I live within an hour’s drive of one of the most iconic cities in the world – San Francisco. Living “North of the Gate” gives anyone in Northern California the opportunity to travel over the world famous Golden Gate Bridge and into the city to experience all the wonders it has to offer. Unfortunately, it’s not as attractive as it once was long ago.
Firstly, the “powers that be” raised the toll, which is perfectly acceptable in my mind. But then they took away the toll takers so you can’t get across easily without a FasTrak or a License Plate account. They told us that they would bill you based on your license plates, but why do I have to have an account now?
Oh but wait! Now they will let us make a One-Time Payment…before I cross the bridge. How lovely! And of course, they will mail me an invoice after the fact, but they need to take a picture of my license plate. Which I might add, I have to pay within 21 days to avoid Toll Violations and fines. Well, that is all well and good, but what if I am going on a month-long trip and won’t be home to get my mail. Now I have to pay Toll Violations and Fines!
Secondly, what about all those other tourists that don’t have a California License Plate or are renting a car? Can you see how ridiculous this is?
Thirdly, carpool lanes on the bridge are for three or more people. So for an infrequent visitor like myself with a family of two, why would I bother going at all when carpool lanes elsewhere are two people or more?
The worst part is that it is not just the City or the Bridge, it’s other services, such as parking and the ferry that make it difficult to enjoy the experience. Why? Well, parking in the city is near impossible. Costs have skyrocketed and no one validates anymore. The average cost near Pier 39 is around $14.00…an hour!
Convenient travel via the ferry is only available if you have a smartphone. Otherwise it will take you 45 minutes or more to figure out on their website what to do if you don’t have a smartphone. Newsflash! Not everyone owns a “smartphone”! So much for convenience.
In fact the list of inconveniences keeps mounting, so I ask you. Why bother going into the city? For me, there is only a couple of reasons I would and that is to fly out of SFO to go somewhere else, or drive through it on the way to the Central Coast (still being inconvenienced by the payment options for the toll.)
Either way, I am not actually visiting the city, I just using it as a by-way to go somewhere else. Kind of a shame, even though there are some nice places to visit while you’re there. No matter how you look at it, the cost and inconveniences outweigh the benefits.
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