poll: strong majority back bridge toll increase to ease grinding traffic

Bay Area voters fed up with grinding congestion badly want new funding for large, regional traffic relief and transportation improvement projects and are ready to dig a little deeper to cross state-owned bridges to pay for them, according to results of a new poll released today and commissioned by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR. The online poll of more than 9,000 voters found that 56 percent of voters from all nine Bay Area counties would approve gradually increasing tolls by $3 over a four-year period.

The results come as state lawmakers are crafting legislation that would authorize a regional ballot measure to raise bridge tolls that voters could be asked to decide in June 2018. The measure would require majority approval. The exact amount of any toll bump hasn’t been finalized, and legislators are considering increases ranging from $1-$3. The increase would apply only to state-operated bridges in the Bay Area and not the Golden Gate Bridge, which is operated separately.

“Paying a little higher bridge toll to lessen the awful toll of traffic is clearly worth it to a strong majority of Bay Area voters,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “When you consider the huge amount of time that commuters waste in traffic every day, adding a couple extra dollars to bridge tolls will help cut congestion and expand critical regional mass transit that benefits the entire Bay Area.”

Read the bridge toll poll results memo>>

Voters were unequivocal in their feelings about traffic, with 85 percent saying it has gotten worse in the past year, according to the online poll conducted by Oakland public opinion firm FM3. Voters were also very clear that they don’t want half measures. An overwhelming 74 percent want the proceeds of any toll increase to pay for “big regional projects” that ease traffic and improve mass transit, including enhancing freeway carpool lanes and expanding BART, regional ferry service and other bus and commuter rail systems.

The three non-partisan, public policy organizations are working together to help shape the legislation authorizing a regional measure and plan to partner on a regional campaign to win voter approval should it be placed on the ballot. Voters have approved two previous bridge toll increases to fund traffic relief and improvements to mass transit. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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