Saturday, October 15, 2011

Golden Gate is Great


It is mid October and my favorite time of the year. The San Francisco Bay Area always has great warm weather this time of the year and for about two weeks this chilly city feels like the south of France. I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday and the temperature on the bridge was over 80 degrees compared with the normal 55 degrees. Many motorists were out and about in convertibles and throngs of tourists were walking or bicycling on the bridge taking in the marvelous view of Alcatraz, the bay and the city skyline.

The toll on the bridge is now $6 if you pay with cash and $5 if you use a FasTrak transponder. The toll is only paid in the south bound direction and northbound travel is free. I of course have a FasTrak transponder as I am a cheap skate and also I want to speed through the toll booth. This time though I stayed to the very right to pay my toll and was in a cash or FasTrak lane. I did this as I wanted to exit along the Pacific coastal road just after the toll booth. At the toll booth, I was behind a motor cycle and the guy on the cycle had to fork out $6 of cash for his toll even though he was on a motor cycle and not in a large SUV. A kind of stupid pricing policy by the bridge authority as there is no way that a motor cycle causes the same wear and tear to the bridge roadway surface as an Escalade.

I know that during rush hour periods that the bridge does give a discount to carpools with a transponder and this saves the carpoolers another $2 making the cost of the crossing at $3. If a motor cyclist has a transponder they too receive the carpool discount. It makes sense for motor cyclist to receive the carpool rate during peak traffic hours as the intent of the discount is to decrease traffic congestion. When the bridge first opened in 1937 the toll was 50 cents in each direction. Interestingly back then, an extra 5 cent charge was levied if the vehicle carried more than 3 passengers. I guess some bright spark who worked for Standard Oil came up with the idea to penalize folks for being green back then.

In 1968 the north bound ride became free and the cost of the toll to south bound motorists was still 50 cents. Just shows that back then after the 30 year bonds to build the bridge were paid off, the motorists were given a break. Now that thousands of toll collectors are collecting retirement, that the bridge has been seismically updated, and that people are always taken for the ride we pay 12 times as much to cross the bridge compared with 1968. Given the beauty of the bridge and given the view from the bridge I actually find the $5 toll using FasTrak to be a bargain. Next year will be the 75 anniversary of the opening of the bridge and I hope to be one of the million people who participate in the event. While I love the color green there is no doubt that the Golden Gate Bridge is a red beauty and would look dumb painted green.

Several readers asked me if the photo is real. Yes it is it comes from the official web site of the Golden Gate Bridge and was taken by Frank Fennema Photography,
September 12, 2009, at 4:58am. http://goldengatebridge.org/photos/current.php#beauty

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