On Wednesday morning, commuters traveling from the East Bay to San Francisco will be able to use the FasTrak system on two lanes of the Bay Bridge, one of the busiest commute routes in the country.
Those who have signed up for the program and received their FastTrak transponders will be able to cruise through tollbooth number 11, located at the center of the bridge’s toll plaza. Lane number 12 will be available for both FasTrak users and patrons paying with cash or tickets.
Caltrans spokesman Colin Jones says that as with the opening phases of FasTrak lanes on other Bay area bridges, he expects it will be some time before most motorists will adapt to the new system.
“There’s always a little confusion, an adjustment period, maybe a few weeks, for some of the traffic to work itself out,’’ Jones said.
Although eventuall, the system could prove to alleviate the increasing congestion on the busy bridge, Jones points out that the metering lights will still be in operation in all lanes during busy traffic times.
The addition of a FasTrak lane to the Bay Bridge brings Caltrans one step closer to its goal of dedicating at least one lane to the system on each of the Bay areas bridges by the end of the year.
On Dec. 7, the system will make its debut at the Dumbarton Bridge, and a lane on the San Mateo-Hayward and Antioch bridges is expected on Dec. 31.
Also in December, Caltrans expects to open another mixed-use lane at the Bay Bridge, located on toll booth number 20, on the far right side of the toll plaza.
Jones said that some 35,000 FasTrak devices have been issued, and Caltrans is receiving some 500 applications every day.
According to Jones, the number of inquiries about the system have increased some since the announcement of the Bay Bridge FasTrak lane was made.
Response has been so good, Jones said, that the department of transportation’s toll free number has been overwhelmed with calls. That number is (888) 725-TRAK. Internet users can order an application on line by going to www.dot.gov/fastrak.