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San Francisco to Charge for Driving on Lombard Street


Cars wind their way down Lombard Street in San Francisco, April 15, 2019. Thousands of tourists may soon have to pay as much as $10 to drive down the world-famous crooked street if a proposal to establish a toll and reservation system becomes law. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
San Francisco to Charge for Driving on Lombard Street
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Visitors may soon have to pay as much as $10 to drive down the world-famous Lombard Street in San Francisco, California.

Lombard Street winds down a hill and is often overrun by tourists. It is known as the “most crooked street in the world.”

In an effort to reduce the number of people visiting the street, city and state officials this week announced a bill that would give San Francisco the power to charge a toll. The bill also includes a reservation system for the street.

People who live on Lombard Street say the area feels more like an amusement park and not like a city street. Lombard Street locals have been asking officials for years to do something to reduce the traffic and the number of visitors.

In the summer months, an estimated 6,000 tourists a day visit the 183-meter-long street. Lines of cars wait to drive on the street, which stops traffic in the city’s Russian Hill area.

“The cars really impact the neighborhood because they line up, they back up, they are sitting...” said Greg Brundage. He is president of the Lombard Hill Improvement Association.

San Francisco transportation officials have suggested having visitors make a reservation online and pay $5 for each car. Another plan calls for a $10 fee on weekends and holidays.

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2009 file photo, children run down Lombard Street in San Francisco, transformed for the day into a gigantic Candy Land board game to commemorate the game's 60th anniversary. Tourists may soon have to pay a fee to drive down the street.
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2009 file photo, children run down Lombard Street in San Francisco, transformed for the day into a gigantic Candy Land board game to commemorate the game's 60th anniversary. Tourists may soon have to pay a fee to drive down the street.

The city needs state approval in order to make people pay money to use a public road. City officials would then decide how much the toll would cost and how they would collect it. They would also decide what to do with the money. The new toll system is not expected to be in place until 2020, officials said.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani said the toll would help the city pay to have more traffic control officers and more police in the area. It would go toward paying tourism ambassadors -- who would make sure visitors have a good experience.

Vida Bhatt was visiting San Francisco from Melbourne, Australia. She drove down the crooked street with her family. They later decided to go back and explore the area on foot.

“It’s so beautiful! I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else in the world,” Bhatt said.

Bhatt said she would happily pay a toll to have the experience of driving down Lombard Street.

“This is one of the top attractions in San Francisco and I’m coming from so far in the world, I would pay and make sure I got to see it,” she said.

Locals built the tight turns of Lombard Street in 1922, because it was otherwise too steep for cars to go up at the time. Over time, neighbors added beautiful flowers and plants along the street.

Lombard Street became famous through appearing in many movies and commercials.

Greg Brundage has lived on the street for 22 years. He said he is happy the city is finally doing something to limit cars and visitors to the street.

“We’re really excited this day has come,” he said.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tourist – n. a person who travels to a place for pleasure

toll – n. a payment for using a bridge or road

reservation – n. to hold something in advance

crooked – adj. not straight

amusement park – n. a park with rides for children

attraction – n. a thing people want to see

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