$1 price increase to take toll on shortfall

Within six months it may cost $1 more to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and another toll increase is looming on the horizon.

If approved this week, the $1 toll increase would bring cash fares up to $6 and FasTrak prices to $5, with the new rates likely to go into effect by January. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District said revenue from the toll increases would go toward offsetting a five-year, $91 million projected budget shortfall.

But the future of another proposal, a congestion-based pricing plan, is currently in limbo.

In May, the district offered two pricing options for the morning and evening commutes, which would target commuters during peak drive times in an attempt to reduce the number of cars on the road during those time periods.

One scenario would add $1 for both cash fares and FasTrak users, while the other scenario would add $1 to cash fares, and 50 cents forFasTrak users.

If that change were to win approval, it could cost as much as $7 to cross the iconic span.

The bridge district agreed to the variable-pricing study to meet the requirements of a $158.7 million federal grant, which would be awarded to the Bay Area only if a congestion toll was put in place.

However, the U.S. Department of Transportation disagreed with the bridge district’s method for their two congestion-based toll options.

As a result, the federal government is holding out on releasing most of the regional grant money until it completes its own congestion-pricing study for the bridge.

“The bridge district congestion-pricing study wasn’t as comprehensive as we hoped,” said Tyler Duvall of Department of Transportation. “It was unclear if it would meet the performance objectives we set out for the bridge.”

The bridge district will wait until the federal study is completed before moving further with the variable toll proposal, bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

On Thursday, the district’s finance committee will vote on whether to move the $1 toll increase to a full board meeting. The board could make their final decision Friday.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Toll proposals

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials are looking at various options for tolls.

$5 Current cash toll

$4 Current FasTrak toll

$1 Proposed increase to regular toll

Congestion-pricing proposals

Option 1: $1 cash, 50 cents FasTrak during peak commute times

Option 2: $1 cash, $1 FasTrak during peak commute times

Source: GGBHTD

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