SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and a group of Bay Area lawmakers introduced a bill Monday to raise toll on bridges to fund public transit. At a press conference Monday, Wiener unveiled SB 532, the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Public Transportation Emergency Act.
The proposed bill temporarily raises tolls on seven state-owned Bay Area bridges by $1.50 for five years. Funds from the toll increase would be used to provide public transportation funding in order to prevent service cuts while improving safety, cleanliness and reliability, according to Sen. Wiener’s office.
“We’ve made good progress in this year’s budget, but the future of public transportation in the Bay Area is still under threat due to pandemic-related operational deficits that, without help, will lead to severe service cuts,” said Sen. Wiener. “Bay Area transit ridership continues to climb, but it’s not happening quickly enough to make up for the loss of federal emergency assistance. SB 532 provides critical lifeline funding for our transit systems — ensuring they have the resources they need to provide safe, reliable service for our residents.”
Bridges that would see a toll increase under the bill include:
- San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
- San Mateo-Hayward Bridge
- Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
- Dumbarton Bridge
- Carquinez Bridge
- Benicia-Martinez Bridge
- Antioch Bridge
The toll increase would take effect in January of 2024 through December of 2028. The toll increase would yield about $180 million annually over that five-year period.
Bay Area transit agencies like BART and SF Muni have struggled in the wake of the pandemic. Ridership has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and agencies have warned of potentially drastic service cuts with increased funding.
A recent poll of Bay Area residents cited safety and cleanliness as two of the key factors discouraging riders from returning to BART. Sen. Wiener’s proposed bill would include funds to address safety, cleanliness and reliability.
Funds from SB 532 would offset the approximately $400 million in state funds the Bay Area is expected to receive over the next three years.
State Sen. Steve Glazer, who represents California’s District 7, pushed back on the proposed bill, issuing a statement that read in part:
“Transit riders and taxpayers have witnessed firsthand the trail of broken promises by advocates for bridge toll increases. We know from hard-learned experience that new funding does not ensure proper oversight and accountability at BART.”