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 The Metropolitan Transportation Commission Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways (MTC SAFE) is one of 18 SAFE’s statewide, established under the California Vehicle Code Section 2421.5. The goal of MTC SAFE is to quickly identify and respond to freeway incidents such as breakdowns and accidents in order to minimize their impacts in terms of congestion, public safety and air quality, and to increase the reliability of the freeway system and better manage traffic flow.

In 1985 the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1190 to enable counties to generate revenue for the purpose of purchasing, installing, operating and maintaining an emergency motorist aid system. A $1 per year fee on motor vehicle registrations in the participating nine counties of the Bay Area is collected by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and then transfered to MTC SAFE. MTC SAFE collects approximately $6 million annually of which $1.2 million per year is for the operations and maintenance of the call box program. The remaining funds, as stated by California legislation, help supplement the Freeway Service Patrol program and the implementation, maintenance, and operations of other related motorist aid services. The Bay Area FSP receives a share of funds allocated to the statewide program based on a formula (including population, freeway miles, and congestion rates).

MTC SAFE works in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to implement various motorist aid programs. Both partner agencies provide review, approval, and operating services to MTC SAFE. In addition, MTC SAFE is part of CalSAFE, a voluntary association made up of program managers from each county or regional SAFE organization, CHP, and Caltrans. Members of CalSAFE actively provide valuable input to assist in the development of motorist aid programs. The organization ensures that the programs are successful in providing motorist aid services on the state highway system.

Incident Management Program

Call Box Program (CBX)

The Call Box Program offers motorists who need emergency roadside assistance an effective means of communication 24 hours per day, on over a thousand miles of urban, suburban and rural freeways in the Bay Area. Approximately 1,700 yellow roadside call boxes connect motorist in need to a call answering center, which efficiently dispatches appropriate tow or roadside assistance. Thus, the program not only helps stranded motorists, but also helps to reduce traffic congestion by speeding the removal of stalled vehicles and other hazards.

Freeway Service Patrol (FSP)

The Freeway Service Patrol is a fleet of roving tow trucks deployed during peak travel times to clear accidents, assist motorists and remove dangerous debris from freeways. 79 tow and service trucks patrol over 550 miles of Bay Area freeways and highways, looking for incidents in the roadway, or responding to computer and radio-dispatched requests for assistance from the CHP. In 2009, the Bay Area FSP logged over 125,000 highway assists.

If you are an FSP contractor or would like more detailed information on our program, please visit our program website at:

SAFE-Funded Capital Programs

As call box systems are implemented, SAFE legislation allows for SAFE funding to be used for alternate freeway motorist aid services and incident management activities. In the Bay Area, the Freeway Service Patrol program has been making use of SAFE funds to supplement State-dedicated FSP funds since the inception of the FSP program in 1992.

In 2002, the SAFE program instituted a Capital Program in order to carry out additional freeway incident management projects. In most cases, SAFE funding is used to leverage federal and state funds by providing local match. A few of the higher profile projects currently underway include:

  • Freeway Camera Surveillance project
    The Bay Area Video Upgrade (BAVU) project will provide an improved camera control and monitoring system for the operators at the Regional Transportation Management Center (TMC) and will provide for real-time traffic video distribution to other transportation partners and the media.
  • Freeway Performance Initiative Corridor Studies
    This project is intended to fund the early implementation of the initial set of system management strategies being developed through the Freeway Performance Initiative.
  • Automated Transportation Management System
    This project will improve the operation of the freeway system by integrating all tools used by TMC operators into a single unified system, including centralized control of ramp metering, surveillance cameras, changeable message signs and detector stations. It will also provide interoperability with other Caltrans TMC's in the event of disasters.