San Francisco transportation officials on Tuesday said they plan to charge a toll to drivers entering and leaving Treasure Island starting in 2021. (Courtesy image)

Drivers to pay Treasure Island toll in both directions starting in 2021

Starting in 2021, drivers travelling to or from Treasure Island will be forced to pay a toll in addition to the tolls they already pay to cross the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority announced Wednesday.

With numerous new housing developments already under construction, the island’s population is expected to increase in the coming decades from less than two thousand people today to an estimated 25,000 residents by 2035. The first of the new homes will be available in 2021, and SFCTA wants to have the toll in place “from day one,” said Rachel Hiatt, a transportation planner with the agency.

Drivers will be charged in both directions, entering and leaving the island. On weekdays the toll will be $3.50 during peak hours and $2 off-peak. On weekends the price will drop to $1 during peak hours and free during off-peak. To compensate for the toll already paid by drivers coming from Oakland, trips to Treasure Island from Oakland only will be discounted by half.

Toll collection will be automated using FastPass and license plate scanners, with no toll booths. Drivers without FastPass will be charged an extra $1.

The toll and the addition of paid parking on the island are intended to discourage driving during congested times and avoid gridlock, Hiatt said.

The money they raise will be used to help subsidize a new ferry service linking the island to the San Francisco Ferry Building and new AC Transit bus lines connecting Treasure Island to downtown Oakland, which is expected to cost roughly $6 million each year to operate. Until the toll and parking fees can cover the operating costs, developers will subsidize up to $4 million a year, Hiatt said.

Becky Hogue, a Treasure Island resident and member of the citizens advisory board who spoke with the S.F. Examiner before details of the new toll were announced, said while she wasn’t happy about having to pay to get on and off the island, she was excited about the new ferry. “The ferry is just going to be wonderful,” she said.

San Francisco will pay AC Transit to offer the expanded bus service, which will be partially offset by bus fares.

The toll system will cost $10 million to build, half of which will be covered by a federal grant.

Residents who lived on Treasure Island prior to 2011 and all current residents in below market rate housing there will receive one free daily round-trip toll until 2026. Below-market rate residents will also receive a round-trip toll credit for every 20 one-way trips they take to or from Treasure Island by bus or ferry using a transit pass.

Peak-hour ferry service is set to start in 2021, but officials hope to expand to all-day service within the first three years of operation. Construction of the ferry dock, paid for and built by developers, will begin in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2020.

A board specifically tasked with developing a transportation plan for the island, comprised of all 11 sitting members of the Board of Supervisors and known as the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency, must approve the plan before it can be implement. SFCTA will present the proposal to a committee on Oct. 2, and hopes the entire board will vote on it Nov. 27.

SFCTA will also be doing outreach to Treasure Island communities and holding “open houses” at the Shipshape Community Center on Sept. 27 and Oct. 3.

Proposed toll schedule for Treasure Island. (Courtesy San Francisco County Transportation Authority)

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