Q I am very disappointed at your rather flippant answers in your Feb. 3 column to those who see obvious problems with the new toll system coming at the Golden Gate Bridge.
A Flippant? I thought I was pretty straightforward. Why so steamed?
Q We also were screwed while in Florida last summer as we followed a road from Key West to Jupiter. As time was important, we entered what turned out to be a "boothless toll road." We had no idea what was going on. We would have gladly paid the toll -- but how?
Don't you get this? We had no information whatsoever as we transited into a toll road at 70 mph. I do not peruse local columns by journalists before I visit an area to see the gotchas in transiting their highway system. You smugly tell people what to do, but the problem is with those who have no information. Can you imagine a family visiting from Thailand figuring this thing out?
So we got screwed by our auto rental company, which later charged us a $100 "administrative fee" for taking a toll road. Pardon me, but bull. It's a scheme to defraud unknowing tourists.
I absolutely agree with others who see everything that's bad with this scheme. We should welcome visitors, not be fleecing them. I just cannot believe that the Golden Gate Bridge cannot keep one booth open.
A OK, I understand your anger. Testing is now occurring on the Golden Gate's all-electronic tolling plan. I will keep you posted on those results before the toll takers are gone in late March.
But keeping one booth open for cash payments might make delays worse by leading to long backups that could also slow traffic in nearby lanes.
Bridge officials are now offering answers about what Bay Area folks are asking them. This week it's on which toll payment option Bay Area drivers want to use -- FasTrak or a license plate account. Go to http://goldengate.org and check the second news release under Breaking News and Events.
Q Once the Golden Gate stops accepting cash for tolls, people who must get into San Francisco from the north are in a severe bind if they don't have FasTrak. However, for those of us who go from anywhere around San Rafael or north to the South Bay or Peninsula, there's a solution: Take 101 to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge (I-580) to 80, through Oakland, and then south on 880 to the South Bay. Slightly longer but usually faster, and it avoids the Golden Gate Bridge and the living hell of 19th Avenue. ... My advice for people with rental cars is to only use the Golden Gate Bridge northbound (tolls are charged only southbound) and then take the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge back south. Even with some extra mileage, you'd have trouble running up enough to justify a $50 to $100 "convenience fee" by rental car agencies, which is really gouging, and should be illegal as hell.
John Joss, Bill Zaumen and several more
Q I seemed to have missed something in your column on paying for occasional crossings of the Golden Gate Bridge. Why would I ever want to bother with any alternative except the one where they will send me a toll invoice which I can pay on the Internet with a credit card? As I read the FasTrak rules, if I don't use my account for 12 months, it will be canceled and I have to return the toll tag to get my balance returned. That seems like an unnecessary hassle compared to getting an invoice when I do cross the bridge.
A It can be. But you can use FasTrak on any bridge in the Bay Area, and when you use it on the Golden Gate, you get a $1 discount. But the credit card option is also a good one.
Q As you suggested, I read the Golden Gate website and scoured every area for information on motorcycles when they do away with toll collectors. The only information I can find is that they qualify to use the carpool lanes during designated carpool hours. Any clues for us about non-carpool hours?
A Be patient. More information will be announced soon.