needed to look at more,” said Hiatt, adding that these issues included “ provisions for current residents, for future low income residents, and for low wage workers on the island.”

“We have been doing more outreach, [including] travel demand forecasting and financial projection for different options including exemptions, discounts other types of benefits,” she said, adding that additional policy decision will be made “through next spring.”

The details of the proposed toll — including pricing and hours — have yet to be decided on, according to Hiatt. The transportation agency will also have to identify additional revenue sources “to keep the same plan and service level.”

“We don’t want to cut transit,” said Hiatt. She said that in exchange for granting exemptions to current residents, the future toll “could be higher for the remaining people who do pay to close some of that gap.”

Haney said that he believes granting benefits to current residents is only fair, given that a majority of the residents in Treasure Island’s some 600 households are low-income.

“Obviously the concern and rationality of putting a toll [on low and] middle income residents of the island before it’s been built up doesn’t make any sense,” Haney told the San Francisco Examiner last week.

He said that following feedback from residents gathered at about a dozen outreach hearings, he directed transportation officials to come up with an “alternative plan” that does not include charging current residents with the congestion pricing toll.

“No other neighborhood in San Francisco is required to pay a toll to go home at night and there are no congestion issues on Treasure Island right now,” said Haney. “The residents of the island are not responsible for congestion on the Bay Bridge — they make up a very small part of the overall traffic on the bridge and they feel like they are being punished unfairly and prematurely.”

Haney added that he would be supportive of granting a toll exemption to current residents beyond six years, and to also have future low-income residents of the island be included in the benefit. He said that some 30 percent of the new development will be set aside as affordable housing.

“I don’t think if you live in affordable housing that you should pay the toll, now or in the future,” said Haney. “But it’s important that we can communicate to current residents that [none of them] will pay the toll for the next six years.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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