The Electronic Golden Gate Bridge @ San Francisco

Sometime in February, 2013, commuters crossing the Golden Gate Bridge from the Northbay area, will have to have Fastrak to pay the toll. The push for all electronic tolls begins in December and soon 32 toll taker jobs will be eliminated. This will save the bridge $19 million in the next eight years. Toll takers earn about $50K a year.

FasTrak requires a transponder device one signs up for and the tolls are prepaid using a credit card. The tolls is deducted as you drive by the toll booths. A monthly statement is sent to each person using it. While using this is not yet mandatory, nearly 75% of the cars crossing already use it.

With 20 million cars crossing the bridge annually, not all will have FasTrak, which is most common with commuters. The problem remains about those drivers who cross infrequently and want to pay cash, after all, not everyone crossing it will be a daily commuter. To deal with this, there will be retail outlets for those cash paying drivers, or one will have to prepay and plan using online or phone methods. For those who do not pay, their license plate is recorded as they cross and a bill is sent. However, paying cash at the toll booth's will no longer happen. The infrequent bridge crosser or visitors do account for 500,000 crossings each year and at one time, officials considered to have one lane for cash only payments, but this was cancelled because of traffic backups it would cause. Yet, the problem is significant. All the proposals to deal with infrequent visitors crossing the bridge each have a drawback.

There will no doubt be serious confusion about crossing the GG for some time. There is always traffic issues on and around the bridge, I think, having a single lane for cash only is fine but if the backup extends to far back, that would be an issue. Perhaps just driving through and getting a monthly bill IS the best solution. You will have to pay one way or another.

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