Car pool bridge toll makes headway 

A $3 car pool toll on the Golden Gate Bridge moved a step closer to reality Thursday.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Finance Committee approved a proposal to schedule public hearings in the next several months to alert local motorists about a plan to charge $3 for car pool crossings — which are currently free — and increase toll rates for trucks.

The car pool toll will apply to vehicles with three or more occupants traveling between 5 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 6 p.m. weekdays. Car pool vehicles would be required to purchase a FasTrak device, although the vehicles would still need to pass through a manned toll booth. The FasTrak purchase is required because the bridge district intends to implement all-electronic tolling by 2012.

With the toll increase — slated to go into effect July 1 — the bridge district will gain an additional $1.3 million in revenue annually. It is currently facing a five-year projected shortfall of $132 million.

The proposal also includes toll increases for trucks. The rates, which are based on the number of axles per vehicle, would take effect July 1, but only at 50 percent of the proposed increase to allow the trucking industry to prepare for the changes. On July 1, 2012, the higher tolls will go into full effect. The change is expected to generate $600,000 in the first year and $1.2 million every year thereafter.

Friday, the bridge district’s full board is likely to approve the Finance Committee’s recommendation and move forward with public hearings. A final vote will come May 28.

About 1,700 car pool trips are made daily on the Golden Gate Bridge, making up roughly 2 percent of traffic. Truck trips are an even smaller percentage, accounting for less than 1 percent of traffic.

The bridge district’s proposal mirrors a similar set of measures approved last month by the Bay Area Toll Authority, which manages operations on the region’s seven other, state-owned spans. Those toll increases also take effect July 1.


Hearings schedule for toll proposal

•April 7: Informational open house at Embassy Suites in San Rafael, 4 to 7 p.m.
•April 22: Staff presentation on public hearing feedback at Finance Committee meeting
•May 14: Public hearing at board of directors meeting, 9:30 a.m.
•May 27: Finance Committee to vote on toll recommendation
•May 28: Full board to vote on final authorization of toll proposal
•July 1: Toll proposal goes into effect for car pools

Source: Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

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Will Reisman

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