The outside deadline for implementing this congestion toll is September 2009, so there is still a lot of time for fiddling with this toll or the congestion toll options. One thing is for sure, you will be able to give yourself a discount by getting a FasTrak transponder. Already, 70 percent of the traffic coming across the bridge has one.
The Golden Gate Bridge District decided on Friday to move ahead and get the public's opinion on congestion toll options as soon as possible, at a June 11 hearing.
District directors didn't commit to a preferred option and do not expect that opinion will be a good one.
Right now the bridge toll is $4 for FasTrak, $5 for people paying with cash and an expected base toll increase of $1 will likely start in September 2008 or January 2009.
The two congestion pricing options now being considered would bring the total toll to $7 for cash and $5.50 or $6 for FasTrak during rush-hours, including weekend rush-hours.
Bridge District Director Charles McGlashen says he's worried about the working commuter.
"The low-income worker who's got to find $7 to go to work on a weekday, I'm having a serious problem contemplating," says McGlashen.
The bridge still has time to come up with more variable toll options besides the two now on the table. Whatever they decide, the Federal Department of Transportation says it wants to approve it first, much to the consternation and surprise of the district.
New York City won the same federal transportation grant money tied to this congestion toll, but let it go.
"I don't know the exact reasons the city of New York turned this whole sucker down, but I'm beginning to understand there might be some legitimate reasons" says Maureen Middlebrook, a bridge district director.
For comparison, it does cost more to cross the George Washington Bridge in New York City at $8, but far less at many other bridges around the country. For example, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Chicago Skyway Bridge, and New Orleans Lake Pontchartrain Causeway cost $3 to cross.
That public hearing meeting is on June 11th in Marin. Check out the link below for more information on that meeting and options being considered.
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District: