New Tolls Have Little Effect on Commute

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Bay Area transportation agencies anticipated that toll increases that went into effect Thursday morning on seven of the region’s bridges would alter commuters’ driving habits, or prompt a move toward public transit options, but drivers didn’t notice much of a difference.

Starting at midnight Thursday, the Bay Bridge initiated congestion pricing, which means bridge tolls on the Bay Bridge will be continue to be $4 during weekday off-peak hours. On Saturdays and Sundays the toll will be $5, and during the morning and evening weekday commute, the toll is now $6 (from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays).

The regular auto toll has also risen to $5 at all times on the Antioch, Benicia, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo bridges.

In addition, a there will be a carpool toll of $2.50.

BART officials anticipated an increase in passengers on trains Thursday because of the increased bridge tolls. BART has particularly been reaching out to carpoolers, who are facing the prospect of paying a toll on the bridge for the first time.

Bay Area drivers are encouraged to pay bridge tolls with FasTrak passes, which are available at many local Walgreens, Safeway and Costco stores. New customers who buy a FasTrak at a participating retailer through July 15 can get up to $10 in free tolls.

“Toll Chaos” at the Golden Gate

“Around 70 percent of our carpoolers are claiming that they haven’t heard anything about our carpool toll going up today, so it’s a little mystifying, but nevertheless we’re taking each customer on an individual basis and re-coaching them, ” said Golden Gate Bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie, who called Thursday morning “toll chaos.”

But traffic was generally light Thursday morning, and backups minimal.

Bob Thompson of Orinda hopped onboard at his usual casual carpool spot and again, the driver seemed oblivious of the new carpool toll.

“Ours worked out very interestingly because I don’t think the lady had a FasTrak, so we just whipped right through and nobody paid anything,” said Thompson.

Sadly, the result for some confused drivers will be violation notices. If you think you screwed up, you have a couple of days to call the FasTrak people and get it right. The new toll includes motorcycles.

Related Link: MTC Toll Information

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