A 70% drop in daily tolls this week has led the Golden Gate Bridge District to cut bus and ferry service as the agency faces a potential loss in revenue of $1.5 million a week because of the Bay Area’s shelter in place order.
“We’re in uncharted territory. We continue to monitor the situation -- we do have a reserve for moments like this,” said Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, bridge and transportation district spokesman.
He said while the authority has a $25 million reserve, it is being vigilant on costs given the expected daily loss of $300,000 compared to this time last year.
He added the bridge authority is hoping to get emergency funding from local, state and federal sources as it seeks to preserve its ability to carry out long-term maintenance and capital projects, like completing planned earthquake retrofitting.
For the seven other Bay Area bridges, traffic is off as well, although less dramatically.
Overall, since the shelter order, its down 44% over last year. Hardest hit is the Dumbarton Bridge, which is down 61%, followed by the San Mateo Bridge, which is off 52%. The Bay Bridge is off 43%.
Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman Randy Rentschler says the losses are significant, but won’t make a dent in the authority’s $1 billion reserve fund, created to ensure service continues during an earthquake or other disaster.
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He says the fund could be tapped to offset losses from local transit systems hit by lost ridership, including BART.
Meanwhile, for those people who commute to jobs unrestricted by the shelter in place order, the light traffic is a welcome break.
“It’s wonderful, I’m saving gas,” said Deborah Reyes, who uses the Bay Bridge to get from home in Berkeley to her security job at a hospital in Daly City. “Normally with traffic it might take me anywhere from 50 to 60 minutes. It took me about 25 minutes.”
Reyes, stopped at a gas station in Emeryville en route to work, said that while she is enjoying the easy commute, she hopes it doesn’t last too long.
“You have to be safe -- safety first, with coronavirus,” she said. “Hopefully it will pass.”