Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Transportation The Almighty Buck Technology

Golden Gate Bridge To Eliminate Tollbooths 349

Posted by timothy
from the your-check-is-in-the-email dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that tollbooths and toll collectors, a fixture at the Golden Gate Bridge since it opened in 1937, will be eliminated starting in 2012 as the bridge moves to an all-electronic system, cutting 34 jobs and saving $19.2 million over the first eight years. The bridge will move to a toll collection strategy that combines the existing FasTrak system with one that photographs the license plates of cars going through the toll plaza and mails a bill to the registered owners. Other structures and bridges have successfully gone to all-electronic tolls, including the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia and the Leeville Bridge in Louisiana, but not everyone is happy with the change. 'This is a world-famous bridge, and you need a human face,' says Philip Hynes. 'You need people in those toll booths to greet people.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Golden Gate Bridge To Eliminate Tollbooths

Comments Filter:
  • by Loomismeister (1589505) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:06PM (#35042760)

    I'd much rather cruise through tolls without having to stop, and I really have no desire to see these human toll booth operators.

    • by name_already_taken (540581) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:14PM (#35042810)

      Further, what these idiots fail to realize is that all those cars idling at and then accelerating away from the tollbooths add up to a huge emissions source - something which California says they're always concerned about.

      In the last decade they added "Open-road tolling" on the tollways around Chicago - the air quality was measurably improved in the areas near the toll-collection sites.

      The bridges in the bay area are also major commuter routes - eliminating the requirement for every car to stop at a toll booth can only improve traffic flow.

      For everyone who loves the toll collectors, I bet there are hundreds who hate them. I remember a story in one of the Chicago papers about all the bad things people would do to the toll collectors - like heating up coins using the car's cigarette lighter before giving them to the collector. The exhaust gasses those folks have to breathe all day can't be good for them either.

      • by houghi (78078) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:47PM (#35043038)

        For everyone who loves the toll collectors, I bet there are hundreds who hate them.

        Why? What have they done. Or is it because they are the minions of the people who put the rules in place? In that case, is it OK to hate the military people for doing the same?

        Because then I am confused, because I admire what they do but hat why they do it.

        • by coolmadsi (823103)

          For everyone who loves the toll collectors, I bet there are hundreds who hate them.

          Why? What have they done. Or is it because they are the minions of the people who put the rules in place? In that case, is it OK to hate the military people for doing the same?

          Because then I am confused, because I admire what they do but hat why they do it.

          I don't drive (or live in the USA), but I would assume its less what they've done and more the simple fact that they are the person who is there preventing them from getting to work/home/other faster because they have to stop and wait. It is the toll collector who is slowing down their journey (or it may be perceived that way). I wont try to think of an example of a soldier's action that you would dislike them for doing for risk of hyperbole.

          TL;DR: I doubt its personal, its just they're the one who is the

        • For everyone who loves the toll collectors, I bet there are hundreds who hate them.

          Why? What have they done. Or is it because they are the minions of the people who put the rules in place? In that case, is it OK to hate the military people for doing the same?

          Because then I am confused, because I admire what they do but hat why they do it.

          First, when since does anyone need a rational reason to hate someone else? I am not saying that's right - but it is sadly the way this reality of human existence works. That aside, (and to the irrational), there are people who take out their frustration on those they idiotically think are responsible for such. So, waiting on line for minutes to pay a toll, and the toll collector becomes the target of the person's ire - kinda like shooting the messenger. It does not make sense, but it does happen.

          One should

      • FastTrac (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @01:08PM (#35043172) Homepage Journal

        Tracking your every move, inside our coast-to-coast prison.

        Your papers, please!

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        But what if you'd rather pay in cash? This option sounds like now, it is not going to be an option.

        What if you're a visitor with an out of state car, or a rental car?

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Yes, but how do they prove that the owner was responsible for the toll? I think that's a very important point seeing as the owner isn't the one that's necessarily driving and it's the driver that's responsible for paying. Beyond that there's always going to be issues with lost mail.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:09PM (#35042774) Journal

    No you don't.

    You need to eliminate the 5-minute backup at the toll booth, and thereby save yourself ~2000 hours over a lifetime. You don't need the human face, just as you don't need an operator asking, "Number please?" on the telephone.

    • by theaveng (1243528)

      No you don't.

      You need to eliminate the 5-minute backup at the toll booth, and thereby save yourself ~2000 hours over a lifetime. You don't need the human face, just as you don't need an operator asking, "Number please?" on the telephone.

      +1 insightful.

      I too hate waiting in toll booth lineups.

      • by sznupi (719324)
        ...and if only one could be moderately certain "the human face" greeting you, at the end of the wait, will be in any way a pleasant sight.
    • by Moryath (553296)

      Have to agree.

      Though it's going to be very, very interesting the first time some guy gets a bill and the photo shows that it was either (a) a stolen car or (b) some asshole from a valet service taking a joyride.

    • No you don't.

      You need to eliminate the 5-minute backup at the toll booth, and thereby save yourself ~2000 hours over a lifetime. You don't need the human face, just as you don't need an operator asking, "Number please?" on the telephone.

      I always call the operator for that personal touch.

      Number please?

      Operator, please connect me to Bensonhurst 0-7741.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:11PM (#35042788) Homepage Journal

    Personally I love the tollway system here in Dallas (not that I use it much, public highways are FREE so to speak). Drive on, drive off, you get a bill at the end of the month with a summary of the charges. For someone who doesn't regularly use cash, it makes my life just a little bit easier. The other alternative is keeping a transponder in your car... not really my cup of tea.
     
    But yeah, long story short we've had the system in effect on portions of Hwy 121 now for about 6 years and it's just recently gone live on the main "Dallas Tollway" with zero issues.

    • by wkk2 (808881)

      These systems are nothing but trouble if you find yourself on a road without booths and you are in a rental car. You either pay a high daily rate plus usage, to get a car with a transponder, or you really get zapped if they forward a bill a month later

      • by humphrm (18130)

        Yeah but it works out great if you don't rent a car and drive an out-of-state vehicle... they don't bill out-of-state plates at all!

  • by hazee (728152) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:12PM (#35042794)
    So, $19.2 million, divided by 8 years, divided by 34 people equals...
    The toll-collectors get paid $70K per year?
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:14PM (#35042804)

    When will they and all the other us systems link up with ez-pass?

  • This isn't a political rant, but I'd have thought the landmark bridges where owned by the state? Or is it common for the state to have road/bridge tolls in the US, to pay for upkeep?
    • Try driving to/from NYC - the bridge tolls are ridiculous. There's at least one route without a toll, but all the most commonly-used bridges have tolls as high as $8 (one way). Gold Gate Bridge is similar, not sure what the price on that one is right now though.

      • Try driving to/from NYC - the bridge tolls are ridiculous. There's at least one route without a toll, but all the most commonly-used bridges have tolls as high as $8 (one way). Gold Gate Bridge is similar, not sure what the price on that one is right now though.

        The Golden Gate is $6 right now, $5 if you pay with FasTrak. The Bay Bridge is $6 during rush hour, $5 on the weekends, and $4 on off-peak. All the other bridges in the Bay Area are $5. Cars with those douchey "Clean Air Vehicle" decals are $2.50 everywhere.

        Anyway, my point is it costs me $100 to get to work every month, and some people even have to cross TWO bridges to get to San Francisco in less than 2 hours.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Here in Dallas they're just money machines. Politicians see the need for new roads (especially in fast-growing Texas) and use state funds to pay for the highways, and then lease the toll-road rights (a 99 year lease!!) to private companies for a lump sum, which they can then use for other purposes. The NTTA toll company has been so successful with this State-Backed venture that they were lobbying for a multi-billion dollar 10 lane highway between Dallas and Mexico through west Texas under the same agreement

      • Well, I guess as long as the contract inescapably says that the road goes back to the state if the company fails to manage it properly or lets it fall into disrepair, it could work.
    • by garcia (6573)

      It was commonplace for tolls to be required to pay for the bridge/road system under the guise that the tolls would be removed after the bonds were paid. Unfortunately, as with any tax, the government never has any intention of making them temporary and does whatever it can to justify the influx of dollars they have done nothing to prepare for a time without.

      I avoid toll roads, like the god awful ones in Chicago, like the plague. In fact when I drive from Minnesota to any states east of here, I drive down to

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Depends where you are. We've had time limited tolls in WA state and they've all been retired when paid off.
    • Most bridges don't have tolls, mainly very large bridges. Toll roads are rare, especially in the west, where they are mainly developed as a way to deal with congestion, if they exist at all.
    • If it works like I think, I'd say it's a good thing. The Øresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark [wikipedia.org] is entirely user financed, despite being built by the respective governments. It seems fairer to let actual users pay for infrastructure like this than to take it from taxes that can be better spent on other things that can't pay for themselves so easily.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Depends where you are. We're going to be getting a new tunnel downtown which will be funded in part via tolls. We're also replacing a bridge which is partially paid via tolls. It's a way of charging for use rather than making everybody in the state pay the full price. It's an avoidable tax and the tolls will go away once they've been paid off.
  • Eliminate tolls (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dan667 (564390)
    There is really no reason to have all the additional expense of toll roads.
    • Mod up. That bridge was paid for decades ago. Upkeep is in tye budget for all roads and bridges in the state. The only reason (and a poor one) to keep tolls is to have jobs for people. Eliminate the jobs, then continuing tolls on such projects is fleecing the locals. I call this municiple greed.
      • Mod up. That bridge was paid for decades ago. Upkeep is in tye budget for all roads and bridges in the state. The only reason (and a poor one) to keep tolls is to have jobs for people. Eliminate the jobs, then continuing tolls on such projects is fleecing the locals. I call this municiple greed.

        Maintaining a suspension bridge the size of the Golden Gate with exposure to sea breeze is extremely expensive. Take a look at NYC's free East River bridges vs. the toll ones. Deferred maintenance is not a pretty sight and California is also pretty much broke.

    • by westlake (615356)

      There is really no reason to have all the additional expense of toll roads.

      The toll road or bridge can be privately financed, constructed and maintained.

      The "bridge to nowhere" does not get built because private capital won't fund it.

      [That always means you might not get the transcontinental railroad or the Alaskan highway. That you are flying Pan-Am's Clippers or Count Zeppelin's s airships because no one can afford the price of a mile-long concrete runway.]

      The entrepreneur can experiment - and probably go broke - developing techniques that are not likely to be government funded

  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:19PM (#35042848)

    Tolls waste a lot of time and money in an attempt to spread the cost of the road to the people that 'use' it, but this doesn't work. Everyone benefits from the road system. Even if you don't own a car, the goods and services you use rely on them. Adding tolls just increases the cost of those goods and services, so the entire toll industry is a waste of time. Just tax people evenly for the roads we all rely on and skip the wasteful toll booths and electronics.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You misunderstand the reason for toll booths on the golden gate bridge. It's about reducing demand.

      By having a toll on the bridge, a certain percentage of the population is going to decide that it's not worth it to cross the bridge, and will plan their trip using an alternate route. This reduces the number of cars crossing and reduces congestion. By implementing a toll, you help insure that there is at least one non-congested (or relatively quick) path by car into the city, so that those who need to get the

      • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @01:15PM (#35043212)

        You misunderstand the reason for toll booths on the golden gate bridge. It's about reducing demand.

        By having a toll on the bridge, a certain percentage of the population is going to decide that it's not worth it to cross the bridge, and will plan their trip using an alternate route. This reduces the number of cars crossing and reduces congestion. By implementing a toll, you help insure that there is at least one non-congested (or relatively quick) path by car into the city, so that those who need to get there in a hurry can. If you need to get into the city 15 to 20 minutes faster, the toll is worth it.

        With the toll, the bridge is useful to some people (or all people some of the time). Without the toll, the bridge becomes just as congested as any other road, because people choosing between the bridge and the alternative will favor the bridge until congestion makes them indifferent between the two.

        You misunderstand the reason for toll booths on the Golden Gate Bridge. It's about revenue.

        There ARE no alternate toll-free paths into San Francisco unless you want to add nearly three hours to your drive. They also strategically planned the toll booths so that most people cannot avoid paying a toll by picking and choosing different paths to take and running the toll-free side of a bridge in the morning and the toll-free side of another bridge on their way home. You must not be from the Bay Area, so I'll forgive you, but there simply is no feasible way to bypass the Golden Gate Bridge to get into the city.

      • by mikael (484)

        There are several bridges in the Bay Area - Dumbarton bridge (84), San Mateo bridge(92). Whenever one of these bridges was blocked by a road accident, or for road maintenance, traffic would just route to any one of the other bridges. One day, they raised tolls for one of the bridges, and traffic patterns completed changed as commuters just routed round to the cheaper ones. Next day, the other bridges had put up their prices and traffic patterns returned to normal.

        If anything, commuters will favor the bridge

      • The Golden Gate Bridge toll is mainly used to subsidize the mass transit system (Golden Gate Transit). http://www.goldengatebridge.org/research/facts.php#Why5Toll [goldengatebridge.org]

        Currently, 50 percent of bus and ferry operations are funded by Bridge tolls,...

      • by spongman (182339)

        yay, roads for the rich!

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:49PM (#35043048)

      Everyone benefits from the road system.

       
      And extending the same idea, everyone benefits from the existence of the Internet, therefore people who don't have access to it should also pay a share of your ISP bill, right? Not everyone benefits from the road system equally. People who drive more benefit more personally and also cause more damage to the roads and they should pay more for the maintenance. The gas tax that we have now is one way to do it but its imperfect. The most fair way to finance roads is to pay by the mile traveled with the weight of the vehicle factored in, which is pretty much what the tolls do. The only problem with tolls is the practicality, the delays they cause etc but it seems like technology can fix that.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @02:07PM (#35043558) Journal

        And extending the same idea, everyone benefits from the existence of the Internet, therefore people who don't have access to it should also pay a share of your ISP bill, right?

        No, but everyone should pay to get internet (and road) access to everyone. If we can count on everyone having internet access we can scrap older less efficient ways to do things. This benefits everyone.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        If toll roads made sense for that reason, then they would make sense on every single road in the nation. Your logic dictates that it is a problem that there is not a toll on the road that runs in front of your house.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No what would happen if your suggestion was honestly considered by politicians is this. They would eliminate toll roads, and add a new tax on all of the citizen incomes to cover the roads than they are now. However, with even more money available than before, the roads would be maintained even less than they are now for some odd reason. And, over time the money would get mismanaged and re-appropriated to their own private projects, completely unrelated to the road system, and funnel that money to their best

    • by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday January 29, 2011 @01:36PM (#35043360) Homepage Journal

      Whilst reading TFA (I know, it's embarrassing, but I still do it) I noted the bridge "operates with a $89M deficit" ... um, how the hell does it manage THAT? The bridge itself must be long since paid for, and maintenance can't be all THAT high -- surely they don't do a total resurfacing every year? So how much of the deficit is a direct cost of running the toll system itself? Or is it just more of the vaunted California gov't economy's ability to spend at a rate 3x its means?

      Also:

      "A toll-taker's base pay starts at $48,672 a year and tops out at $54,080."

      Holy shit, where do WE sign up to make that kind of money for sitting in a booth?? (Yeah, I know that's barely getting by in San Francisco, but still...) Plus benefits and retirement, no doubt.

      BTW, we already do get taxed evenly, based on usage -- that's what the gasoline tax does. You're taxed in direct proportion to miles driven and weight on the road surface (which translates into wear and tear) because that's the reality of a given driving distance and a given vehicle's weight-to-MPG ratio. Yeah, it gets harsh if you're forced to commute long distances, but I've yet to see a fairer system.

  • A toll booth attendant who actually greets people? C'mon........maybe I've been on the East Coast too long......they wouldn't make eye contact if you rolled through the booth in an Abrams tank....
    • They wouldn't make eye contact if you rolled through the booth in an Abrams tank....

      Shit, I wouldn't either. Who would want to risk looking at a crazy person in a tank the wrong way?

    • by spongman (182339)

      actually, most of the golden gate booth attendants are pretty friendly, for the 5 or so seconds it takes for them to give you change.

  • I've driven from NY to CA and back a few times. The last time, driving to NY, I did it in 2.5 days. I wasn't driving while tired - I always took breaks at the first sign of drowsiness - but as you can imagine I wasn't in the friendliest and peppiest state. In Indiana, I waited in a large line for the cash toll booths - it was something like a 50 cent toll - how hard can it be?

    I get up to the booth, and the middle-aged lady notices my California license plate and starts chatting me up. "Oh, you're from Calif

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:31PM (#35042934)

    You buy a sticker to put on the inside of your windshield. It costs ~32€ and is good for a year. With that, you can drive anywhere, without any further tolls. Switzerland has butt-loads of tunnels and bridges that they have to maintain, and their autobahns are some of the best I have ever driven on. They are probably cleaner than most surgical operating room in the world.

    In Italy, they have some kind of electronic subscription sticker system that lets you get through the toll booths fast. Or you can just shove in your EC bank card or credit card at unmanned booths. They do have folks at a few toll booths. On my last trip there, I saw that a lot of tourists would hold up maps, and ask the toll collector for advice. So maybe tossing the human element out is not such a great idea.

    In Germany there are no tolls, and on a lot of the autobahns, no speed limit. Their autobahn motto is: "Drive fast, die young, leave a beautiful, mangled corpse."

    • by jfengel (409917)

      Purely technical question: what do you do with the expired sticker?

      A sticker that goes on the license plate can be replaced with a new sticker; you just put the new one on top. But a sticker that goes on the inside of a windshield won't be seen.

      I suppose you have to scrape the old one off. Do they make that easy? The ones my garage uses to remind me of my next oil change just peel off, though I suspect they may want ones you have to destroy to remove (to prevent theft).

      • The ones my garage uses to remind me of my next oil change just peel off, though I suspect they may want ones you have to destroy to remove (to prevent theft).

        It's easy to peel of, but "self-destructs" in the process, so you can't peel it off, and put it in another car. Of course, the folks at Wired and Make probably know a process to do this. Most likely involving some nasty chemical solvents.

        • Or quite simply a thin translucent film that you stick the sticker onto. Cut to size, then attach the other side of the film to the inside of your windshield with some post-it glue.
    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      The autobahn is the safest road in Germany in terms of person-km. The mandatory driving school includes x hours of supervised autobahn or similar driving.

      • by mapkinase (958129) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @02:56PM (#35043852) Homepage Journal

        I wish I had mod points to mod you up.

        They also pay special attention to tailgating. I have heard stories about automatic tracking of car-car distance on bridges in Germany.

        Tailgating and lame-ass changing lanes is the main reason for accidents, not the absence of the speed limit.

        Instead of putting emphasis on driver education (stricter driving tests, for example) they toll the economy with their stupid speed limits, increasing amount of time people spend in traffic unproportionally to the speed limit reduction. /rant

  • by CrAlt (3208) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:39PM (#35042976) Homepage Journal

    And how about all the people who don't update their registration when they move? Rental cars?

    And what do you do if the bill isn't paid? Suspend the registration? Cali can't do that to out of state plates or plates from Canada/Mexico.

    I wonder if the added bureaucracy and paperwork for collections is going to nullify the gains they make by not collecting at the bridge.

    • What happens when you write a parking ticket for cars with those plates? I suggest something similar happens here. It's a system that works fairly well in other parts of the world, like London and Stockholm. There's no reason it can't work in the US as well.
    • by jvonk (315830)

      And what do you do if the bill isn't paid? Suspend the registration? Cali can't do that to out of state plates

      Using similar reasoning have you ever tried ignoring a traffic ticket that you got out of state? You will discover that your own state will revoke your license.

      45 of the 50 states belong to the Non-Resident Violator Compact [wikipedia.org]. So, while California can't yank your license, they can report you to your own state who will. Check out the very creepy & insidious v2.0 of the NRVC: the Driver License Agreement [wikipedia.org]. Ugh... if it is fully ratified, then the "or Canada/Mexico" part of your point could also become an

  • No, I don't need a human face or to be greeted by somebody who's been sitting in a cramped booth and mechanically greeting people for months. Ew.

    It's a frickin' bridge, not a hotel.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @01:06PM (#35043150)
    We have boothless tolling now, and here are the directions to get anywhere: First, find the shortest route to the tollway, then go wherever you want. It is amazing, cut my commute from 1.5 hours to 24 minutes. Speaking as an entitled middle class asshole, I 3 tollways.
    • Amen. Houston eliminated the tolls on the Beltway after Ike to get more people off the surface roads with the stoplights out. I don't even believe in God and I was praying nightly for the return of the tolls. All those extra idiots tripled my commute time. I will gladly pay $9 a day to shorten my commute an hour each way.
  • The newest bridge here in Vancouver, the Golden Ears Bridge [translink.ca], uses electronic tolling. It's the first toll bridge in these parts since tolls were abolished on other bridges in the 1960s. I don't use it enough to justify a transponder. Translink send me a bill for a few dollars every 3 months. Since it goes from nowhere to nowhere, nobody uses it much at all: it's almost always deserted. It's a handy landmark for the Pitt Meadows Airport [pittmeadowsairport.com], though the actual reporting point when approaching from the east is Ham

  • That's all good as long as they make it visitor friendly. I hate being relegated to the non-FasTrack ghetto while passing through Orange County California.

    I think the situation is different with a national landmark unless they want a bunch of rental car companies getting bills in the mail everyday.

    Overall I dislike FasTrack and the ability of a private company to give out traffic fines.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @05:55PM (#35044794)

    'This is a world-famous bridge, and you need a human face,' says Philip Hynes.

    My personal experience was:

    No signs warning it was a toll. When we got right up to it, we saw there was a toll and it was cash only. We didn't have any cash so looked for somewhere to turn around. There wasn't anywhere. We pulled up to the booth and explained the situation, the knuckledragger didn't actually say a word to us. He just noted our license plate and waved us on.

    OK, we figured. That's not too unpleasant a system. They'll send us a bill for the couple of dollars in the mail, maybe a website we can go to pay it on.

    No. We got a $30 fine for running the toll. The toll we stopped at, explained we didn't have cash but were happy to pay any other way or would turn around if that wasn't OK.

    Not only that but the fine notice allows you to not pay for a first offense IF you sign up for their automatic payment system... a system that deducts the first month to cover that alleged infraction and insists on pre-billing you, keeping more than the cost of the fine for future payments.

    So, after we talked to the knuckledragger, thought we were just being offered an alternate way to pay, got waved on by him, then FINED for toll evasion? I, for one, will be dancing to the thought of his lost job. I'm sure he's well qualified for a role with the TSA so he won't be unemployed for long.

    Yes, without a human there, there'll be no way to explain situations like that to an unfeeling machine. But when the humans were worthless examples of the species to begin with, monosylabic and leading you in to fines when you thought you'd simply asked for help? Precisely nothing will be lost.

    Bitter? Me? ;)

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern

Working...