Drivers may soon see big hikes in Bay Area bridge tolls as a measure designed to pay for much needed transit improvements heads to the June ballot.
The measure would increase tolls by $3 over six years. The question is: Are voters willing to dip into their pockets?
While backers of the measure say the funds will be used to ease traffic, not everyone’s convinced that will happen.
"We’re asking people to dig a little bit deeper to pay for projects that won’t come from any other source," said Jim Wunderman of Bay Area Council.
If passed, Regional Measure 3 on the June ballot would increase tolls on the Bay Area's seven bridges by a dollar in January 2019. They would go up another dollar in 2022. And then once more by a dollar in 2025. A large portion of the money will go to BART to support 300 new train cars.
In all, the bridge toll increases would fund nearly $4.5 billion in transit projects across the Bay Area, including expanding BART to the South Bay, Caltrain to the city and expanding the express lane network.
Transit advocate David Schonbrunn says he doesn’t think the plan will actually ease traffic and says bridge users will be shouldering the cost of projects that won’t help them.
"There are two big problems with it. It won’t work, and it’s not fair," Schonbrunn said. "Only 18 percent of the money in the toll increase directly affects the bridge corridor. The rest benefits everyone else, but everyone else isn’t paying for it, and that’s where the problem lies."
Drivers say the cost of commuting is already hard to handle.
"That’s crazy; that’s a lot of money," commuter Khari Bransch said. "People don’t got it like that to be spending."
Bay Area voters have approved toll increases twice before. They’ll get a chance decide whether they’ll do so again on June 5.