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For all its capacity for innovation and genius, Silicon Valley has yet to solve its traffic quandary. Throughout the Bay Area, roads have become a gridlocked hell; what should be a 20-minute drive up from San Jose to Mountain View, or across the Bay Bridge from Oakland into San Francisco, could very well take over two hours. One commuter, describing her trip through the region, told The Mercury News: “I really did shed a few tears.”
According to a recent Bay Area-wide poll, two-thirds of the region’s residents are demanding a major investment to fix the problem, even that means higher taxes. Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV), a nonprofit dedicated to identifying and solving the region’s issues, has been grappling with the traffic dilemma for years, and it’s now landed on a fairly radical but very comprehensive solution.
Called Fair Value Commuting (FVC), the five-part proposal combines technology and policy and will, once rolled out over the next 24 months, eventually reduce the share of Bay Area commutes made by single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) from around 75% to 50% (around 1 million trips). To do so, it’ll have to get local transportation providers, companies like Google and Facebook, and politicians on board, but Steve Raney, JVSV’s executive director for smart mobility, tells Fast Company that there’s already enough interest in the region–and more than enough desperation–that the plan is likely to take root and scale up.
To implement the strategy, JVSV has authored a bill that could be introduced by local city councils with a simple-majority vote. The bill would enact a city-wide “trip cap” to limit the number of car trips through the region; companies within the city would be permitted a certain number of commuter vehicles depending on their size, and companies that exceed that number would have to adopt the commute-reducing strategies outlined in the FVC plan.
With cities across the U.S. becoming more and more congested (the proliferation of ride-sharing services like Uber is contributing to the problem), it’s clear that a one-note, brute-force approach to mitigation won’t work: Fixing this issue will require flexibility, collaboration, and scalability, all of which, Raney says, FVC provides. And the Bay Area, he adds, is the perfect testing ground.