Council Applauds Letter from Congressional Representatives Decrying Misguided Bridge Toll Increase
Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman Had Urged Representatives to Oppose Toll Hike Legislation
The Bay Area Council today applauded a letter by seven Congressional Representatives and led by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Anna Eshoo raising serious concerns about misguided legislation (SB 532, Wiener) to raise bridge tolls by $1.50 and steer the money to public transit agencies that just received $5.1 billion in state funding to bail out their operations. The letter comes after Council CEO Jim Wunderman met recently with DeSaulnier and Eshoo and other Bay Area representatives in Washington D.C., and urged them to oppose the toll hike as it would unfairly and disproportionately burden lower-income commuters.
“Before yet again asking motorists to dig deep and pay more in tolls, let’s have a complete and honest review of our region’s transit system, and ensure that we are delivering on reliability, efficiency, safety and connectivity among the region’s 27 operating agencies,” Wunderman said. “The public deserves nothing less. We applaud Reps. DeSaulnier and Eshoo and our other Congressional representatives for their leadership in taking a stand against this flawed toll increase and demanding more accountability.”
With multiple toll increases in recent years and another $1 increase approved by voters in 2018 as part of Regional Measure 3 that is due to take effect in January 2025, SB 532 would push the total that commuters must pay to cross a single bridge to $9.50. Before considering any more transit funding, the Council is calling on transit agencies to look internally at ways they can reduce costs, become more efficient with the funding they have and work aggressively to address issues of crime, safety and cleanliness that are keeping riders away. The Council was a strong advocate for the state funding to enable transit agencies to maintain operations.
Joining DeSaulnier and Eshoo in signing the letter were Representatives John Garamendi, Barbara Lee, Linda Sánchez, Eric Swalwell, and Mike Thompson.
In the letter, the representatives wrote, “the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Bay Area Public Transportation Emergency Act (SB 532) would temporarily raise bridge tolls by $1.50 on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area from 2024 to 2028…However, we’re concerned that this legislation will disproportionately impact our constituents and low-income communities who depend on driving for their transportation to and from work, and ultimately does not provide long-term, sustainable solutions for some of the operating issues of the Bay Area public transit agencies.”