As the Marin IJ reported, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District (GGBHTD) has decided to push forward with studying the cycling and walking toll on the bridge. The vote was very close, 10-9 in favor. All but one of San Francisco’s representatives, John Moylan (who represents San Francisco’s mayor), voted against studying the toll. All but one of the northern representatives, Marin supervisor Kate Sears, voted for studying the toll. This includes Marin supervisor Judy Arnold and Tiburon mayor Alice Fredericks.
Most of the arguments for the toll, as relayed by people covering the meeting on Twitter, were more that it was important to examine it regardless of whether it’s a good idea, not that the toll itself would yield any non-financial benefits.
One observer on Twitter, John Murphy of Healdsburg, made the point that the toll could have a number of unintended consequences, mostly around trailheads. By email, he argued that recreational cyclists consider the ride from San Francisco to West Marin “junk miles.” A toll would be just one more reason to drive to Marin on weekends, exacerbating tourist traffic on Shoreline Highway and parking around trailheads.
He further made the point that tourist cyclists already often pay into GGBHTD’s pot by taking the Sausalito Ferry back to the City after riding across the bridge. Without Clipper cards, these riders pay the full cash price.
What the old studies said
According to commentary from MCBC on the 2005 proposal (the report itself isn’t available online), the proposed toll would raise somewhere between $600,000 and $1.8 million in 2014 dollars, or roughly between 9 and 27 percent of the five-year shortfall.
Unfortunately, the 1998 report indicated there would be no way to charge the toll except with in-person toll-takers, which would cut significantly into the revenue and cause huge lines to enter the bridge. Murphy, the Healdsburg commentator, pointed out that this would force people to spend more time parked, exacerbating the significant parking crunch.
One more alternative
There is another way to target tourist traffic, of course, one that would target tourists exclusively. Rather than charge people for the opportunity to walk across the bridge, GGBHTD should charge for the opportunity to park at either parking lot, and allow tour bus companies to reserve bus parking spaces for a flat fee. This is part of the strategic financial plan, under item 21.
Already, tourist traffic at the lots can cause backups onto the bridge; charging an appropriate amount for parking would reduce that congestion problem and raise money simultaneously. It would target tourists exclusively and wouldn’t require much more infrastructure than parking meters. It’s an idea that deserves study, rather than one more look at a bike/ped toll.
For now, the toll is not a done deal; it is only being studied. To ensure it doesn’t, write to your representatives who voted for the toll. Let them know there are better ways to raise money.
Board of Supervisors appointee Gerald D. Cochran
Supervisor Judy Arnold Marin cities’ appointee Tiburon Mayor Alice Fredericks Board of Supervisors appointee J. Dietrich Stroeh, GGBHTD Second Vice President
Board of Supervisors appointee James C. Eddie, GGBHTD Board President
Board of Supervisors appointee Barbara L. Pahre
Mayor’s appointee John J. Moylan
Sonoma cities’ appointee Rohnert Park Councilmember Gina Belforte Supervisor David A. Rabbitt Board of Supervisors appointee Brian M. Sobel
Supervisor Kate Sears
Supervisor London Breed Supervisor David Campos Board of Supervisors appointee Dick Grosboll Board of Supervisors appointee Janet Reilly Board of Supervisors appointee Dave Snyder Board of Supervisors appointee Michael Therieault Supervisor Scott Weiner Supervisor Norman Yee