SAN RAFAEL (KCBS)— Friday morning’s commute was particularly aggravating for motorists approaching the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Some Bay Area bridge drivers are getting unpleasantly surprised when they find big backups at toll plazas during off-peak hours.

Transportation officials say it’s actually part of a cost-cutting strategy that started back in April that affects all state-run bridges, except for the Bay Bridge.

Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman John Goodwin said running two toll-collection systems; cash and Fas Trak isn’t easy so they’ve been trying to trim toll taker schedules during hours and days when there isn’t as much volume.

“To save money on the cash collection side we’ve reduced the number of shifts during identified non-peak periods at the various bridges,” Goodwin said.

Non-peak periods don’t necessarily mean non-commuter hours. It only means less traffic than expected. The cost-cutting strategy has already seen a few missteps.

“There were excessive backups, in the northbound direction, particularly at the Benicia-Martinez Bridge,” Goodwin said. We noticed this especially on weekend nights [with] people leaving the Bay Area to go back to Sacramento or wherever. That situation should be a strong incentive for folks to enroll in the Fas Trak program.”

The tweaking continues after they observed that Sunday night backup on the Benicia Bridge.
Goodwin said the best bet is to get on board with FasTrak because that’s where all toll taking is headed in the future.

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