Q I predict an increase in traffic accidents near the toll plaza on the Golden Gate Bridge as tourists desperately scan for a cash lane or just stop because they don't know what to do when all-electronic tolling begins Wednesday. The Golden Gate Bridge is a tourist attraction as well as a bridge, and I don't think bridge authorities have thought this out. I'll bet the rental car companies are just wriggling with delight, though. Using a rental car's FasTrak equivalent set us back $20 a day plus tolls on the East Coast last year.
A Confusion is bound to reign for a few days or weeks. Joe-My-Caltrans-Man said: "The Golden Gate Bridge has 70 percent FasTrak usage, the highest of any toll bridge in California. So I expect the impacts on the day-to-day user will be minimal. The tourists will be the ones who will have a tougher time. There will be signs telling people in advance that no cash is accepted, but I am sure there will still be a bit of confusion."
Let me know how your trip went. Smoother than you hoped? Worse than you feared? No change?
Q My fear is that traffic on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will increase and slow down the drive home for those of us in the East Bay. If the new toll policy leads to confusion, drivers wanting to avoid going over the Golden Gate may quickly figure out this is an option.
A That could happen.
Q I think the town of Sausalito and other nearby areas should sue the Golden Gate Bridge District. After reading about the removal of the toll stations and the complete switch to FasTrak and electronic billing, I simply don't want to deal with it.
I cross the bridge about once a year to go spend tourist dollars in the area. These towns might not be adversely affected by the commuters who already know the system, but the tourists are where the real money is at, and regional tourists like me, who don't want to get FasTrak or register a credit card, are likely to say to heck with that nonsense, and go south to Monterey instead.
A I'm hoping that in a year or two you might say: "What was the big deal?"
Q As someone who lives 200-plus miles south of the Bay Area and only goes there to cross one of the toll bridges two or three times a year, what will we do when we go to cross the Golden Gate Bridge after they switch to electronic toll collection? Our need for an electronic device in a vehicle is so infrequent that it does not pay for us to register and invest in one.
A If you don't have FasTrak or a credit card account, just drive though and you'll get a $6 bill in the mail. And remember, the new speed limit is 25 mph through the toll plaza.
Q With the elimination of toll takers on the Golden Gate, a question comes to mind. How will out-of-state cars or even cars from Canada be charged their toll? No FasTrak for those folks and no California license plate database to search for a billing address.
Pierre Du Bois
A No problem. Bridge officials can track down the registered owners of those vehicles to mail them the bill. Toll invoices must be paid within 21 days to avoid penalty fees. Go to goldengate.org/tolls/tolltipsforvisitors.php for more information.
Q You could suggest to your readers who have out-of-town guests driving rental cars that they lend them their transponder. The bridge reads the transponder in any car it is in. If you live in the Bay Area it pays to have one even you don't use the bridges that much. Any time you cross a bridge you'll be glad you have it.
A That is reasonable advice.