SF Chronicle: Bridge Toll Penalties Can Be Crushing For Low-Income Drivers. A State Bill Aims To Ease The Burden

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

For many Bay Area residents, driving across one of the region’s eight bridges is routine. These roadways serve as a crucial connection to the East Bay and elsewhere.


The new system left many residents confused about how to pay their toll fees, and some of them accumulated debt through toll evasion penalties. In February 2020, a month before the pandemic triggered nationwide shutdowns, BATA saw 201,371 toll violations. In February 2022, there were 880,759 — an increase of over 400%.

“I was really worried about what this meant for our most vulnerable members of the Bay Area, especially for folks who just want to get to work,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “You have to almost invariably cross a bridge to get from one point to another into the Bay Area.”

In February, Ting introduced AB2594 to support California residents struggling to pay toll penalties. The bill would, beginning in July 2024, cap fines and late fees, establish payment plans for fines and penalties, offer motorists a cash payment option and set a minimum time period to pay fines before car registration is suspended. This would apply to toll highways, roads and express lanes. Payment plans for toll bridges specifically must be offered beginning in July 2023 under the measure.