Transportation

Equity effort: Bay Area toll bridge penalties lowered

Bay Bridge
Karl Nielsen

The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) is reminding Bay Area residents there now is a sharp reduction in the penalties associated with toll violation notices sent by the FasTrak® customer service center to customers with unpaid invoices for toll bridge crossings.

The new policy toward violation penalties was approved by BATA last fall and marks the first policy change adopted as part of its Bay Area tolling equity action plan unveiled in May 2021.

Effective now — and retroactive to all violation notices since Jan. 1, 2021 — the penalty for first violation notices drops to $5 from the previous $25 and the penalty for second violation notices falls to $15 from the previous $70. Outstanding tolls at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges are affected.

At its November 2021 meeting, BATA approved several additional policy changes slated to become effective in the spring of 2022. These include dropping the cost of the FasTrak® toll tag deposit for new customers who choose not to link their account to a credit card to $5 from the previous $20; crediting $15 to the prepaid toll accounts of existing customers who paid a $20 tag deposit; reducing the minimum opening balance for a FasTrak® account for customers who pay with cash or check to $25 from the previous $50; and eliminating transaction fees for customers who replenish FasTrak® accounts or pay violation penalties at a cash network location.

BATA and the FasTrak® customer service center in the coming months are expected to implement additional recommendations designed to make enrollment in the FasTrak® electronic toll payment system more convenient, accessible and affordable. The toll payment system is fully automated for FasTrak® customers, with the cost of each crossing automatically deducted from their accounts, allowing them to avoid invoices, violation notices and penalties altogether.

FasTrak® customers already account for about three-quarters of all crossings at the Bay Area’s state-owned toll bridges. BATA encourages customers who do not already have FasTrak® to open accounts online at www.bayareafastrak.org or by phone at 1-877-229-8655 (BAY-TOLL). A map of retail locations at which FasTrak® tags are available may be found at https://www.bayareafastrak.org/en/howitworks/retailmap.html. Tags purchased at Costco or Walgreens must be registered online. Drivers who would rather replenish their FasTrak® accounts with cash can do so at more than 100 Cash Payment Network locations, now including Walmart stores. A map of these locations may be found at https://www.bayareafastrak.org/en/tolls/cashLocationsMap.html.

BATA administers all toll revenues from the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges.