Asked Questions about July 2010 Bridge Toll Increase
Q: What is BATA?
A: The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) was created by
the California Legislature to administer the base toll revenues generated
by the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges. In January 1998,
MTC — the
transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the
nine-county region — began operations as BATA. For more information
about BATA, go to <www.mtc.ca.gov/bata>.
Q: What are the carpool hours on the bridges?
A: Effective July 1, 2010, the carpool hours for all state-owned toll bridges
in the Bay Area will be Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.,
and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Q: Which vehicles qualify for the discounted toll
rate for carpools?
A: Carpools meeting the occupancy requirements for
each of the state-owned bridges during designated carpool hours (click
here for occupancy requirements for each bridge). The discounted
toll rate is also provided during designated carpool hours to inherently-low-emission
vehicles — such as electric
or natural gas autos — displaying eligible DMV-issued decals and
to hybrid vehicles displaying eligible DMV-issued decals. All vehicles
using the carpool lanes during designated carpool hours must have a valid
FasTrak account and toll tag to pay the toll.
Q: What is FasTrak®?
A: FasTrak is an electronic toll collection (ETC) system that allows you
to prepay your bridge tolls, eliminating the need to stop at the toll
plaza. The system has three components: a toll tag, which is placed
inside your vehicle; an overhead antenna in the toll plaza, which reads
the toll tag and automatically deducts the appropriate toll from your
prepaid account; and video cameras to identify toll evaders.
Q: Why do carpools have to use FasTrak® to pay
A: So they can avoid stopping at the toll plaza to pay cash for the discounted
carpool toll. Time savings is a significant benefit for motorists using
the carpool lanes. This benefit would be lost if vehicles were required
to stop to pay a cash toll in the carpool lanes.
Q: How do I open a FasTrak® account?
A: The most convenient way to open a new FasTrak account is to pick up a
toll tag from one of our retailers and then register it online.
For select retail locations, click here.
You can also enroll online by mail/fax, phone, or in person. For more
information about the different enrollment methods, click here.
Q: If I'm in a cash toll collection lane, can I use a credit or debit
card, or a personal check to pay my toll?
A: No, the toll collectors cannot accept credit or debit card
payments, or personal checks. However, you can arrange to prepay tolls
by credit/debit card or check, when you set up a FasTrak account.
Q: What if I accidently drive through a carpool lane but
I don’t have FasTrak?
A: If you drive through a carpool toll lane without paying the toll (even
if you meet occupancy requirements for the carpool lane), an image of
your license plate will be captured and a violation notice will
be sent within 21 days to the vehicle’s registered owner at the
address on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This procedure
is pursuant to Streets and Highways Code Section 27174.1. The first notice
requests payment for the toll amount and an additional $25 penalty. If
you fail to respond to the instructions on the first notice, a second
notice will be sent for the toll amount plus a $70 penalty ($25 penalty
plus $45 late penalty). Failure to respond to the second notice will
result in additional penalties and fees, and referral of the amount due
to a collections agency and/or the withholding of your vehicle registration
by the DMV. All penalties will be waived if you sign up for a FasTrak
account upon receipt of your first violation notice.
Q: Do motorcycles have to pay a toll during
weekday commute periods?
A: Yes. Motorcycles pay the reduced rate of $2.50
during carpool hours and the full toll during non-carpool hours.
As with carpools, motorcycles are required to use FasTrak® and
drive in a designated carpool lane to qualify for the discounted
toll rate. BATA recommends motorcyclists keep their toll tag in the
breast pocket of a jacket or in a saddlebag to ensure the tag can
be “read” by the FasTrak® equipment.
Q: Do buses, such as Greyhound buses and charter buses,
get toll-free passage? What about Vanpools?
A: Not all buses and vanpools get toll-free passage on the bridges. Only
buses and vanpools meeting the definitions below are allowed to cross
toll-free at any time in designated lane(s), in accordance with BATA
operational procedures. Passage through staffed lanes requires a toll-free
commute bus ticket or a non-revenue FasTrak® toll tag issued by the
Authority, or an axle-based toll will be charged.
A commute bus is defined as a vehicle that is:
- designed, used or maintained for the transportation of more than
10 persons including the driver;
- operated across a state-owned toll bridge on a route commencing and
terminating within 50 miles of the toll collection point of such bridge;
- operated on a regular schedule for any municipal or public corporation,
transit district, public utility district, political subdivision or
private company for the nonprofit work-related transportation of its
employees or by any transportation company operating under a certificate
of public convenience and necessity issued by the California Public
A vanpool vehicle is defined as a vehicle that is:
- operating under the provisions of current ridesharing laws and regulations,
and designed for carrying more than 10 but not more than 15 persons
including the driver, and that is maintained and used primarily for
the nonprofit work-related transportation of persons for the purpose
Q: Do multi-axle RVs and cars pulling trailers
pay less than commercial trucks?
A: No. State law (Streets and Highways Code Sec. 30150.5) requires BATA
to base toll charges on the number of axles on a vehicle. The current
toll collection system can only differentiate between vehicles based
on axles. It is not set up for either electronic or manual toll collection
based on other factors such a vehicle type.
Q: What is congestion pricing?
A: Also known as time-of-day pricing, congestion pricing
involves charging a higher toll during the peak periods on the San Francisco-Oakland
Bay Bridge, and a lower toll during non-peak periods. This is similar
to how rates are charged for utilities, hotels and airlines. Congestion
pricing began on the Bay Bridge on July 1, 2010, with the toll
rate set at $6 during weekday peak periods (from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.
and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), $4 during weekday non-peak periods, and
$5 on weekends.
Q: What is Caltrans’ role in toll bridge operations?
A: Caltrans owns and operates the California state highway system, including
all seven of the Bay Area’s state-owned toll bridges.