The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) has announced 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 at its October 2021 meeting and marks the first policy change adopted as part of its Bay Area tolling equity action plan unveiled in May 2021.
Effective immediately — and retroactive to all violation notices since Jan. 1 of this year for outstanding tolls at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges — 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.
Bridge customers who paid toll violation penalties earlier this year will receive a refund for the difference between the amount(s) they paid and the amount(s) due under the new policy. Distribution of these refunds is expected to begin in February 2022 and continue over the next several months, after which a claim process will be posted at www.bayareafastrak.org for customers who believe they are owed a refund and did not receive one.
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). Customers also may obtain FasTrak® tags at select Costco and Walgreens stores. 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.
Drivers also may open a License Plate Account, which is a pay-as-you-go option that links a license plate to an account and charges that account whenever the vehicle crosses a toll bridge; or make a one-time payment, which allows the customer to pay a toll online up to 30 days in advance of a bridge crossing or within 48 hours afterwards. There are no fees for either of these services. More information about License Plate Accounts and one-time payments is available at www.bayareafastrak.org.
Customers who do not have FasTrak® or a License Plate Account — and who do not use the online one-time payment option — are required to return invoices with payment within 21 days. Customers who neglect to return payment by the due date on the invoice will receive a “Notice of Toll Evasion” with a $5 penalty for each toll crossing. Customers who do not return payment by the due date on the “Notice of Toll Evasion” will receive a “Second Notice of Delinquent Toll Evasion” with a violation penalty of $15 per crossing. Customers who do not return payment after a second notice may have a hold put on their vehicle registration by the DMV or have the amount owed referred to a collection agency.
BATA administers all toll revenues from the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges.