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Posts from the "Bridge Tolls" Category

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GG Bridge Toll Hikes Approved 15-2, Supes Campos and Breed Opposed

When the plan for much-needed toll hikes on the Golden Gate Bridge was approved Friday, the only opponents on the GG Bridge Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors were Supervisors David Campos and London Breed.

Supervisors David Campos and London Breed, the only members of the bridge board to vote against toll hikes. Photos: Board of Supervisors

All other 15 members who voted, including Marin County reps, apparently understood the need to fund rising infrastructure costs for the bridge by increasing tolls for the drivers who use it. In recent years, the board tolls have not risen as quickly as fares for Golden Gate Transit, which has also seen service cuts — a pattern that unfairly burdens bus riders and induces more car traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge district has also cut costs by eliminating toll takers and switching to all-electronic tolling, getting district employees to pay for a larger share of their benefits, and bringing in new revenue by charging for parking at the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal.

But that apparently wasn’t enough for Campos and Breed, who said they wouldn’t approve toll hikes until they were sure every possible cost-cutting measure had been taken, according to the SF Chronicle. ”We have to demonstrate that we have done everything we can before we vote to increase tolls,” Campos said. “It may be that toll increases are essential and necessary, but I don’t know that we’ve demonstrated that.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who also sits on the bridge board, pointed out that the hikes would only “go up at about the rate of inflation.”

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Despite Service Cuts, GG Transit Fare Hikes Are Outpacing Bridge Tolls

As it does every year, the Golden Gate Transportation District Board of Directors is set approve another 5 percent fare hike this week in its budget for the next fiscal year.

But bridge tolls don’t appear to be keeping pace with rising transit fares — a pattern that GGTHD board member and transit advocate Dave Snyder says unfairly burdens bus riders and encourages more car traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, as the agency cuts transit service despite increasing ridership.

“That’s the exact opposite of what we want to be doing,” said Snyder. “We’re not raising enough money to maintain transit service. We’re cutting transit service.”

A one-way adult fare for a two-zone trip from San Rafael to San Francisco is currently $5.25. That would increase to $5.50 on July 1, and another 5 percent every year at least until 2016. GG Transit ridership across the bridge has increased 6.2 percent over the past year, according to the district’s latest report [PDF].

Meanwhile, the agency is on its way to slashing its bus operating budget by $31.4 million from 2010 to 2020. (This year’s proposed bus operating budget is $84.7 million.)

But since 2002, tolls for car commuters have only increased one time — a 2008 hike that raised the cash toll 20 percent and the discount toll 25 percent. By comparison, transit fares have increased 5 percent or more every year since 2001. Compounding a 5 percent annual transit fare hike (an underestimate) over ten years yields an increase of about 65 percent.

Snyder said the next toll increase is expected to come in next year’s budget, after all-electronic toll collection is implemented, and that the agency is looking to approve future toll increases annually from there on. But he’s ”concerned that there will be pressure to keep bridge tolls as low as possible without regard to public transit. We have to catch up next year.”

The budget [PDF] is scheduled to go before the board’s Finance Committee tomorrow and be approved by the full board on Friday.

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Reporters, Upset Over Bridge Toll Increase, Get Weird And Whiny

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area's transportation planning body and the administrator of bridge tolls, managed a feat very nearly impossible today: They got the Bay Guardian and the Chronicle to agree on something. Namely, writers for both papers hate the idea of increased tolls on the region's bridges starting on Thursday, especially the congestion pricing scheme on the Bay Bridge.

Jon Carroll of the Chronicle and Sarah Phelan at the Bay Guardian each fired off missives for their respective papers where they decry the new tolls, though for somewhat different reasons.

Carroll writes a fairly tongue-in-cheek column presuming to explain the new toll structure on the Bay Bridge, although it's clear a couple sentences in he has no interest in explaining anything, only infantilizing and chiding the "Bridge People" for their new toll structure. Throw in some good anti-tax tea bagging, conflation of bridge tolls with the funding of the prison system, Harry Potter-esque names for automated toll tags (FasTrak Fibblecore) that seem to confuse him, several attacks on the pocket-calculator-using corporate-bureaucrat semi-humans at the MTC and a surreal argument that the new tolls will increase the divorce rate, and you've got a new high for transportation journalism.

Sorry, Chuck Nevius, yer uppance done came.

Phelan acknowledges her story is a "whine" piece and argues downtown developers don't pay their fair share. Fair enough. But she then conflates bridge tolls with the proposal to charge a fee for out-of-towners at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Same trap as Carroll with the prisons, implying that bridge tolls are the same as garden visit fees, when they couldn't be more dissimilar.

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