Bay Area bridges to get rid of all cash lanes

Eric Thomas Image
ByEric Thomas KGO logo
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Bay Area bridges to get rid of all cash lanes
If you use Bay Area bridges, you're going to want to purchase a FasTrak in the near future.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The seven California state-owned Bay Area Bridges are about to join the Golden Gate bridge in getting rid of the cash payment lanes.

Drivers are encouraged to get FasTrak, for those who do not, license plate readers will track those without transponders and send them a bill.

"There's plenty of evidence that what we have now is imperfect and we're going to try to make it a little bit better," Randy Rentschler with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.

RELATED: Bay Area Bridge Toll: What to know about electronic, cashless system

"Imperfect" is one of the nicer words used to describe the mess at the Bay Bridge toll plaza when drivers realize they're in the FasTrak lane, but need to quickly merge into a cash lane or vice versa.

"We have enough FasTrak customers where cash toll payers are kinda getting in everybody's way," Rentschler says.

That's one reason the Metropolitan Transportation Commission took a big step Wednesday towards making the change on all seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area.

"It's going to take a couple of years and the Bay Bridge might take us three years," he says.

The MTC approved a contract Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, to begin converting toll crossings at all local bridges to FasTrak and license plate readers, which has already been in place for several years at the Golden Gate Bridge.

MTC says the all-electronic tolls will save a little money and help ease back-ups during critical times. But some cash-paying drivers we talked to didn't seem eager to switch. Bay Bridge driver Michael Davis says -- "it's not a good idea....on a personal level, I'd rather deal with someone human"

Scott Free works as a courier.

RELATED: Plan to raise $100 billion in taxes to fix Bay Area traffic taking shape

"I pay cash every time because I get a receipt and it's proof that I crossed the bridge."

Ben Duncan drives the Golden Gate fairly often. He says it's about time the other bridges followed suit.

"It's been a really good thing for my business and my family and they bill it directly to my credit card so I don't have to worry about that. Just check and see there goes another FasTrak."

But what happens to the toll takers when it's all FasTrak and license plate readers? Rentschler says, "the toll takers are all CalTrans employees and they will all get jobs at CalTrans."

See mores stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area.