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Golden Gate Bridge Toll-takers Reach End of the Line as New Payment System Begins

| March 27, 2013
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Golden Gate Bridge toll collectors finished their final shifts early Wednesday morning as the bridge moved to an all-electronic, cash-free payment system.

The Golden Gate Bridge on Aug. 23, 2007 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Golden Gate Bridge on Aug. 23, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

To remind commuters of the change, a 27-foot LED sign has been installed atop the toll plaza that says: “Do Not Stop, Automatic Tolling.”

In another change for drivers, the bridge’s board of directors last week approved raising the speed limit through the toll plaza from 15 to 25 mph to improve traffic flow across the bridge.

How to Pay Golden Gate Bridge Tolls

  • Commuters can still use the existing FasTrak system or open a new account and pay a toll of $5. All other payment methods cost $6. Bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie says that about 70 percent of southbound motorists on the bridge already use FasTrak.
  • Drivers can open a License Plate Account that charges a registered credit card every time the car crosses the bridge.
  • Motorists can make a one-time payment up to 30 days before or up to 48 hours after crossing the bridge online, by phone or eventually at “cash payment locations.”
  • Drivers can pay a toll invoice that is mailed to the car’s registered owner after the crossing with the help of cameras that capture passing cars’ license plate numbers.

More information about the electronic conversion, as well as directions for how to set up an account, can be found on the bridge’s website at www.goldengate.org/tolls.

Payments can be made online, by phone or in person at participating locations listed online on the bridge district’s website.

Concerns About Losing that ‘Human Touch’

Nearly half of the 28 full-time toll collectors who worked in the plaza are being transitioned to other positions in the district, while the others are being given severance packages, Currie said. The move is expected to save about $2 million per year.

Drivers often ask toll collectors for help during health emergencies, such as heart attacks or diabetic shock. Toll plaza personnel routinely report accidents and drunk drivers, and they give directions to the many out-of-towners who get lost.

Currie says the bridge district will run patrols to help motorists. And in an emergency, she says, drivers can always call 911.

Listen to a discussion of the changes on Forum. 

More: Golden Gate Bridge Says Goodbye to Toll-Takers — and to a Personal Touch for Travelers

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  • IJ

    I am of the opinion that automating this toll collection is redundant, icky and adverse. We already have the FasTrak passes and dedicated lanes for them. I knew that the automating Golden Gate’s toll collection would only cause trouble to pay-by-plate drivers. Just yesterday I was informed from a car rental company that if I drove a rental car through the Golden Gate and was charged by my plate, my car rental company would not only add $2.90 on top of the toll collected, but also slap me with an advance charge for the entire rental dates. In other words, say, I have rented a car for 10 days, and I happen to drive through the gate just once, they would charge me ($6 + $2.90) x 10, just because I drove once. But of course, I could drive through the gate 9 more times, but why if I only had to drive just once? This is ridiculous and outrageous. I can tell you, this is every tourist’s nightmare. If I am not a regular commuter through the bridge, I would just like to pay by cash and be done with it. it’s a shame that they have complicated a simple process in the name of automation.