Golden Gate Bridge prepares for future without toll-takers

Imagine the Golden Gate Bridge without humans taking tolls at the iconic booths that stand sentry at the gateway to San Francisco.

Forgot your toll money? No worries. Just drive on through and either pay at a kiosk down the road or wait for an invoice to arrive in the mail.

Such changes appear imminent as the Golden Gate becomes the first bridge in California and one of the few in the world to convert to all-electronic tolls.

Bridge officials express hope that with enough publicity, the conversion, which could take effect in March, won't cause major problems, such as motorists stopping on the span in a vain search for someone to give their toll money to.

"I don't think anyone will promise it will be glitch-free. It won't," said Brian Sobel, a Petaluma political consultant and one of three Sonoma County members on the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. "But we want to keep errors to a bare minimum, and I think we're in a position to do that."

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