- S.F. Examiner File Photo
- Drivers who don’t have FasTrak devices will be sent bills through the mail; payment kiosks will also be set up.
The date has been set: All-electronic tolling will begin March 27 on the Golden Gate Bridge.
After two years of planning, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is set to lay off its remaining toll workers and begin discussions on what the new speed limit should be at the plaza to prepare for the cashless system.
In 2011, when the bridge district was facing a five-year shortfall of $89 million, it approved a plan to pursue all-electronic tolling as a cost-saving measure. The district will trim its expenses by $16 million over the next decade as a result of the new system. The bridge will be the first in California and the third in the country to feature a cashless toll plaza, according to bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie.
Motorists passing through the new system on the Golden Gate Bridge will have several payment options, including using their FasTrak transponders, which is already the most popular method for those going through the toll plaza.
Vehicles without FasTrak devices will have their license plates photographed by security cameras. A bill would subsequently be sent to the address registered to the plate. Late or missed payments — motorists will have three weeks — for the toll will result in a fine. The district is in the process of setting up kiosks around the Bay Area where motorists can make one-time payments to travel across the bridge.
Because of the shift to an all-electronic system, 28 toll workers will lose their current jobs. However, all but nine of those employees have been reassigned within the bridge district or have chosen to retire, according to Currie.
“With the date getting closer and the layoff notices being sent, the emotional aspect of this plan is certainly starting to come out,” Currie said. “It’s the end of a legacy, but we have to balance our fiscal needs and embrace new technology. This is the wave of the future.”
On March 21, the district will hold a public hearing on new speed limits at the toll plaza. Currently, there is a 5 mph limit at the plaza, but bridges around the Bay Area have limits of 25 mph in their FasTrak-only lanes.
With the debut of the new system, all payment forms will be accepted in every lane. One lane will be set
aside for carpool vehicles, which pay $2.50 to cross the span. The California Highway Patrol will enforce