New bridge toll assistance programs to go into effect in 2023

(BCN) — Two bridge toll assistance programs are set to go into effect in early 2023, offering free crossings for eligible military veterans and a penalty waiver for low-income residents. Starting Jan. 1, veterans who have a vehicle license plate with a Congressional Medal of Honor, Disabled Veteran, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Ex-Prisoner of War, or Purple Heart designation will be able to cross all California toll bridges for free.

That includes the Golden Gate Bridge and state-owned bridges like the Bay Bridge, Dumbarton Bridge and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Eligible veterans will not need a FasTrak electronic payment system to qualify for the toll waiver, but those who do have one will be required to place their FasTrak in a Mylar bag when traveling through a toll plaza. Residents can request a Mylar bag for free from FasTrak customer service by calling (877) 229-8655.

The waiver is the result of state legislators passing Assembly Bill 2949, authored by Assemblyman Alex Lee, D-San Jose. Govt. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2949 into law on Sept. 30. The Bay Area Toll Authority and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District also announced that they will implement a waiver by July 1, 2023, for households with an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, clearing those drivers of outstanding penalties for bridge toll violations.

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Motorists who meet the income threshold – roughly $55,000 for a family of four – would be able to request a waiver for outstanding penalty fees accrued at the region’s toll bridges between March 20, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2023.

The waiver is the result of Assembly Bill 2594, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. Newsom signed the bill Sept. 30, 2022.

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