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  • Waiting for a ride

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11 Some More Toll Talk


A ride today in a comfy, warm Volvo, with a familiar face at the wheel – Jacob, the pink shirt guy! Today he’s wearing an orange shirt and rather amazing wrap-around sunglasses. They are like a Zorro-mask.

I ask him how he’s getting along with riders paying toll, and he says it’s been pretty fine. “Although, there’s this one rider – a guy who wrote me a check for his share.” I laugh. “He actually wrote you a check for $1.25?” “Yes, but he’s ridden with me before, and a couple of other times he either said he didn’t have the cash, or he’d get back to me later.” Sounds like a reluctant toll contributor to me. Or maybe he’s broke.

Jacob says that, being a non-confrontational kind of guy, he doesn’t insist if people don’t want to pay, so he didn’t give the rider a hard time. But a co-worker of his is quite firm about it. “She might let it go once, but she’ll let you know that’s the last time. A few days before the toll went into effect, she was reminding the riders to have their change ready when the tolls began.”

The lady passenger in the back seat says she has seen drivers refuse a ride to people who won’t pay. “And then no one else wants to give them a ride, either!” We all agree that is not a good thing to do. I remind them that even if the riders pay nothing, the driver of a casual carpool is saving $3.50 on the Bay Bridge and $2.50 on the Carquinez Bridge. The SHARING of the toll doesn’t mean the riders should pay ALL of the toll, although most Vallejo drivers seem to expect it.

Because Vallejo carpoolers have to pay for TWO bridges on our commute, I do understand the angst over these tolls, and agree that sharing is the right thing to do.

The return commute in the evening often catches carpoolers at the Carquinez Bridge after 7 PM, and the driver loses his carpool discount (carpool hours are 3 to 7 pm Monday through Friday). Once summer vacation is over, the freeways will be moving much slower, and if you pick up a carpool group in San Francisco after 6 pm, it’s likely you’ll cross the Carquinez Bridge after 7. Because we have a longer commute than other drivers, and more carpoolers than the other commute groups, I think we should get a break from the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA).

What do you think of this?: EXTEND THE CARPOOL HOURS ON THE CARQUINEZ BRIDGE TO 8 PM, TO ALLOW MORE TIME FOR VALLEJO (AND BEYOND) DRIVERS TO MAKE THE CARPOOL TOLL. Let me know what you think, and I’ll let the BATA know.