When the tolls on Bay Area bridges were increased on July 1, the Bay Bridge was given a higher toll at the times of its greatest usage in an attempt to reduce congestion by discouraging drivers from using the bridge at peak times. Crossing the bridge into San Francisco costs $6 from 5:00 to 10:00 am and 3:00 to 7:00 pm on weekdays, $4 at other times on weekdays, and $5 on weekends. However, the toll structure does not seem to have had the desired effect.
Using data for about 50,000 bridge crossings from Stamen Design’s Cabspotting and from NextBus for AC Transit, I calculated and plotted the time required to cross the bridge at different times of day before and after the toll increase.
The graphs are noisy because of the small sample size, but the time required to cross the bridge by car at the morning and afternoon weekday peak times seems basically unchanged since 2008. The off-peak weekday crossing is a little slower than it used to be, perhaps because of the S-curve detour for construction of the new east span. On weekends, the off-peak crossing time seems to be unchanged since 2008.
The weekend peak data from 2008 is especially noisy so it is hard to tell exactly what has changed there, but if anything, it takes longer to cross the bridge now than it did before. It seems that either the demand for the bridge is so inelastic that the variable tolls are not an effective way of shifting or reducing demand, or that the price differential has not been made large enough to have an effect.