Golden Gate collection expected to be all-electronic by March

The Golden Gate Bridge will begin testing a new system today that is expected to make the iconic span one of the few in the world to convert to all-electronic tolls.

Motorists will not notice any immediate changes on the bridge, where human toll-takers will still be on hand to collect money the old-fashioned way.

But behind the scenes, a revolution is under way that promises to alter how millions of people interact with the span.

Golden Gate Bridge, 1937-2012


"It's time for motorists who use the Golden Gate to think about what their preferred payment options are when full conversion takes place in 60 days," said Mary Currie, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

Starting today, motorists who fail to pay a toll for whatever reason can expect to receive an invoice in the mail for just that amount, as opposed to the current policy that levels an additional fine.

Motorists have 21 days to pay the toll without penalty. A $25 fine is tacked on if it is not paid 30 days after that. The matter is then referred to the DMV, which can place a hold on the vehicle's registration until the fine is taken care of.

It's part of the transition to treating bridge users as "customers" and not as toll "evaders."

Also starting today, motorists can go online to register their license plates and credit card information with the bridge district and pay tolls as they are incurred.

This differs from FasTrak, which keeps a minimum balance in prepaid accounts.

Information about pay-by-plate accounts can be found at goldengate.org/tolls. Cash and credit card accounts also can be created over the phone or in person with the bridge district.

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