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BAY AREA GROUP PROPOSES "CONGESTION PRICING" DEMONSTRATION ON THE BAY BRIDGE TO EASE TRAFFIC AND SMOG

 OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- A common practice in the telephone industry and other utilities -- demand-based pricing -- is now


being considered for transportation in the Bay Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) said today. Today, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Legislation and Public Affairs Committee was briefed on a proposal for a demonstration of "congestion pricing" -- charging higher tolls during peak travel hours -- in the San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge Corridor. Backing the proposal is a task force of government, business, environmental and public interest groups who see congestion pricing as a means to untangle traffic and curb air pollution from vehicle emissions.
 "Traffic lanes get jammed much like telephone lines do when demand exceeds supply. We want to explore the feasibility of applying congestion pricing, which is commonly used by the telecommunications industry as well as by energy utilities, to transportation. We think the Bay Bridge, as one of the busiest and most congested corridors in the nation, is an ideal proving ground," said MTC Chairman Steve Weir.
 The proposal, in response to a new federal law that seeks to fund up to five congestion pricing demonstration projects nationwide, is being developed by a task force that includes MTC, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Bay Area Council, the Bay Area Economic Forum, Caltrans, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Spearheaded by MTC, it requests a federal grant to study and implement various options for toll pricing during peak and off-peak hours. Lower tolls during off-peak hours will be considered along with increased tolls during peak commute times. The total funds being requested is $23 million, the majority of which would be used to beef-up mass transit and ridesharing services, which might include new bus, BART and ferry services as well as carpools and vanpools. After an initial study phase, MTC would present recommendations to the public and to the California Legislature, which would have to approve any changes in current bridge toll rates. With state legislative approval, implementation of a congestion pricing demonstration would likely begin in late 1994.
 The federal grants, to be administered by the Federal Highway


Administration, are expected to be awarded this spring. MTC is the transportation planning and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
 -0- 2/10/93
 /CONTACT: Ellen Griffin, 510-464-7847, or Catalina Alvarado, 510-464-7783, both of MTC/


CO: Metropolitan Transportation Commssion ST: California IN: TRN SU:

SG -- SF009 -- 5278 02/10/93 15:13 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 10, 1993
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