There’s one big message Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District officials are trying to get out to the public as the bridge switches to all-electronic tolling on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.: Don’t stop.
There will be several ways for drivers to pay for their bridge toll either before or after they cross the iconic span—but none require drivers to stop at the toll plaza, as in days gone by.
“Don’t fret, don’t sweat it, just drive through, do not stop," said bridge district spokesperson Mary Currie. "You will get a toll invoice in the mail with no added fees.”
Workers have installed a 27-foot sign above the toll booths that reads “Starting Wednesday No Cash Accepted.” They’ve also installed electronic signs north of the bridge warning drivers of the change.
“I am hearing that people think they need to get FasTrak by Wednesday but they really do not need to," Currie said.
FasTrak is one of the four payment options. Here's the complete list of ways to pay:
- FasTrak: While 86 percent of morning Golden Gate Bridge commuters use the popular payment system, the district is encouraging all drivers to do the same, particularly because FasTrak users save $1 on each toll.
- License Plate Account: For those who prefer not to have a FastTrak, either because of the required pre-payment, the GPS-enabled sensor it requires or any other reasons, a credit card-based account can be set up using a car's license plate, which will be scanned each time it passes through the toll plaza. Accounts can be opened, funded and maintained with a credit card, cash, check or money order. When the account is opened with a credit card, a "pay-as-you go" toll is charged to the credit card only when you cross the bridge.
- One-time payment: Drivers who don't want to have an account for tolls, as well as those who use rental cars, can pay in advance for their bridge use. Payments can be made by phone using a credit card or in person with cash at cash payment locations or in person using cash, check, money order or credit card at the Bay Area FasTrak Service Center in San Francisco.
- Invoice: If none of the above options are used, the registered owner of the vehicle will receive a bill in the mail for the unpaid toll.
Each of the above options is also spelled out on the district's toll website.
Electronic kiosks for cash paying customers have been rolled out throughout the Bay Area.
At the kiosks (scroll down for location details in Marin), drivers can pay for their bridge toll up to 30 days before or 48 hours after they cross the iconic span, allowing them to avoid receiving an invoice in the mail for their toll.
Drivers can also use the kiosks to add money to a FasTrak account, add money to a license plate account, pay a mailed invoice or pay a violation. All they need is cash and their license plate number. To see a map of all the kiosk locations in the Bay Area, click here.
With the shift to all-electronic tolling, district officials have increased the speed limit from 5 to 25 mph at the toll plaza.
All lanes at the toll plaza will take FasTrak, and will be restriped so that lanes (left to right) 1, 2, and 3; 4, 5, and 6; and 7 and 8 will be paired together and then each cluster will merge into a single lane 400 feet beyond the plaza. The district also plans to add a carpool lane in toll lane 2. That carpool lane will be only for going through the toll plaza, not for driving over the bridge.
District officials have reached out to a number of media organizations, and have posted the news in 11 different languages on the Golden Gate Bridge district website. Drivers can dial **GGB to get more information or to receive a text message with a web link to information about the update.
The all-electronic system will save the district $16.8 million over eight years, district officials said, and Currie said cost savings, particularly on salaries and benefits, are the biggest driver of the switch. The move will lead to 14 toll workers losing their jobs at the end of March, she said. Of the 28 full-time toll collectors employed by the district when the electronic switch was decided upon, 14 have either retired or transferred to jobs elsewhere in the district.
Sample kiosk locations on the Peninsula:
- Go Metro Wireless, 887 E El Camino Real, SUNNYVALE, CA 94087-2937
- Frontera, 1191 West EL Camino Real,Sunnyvale 94086, (408) 469-0339
- Discoteca Doña Lety, 2821 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City 94063, (650) 368-9434
- Super Pure Water, 826 5th Ave., Redwood City, 94063, (650) 701-0415
- Belmont Kwik-Serv, 701 Harbor Blvd, Belmont, 94002 (650) 551-1188
- Veena Kumari Singh 1620 Palm Ave., San Mateo, 94402 (650) 570-6663