On the heels of a toll increase that makes travel to San Francisco from the north a little more pricey, an even bigger jump for the Bay Area's state-run bridges is being proposed, taking tolls as much as $3 higher... an increase pushed for by companies like Genentech, Facebook, and Google.
We first heard about this back in December, when the idea was proposed during a Metropolitan Transportation Commission "workshop" at the Hyatt in SF. According to the Chronicle, MTC members have since been in talks at the state Capitol regarding the proposed increase, which "could bring tolls on state-run spans to as much as $9 on the Bay Bridge, which has congestion pricing, and $8 on other bridges."
The additional revenue from the increase — estimated to be as much as $125 million per year — would go to traffic congestion-easing projects like additional BART cars as well as service to San Jose, work to build more high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Bay Area freeways, more ferry systems and express buses, and, the Chron writes, "the growing cost" of SF's new Transbay Transit Center.
It's the congestion management part of this plan that presumably attracted its high-profile supporters, many of which sport a workforce that commutes per the Chron, "Two of the biggest players pushing for the toll increase are the Silicon Valley Leadership Group — whose members include such tech titans as Genentech, Facebook and Google —and the Bay Area Council, which represents some of the region’s biggest employers, including Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and UCSF."
“When you consider the huge amount of time that commuters waste in traffic every day," Bay Area Council spokesperson Jim Wunderman said in a statement supporting the possible increase, "adding a couple extra dollars to bridge tolls will help cut congestion and expand critical regional mass transit that benefits the entire Bay Area."
Ultimately, however, it's not up to lawmakers or these big companies, it's up to you: toll increases on state-run bridges (that's all of the bridges in the Bay Area sans the Golden Gate, tolls on which increased to as much as $7.75 today) must be agreed to by voters. And so far, voter support is looking good, as a recent poll performed by those high-powered corporate supporters say that "59 percent of those surveyed would support a $2 toll increase that paid for transit improvements, and 56 percent would back a $3 increase."
But we all know how reliable polls are these days, right? According to the Chron, supporters hope to get the increase vote on June primary election ballot. Failing that, expect to see it in November, at the general election.
Previously: Cash-Seeking Transit Officials Mull Proposal To Up Bay Area Bridge Tolls By $3