FasTrak is the electronic toll collection (ETC) system used in the state of California in the United States. The system is used statewide on all of the toll roads, toll bridges, and high-occupancy toll lanes along the California Freeway and Expressway System.
As with other ETC systems, FasTrak is designed to eliminate the need for cars to stop to pay at toll booths, thus decreasing the traffic congestion traditionally associated with toll roads. Its use of technology to improve transit is in line with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems initiative.
Under California's government structure, the state's toll facilities are operated by various agencies and special-purpose districts. Concerned that they would each introduce different, incompatible ETC systems, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1523 in 1990, requiring the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to develop a statewide specification that all these toll agencies were required to meet.Three years later, Transportation Corridor Agencies opened the Foothill Toll Road in Orange County, implementing the statewide ETC system for the first time, and naming it FasTrak. The state continues to delegate the responsibility of selling and maintaining FasTrak accounts to the different toll agencies.
Under California law, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) was given the mandate to develop and maintain an open, statewide ETC specification. This specification is known in the transportation industry as "Title 21" after it was added to Title 21 of the California Code of Regulations . FasTrak uses RFID technology near 915 MHz to read data from a transponder placed in a vehicle (usually mounted by Velcro strips to the windshield) moving at speeds that may exceed 70 mph (112 km/h). The RFID transponder in each vehicle is associated with a prepaid debit account; each time the vehicle passes underneath a toll collection site, the account is debited to pay the toll.
Currently, FasTrak transponders are not compatible with E-ZPass and other ETC systems used in other states because they use a different specification than Title 21. If a vehicle does not have a transponder, or if a transponder is not detected at the toll plaza, a violation enforcement system triggers cameras that capture photos of the vehicle and its license plate for processing. If the license plate is registered as belonging to a FasTrak user, the account is debited only the toll charge, and no penalty is charged. This is a backup in case a transponder fails to read. Otherwise, a toll violation notice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle.In the case of drivers whose vehicles are company owned or leased, as long as the vehicle license plates are properly listed, the violations will be sent to the registered owner and not the employee driver. It is for this reason that the License Agreement mandates that customers list all vehicles, including motorcycles, motor homes, and trailers of all types on their accounts so that when transponders fail to read the toll can be debited based upon the vehicle's license plate. A license plate may be listed only on one account.
A toll collected based on a license plate is called an Image Toll and can be identified on the customer statement by noticing the license plate number listed instead of the transponder number. If one fails to correctly list license plates on their account, the FasTrak customer will receive toll violation notices as if they were another driver. If a FasTrak customer receives a toll violation notice under these circumstances, they only refer to the reverse side of the Toll Violation notice and complete the section at the bottom of the notice that will add the new vehicle to their account. Conversely, a license plate should be removed from an account after a change in ownership, otherwise resulting in paying for another driver's tolls via the Image Toll process.
Each toll agency in Southern California has their own billing and customer service center. For convenience, all toll facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area instead share the same billing and customer service center. Although anybody with a FasTrak transponder can use it to pay tolls on any California toll facility using the system, people are encouraged to open their accounts with the local agency in charge of the one that they use the most. Each center establishes its own fee and discount structures, and people may be charged a fee if the majority of their FasTrak use occurs elsewhere.
Each FasTrak account agency has its own monthly minimums / monthly fees (from lowest to highest)
|Bay Area FasTrak||San Francisco Bay Area||None|
|The Toll Roads of Orange County||Orange County||None|
|Metro ExpressLanes||Los Angeles County||$1 monthly account maintenance fee.|
|Interstate 15 Express Lanes||San Diego County||$3.50 minimum monthly toll, plus $1 per transponder.|
|South Bay Expressway||San Diego County||$3.50 minimum monthly toll, plus $1 per transponder.|
|91 Express Lanes||Orange and Riverside Counties||Account dependent, with plans ranging from a $75 one-time fee with no monthly fees, to a $7 minimum monthly toll.|
|Riverside Express||Riverside County||$40.00 initial prepaid toll deposit, plus $2 monthly account maintenance fee.|
A teardown analysis of the transponder and analysis of its security issues was published at Black Hat 2008.They are updated remotely, and do not use encryption. Furthermore, FasTrak's basic functionality and specifications are listed under Title 21, Division 2, Chapter 16 of the California Code of Regulations , and are thus freely accessible to the general public.
FasTrak units are used to generate 5-1-1 traffic data, using sensors and antennae placed across various freeways.
As the first ETC system in North America was installed on the Dallas North Tollway in 1989, many California toll facilities started to express interest in the technology. Because the state's toll roads and bridges are run by different government agencies, there was the possibility that a number of different incompatible ETC systems would be instituted throughout California. Therefore, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1523 in 1990, requiring Caltrans, the state's Department of Transportation, to develop a statewide technical specification which all systems would be required to meet.As a result, California was the first in the nation to require all of its toll bridges and roads to use the same ETC system. This technical specification was later codified in Title 21, Division 2, Chapter 16 of the California Code of Regulations .
When the Foothill Toll Road in Orange County opened in 1993, it became the first California toll facility to use an ETC system. Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), the local agency in charge of the toll road, named the system "FasTrak".To this day, TCA still holds the trademark to the "FasTrak" name and logo.
When TCA first introduced the FasTrak system, the electronic transponders consisted of a gadget about the size of a Walkman in which a smart card was inserted.However, the smart cards were unpopular with both tollway officials and users because they cost more, offered little advantage, and customers were charged with a $10 annual fee (which has since been discontinued). By the time the 91 Express Lanes opened in 1995, the FasTrak transponders were redesigned to be the size of a coaster that could be mounted by Velcro strips to the windshield.
TCA later deployed the FasTrak system to the two other toll roads they administer as soon as they opened: the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road in 1996 and the Eastern Toll Road in 1998. Also in 1998, the system was then deployed on the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes along Interstate 15 in San Diego.
However, the system had to be modified so that it could be used on California's toll bridges. After a test run on the Carquinez Bridge in 1996, it had accuracy problems in dealing with the 18 different toll classifications for different kinds of trucks.After the changes were made and another test run, the Carquinez Bridge became the first California toll bridge to use FasTrak in 1997. However, bureaucratic inaction, technical difficulties, and financial mismanagement delayed the deployment of the system to the other six state-run toll bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area until October 2000. Meanwhile, the Golden Gate Bridge, run by the independent Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, installed their system a few months earlier in July of that year. The FasTrak system was also briefly used on the state-owned San Diego-Coronado Bridge until tolls were discontinued on that structure in 2002. The Bay Area FasTrak Customer Center then opened in 2005, merging the service center for the state's Bay Area bridges with the one that was being operated separately by the Golden Gate Bridge District.
Since then, several other new toll facilities around California have either opened, are under construction, or are in the planning stages. They are all required to accept FasTrak as per the aforementioned state law.
In 2009, San Francisco International Airport began accepting FasTrak in all of its parking garages, including long-term parking.Currently only FasTrak accounts opened from either the Bay Area FasTrak Customer Center or from Transportation Corridor Agencies can be used at the airport.
When the Metro ExpressLanes opened in Los Angeles in late 2012, it introduced FasTrak transponders with a special switch that indicates the number of occupants (1, 2, or 3 or more) in the vehicle. This enables the open road tolling system to automatically compute the carpool or solo driver toll,as well as allow the California Highway Patrol to visually check to see if there are more or fewer people in the car than indicated on the transponder. For the convenience of their FasTrak customers in the Greater Los Angeles urban area who may also use the Metro ExpressLanes, TCA began offering switchable transponders in 2013, and the 91 Express Lanes followed suit by 2015. With the switchable transponders, the violation rate on the Metro ExpressLanes fell to 10 percent from the 20 to 25 percent cheating rate in toll lanes that do not require transponders for carpoolers, prompting Alameda County officials to include the system on the then-planned I-580 Express Lanes. The Bay Area FasTrak Customer Center then started to offer switchable transponders, under the name "FasTrak Flex", in summer 2015. In other HOT lane facilities, drivers "declare" that they are a carpool (and thus do not have to pay a toll) by covering their FasTrak transponder in a mylar bag.
There has been a push to strictly use open road tolling, accepting only payments via a FasTrak transponder, a toll-by-plate account, or one-time payments via online or by phone instead of cash. All of California's HOT lanes only use open road tolling. The Golden Gate Bridge began requiring electronic payments for all tolls in March 2013,and all the Orange County toll roads run by TCA likewise did the same in May 2014. A plan to also eliminate toll takers on all seven of the state-owned bridges was approved in 2019. On March 20, 2020, at midnight, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all-electronic tolling was temporarily placed in effect for those seven state-owned toll bridges, and as of December 10, 2020, all of them are now permanently cashless. The only toll facility that still accepts cash is the South Bay Expressway in San Diego County, but it uses unstaffed toll booths with cash machines that require exact change.
Under MAP-21, passed by the Federal government in 2012, all ETC facilities in the United States must reach some form of interoperability by October 1, 2016. In response, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 493 in 2013, authorizing Caltrans and the state's various toll agencies to help develop compatible systems.However, the deadline, which had neither penalty nor funding attached, was not met. California regulators later approved a phase-in of transponder technology using the ISO/IEC 18000-63 (6C) standard, released in 2004, which began in 2018 and is expected to end in 2024. This would allow compatibility with systems used in nearby states of Washington, Colorado, and Utah; and also Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana, plus NationalPass.
In 2019, TCA introduced a sticker transponder to replace the former plastic transponder.The sticker transponder is similar to the eGo Plus toll sticker introduced by TxTag in 2005, SunPass Mini toll sticker introduced by SunPass in 2008, and the sticker tag introduced by MnPASS in 2015.
HOV 2+ indicates that carpools require two or more persons.
HOV 3+ indicates that carpools require three or more persons.
† indicates that two-person carpools are tolled differently than those with three or more.
|Name||Highway(s)||Location||From||To||Direction tolled||HOV||Account agency||Source|
|Antioch Bridge||SR 160||San Joaquin River||Antioch||Sacramento County||Northbound only||HOV 3+||Bay Area FasTrak|
|Benicia–Martinez Bridge||I-680||Carquinez Strait||Martinez||Benicia|
|Carquinez Bridge||I-80||Carquinez Strait||Crockett||Vallejo||Eastbound only|
|Dumbarton Bridge||SR 84||San Francisco Bay||Fremont||Menlo Park||Westbound only||HOV 2+|
|Golden Gate Bridge||US 101 / SR 1||Golden Gate||Marin County||San Francisco||Southbound only||HOV 3+|
|Richmond–San Rafael Bridge||I-580||San Francisco Bay||Richmond||San Rafael||Westbound only|
|San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge||I-80||Oakland||San Francisco|
|San Mateo–Hayward Bridge||SR 92||Hayward||Foster City||HOV 2+|
|Eastern Toll Road||SR 241 / SR 261 / SR 133||Orange County||Irvine||SR 91 in Anaheim/Yorba Linda||All directions||None||The Toll Roads of Orange County|
|Foothill Toll Road||SR 241||Oso Parkway near Rancho Santa Margarita||SR 133 near Irvine||Both directions|
|San Joaquin Hills Toll Road||SR 73||I-5 in Mission Viejo||Bison Ave in Irvine|
|South Bay Expressway||SR 125||San Diego County||SR 905 in Otay Mesa||SR 54 near Chula Vista||South Bay Expressway|
|High-occupancy toll lanes|
|91 Express Lanes||SR 91||Orange and Riverside Counties||SR 55 in Anaheim||I-15 in Corona||Both directions||HOV 3+||91 Express Lanes|
|I-15 Express Lanes|
(San Diego County)
|I-15||San Diego County||SR 163 in San Diego||SR 78 in Escondido||HOV 2+||I-15 Express Lanes|
|I-15 Riverside Express Lanes||I-15||Riverside County||Cajalco Road in Corona||SR 60 in Jurupa Valley||HOV 3+||Riverside Express|
|I-580 Express Lanes||I-580||Alameda County||Hacienda Dr in Dublin/Pleasanton||North Greenville Rd in Livermore||HOV 2+||Bay Area FasTrak|
|I-880 Express Lanes||I-880||Alameda and Santa Clara Counties||Hegenberger Rd in Oakland||SR 237 in Milpitas||†|
|I-680 Sunol Express Lanes||I-680||SR 84 near Sunol||HOV 2+|
|I-680 Contra Costa County Express Lanes||I-680||Contra Costa County||Marina Vista Ave in Martinez||Alcosta Blvd in San Ramon|
|SR 237 Express Lanes||SR 237||Santa Clara County||Mathilda Avenue in Sunnyvale||I-880 in Milpitas||†|
|Harbor Transitway||I-110||Los Angeles||Harbor Gateway Transit Center||Adams Blvd||HOV 2+||Metro ExpressLanes|
|El Monte Busway||I-10||Los Angeles County||Alameda St in Los Angeles||I-605 in Baldwin Park||†|
The following is a partial list of toll facilities that are either in the planning or proposal stages:
|Name||Highway(s)||Location||From||To||Direction tolled||Scheduled to open|
|I-5 Express Lanes|
(North County Corridor Project)
|I-5||San Diego County||La Jolla Village Drive in San Diego||Harbor Drive in Oceanside||Both directions||2021-2035|
|US 101 Express Lanes|
(Silicon Valley Express Lanes Project & San Mateo County Express Lanes Project)
|US 101||Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties||Dunne Avenue in Morgan Hill||I-380 in San Bruno||2021-2022 (north of SR 237) |
2024-2035 (south of SR 237)
|SR 85 Express Lanes|
(Silicon Valley Express Lanes Project)
|SR 85||Santa Clara County||US 101 in San Jose||US 101 in Mountain View||2021-2022 (north of SR 82/SR 237)|
|I-405 Express Lanes|
(San Diego Freeway Improvement Project)
|I-405||Orange County||SR 73 in Costa Mesa||I-605 in Seal Beach||Both directions||2023|
|I-80 Express Lanes||I-80||Solano County||Red Top Road in Fairfield||I-505 in Vacaville||2021-2026|
|I-10 Express Lanes Phase 1|
(San Bernardino Express Lanes Project)
|I-10||San Bernardino County||I-10 in Montclair||I-10 in Ontario||2023|
|I-105 Express Lanes||I-105||Los Angeles County||I-405 in Los Angeles||Studebaker Rd in Norwalk||2025|
|I-405 Express Lanes|
(Sepulveda Pass Express Lanes Project)
|I-405||Los Angeles County||US 101 in Los Angeles||I-10 in Los Angeles||2028|
|East Otay Mesa Port of Entry Freeway||SR 11||San Diego County||SR 125 / SR 905||Otay Mesa East Port of Entry||Unknown, pending at least the completion of the proposed Otay Mesa East Port of Entry.|
|Foothill-South||SR 241||Orange and San Diego counties||I-5 near San Onofre State Beach||Oso Parkway near Rancho Santa Margarita||Unknown. The project has been opposed by conservationists and environmental groups.|
The Dumbarton Bridge is the southernmost of the highway bridges across San Francisco Bay in California. Carrying over 70,000 vehicles and about 118 pedestrian and bicycle crossings daily, it is the shortest bridge across San Francisco Bay at 1.63 miles. Its eastern end is in Fremont, near Newark in the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and its western end is in Menlo Park. Bridging State Route 84 across the bay, it has three lanes each way and a separated bike/pedestrian lane along its south side. Like the San Mateo Bridge to the north, power lines parallel the bridge.
Interstate 880 (I-880) is a north–south auxiliary Interstate Highway in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California. It runs from I-280 and State Route 17 (SR 17) in San Jose to I-80 and I-580 in Oakland, running parallel to the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. For most of its route, I-880 is officially known as the Nimitz Freeway, after World War II fleet admiral Chester Nimitz, who retired to the Bay Area. The northernmost five miles is also commonly referred to as the Cypress Freeway, after the former alignment of the freeway, and its subsequent replacement.
Interstate 580 (I-580) is an approximately 82-mile-long (132 km) east–west auxiliary Interstate Highway in Northern California. The heavily traveled spur route of I-80 runs from US 101 in San Rafael in the San Francisco Bay Area to I-5 near Tracy in the Central Valley. I-580 forms a concurrency with I-80 between Albany and Oakland, the latter of which is the location of the MacArthur Maze interchange immediately east of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. I-580 provides a connection from the Bay Area to the southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California via I-5, as I-5 bypasses the Bay Area to the east.
Interstate 680 (I-680) is a north–south auxiliary Interstate Highway in Northern California. It curves around the eastern cities of the San Francisco Bay Area from San Jose to Interstate 80 at Fairfield, bypassing cities along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay such as Oakland and Richmond while serving others more inland such as Pleasanton and Concord.
E‑ZPass is an electronic toll collection system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels in the Midwestern and Eastern United States, as far south as Florida and as far west as Minnesota. The E-ZPass Interagency Group (IAG) consists of member agencies in 19 states, which use the same technology and allow travelers to use the same transponder on toll roads throughout the network. Since its creation in 1987, various independent systems that use the same technology have been folded into the E-ZPass system, including the I-Pass in Illinois and the NC Quick Pass in North Carolina. Negotiations are ongoing for nationwide interoperability in the United States.
State Route 91 (SR 91) is a major east–west state highway in the U.S. state of California that serves several regions of the Greater Los Angeles urban area. A freeway throughout its entire length, it officially runs from Vermont Avenue in Gardena, just west of the junction with the Harbor Freeway, east to Riverside at the junction with the Pomona and Moreno Valley freeways.
State Route 133 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California, serving as an urban route in Orange County. It connects SR 1 in Laguna Beach through the San Joaquin Hills with several freeways in Irvine, ending at the SR 241, a toll road in the latter city. It is built as an expressway from SR 73 to Laguna Canyon Road, and past this, SR 133 is a freeway to I-5, and a tollway to SR 241 near the Santa Ana Mountains.
State Route 92 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California, serving as a major east-west corridor in the San Francisco Bay Area. From its west end at State Route 1 in Half Moon Bay near the coast, it heads east across the San Francisco Peninsula and the San Mateo–Hayward Bridge to downtown Hayward in the East Bay at its junction with State Route 238 and State Route 185. It has interchanges with three freeways: Interstate 280, U.S. Route 101 in or near San Mateo, and Interstate 880 in Hayward. It also connects indirectly to Interstates 238 and 580 by way of Hayward's Foothill Boulevard, which carries Route 238 and flows directly into Route 92.
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The Benicia–Martinez Bridge refers to three parallel bridges which cross the Carquinez Strait just west of Suisun Bay; the spans link Benicia, California on the north side with Martinez, California on the south.
State Route 241 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that is a toll road for its entire length within Orange County in the Greater Los Angeles urban area. Its southern half from near Las Flores to near Irvine is the Foothill Transportation Corridor, while its northern half to the State Route 91 at the Anaheim–Yorba Linda line is part of the Eastern Transportation Corridor. State Route 241 connects with the other two highways of the Eastern Transportation Corridor, State Route 133 and State Route 261.
Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct, and operate Orange County's toll roads. TCA consists of two local government agencies:
State Route 261 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that is part of the Eastern Transportation Corridor toll road system in Orange County. It runs from Walnut Avenue and Jamboree Road in Irvine to State Route 241, another highway of the Eastern Transportation Corridor. SR 261 does not directly connect with Interstate 5 in Irvine, as surface streets must be used to make the connection.
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The El Monte Busway is a 12-mile (19 km) shared-use express bus corridor (busway) and high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes running along Interstate 10 between Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and Interstate 605 or El Monte Station in El Monte, California. Buses also make intermediate stops at Cal State LA station and LA County+USC Medical Center station. The busway opened in January 1973 to buses only, three-person carpools were allowed to enter in 1976, and the facility was converted to HOT lanes as part of the Metro ExpressLanes project on February 22, 2013.
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A high-occupancy toll lane is a type of traffic lane or roadway that is available to high-occupancy vehicles and other exempt vehicles without charge; other vehicles are required to pay a variable fee that is adjusted in response to demand. Unlike toll roads, drivers have an option to use general purpose lanes, on which a fee is not charged. Express toll lanes, which are less common, operate along similar lines, but do not exempt high-occupancy vehicles.
Bay Area FasTrak customers and The Toll Roads customers are both eligible to use FasTrak at SFO ... Customers of Orange County's 91 Express Lanes, and San Diego's I-15 and South Bay Expressway, currently are not eligible to pay for parking at SFO.
Later phases (2020-2035) will upgrade the carpool lanes to Express Lanes
FasTrak account agencies