Part of the Bay Area News Group

Is the time ripe for congestion tolls on 2 more bridges?

By dcuff
Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 4:29 pm in Bay Area Toll Authority.

The new practice of charging higher tolls on a Bay Area bridge during busier commute times may expand to the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges. 

 The Bay Area Toll Authority last summer debuted congestion tolls on the Bay Bridge when it did away with a flat toll round the clock. The authority charged tolls of $6 per vehicle in the rush hours and $4 in the off peak hours on weekdays. The toll is now $5 on weekends.

Now San Mateo County’s congestion management agency wants the toll authority to consider switching to congestion pricing on the Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges as well, reports my fellow transportation writer Mike Rosenberg of the Bay Area News Group. Read his story here.

A big question about the proposal: Is congestion bad enough on those two bridges that variable price tolls will be effective in reducing traffic delays?

The Bay Bridge is the king of traffic congestion in the region. Before the switch to congestion tolls, Bay Bridge drivers averaged a 27 minute wait to get to the toll booths in the height of the morning rush hour. The wait dropped to 23 minutes, a  four minute improvement, after congestion tolls went into effect. 

In contrast, the wait at Dumbarton and San Mateo Bridges averages about about two minutes.

Before the Toll Authority proposes any more toll changes for anybody, the agency is going to wait for the July completion of a study commissioned on the effect of the new Bay Bridge congestion tolls.

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