800px-GoldenGateBridge-001.jpgThe Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District board of directors this morning unanimously approved a $3 toll for carpools on the bridge. The regular toll for two-axle vehicles is $6.

The board also voted unanimously to raise tolls for multi-axle vehicles, but an increase in the two-axle vehicles fee is not on the horizon, a bridge spokesman said.

The carpool toll will raise an estimated $1.3 million per year and takes effect July 1, bridge manager Kary H. Witt said.

The carpool toll applies to two-axle vehicles with three or more occupants, motorcycles, and buses between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Vehicles will be required to register with a valid FasTrak account in good standing. Drivers will stop in a staffed traffic lane to verify eligibility for the reduced toll.

Witt said carpools comprise just more than 2 percent of bridge traffic, and the district doesn’t expect commute traffic to be delayed when carpools stop at the toll plaza.

The toll hikes for multi-axle vehicles will be phased in starting July 1, 2011. The second increase will be July 1, 2012.

The cash tolls for vehicles with three or more axles will be $6 per axle capped at a maximum of $42. The FasTrak toll will be $5 per axle capped at $35.

The multi-axle tolls when fully implemented are expected to raise $2.4 million per year starting in fiscal year 2012-2013.

The board also voted to reduce Golden Gate Transit commute bus service in Sonoma and Marin counties and San Francisco. The cuts to buses with low ridership, below 20 passengers, and duplicate routes will save $1.1 million per year. The cuts will start no sooner than Sept. 12.

The toll fees and bus service cuts approved today are part of the district’s plan to close a projected $132 million deficit during the next five years.

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