Last day on the job emotional one for Golden Gate Bridge toll takers

SAN FRANCISCO - Dawnette Reed first met the boy when he was several months old and still sucking on a pacifier.

She watched him go from wearing onesies to school uniforms and from being strapped in a car seat to being belted in.

"You're gonna be mayor or president someday," Reed would say to him.

Golden Gate Bridge Toll Collector's Last Day


That connection is lost now. Tuesday was Reed's last as a toll taker on the Golden Gate Bridge, which around midnight was planning to become the first major span in the nation to convert to electronic toll taking.

The hard reality of the change was evident on Reed's face as a familiar white SUV approached her toll booth around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.

When the vehicle stopped, Tyler Hill, now 12, stood up through the open sunroof holding a sign that read, "We will miss you." His mother, Sharon, handed Reed a bouquet of flowers.

"It's going to be hard," Reed, a resident of Oakland, predicted Monday, prior to her last shift.

Bridge officials say electronic tolling, which has been planned for two years, is necessary to reduce costs.

The new system is costing $3.4 million to implement, including $520,000 to publicize the changes. It is projected to save the district $16.8 million over an eight-year period.

Officials tout the conversion as a convenience for motorists who no longer will have to stop to pay toll. Such payments will be made using FasTrak, license-plate accounts, direct billing or through kiosks and cashiers at locations along thoroughfares leading to the bridge.

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