Golden Gate Bridge tolls increase for drivers starting July 1

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Thursday, June 27, 2024
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge will cost 50 cents more for all drivers beginning on July 1.

Drivers of double-axle vehicles and motorcycles will see tolls for non-FasTrak drivers jump from $9.75 to $10.25. But all drivers will see some increase in tolls, including those who use FasTrak or carpool. FasTrak charges will rise to $9.25, and carpool rates will increase to $7.25. And drivers of vehicles with more than two axles see their tolls each jump 50 cents accordingly.

The toll increases are part of a plan passed in March by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the agency that operates the bridge, as well as ferries and buses between Marin and San Francisco. Staff reported that the agency is facing a budget shortfall of $220 million over the next five years. Before the agency's board passed the plan, which schedules 50-cent toll raises each of the next five years, staff projected that the plan would generate $139 million in excess revenue.

The district has already been increasing tolls on the bridge by 35 cents per year since 2019.

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Like most transit agencies, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District has seen its revenue struggle to recover since the pandemic. According to a March memo from staff to the agency's board, traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge has only rebounded to 85% of pre-pandemic levels and commute hours remain 30% lower. Bus and ferry routes administered by the district have only returned to 50% of pre-pandemic ridership, the memo said, and the district has been collecting almost $1 million dollars less in fares and tolls per week.

Fare increases of 25 cents for most of the district's bus and ferry lines will also accompany the toll increases on July 1, the second round of increases in a plan the district approved in 2023.

The district secured a one-time payment of federal COVID relief funds and reversed planned layoffs in 2020. But according to the staff memo, that funding runs out this month, leaving the district in need of new revenue.

MORE: Committee passes bill increasing Bay Area bridge tolls to fund public transportation

When the agency's board passed the toll increases in March, it considered multiple options, with the 50-cent increase being the most aggressive. It chose the 50-cent increases, which would generate at least $25 million more than any other option, despite most public comments favoring a less aggressive approach.

But the district faces a larger budget shortfall even beyond the scope of the current increases. Over the next 10 years, the agency's staff projected it to face an almost $650 million budget shortfall before the toll plan was approved. And in the next five, the district still faces an $80 million shortfall not covered by the toll increases.

"We have a lot of hard work ahead, and we'll be looking at additional ways to reduce expenses or bring in more revenue to address the shortfall," said Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, a spokesperson for the district. "We have face similar situations in the past, and we're optimistic that we can close the gap."