Bay Area Traffic

Golden Gate Bridge switch to electronic tolling better than expected

Friday, April 26, 2013

It's been a month since the big switch to all-electronic tolling at the Golden Gate Bridge and officials say it's going better than expected. There was some anticipated confusion at the beginning. But that seems to have ironed itself out -- perhaps too well.

Traffic zipped along through the Golden Gate Bridge toll booths Friday as the $6 toll is paid through Fastrak, license plate accounts, one-time payment kiosks or invoices sent to drivers.

"This project has been amazingly successful, I think it really has exceeded our expectations; we do see that traffic is moving more smoothly," Golden Gate Bridge Manager Kary Witt said.

The bridge district worried that when human toll-takers vanished March 27 that the uninformed would stop anyway. Some did, but those dwindled with time. Fastrak usage between March 27 and April 12 of last year was just below 70 percent. It jumped to more than 81 percent this year. License plate accounts went from zero in January to 3,900 in March. One-time payments went from 4 to 3,400.

"Don't stop, just keep going and one way or another you're going to pay your toll on the bridge," Witt said. "I that think we've kind of gotten past those early jitters where people didn't quite know what to do," Witt said.

The speed limit is 25 miles per hour through the toll plaza -- not so scanners can read Fastrak or take a license plate picture, but for safety. The California Highway Patrol says some people have been blowing through at 60.

"These toll lanes are narrow, you've got 10-foot wide toll lanes; if you're doing 60 mile an hour through there, which we see routinely, it doesn't take much of a turn to the left or the right before your vehicle is into one of the toll booths," CHP Ofc. Andrew Barclay said.

Also, carpool scofflaws are taking advantage of the fact that there are no longer toll takers to count the three passengers required to qualify for the half-price carpool lane.

"This is the time to learn the rules, because the rules will be enforced very, very soon," Witt said.

Bridge officials aren't saying exactly when that crackdown will begin, but they do have a date in mind.

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tourism, fastrak, golden gate bridge, driving, bay area traffic, heather ishimaru
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