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November 14, 2006 > FasTrak(R) users get month-long reprieve

FasTrak(R) users get month-long reprieve

Oakland (PRNewswire), Nov. 9_ In less than two months -- on January 1, 2007 -- a $1 toll increase will go into effect on the seven Bay Area toll bridges operated by Caltrans. The toll hike, which does not affect the Golden Gate Bridge, was authorized by the state Legislature in July 2005 with the passage of Assembly Bill 144, which established a financing plan to complete the state Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program -- including construction of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) gave final approval of the toll increase in January 2006.

Tolls on the affected bridges -- Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland Bay and San Mateo- Hayward -- will rise to $4 from the current $3 level. However, drivers of cars and other two-axle vehicles who pay their tolls electronically with a FasTrak(R) toll tag will receive a $1 discount off the new toll throughout the month of January 2007. The month-long promotional discount is being offered as a way to encourage motorists to enroll in the FasTrak(R) program, which in addition to short-term cash savings can offer motorists long-term benefits in convenience and reduced congestion.

"More than a half-million Bay Area drivers already have FasTrak(R) accounts," said Marin County Supervisor and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) member Steve Kinsey, who chairs the Commission's Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee. MTC, in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority, runs the FasTrak(R) program.

Kinsey continued, "We want to thank those customers by offering a discount, and to encourage others to sign up. The electronic toll tags allow drivers to take advantage of the FasTrak(R)-only lanes on Bay Area bridges and make their crossings faster, easier and -- during January -- cheaper. FasTrak(R) could save an everyday commuter more than $20 for the month."

BATA last month made it easier for motorists to enroll in the FasTrak(R) program by reducing the opening prepaid toll balance required for new customers to $25 from the previous $40, and by cutting to $20 from the previous $30 the refundable toll tag deposit required for FasTrak(R) customers who open their accounts with cash or a check instead of a credit card. No deposit is required for customers who link their accounts to a credit card and request no more than three toll tags.

The new cost structure is part of the FasTrak(R) Strategic Plan that BATA adopted in June 2006 to expand and improve electronic toll collection in the Bay Area. The plan's goals are to make the toll plazas at the region's seven state-owned toll bridges function more efficiently by boosting the percentage of motorists who use FasTrak(R) and to make it easier for motorists to sign up and use the FasTrak(R) system. The complete FasTrak(R) Strategic Plan is available on the BATA Web site at http://bata.mtc.ca.gov/ .

FasTrak(R) can be used in all lanes at all Bay Area toll plazas, including at the Golden Gate Bridge. Tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge remain as currently set: $4 for FasTrak(R) users and $5 for motorists who pay in cash.

Caltrans owns, operates and maintains the state highway system, including seven Bay Area toll bridges. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. BATA, which is directed by the same policy board as MTC, administers toll revenues from the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges. Toll revenues from the Golden Gate Bridge are administered by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which joined with BATA to operate a single regional FasTrak(R) customer service center in San Francisco.

 
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