OAKLAND — The launch of electronic toll collection on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge is being called a “relative success” by Caltrans officials this morning.
As of 5 a.m., Caltrans had two FasTrak lanes open on the Bay
Bridge, the busiest bridge in the country with about 140,000 vehicles passing through its toll plaza each day.
The number 11 lane is reserved for the exclusive use of FasTrak customers, while the number 12 is a multiuse lane open to both stop-and-pay and FasTrak customers.
Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss said an average of 300 cars per hour passed through the number 11 FasTrak lane this morning, while the remaining 18 stop-and-pay lanes each averaged about 400 cars per hour.
“Essentially, FasTrak added around 100 extra cars to the commute this morning,” Weiss said.
“But considering it is the first day of the system, the use was
high enough to be called a limited success,” Weiss said.
FasTrak is an electronic toll collection system where a small
transponder device placed on the windshield of a vehicle abolishes the need to slow down to pay an attendant. FasTrak customers traveling across the Bay Bridge get a 15-cent discount off the $2 toll.
Many speculated that the centered Bay Bridge FasTrak lanes are in awkward spot for motorists, and predicted they would cause more, not less, traffic.
Weiss said commuters approaching the toll plaza from westbound Interstate Highway 880 have the hardest time accessing the lanes. He said however the problem will be solved next month when Caltrans expects to open another mixed-use lane at the number 20 lane on the far right side on the bridge.
Weiss said experience has shown that traffic problems caused by the transition to FasTrak always work themselves out over time.
The Benicia-Martinez Bridge, which just started using FasTrak on Oct. 25, is currently sees some 400 vehicles pass through each toll booth per hour, the average for all bridge lanes. But the Carquinez Bridge, which has been using the FasTrak system since 1997, sees around 900 vehicles per hour, 40 percent above the average. This proves FasTrak becomes more effective as time goes on, Weiss said.
“The benefit of time shows that FasTrak is a winner,” Weiss said.
More than 35,000 Bay Area residents are currently FasTrak
customers, with hundreds more signing up each day. FasTrak
applications are available by calling (888) 725-TRAK, online at
www.dot.ca.gov/fastrak, and at the Service Center in the Park ‘N’ Shop Shopping Center at 1849 Willow Pass Road in Concord.