Q Can you explain why more commuters don't purchase FasTrak bridge passes and clog up the cash lanes every day?
A A Los Angeles study found that up to 30 percent of drivers fear Big Brother and view FasTrak as an invasion of privacy, but I predict that will change. There are now nearly 2.7 million FasTrak transponders in use in the Bay Area, a huge leap from 2001, when there were 183,820. If carpoolers are required to use FasTrak on all Bay Area express lanes, as expected, the number will surge even more. And when toll takers are removed on all area bridges in a few years, you won't be able to cross the bay legally without a transponder.
Q Requiring drivers to use FasTrak in the carpool lane is a horrible idea! Yes, carpool cheaters irk everyone, but this is not about catching them, it is about controlling us, about Big Brother having his eye on us 24/7. As a limo driver, I will have to have one, because I simply can't tell my clients that I can't use the carpool lane because I don't want FasTrak tracking me.
A But ...
Q I have a friend that drives to Lake Tahoe every few months. He says it's too much trouble to get FasTrak and he doesn't need it. If he gets stuck in the Benicia Bridge toll lanes a few times, maybe he will change his mind.
A I'm betting he will.
Q I carpool five days a week with three others from Brentwood to Hayward. I just read that carpoolers are probably going to be required to have FasTrak to use the new toll lane on Interstate 580 through Pleasanton and Livermore. It wasn't clear to me whether we will be required to pay for FasTrak and if we all have to have one or if we can share it since we take turns driving our vehicles. Can you shed light on this?
A Here is the light:
It is permissible -- though not necessarily advisable -- for carpool partners to share a toll tag. But keep in mind that if one wishes to avoid paying the $25 deposit, one must register the tag, which identifies it as belonging to a specific customer, link it to a credit or debit card account, and identify one or more vehicles to which the account will be linked. The license-plate numbers of all the vehicles of your carpool pals must go on the account.
But the four of you had better be very good carpool buddies. Even though missed tag reads are very infrequent, the account holder would assume responsibility for any bridge tolls or other charges generated by the other license plates in the carpool.
Q What do you make of the beeping that occurs when leaving the San Jose airport? It seems like we are being tracked with our FasTrak because the beeping sound is the same as when you drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.
A The airport uses an electronic system to collect data on on-demand taxis and prearranged limo and shuttle drivers. This allows the airport to bill permitted ground transportation individuals and companies for fees when they use it.
Operators are provided automated vehicle identification (AVI) tags, which use the same technology as FasTrak. Drivers place the AVI tag in the vehicle's inner windshield and readers located on airport roads recognize the tags, and they also recognize FasTrak transponders as they pass by and cause the beep. There is no fee or charge for FasTrak holders and there is no tracking of the FasTrak holder.