The cost to travel over seven of the Bay Area's bridges will increase by $1 on Jan. 1, 2022, while the fine for people who violate bridge tolls is being reduced retroactively to the beginning of the year, regional officials announced.
Regular tolls for two-axle cars and trucks and for motorcycles at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges will rise to $7 from $6, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA).
Tolls for vehicles with three or more axles will also rise by $1.
The tolls will increase to $17 for three-axle vehicles, $22 for four-axle vehicles, $27 for five-axle vehicles, $32 for six-axle vehicles and $37 for vehicles with combinations of seven or more axles.
The toll increase at the region's state-owned toll bridges is the second of three toll increases approved by the California Legislature in 2017 via state Senate Bill 595 and by voters through Regional Measure 3 in 2018.
The first increase went into effect in 2019, and the third will go into effect in 2025.
There is a legal challenge to Senate Bill 595 and Regional Measure 3 pending before the California Supreme Court, so the toll increase collected will be placed into an escrow account managed by an independent trustee until the litigation is resolved.
Revenue from the previous toll increase in 2019 is also being held in escrow, according to BATA.
Meanwhile, the agency announced Wednesday that fines for toll violation notices will be reduced for anyone who received them on the region's seven state-owned toll bridges dating back to the start of 2021.
BATA said that the penalty for first violation notices is dropping effective immediately from $25 to $5, and the penalty for second violation notices will drop from $70 to $15.
People who paid the penalties dating back to Jan. 1 will receive a refund starting in February 2022, according to the toll authority.
The changes, approved by the BATA in October, are part of its tolling equity action plan announced earlier this year.
Other changes set for implementation later in 2022 include dropping the cost of a FasTrak toll tag deposit for those who do not link their account to a credit card from $20 to $5 and reducing the minimum opening balance for a FasTrak account for customers who pay with cash or check from $50 to $25.
BATA encourages anyone using the bridges to open FasTrak accounts that automatically deduct toll amounts from their account and allow them to avoid violation notices and penalties. People can sign up by visiting bayareafastrak.org or calling 877-229-8655, or by buying the FasTrak tags at certain Costco and Walgreens stores.
People can also open a License Plate Account that links a license plate to an account and allows people to pay a toll online up to 30 days ahead of a bridge crossing or within 48 hours after it.
People who do not have either option are required to return invoices with payment within 21 days or will receive the now-reduced penalties on new invoices.
Those who do not return payment after the second notice may have the DMV put a hold on their vehicle registration or have the amount owed referred to a collection agency, according to BATA.