After several months of public review, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District this morning released its staff-recommended five-year bridge toll increase proposal - one of four options on the table - for finance committee members to discuss and possibly approve Thursday.
District officials say the current $5 FasTrak and $6 pay-by-plate tolls are not enough to cover the $142 million, five-year shortfall they face with bridge facilities and equipment maintenance, subsidizing the bus and ferry system, inflation and the $75 million commitment to the Doyle Drive rebuild project.
The recommended option would generate $123 million in new revenue by increasing FasTrak rates to $6 this April, $6.25 by July 2016 and $7 by July 2018; and pay-by-plate rates would rise to $7 in April, $7.25 by July 2016 and $8 by July 2018.
The bridge, which serves 50 million drivers annually, has a capital improvement budget for the next decade that has grown to $1.4 billion. Officials anticipate that $370 million must be raised from tolls to qualify for the maximum federal and state grant funding. Half of each dollar is used to subsidize the bus and ferry systems that reduce traffic by 25 percent.
District spokeswoman Mary Currie, who was involved in toll increases in 2002 and 2008, said her impression from seeing the many public comments was that "a higher number of people are receptive" to the increase this time.
"No one likes the toll increase, but at the end of the day it's our job to be concise and clear about the reason the toll is going up," she said. "We've worked hard to try to get that message out, and anecdotal observation is people are more seemingly understanding of the connection with the transit and infrastructure needs."
Discussions around the increase started in November. This toll increase, part of a financial plan in 2009, was at the time projected to take effect in 2013.
"With good fortune, we were able to push it to 2014," Currie said.
The staff-recommended option will be presented to the finance committee at its meeting at 10:15 a.m. Thursday. If approved, the increase will go to the full board for a vote the following morning.