Tuesday, July 6 Tolling Along


Blah. Dark and cold this morning. Shivering in this 50 degree chill, I can’t believe it’s 100 degrees anywhere, but it is on the east coast, and then some. This morning’s line up is fairly evenly balanced – the riders and the cars all matching up like partners in a square dance. Dosee-do, here we go, back to work after ho ho ho.

I’m in the front seat of a big white KIA Amanti sedan – very luxurious and comfy. A large mellow lady is driving and the minute we’re tucked in she asks, “Are you prepared to make a contribution to the toll?” The fellow in the back seat fumbles around and gives her a handful of change and I pass her $1.25. We talk about transponders and how they work. I don’t see one in her window and she explains. “I used to keep it attached to the windshield, but someone broke my windshield trying to steal my transponder, so now I keep it out of sight.”

She said she’d heard that a lot of single drivers are slowing down just before the toll amount changes at 10 a.m., so they can pay the lower toll (the toll changes from $6 to $4 after 10 a.m. weekdays), and that the Highway Patrol is watching to make sure that doesn’t happen. We agree that the best way to beat the toll is to carpool. Today’s ride is quiet and traffic is still summer-light, but the 3 non-carpool lanes have 4 times the traffic of the carpool lane. It surprises me that more people don’t carpool, but for some there is the complication of picking riders up at a certain spot and dropping them off at a certain spot and that doesn’t work for everybody.

Nearing the Bay Bridge our driver pulls out her transponder and slides it next to the windshield. I ask her what she would do if we didn’t or couldn’t pay a portion of the toll. “Oh, I don’t really care, I’ll take riders even if they don’t pay. It’s more about the attitude. If they have an attitude about not paying, then, no. I don’t want them riding with me.” And she waves her hand dismissively. She goes on, “I think it’s too bad that people who are going to work have to be charged so much toll.”

Over the long weekend I read several news stories online about the new tolls. One on SF Gate by Michael Cabanatuan, on Friday, July 2 – “New Tolls Don’t Gum up Bay Bridge Commute” speculates on whether the low impact of the new tolls is due to vacation-light traffic or drivers avoiding the toll gates. “Traffic figures released last Thursday evening showed that on the Bay Bridge, traffic was down about 8.3 percent compared with July 1 of last year, and down about 9.3 percent compared with July 2 of last year”. And in The Bay Citizen , “Car Pools on Bridge: New Fares, New Anxiety”, we ride along with reporter Zusha Elinson on the first day of toll-taking. Her consensus on that first day was that the issue of who pays and how much was yet to be resolved.

So we toll and toil along. I’m waiting to see how it all works come the crush of traffic in September when we’re all back on the freeway.

3 Responses

  1. You can’t believe it’s 100 degrees anywhere and I can’t believe it’s 50 degrees anywhere! That diversity is just one more thing that makes this huge nation of ours so interesting and wonderful.

    • Hi Zen Martha! I just checked out the temperature in your part of the world – Tucson – 102 degrees today! I like it hot, but not that hot. Take care. CG

  2. Come September we’re all in for it, one way or another.

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