(Pat Thurston) The Bay Area is home to some amazing bridges. The Golden Gate – one of the most glorious spans in the world, opened in 1937. It was declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The cost to cross the bridge for passenger vehicles with no more than 4 passengers was 50 cents, one way. You paid tolls both ways you crossed. The tolls were to be collected to pay back a $35 million bond to pay for its construction. Once satisfied, the tolls would end. The bonds plus interest were fully paid off in 1971. Yet, today it will cost you $7.25 to cross the Golden Gate. You save a buck if you use FasTrak.
The Bay Bridge was built in 1936. It’s toll history is unusual. Tolls began at 65 cents. Then went down. By 1941 it was 25 cents to cross each way. Only in 1970 did the toll double to 50 cents. Now it ranges from $4 to $6 depending on the day of the week and the time you cross. That toll also was slated to disappear once the bridge was paid for which happened long, long ago.
And now, we are looking at increases of up to $3 to cross. An increase. That means crossing the Golden Gate would be over $10!
It’s one of those situations where it feels as if governmental authorities will charge us…because they can. We need to cross the bay and they control the bridge. Therefore they charge us ludicrously high rates in a toll and we grumble but fork out the money anyway.
Those who would raise our rates advise us that it’s because the bridge tolls pay for more than the bridge – no duh. The bridge tolls pay for ferries and buses too. Those of us in vehicles, in addition to paying sky-high gas taxes, income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, must also pay for those who don’t use vehicles because they are not polluters. Except for the bus pollution. And the ferry pollution. And what about those of us driving hybrids or electric cars? We still have to pay tolls.
Shouldn’t the charge of a ferry ticket or a bus ticket be based on the cost of that mode of transportation? I grow weary of subsidizing them. They should pay their fair (fare?) share.
And what happened to the savings we were supposed to realize when the Golden Gate Bridge District eliminated toll takers for a more efficient and less expensive system. Why aren’t those savings reflected in lower tolls?