The Mid Bay Bridge Authority recently announced that it wants to implement an early toll increase on its already high tolls in order to assure financing for their bond reissue on May 13th. Increasing tolls so investors don’t get jittery is a pretty clear sign bridge finances are in trouble.
Long ago the managers of the bridge opted for a growth strategy that forgot that a government run business is there to provide the most service to citizens at the least cost. Instead of paying with cash, over the years the MBBA used debt to expand access routes, build toll booths, defer operator costs, and build the Bridge Bypass Route, all on the MBBA credit card, so to speak. That car traffic might actually go down didn’t enter their thinking. Car traffic since 2006 is now down about one million cars a year, despite a very modest upward bump in recent years. According to the Bay Beacon Newspaper, the bond refinance will reduce the amount of tolls required to service expenses to $19.7 million. The problem is, the Bridge took in only $17.56 million last year. I seriously doubt increasing tolls will increase revenues or users, but, then again, I don’t work for the government.
The Bridge is entering the end game where they spent too much and will never have enough revenue to cover costs, which is par for the course for American governance.