So there was a time when I drove across this bridge every morning, with a view to doing business in the fair city of San Francisco. I used a fabulous communal system called Casual Car Pool in which I would pick up a couple of fellow travellers from outside a BART (public transport/tube/subway) station and with them safely on board, be entitled to drive in the car pool lane over the Bay Bridge, without having to line up for the toll both or pay the $2.00 fee. It would save me twenty minutes off my journey. Only in the Hippie birth place Berkeley could such a scheme work, in any other city in the world you would be petrified of picking up a psycho on the road, but in Berkeley no one took the Brown acid so the kids were alright!
There were weird rules about Casual Car Pool, like “pretty much no talking – except brief, nervous remarks about the weather” which occasionally people would break but mostly they would abide by and all would be sweetness and fairly silent kind of light across the Bay in the mornings. Spookily, I never picked up the same people twice – except once when I recognised a particularly irritating couple both of whom got into the back of the car – leaving me to drive like a freaking chauffeur. Not on! Another important Casual Car Pool rule was always that the first passenger gets in the front seat next to the driver. So as not to render them chauffeur like.
Anyway, since the long passing of burst bubble, the numbers of people trying to cross from the East Bay to the Peninsula has diminished significantly and there are much shorter journey times. And there is also a smart card system that you put on your car windscreen and whisks you through the toll both automatically charging you – like a London tube Oyster card only in a car.
With such a brilliant system at work, why would you think that there is anyone in the toll plaza except for tourists and old folk who are suspicious of technology (as distinct from old folk who are not suspicious of technology who are quite numerous these days, I find!).
Anway, I don’t have an answer to this contemporary urban conundrum, but I’m intrigued by it. When I visit the area, I have to line up because I don’t have a speedy Bay Bridge smart Card. The system is actually called FasTrak and you can read all about it over there (sorry there’s supposed to be a cheesy link here to the FasTrack web site – but don’t worry because the best part is cut and pasted into my next post!). By the way, the toll fee is now $3.00, berlimey!