As the state of New York barrels ahead with congestion pricing to battle climate change and traffic, a similar plan for San Francisco has been shelved, likely to the relief of retailers and small business owners.

In the state of New York. new-ish Governor Kathy Hochul is still going full speed ahead on a controversial plan to charge a congestion pricing fee in parts of Manhattan, a plan which has been in the works for more than three years. It may surprise you to hear that San Francisco has been considering a similar model for roughly the same amount of time — a plan to reduce traffic, battle climate change, and improve public safety by charging somewhere around $6.50 to drive into downtown at certain peak hours.

So as Gov. Hochul suffers the slings and arrows of New York media piling onto the plan, the Chronicle asks a reasonable question. What happened to the SF version of congestion pricing?  

“It’s been paused,” San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) spokesperson Eric Young told the Chronicle. “That’s how we refer to it.”

That makes sense. Downtown was moribund during the pandemic some days with more coyotes than cars. And at the height of the pandemic, such a plan would have only milked essential workers out of more money.

But the congestion pricing idea did bubble up occasionally during COVID-19. SFCTA discussed the idea in a July 2021 meeting, and held public forums on the matter the following month.  

The congestion pricing would only apply two “zones,” one a downtown area, and the other a North Beach-Fisherman’s Wharf zone.

The current scheme for how this would work, per the Chronicle, is “electronically charging drivers entering the zone between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. a toll of $6.50 with a discounted cost of $4.33 for moderate-income people, $2.17 for low-income people and no charge for those with very low incomes.” They add that “Drivers with disabilities would pay $3.25. Drivers for ride-hailing service like Uber and Lyft would pay the full charge for each ride, and would likely pass the fee on to passengers.”

Still, is this a terrible time to consider such a thing, considering that most small businesses are by no means recovered from the pandemic. But this being San Francisco, the plan would reportedly take no fewer than five years before going into effect.

Related: Wiener To Push for Rush-Hour Congestion Pricing In San Francisco [SFist]

Image: Saketh Garuda via Unsplash