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Bridge carpoolers down, commute times up

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Since a new toll was implemented July 1, the number of carpoolers crossing the Bay Bridge continues to stay below previous levels, but commute times are improving and the regional agency in charge of the span is realizing greater revenues.

On July 1, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees operations on seven local bridges (all except the Golden Gate Bridge), implemented a $2.50 toll for carpoolers, whom previously passed for free on the spans.

From July to October 2010, the most recent data collected by the MTC, an average of 4,906 fewer carpoolers are crossing the span when compared with the same time period in 2009. Those totals are consistent with earlier reports.

Despite the absence of carpoolers, the average maximum delay for commuters crossing the Bay Bridge has decreased from 27 minutes to 23 minutes, a 15 percent time-savings. Bridge revenue from motorists is also at healthy levels, as the MTC has collected $68.4 million in tolls through the first six months of the new rates, a total that is about 3 percent more than projected.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com