Bill to raise bridge tolls dropped

The Dumbarton Bridge, one of the locations where tolls are collected. Photo from the website.

A bill to hike the toll on Bay Area bridges by $1.50 to fund mass transit has been dropped, its authors said today (Aug. 21), after a rare split by Democratic Party leaders.

The authors, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, wanted the $180 million a year in cash to bailout transit agencies such as San Francisco MUNI and BART.

But party leaders including Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said the increase will hurt middle- and lower-income workers who are already struggling with increasing gas prices and the highest inflation since the 1980s.

The estimated $180 million in revenue would have been gone to mass transit agencies, which have not recovered the ridership they lost during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The bill, which was described as a “temporary” increase, was intended to give agencies enough time to continue services until they find a stable source of funding, which could potentially come in the form of a regional ballot measure to permanently raise tolls.

“While there was not enough time to reach a consensus on how to solve this looming problem, we made substantial progress on a solution,” Wiener said. “I will continue to make transit operations funding a major priority, and I look forward to continuing those discussions into the fall.”

In their concession statement, Wiener and Wilson said that next time they’ll work with their opponents on a funding proposal.

“Increasing tolls can be a significant burden to Bay Area commuters who are already dealing with high cost of living, inflation and other expenses. From an equity perspective, tolls can have substantial repercussions especially for those where public transit is not a viable option,” said Wilson.

“We need to ensure there is accountability and verifiable data collection so that our proposed solutions are evidence-based and defensible to those being asked to bear the burden of this investment. I look forward to facilitating these discussions along with Senator Wiener in the fall with interested members of the Bay Area caucus,” she added.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said in a statement on social media that it found the bill’s death “very disappointing” and a “blow” to their efforts to preserve Muni service.

“But we’re going to keep fighting for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on Muni every single day,” said the agency. “We can’t afford to lose transit.” — Bay City News

1 Comment

  1. I don’t necessarily want to drive my vehicle to work but there is no mass transit solution for me. Unless you live AND work near a rail line there is no alternative. My work is next to a BART track and my home next to Caltrain, but they’re on opposite sides of the Bay. It would take hours to replicate a 30 min drive (even with traffic). But you’re asking me to pay more for the transit services? Nope. How about the ridership pays what it costs?

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