For Golden Gate Bridge toll takers, there's an end of the road
SAN FRANCISCO — When their final shifts ended on Tuesday at the Golden Gate Bridge, several toll collectors forced their mouths into smiles, hugged each other tightly and cried as they left their small booths for the last time.
On Wednesday, bridge managers planned to replace the humans with technology to save money and speed traffic across the historic span that opened in 1937.
“Our DNA is embedded in this bridge ... we are part of it,” said Jacquie Dean, a career toll collector who had worked on the burnt orange span for 18 years before her last shift.
The new system allows drivers to pay using digital transponders that deduct money from a prepaid account or credit card, or through license plate scans that generate bills sent to drivers. Cash will no longer be an option.
“Some customers still want to pay cash,” Dean lamented. “They don't want to be tracked and photographed.”
Many drivers have already switched to the FasTrak devices — similar to the E-ZPass used in Pennsylvania — that attach to windshields and have been allowing motorists to speed by the toll booths for a dollar less than people who pay cash.
Those who fail to pay will receive warnings and could eventually have a hold placed on their vehicle registration at the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Currie offered one overarching message for drivers using the bridge on Wednesday.
“Just don't stop,” she said.
The switchover is expected to save about $16 million in salaries and benefits over eight years.
“It was a difficult decision and involved the loss of some very dedicated staff,” said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
Nine toll takers will lose their jobs. Seventeen have been placed in other positions or retired, Currie said.
Dean and others said they loved working on the bridge for many reasons — seeing the same customers every day, helping tourists with directions, and the beautiful surroundings. They often received gift cards and small presents during the holidays from customers.
“I never thought that I would ever end my career at the bridge,” said Dawnette Reed, who started working in the gift shop at age 16 and became a toll collector at 26 after a stint in the Army.
“The bridge won't be the same without us,” Reed said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Atlantic Coast cities rise up against offshore drilling plans
- Hawaii confronts dengue fever cases
- Upstate New York town threatened by Arizona man in online post, reports say
- Slow-moving, wintry storm packs punch in Plains, Midwest
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Pot doctors in medical marijuana states push boundaries with marketing
- Prof proposes museum of corruption in New York capital
- New Navy destroyer Zumwalt’s seaworthiness questioned before sea trials
- Obama moves to shore up allies coalition as rival Russia courts France
- Convict in 3 Calif. sex crimes freed by DNA tied to fugitive rapist
- 4 crew members dead after helicopter crashes at Fort Hood