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Bay Area Approves Tolls for ILEVs

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  • Bay Area Approves Tolls for ILEVs

    Bay Area Approves Tolls for ILEVs
    CalNGV News-2-8-09
    The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) approved a package of bridge toll hikes Jan. 27 that includes a $2.50 toll during commute hours for NGVs and other inherently low-emission vehicles (ILEVs).
    Currently, carpools and ILEVs pass free during commute hours and pay a $4 toll otherwise; conventional vehicles and hybrids pay $4 at all times. Under the new rate schedule, conventional vehicles will pay $6 during commute hours, and carpools, ILEVs, and hybrids will pay $2.50. All vehicles will pay $5 on weekends and $4 during weekday noncommute hours. The new rates take effect July 1.
    The Coalition and other AFV advocates made a concerted effort to get BATA to reconsider the ILEV toll. The Coalition sent BATA a letter asking it to delete the toll or at least delay adoption to fully consider its effects. The letter argues that the ILEV toll undermines state policies designed to reduce oil dependence, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and support clean transportation technologies; ignores current legislative work on HOV lane policy; did not receive adequate public review (it was never mentioned in public presentations on the package); and will produce minimal revenue but have a significant negative effect.
    "We are not aware of any analysis by BATA of the increased revenues expected by imposing a new $2.50 toll on natural gas vehicles, but we expect it will be extremely small," the letter says. "But the negative impact will be outsized: tangible financial and time-saving incentives like free passage on toll roads and access to HOV lanes have been shown to play a major role in a consumer’s decision to buy an alternative fuel vehicle."
    Assemblymember Ted Lieu and Sen. Leland Yee (both of whom have HOV lane access bills pending in the Legislature) also sent letters, as did CALSTART, Clean Energy, BAF Technologies, and Yellow Cab. The Coalition, Clean Energy, and CALSTART testified as well.
    But BATA had already knocked down objections to higher tolls from many other quarters and appeared set on passing the full package. The agency expects the increases to raise about $160 million a year to fund seismic strengthening of the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges and compensate for a decline in toll revenue due to reduced bridge traffic.
    Coalition Executive Director Pete Price notes that hybrid vehicles will get a $1.50
    reduction in their toll during commute hours. "If MTC retained the existing full toll on hybrids and left NGVs with free passage, the bridges would generate even more toll revenue because there are so many more hybrids on the road," he says. "This also goes in the opposite direction from pending state legislation, which will eliminate HOV lane access for current-generation hybrids."
    In a staff summary of the proposal before testimony started, the presenter did note that issues about the impact of the ILEV toll had been raised since the last public meeting, and he said he thought the MTC should consider them.
    "It was vague but at least it acknowledged our main issue," says Price. "We plan to follow up with MTC, especially on recalibrating both hybrid and NGV tolls for greater revenue." ◗

  • #2
    Re: Bay Area Approves Tolls for ILEVs

    If there are HOV bills pending at the legislature, who do we need to talk to to get an ILEV exemption from bridge tolls added to the bill?

    If one looks at the BATA, the bridge toll money is used for more than bridge maintenance, it also subsidizes the highly polluting ferry services.