Overcharged locals should not pay to walk across our bridge
The mind of a typical college student is racing with questions like, “How am I going to pay my rent this month?”, “Where am I going to get my next meal?” and “What is the cheapest way I can get to and from school this week?”
To make matters worse, the Highway and Transportation District of San Francisco is proposing a plan to charge pedestrians and bicyclists a toll for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, as if San Francisco wasn’t filled to the brim with commuter fees as it is.
Bay Area citizens — especially college students — should not be included in the preposterous plan to charge pedestrians and bicyclists a toll for crossing the bridge. If pedestrians choose to boycott the fee, all those who walk or bike across the bridge on their way into the city will just congest other forms of transportation, such as BART or in cars.
This penny-pinching pedestrian toll is scheduled to surface July 2017, but the cost of the toll is still unknown. However large it may be, this toll is unfair to many bicyclists and pedestrians who are trying to be more efficient and resourceful, or have no other form of transportation.
According to Business Insider, the rate for a one-bedroom apartment per month in San Francisco is the most expensive across the nation. It is not fair to ask San Francisco residents to pay another fee when they are already struggling to pay four-digit rent payments and other city fares.
A toll for vehicle bridge crossing began the day the bridge opened, May 28, 1937, with only a 50 cent fare to cross each way. For three decades vehicles were charged individual fares in both directions, until in 1968 when fares for those driving northbound were dropped.
However, on April 7, 2014, the Golden Gate Bridge toll for vehicle crossing increased from $5 to $6 for FasTrak users and from $6 to $7 for cash payers, with another $1 increase scheduled to accumulate over the next four years.
Some may argue the new pedestrian toll is a good idea, agreeing that the extra money would help reduce the $32.9 million deficit that has accumulated over the past five years, according to the official Golden Gate Bridge website. Implementing this toll may reduce this deficit and also help keep up with the transitions of a modern-day metropolitan city.
The Golden Gate Bridge website also reports that the bridge receives over 10 million annual visitors. The Bay Citizen reports that in 2011 alone San Francisco received over $2,872,000 international visitors, who spent an average of $8.46 billion dollars. Thousands of those visitors will more than likely visit the Golden Gate Bridge and would not mind paying a few dollars to experience its radiance.
Priya Clemens, the Public Information Manager for the Golden Gate Bridge, roughly estimates 6,000 bike riders and 10,000 pedestrians use the bridge on a daily basis. Charging a toll for pedestrians to cross the bridge will have a much larger impact on the citizens of the city than it would on once-a-year visitors.
If a pedestrian toll is implemented, tourists should be charged a small fee to experience the national landmark and walk across the bridge. Bay Area citizens and commuters are the last people that should be expected to pay more money on their already dreaded and hectic drive.