Over the weekend, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 613 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to limit the use of toll revenues from the seven state-owned toll bridges within the jurisdiction of the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). Specifically, this bill explicitly restricts BATA from purchasing or otherwise acquiring office space in addition to the facilities located at 390 Main Street in San Francisco.
“Bay Area commuters have faced skyrocketing toll costs over the past decade, with rush hour tolls now reaching $6,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “Daily commuters and truckers have been hit hard as rising toll costs coincided with the economic downturn. They deserve to have their tolls pay into maintenance and seismic retrofitting of Bay Area bridges, not downtown San Francisco office buildings. I thank Governor Brown for standing with commuters by signing this bill.”
Created by the state Legislature in 1970, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Embedded within MTC is the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). In 1997, the Legislature created the BATA, which is responsible for managing and investing toll revenues from the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges, funding the day-to-day bridge operations, facilities maintenance, administration, and long-term capital improvement and rehabilitation of the bridges. While legally a separate corporate entity, BATA is governed by MTC’s governing board and managed by MTC’s staff.
State law requires that tolls collected from state-owned bridges be used for specific purposes, such as to pay the costs of bridge construction, maintenance, and seismic retrofit projects. State law also authorizes the toll authority to issue bonds, to be repaid with toll revenues, for these purposes.
SB 613 severely restricts BATA’s ability to use toll revenues for administrative costs of MTC. Current law allows BATA to contribute and make loans to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in furtherance of BATA’s powers. SB 613 restricts the contributions from BATA to MTC to 1% of the gross annual bridge revenues and clarifies that the contributions must be necessary to carry out the function of BATA. Additionally, loans that are provided to MTC may not exceed 1% of the gross annual bridge revenues and any loan must be fully repaid with interest.