According to projections, within five years, a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge could cost as much as $8. Officials say it's a necessary trade-off, as tolls help subsidize the area's ferry and bus service.
The board for the Golden Gate Highway and Transportation District is meeting this Friday to discuss the toll increase, which they say is necessary to offset a $142 million budget shortfall over the next five years.
The board is considering five options. The highest would put the tolls at $8 and $7. That’s a $2 increase over the current cost, and would raise $123 million.
Any toll increase would start this April and be implemented over five years. (The board isn’t voting on an increase this week-- that would come after a period of public comment.)
Most of the money would go to subsidizing the district’s aging ferry and bus service, which they say reduces traffic on the bridge by nearly 25 percent. Another chunk would go to beefing up infrastructure on the 77 year-old bridge. In April, the Golden Gate Bridge switched to an all-electronic tolling system to save money-- officials estimate about $16 million. It cost about $3 million to implement, but there’s been another hidden cost of axing toll collectors.
Because of the switch, KTVU found that 224,000 cars have crossed the bridge without paying this year so far-- already 100,000 more than last year. Mary Currie, the spokesperson for the bridge’s transit district, says the unpaid tolls cost the bridge $1.2 million. However, Currie said the fines from violations are offsetting those unpaid tolls, and the bridge is revenue neutral.