Traffic backups were extensive and visibly irritating Thursday for motorists waiting to pay higher and new tolls on the Bay Bridge, the first day varying fees took effect.
The longest lines were for carpoolers used to zipping through the special collection booths free of charge. Yesterday, those without FasTrak transponders had to stop to pay $2.50, the new toll in the carpool lanes during rush hour.
Commuter traffic was lighter Friday with many businesses closed to give employees the benefit of a four-day Independence Day holiday weekend.
The tolls now are on the Bay Bridge are $4 during weekday off-peak hours, $5 all day Saturdays and Sundays, and $6 from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
The regular auto toll also has risen to $5 at all times on the Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges.
The carpool toll of $2.50 was introduced for the first time. The discounted toll for carpool vehicles is in effect from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and it must be paid with a FasTrak transponder.
The rollout of the toll hikes was chosen to precede the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when traffic is expected to be lighter with most schools not in session and many people on vacations from work, according to Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler.
"The idea was to try to get this implemented in a way that we're not taking on the teeth of the Bay Area traffic with a big change," he said.
"We weren't looking forward to raising the tolls, and I don't think a lot of people are looking forward to the raising the tolls," he said. "But if you do what we do for a living, you're forced to try to do something about congestion or accept it, and we're trying to do something about it."