A bill that was introduced last month by Senator Scott Wiener to increase bridge tolls to fund BART is now on pause.
The announcement came Monday when Senator Wiener (D-San Francsico) was joined by Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D-Suisun) where he sent out a series of tweets.
In June, Wiener introduced SB 532 which would have temporarily raised tolls on 7 state-owned bridges in the Bay Area by $1.50 for 5-years. The bill provides public transportation funding to prevent service cuts and improve safety, cleanliness, and reliability.
Those bridges are:
- San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
- San Mateo-Hayward Bridge
- Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
- Dumbarton Bridge
- Carquinez Bridge
- Benicia-Martinez Bridge
- Antioch Bridge
However, on Monday, the bill was placed on pause.
In a series of Tweets Monday, Wiener stated the following:
I introduced SB 532 — temporary bridge toll increase — to avoid devastating transit service cuts. Today I’m joined by @AsmLoriDWilson in announcing a pause on SB 532 to allow further dialogue among Bay Area legislators & stakeholders about how to save Bay Area transit systems.
We’re deeply committed to solving this problem & breaking the political paralysis that threatens our transit systems. The Bay Area’s future depends on robust transit. Asm Wilson & I will convene stakeholders over the fall recess to work toward a solution to advance in January.
Our Bay Area transit systems face a ~$2.5B operational deficit over the next 5 years. Of that amount, the recently passed state budget provides $400M over 4 years. So the state budget solved 16% of the problem. That leaves 84% of the problem completely unresolved.
It’s hard to overstate the peril facing our Bay Area transit systems. They’re absolutely recovering from the pandemic — over the past year BART ridership increased 50% & Muni ridership increased 33% — but not quickly enough to compensate for the end of federal pandemic relief.
Despite the false narrative that no one is taking transit, the opposite is true. 400k people a day take Muni. Nearly 200k people a day take BART. While these numbers are less than 2019, they’re substantial & growing by the month. These systems are recovering, but it’s gradual.
Absent operational funding support, our major transit systems will start slashing service in the next 12-24 months. Service cuts will make the systems less viable, prevent many people from getting to work/school/etc, undermine our climate goals & increase road congestion.
Allowing these transit systems to deteriorate will also severely undermine our economic recovery, particularly for downtown San Francisco. Leaders who says they want downtown San Francisco to recover needs to step up to fight to save public transit. To be blunt, few have done so.
The riders who rely on transit are disproportionately lower income & non-white. While we need to be sensitive to the hardship increased bridge tolls can create for working class drivers, we need to be clear that transit riders are significantly lower income than people who drive.
A solution to our transit operational deficit could come in various forms, including bridge tolls, additional state funding, reallocation of regional funds, etc. We also need to work toward a 2026 regional revenue measure to provide long-term sustainability.
I’m grateful to @AsmLoriDWilson — who was not a supporter of the introduced version of SB 532 — for agreeing to partner with me to find a solution to this massive regional problem. Working together, I know we can get the job done. I’m absolutely committed to doing so.
Assemblywoman Lori Wilson has issued no statement on the pause or what possible replacement bill or funding source could be proposed.
Representative Mark DeSaunier said Tuesday he was, “very glad to see this proposal has been put on pause” and referred the community a letter he wrote in early August.
- Aug 4 – Reps DeSaulnier and Eshoo Express Concerns on Unfair Impact of Proposed Bridge Toll on Bay Area Residents
- June 30 – BART Board Votes to Support Raising Bridge Tolls
- June 27 – Senator Glazer’s Statement on Proposal to Raise Bridge Toll Fees
- June 27 – Bill Would Raise Bridge Tolls to Fund Bay Area Transit Operation