Golden Gate Bridge officials consider toll for pedestrians, bicyclists

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Golden Gate Bridge District is once again considering charging pedestrians and bicyclists to go across the bridge. The last time was decades ago. It wasn't popular then, and it isn't popular now.

The idea didn't sit well with almost all the tourists and locals we spoke with.

"We're paying for the hotel, we're paying for the car, we're paying lots to come here," tourist Aya Gavish said.

"We're already raised the price for cars to cross," said Bay Area resident Joey Blouse. "I have to pay that every day. And now you're going to tell me that I have to pay to walk across too? I think it's a bit ridiculous."

Here's what the bridge is facing.

"The district has a $33 million, five-year deficit that they're trying to address," said Golden Gate Bridge spokesperson Priya Clemens. "So in order to increase revenue, to cut cost, this is one of many initiatives they're considering
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The one initiative out of 45 initiatives is the most controversial -- to charge pedestrians and bicyclists a toll or fee to cross the bridge.

But it's not a new idea.

For three decades, up until 1970, there was a toll charge for walkers.

"It was a dime to put in a turnstyle and cross the bridge," Clemens said.

We did find some bridge pedestrians who said they were okay with paying.

"I'm okay with that," said tourist Terza Mason. "Anything to keep the bridge up."

Tourist Brian Engle added, "I would be okay with it if it was a small enough fee, like a $1.50."

About 10 years ago, the bridge board brought it up again; not only for pedestrians, but bicyclists too. But the bike lobby fought back and the board retreated.

The bike coalition promises to wage war again.

"It's a contradiction to the Golden Gate Bridge's own goals of reducing number of people in cars, reduction of congestion on the bridge," said Andy Per with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

The bridge board will discuss its financial plans Friday.

Even if the board likes the fees, they'll need to study the feasibility before it comes back to the board again. And that could take years.
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