Q They just activated the toll lanes on The 110 in Los Angeles, as a bill for my daughter's violation will attest. If I get a SoCal FasTrak transponder, will it work in Northern California for bridges and the toll lane on Interstate 680?
A Sure will. Southern California FasTrak tags will work on Bay Area bridges and express lanes.
Q The L.A. express lanes are going to be using cameras for toll enforcement. If they can use cameras down there, why can't we use them up here on our express lanes? Will future express lanes on 101, 85, 237, 880, etc., have cameras for toll enforcement?
A Eventually, yes. Look for cameras for toll enforcement on the next generation of Bay Area express lanes including segments on Interstates 80, 680 and 880, which are slated to open in 2015. And it's possible the existing toll lanes on 237 and 680 could get cameras about the same time.
Q I heard that the FasTrak devices in Los Angeles have a switch that drivers can use to indicate how many people are inside their cars. Is that true? If so, that would make it far easier for carpoolers who no longer would have to cover up their transponders to avoid paying a toll.
A It's true, and the adjustable-dial FasTrak tags like those in L.A. could be available in the Bay Area by 2015.
Q Dear Savior: When I travel the HOV/Express Lanes with a passenger on I-680, I am not obliged to use or have a FasTrak. However, if I wish to use the new express lanes with a passenger in Southern California on the 110, I am obliged to have a new FasTrak programmed for one, two or three passengers. Why this difference, and is it possible that I can be charged on my FasTrak account even if I am with a passenger in Southern California? I travel both roads frequently and would appreciate an explanation.
A Yes, you can and will be charged if you do not have a Southern California version transponder down there. The operators of the express lanes in Los Angeles decided to require all users to have FasTrak transponders to make it easier to enforce the lanes and also keep track of carpool use.
The only way that a carpooler can get toll-free passage in Los Angeles is by using a switchable transponder set to the appropriate number of occupants. Otherwise, you pay the toll.
Under state law, one transponder can be used on all toll facilities across the state. So the switchable transponder can be used in toll lanes in the Bay Area.
However, it will be read like a regular transponder, so it still needs to be shielded when carpooling on the Bay Area express lanes, and setting the switch to 2 or 3 will not make a difference when using it on the carpool lanes at the toll bridges.
Q I read about how non-FasTrak drivers enter into the FasTrak lanes to speed up their drive across the Bay Bridge and slow us paying FasTrak users down, then exiting into the cash lanes.
One real way to address this issue is to have more signs way ahead of the toll areas stating that FasTrak has cameras facing these lanes and if caught exiting the FasTrak lanes without having a transponder will take photos of your license number and that driver.
A Not going to happen. The cameras on our bridges are only used to capture license plate numbers of toll evaders and are not set up to catch late-lane changers.
Q Several times we've crossed a bridge, the FasTrak device didn't beep, and nothing registered on the screen as we passed by. I thought the battery had died, but when I checked my account online, I saw all of the charges. I thought maybe they were just getting my license when we went by and charging us. But over and over again?
A If you use FasTrak and the transponder isn't read, cameras will capture your license plate number and your account will be charged. We have three cars on our FasTrak account and one transponder, and we correctly get charged when any one of our vehicles crosses a bridge, transponder or not.