Toll, reservations suggested for Lombard Street drivers

San Francisco is considering charging visitors who drive on the “crookedest street” a toll in order to better manage traffic congestion at one of most visited tourist spots in The City.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority released a draft of a final study Thursday that recommended four strategies to help improve the traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, the livability for the residents who live on the street, while still maintaining access to the tourist hot spot for visitors on Lombard between Hyde and Leavenworth streets.

With approximate two million visitors a year to the crooked street, crowd control issues and neighbor complaints have led the transportation authority to come up solutions to address concerns from the neighborhood.

One of the recommendations from the study included a reservation and pricing system that would allow tourists who want to drive through the street to make a reservation ahead time before entering street:

“One of the most direct ways to manage automobile congestion, including the vehicle queues that form at peak periods, would be to use an electronic system to manage reservations for and price access to the Crooked Street.”

The transportation authority study said visitors could access the reservation system from a website, mobile app or kiosk and select a date and time of increments of either 30 or 60 minutes. Visitors would need to register using the vehicle’s license plate number.

By having an all-electronic system, The City would not need to have a physical toll both on-site that would require staff to run, the study said.

Automated cameras would be used to read license plates to verify visitors who made a reservation against the system. Once the system verifies the preregistered vehicle, the transaction is complete.

Visitors who do not make a reservation would be recognized by automated system and would be charged a higher price entering the street than those vehicles who made a reservation, the study said.

The study said the street averages about 220 vehicles per hour.

There would be signage near the street to inform visitors they should make a reservation and how they can make one. There also be information on what the price would be if visitors decide not to make a reservation.

Pricing has not been determined.

Approval of the state legislature would be needed to authorize The City to carry out a pricing system on the street.

Some might recall that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency tested a pilot back in the summer of 2014, where private vehicles were not allowed from entering the crooked street on select weekends. The transportation authority said data and observations from that pilot helped shaped some of the study’s goal.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who’s district includes the crooked part of Lombard Street, said in a statement that he supports the study’s recommendations:

“With over two million people a year visiting the ‘Crookedest Street,’ this community and expert-driven approach is essential to maintaining public safety and ensuring that visitors can continue to enjoy this world-famous landmark for years to come.”

Farrell said he will work with state Sen. Scott Wiener on the legislation  needed allow The City to add the toll fee.

Other recommendations in the study include increasing the number of parking control officers from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and creating an education and marketing campaign with the tourist industry:

“Since many tour operators bring groups to experience the Crooked Street, this e ort is an opportunity to remind operators directly about how to be a good neighbor, in terms of tour group size, timing, and loading/unloading.”

The study also calls for possible street engineering changes and new wayfinding signage in the neighborhood.

In March, commissioners of the transportation authority, which is made of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, plan discuss the report in more detail, said Farrell.

The final draft study is available online.