Ting Begins Second Term With Bill To Block Sidewalk Fees At Golden Gate Bridge

For immediate release:

(Sacramento, CA) – Immediately after being sworn into his second term of office, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) introduced legislation to block the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District from assessing a sidewalk toll on pedestrians and cyclists crossing the bridge.

“A sidewalk toll would undo decades of work to promote public recreation and transportation alternatives that are better for our environment,” said Ting.  “The network of parks, paths, and trails we’ve built to ensure public access to the bridge is a legacy we share with the world.  Everything falls apart without free access to the sidewalk.  With working people being priced out of their city, we must take a stand and keep bridge access free.”

The District was created by the State Legislature through the Bridge and Highway District Act of 1923 and is subject to regulation under this Act.  Assembly Bill (AB) 40 changes this state law by removing the creation and collection of a sidewalk toll from the powers granted to the District.

“California has taken an aggressive stance to slow and stop climate change.  Charging pedestrians and cyclists goes in the opposite direction,” said Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), joint author of the bill.  “There has been no pedestrian toll on the bridge for more than half its life.  This is not the time to restore that toll.  The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed images of California.  ‘Nobody Walks For Free’ is the wrong caption for that photo.”

In October, the District’s Board of Directors voted to study the imposition of a sidewalk toll for pedestrians and cyclists in the context of its 45-point plan to eliminate a projected $32.9 million cumulative operating deficit over the next five years.  If ultimately approved under the plan, sidewalk tolls would begin in July 2017 – making the Golden Gate Bridge the only contiguous bridge in the United States with such a toll.

There are four bridges at the borders of the United States that charge 50-cent pedestrian tolls.  One links New York and Canada at Niagara Falls and the other three bridges link El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Leading up to the District’s vote to study a sidewalk fee, it received 4,205 letters in opposition and 16 in support - a 262:1 ratio against the fee.