Monday, July 04, 2005

Sometimes it's the little things

I went over to the East Bay this evening for a quiet little barbecue with a few friends, going out on the back porch to watch the fireworks over the Richmond Marina. But then I had to get back to San Francisco, which means driving across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Even though I only drive on the bridge occasionally, I got myself a "FasTrack" electronic toll gizmo last year so that I don't have to wait in line and then fish for three bucks; I just zoom right through in the dedicated FasTrack-only lane.

Trouble is, most of the people trying to get to San Francisco tonight don't have FasTrack, and most of the toll booths were unstaffed on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend. The net result was that I had to wait and wait and wait, slowly crawling forward behind masses of cars waiting to pay their cash to the few humans in the toll plaza, before finally getting to zoom the last 200 feet to the toll plaza.

I couldn't help thinking, there has to be a better way to let those of us who have the labor-saving device get more advantage from it. One possibility would be to open more FasTrack-only lanes when most of the booths are unstaffed. Another possibility would be to extend the markings of the special lanes back farther from the toll plaza, because I couldn't tell until I was almost upon it where the special lane began. (The other thing that often snarls traffic is that it's almost impossible to tell which lanes are open or closed, because the lanes curve so much.)

Once I got onto the bridge, traffic moved freely, even with a breakdown in the right lane just before mid-span, so the delay was absolutely 100% waiting for people to pay cash to a human toll-taker.