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FAQs

  1. What are express lanes?

  2. Where are they?

  3. How do express lanes work?

  4. Do I need to get a new FasTrak® toll tag to use the express lanes?

  5. What happens to drivers who had been using the carpool lanes?

  6. What will I need to do if I want to use the express lanes?

  7. How are tolls set on the express lanes?

  8. How are tolls calculated at any particular time?

  9. Where is the toll rate posted?

  10. What if I use the lanes without a current FasTrak account?

  11. What are the hours of operation?

  12. What if I have a FasTrak, but on this trip I have passengers—do I still pay?

  13. What if I have a FasTrak and I'm driving solo in a hybrid vehicle—do I still pay?

  14. Can a solo driver in a zero or low emission vehicle ride free in the express lanes?

  15. Can trucks, motorcycles or cars with trailers use the express lanes?

  16. Will there be other express lanes in the Bay Area?

  17. Where does the toll money go?

  18. How do express lane drivers move out of the way of emergency vehicles?

  19. Who's in charge?

  20. How did the express lanes project come about?

  21. When I drive the full length of the express lane, my toll tag beeps three different times. The sign indicated a $1.50 toll when I entered at SR84. Do I get charged $1.50 each time for a total of $4.50?

  22. Why do I need to put my FasTrak toll tag in a Mylar bag when I'm carpooling on the I-680 Express Lane?

  23. What is FasTrak?

  24. What is FasTrak Flex®?

  25. How does the FasTrak system work in the express lanes?

  26. How do I sign up for FasTrak?

  27. Can my FasTrak toll tag be moved between vehicles?

  28. What happens if my toll tag is lost or stolen?

1. What are express lanes?

Express lanes offer toll-free travel for carpools, vanpools, motorcycles, transit buses and eligible zero- and low-emission vehicles, while also giving solo drivers the option to pay to use the lane(s) to avoid congestion and have a reliable commute time.

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2. Where are they?

In the San Francisco Bay Area there are three express lanes in operation: the I-680 Sunol Express Lane located on a 14-mile stretch of southbound I-680 between SR 84 in Pleasanton to the north and SR 237 in Milpitas to the south, and the I-580 Express Lanes east- and westbound in the Tri-Valley through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, operated by Alameda CTC,  and the SR 237/I-880 corridor express lanes in Santa Clara County, operated by VTA.

The I-680 Sunol Express Lane has been operational since September 2010 and since opening, more than 2 million solo drivers have chosen to get to their destination faster by using the Express Lane. Approximately 80 percent of this express lane is located in Alameda County, with the remainder in Santa Clara County. A northbound I-680 Sunol Express Lane project is in the final design phase, with construction anticipated to begin late 2017.

The I-580 Express Lane project converted the eastbound HOV lane from Hacienda Drive  in Pleasanton to just east of Greenville Road in Livermore to a double express lane facility, and created a new westbound HOV/Express lane westbound from Greenville Road to just before the San Ramon Road/Foothill Road Overcrossing in Dublin/Pleasanton.  The I-580 Express Lanes opened in February 2016. See map of the I-580 Express Lane Corridor.

Learn more about the planned 550 miles of express lanes throughout the Bay Area: www.bayareaexpresslanes.org

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3. How do the express lanes work?

The I-680 Southbound Express Lanes operate as follows: 

  • Solo drivers who want a more reliable trip on southbound I-680 need to obtain and mount a FasTrak toll tag on their windshield. They are charged a toll each time they choose to use the express lanes. Carpool vehicles with two or more people, motorcycles, eligible zero and low-emission vehicles and transit buses continue to use the lanes for free either by using a FasTrak Flex tag set to 2 or 3+, by driving the corridor without a FasTrak tag, or by placing your standard FasTrak tag in a mylar bag so that it doesn't get charged the solo driver rate. 
  • The southbound I-680 carpool lane has been converted to an express lane with striping, specific entry and exit points, overhead electronic signs and a FasTrak electronic toll collection (ETC) system. The express lane is separated from general-purpose lanes by double solid lines, except at entry and exit points. 
  • The operation is fully electronic. There are no tollbooths or traffic gates, so customers do not need to slow down or stop to make a toll payment.
  • Motorists with a FasTrak toll tag can enter the express lanes at designated places. An overhead electronic sign displays the current toll being assessed. Toll costs vary based on real-time traffic levels on the express lanes to ensure that traffic in the lanes flows smoothly.
  • The I-680 Express Lane operates from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tolls range from approximately $0.50 to a maximum of $9.00, depending on congestion.

The I-580 Express Lanes in Alameda County's Tri-Valley - through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, have what is known as near continuous access, which means that for the most part there will not be specific entry and exit points.  Rather, drivers will have more access to the lanes throughout the corridor.  See map of the I-580 Express Lanes. Overhead signs indicate the cost to enter the lanes at specific areas along the corridor, allowing the driver to make a decision to enter as deems most appropriate for the individual's commute need. I-580 Express Lanes operate Monday-Friday 5 a.m. - 8 p.m. just like the I-680 Sunol Express Lane. In order to use the I-580 Express Lanes toll free, carpools, vanpools, motorcycles, buses and eligibles clean air vehicles are required to have a FasTrak Flex® toll tag and active FasTrak account. Order yours today.

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4. Do I need a new FasTrak to use the express lanes?

Currently on the I-680 Southbound Express Lane as well as the I-237 Express Lane, a regular FasTrak toll tag is required for solo drivers to use the lanes. Carpoolers do not need a toll tag. A FasTrak toll tag is required for all users of the I-580 Express Lanes.  Carpoolers need to obtain a new FasTrak Flex® toll tag (available at www.bayareafastrak.org) in order to use the I-580 express lanes for free. Carpoolers on the I-680 express lane may use a Flex toll tag set to 2 or 3+ for toll-free travel, or may continue to use the lane without a toll tag (or with a tag in a Mylar bag).  Note that in the future, Flex toll tags will be required for toll-free use of the I-680 Sunol Express Lane.

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5. What happens to drivers who had been using the carpool lanes?

Carpool vehicles, motorcycles, eligible zero and low-emission vehicles (with a white or green clean air decal) and transit buses continue to use the Express Lanes for free, but on the I-580 Express Lanes you must have a FasTrak Flex® toll tag to use the lanes toll-free.

In order for carpoolers and other eligible vehicles to travel toll-free on the I-680 South Express Lane, if you have a FasTrak toll tag, you need to remove the toll tag from your windshield and place it in the Mylar bag that was provided to you by FasTrak so you’re not charged for that particular trip - or set your FasTrak Flex tag to 2 or 3+. It’s important to make sure that after your carpool trip you properly re-install your toll tag onto your windshield. If you have lost your Mylar bag, please call the FasTrak Customer Service Center at 877-229-8655 (877-BAY-TOLL), and they will mail you a replacement bag.

Note: This is slightly different on Bay Area bridges, where carpool vehicles must pay a bridge toll. So when you are crossing a toll bridge, you must keep your toll tag on your windshield.

Also note: on the I-580 Express Lanes - carpoolers and others eligible to use the carpool lanes for free MUST OBTAIN A FASTRAK FLEX TOLL TAG in order to receive toll-free travel. FasTrak Flex tags are available online at www.bayareafastrak.org as well as at retailers including Costco, Safeway and Walgreens.

Find a carpool and ride in the express lanes toll-free!

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6. What will I need to do if I want to use the express lanes?

To use express lanes in Alameda County, Santa Clara County, or any other express lanes in California as a solo driver, you need a prepaid FasTrak account and a FasTrak toll tag. Then, as you approach one of the entrances to the Express Lane, you check the posted toll for your destination and determine if you want to use the lane for that price on this trip. On the existing lanes, if you are in a carpool vehicle or on a motorcycle, simply enter the express lane. If you are using I-680 South and have a toll tag in your vehicle, place it in a Mylar bag to avoid being charged. Carpoolers may also use a FasTrak Flex toll tag set to 2 or 3+ for toll-free travel.

If you are a carpooler who wants to use the I-580 Express Lanes between Dublin and Livermore, you must obtain a FASTRAK FLEX® toll tag for toll-free travel. FasTrak Flex toll tags are available at Costco, Safeway and Walgreens stores in the Tri-Valley corridor and online at www.bayareafastrak.org.

To open a FasTrak account, sign up online at http://www.bayareafastrak.org. A list of select Walgreen’s, Safeway and Costco locations can also be found at the FasTrak website. You can also contact the FasTrak Customer Service Center by calling 1-877-BAY-TOLL (1-877-229-8655).

Want to find a carpool? Go to http://rideshare.511.org/carpool

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7. How are tolls set on the express lanes?

The project’s goal is to ensure that traffic is always flowing smoothly in the express lanes by utilizing “dynamic pricing.” Here’s how it works: Tolls are set based on the amount of traffic traveling in the express lanes at any given time. During peak periods, when there is more traffic in the express lanes, the toll is higher to discourage new solo drivers from entering and making the lanes congested. During off-peak periods, when fewer vehicles are using the lanes, the toll is lower. By changing the toll in response to the level of demand, the express lanes traffic keeps flowing smoothly. Dynamic pricing has been used successfully on the San Diego Express Lanes for several years and is now being used on the MnPASS lanes in Minneapolis, MN, as well as in various other places around the country.

During fiscal year 2013-2014 the average peak hour (5-11 a.m.) toll along the I-680 Southbound Express Lane was $2.43 per trip and the average non-peak (11 a.m.-8 p.m.) toll was $1.26.

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8. How are the tolls calculated at any particular time?

The toll rate is based upon the changing level of traffic on the express lanes and the general-purpose lanes. Sensors in the road monitor traffic levels, and toll prices are set to maintain free flow conditions in the express lanes at all times. An electronic sign located before the entrance to the express lanes gives customers advance notice of the current toll as they approach the lanes.

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9. Where is the toll rate posted?

Electronic signs with the posted toll rate are located in advance of every I-580 and I-680 Express Lane entrance. Drivers are charged the amount of the toll at the time they enter the express lane, even if the toll amount changes while they are in the lane.

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10. What if I use the lanes without a current FasTrak account?

A solo driver without a valid FasTrak toll tag will be in violation of state law and subject to a fine. Anyone using the 580 Express Lanes without a FasTrak toll tag (either a standard FasTrak or a FasTrak Flex) will receive a notice of violation plus toll in the mail.

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11. What are the hours of operation?

The I-680 and I-580 Express Lanes operate 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. A carpool or other HOV-eligible vehicle can use the lane for free at any time. During express lane hours, solo drivers can choose to use the express lane by paying a toll electronically via their FasTrak toll tag. At all times, drivers must obey the universal driving rule to not cross solid lines, making access limited to designated entrance/exit locations. Outside of the hours of operation, these express lanes are free for all vehicles and a FasTrak toll tag is not needed.

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12. What if I have FasTrak, but on this trip I have passengers—do I still pay?

If you are using the I-680 South Express Lane, if you have a FasTrak Flex toll tag, just switch it to 2 or 3+ (depending on your occupancy) for toll-free travel. If you have a standard FasTrak toll tag, you will need to remove the toll tag from your windshield and place it in the Mylar bag that was provided to you by FasTrak so you’re not charged for that particular trip. It’s important to make sure that after your carpool trip you properly re-install your toll tag onto your windshield. If you need a new Mylar bag, please call the FasTrak Customer Service Center at 1-877-BAY-TOLL (1-877-229-8655).

On the new I-580 Express Lanes - carpoolers and others eligible to use the carpool lanes for free MUST OBTAIN A FASTRAK FLEX® toll tag in order to receive toll-free travel. They are available at www.bayareafastrak.org as well as at retailers including Costco, Safeway and Walgreens.

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13. What if I have FasTrak and I’m driving solo in a hybrid vehicle – do I still pay?

Since July 1, 2011, solo drivers in hybrid vehicles must have FasTrak and pay the toll to use the express lanes. Eligible clean-air vehicles (with a green or white Clean Air Vehicle decal) may use the I-680 lane for free by placing your FasTrak (if you have one) into its Mylar bag or by carrying a FasTrak Flex set to 3+. On the I-580 Express Lane, eligible clean-air vehicles may use the lanes for free only if they are carrying a FasTrak Flex® toll tag set to 3+. See the California Air Resource Board Eligible Vehicle List here.

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14. Can a solo driver in a zero or low emission vehicle ride free in the express lanes?

Yes, a single occupant with a white or green Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decal (see California Vehicle Code 21655.9) may ride for free in the express lanes. On I-680 or 237 express lanes to avoid being charged, place your FasTrak into its Mylar bag, or, if you have a FasTrak Flex, set it to 3+. On the I-580 Express Lanes you must have a FasTrak Flex® toll tag set to 3+.

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15. Can trucks, motorcycles or cars with trailers use the express lanes?

Larger trucks or cars towing a trailer (three or more axles) may not use the lanes. Trucks with 2 axles (and that are not towing anything) may use the lanes. Motorcycles, like carpoolers, can use the lanes for free, but on the I-580 Express Lanes must have FasTrak Flex toll tag set to 2 or 3+

Note: This is slightly different than on Bay Area bridges, where motorcycles and carpoolers must pay a bridge toll.

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16. Will there be other express lanes in the Bay Area?

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and its partner agencies including Alameda CTC are currently developing an the Bay Area Express Lane network - of which the I-237, I-580 and I-680 lanes are all a part. Upon completion in 2035, the Bay Area will have 550 miles of express lanes operated by MTC, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC). The next express lanes to open in the Bay Area are the 680 Contra Costa Express Lanes between Walnut Creek and San Ramon, opening in 2017. Learn more at www.BayAreaExpressLanes.org.

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17. Where does the toll money go?

Toll revenue first pays for operating and maintaining the toll facilities.  All additional revenue from Alameda CTC's I-580 Express Lanes and I-680 Sunol Express Lane stays within the corridor, supporting transit and other corridor improvements in the same corridor.

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18. How do express lane drivers move out of the way of emergency vehicles?

When an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance, fire truck or law enforcement vehicle approaches with emergency lights or sirens on, express lane drivers must move to the right out of the lane to let the emergency vehicle pass unimpeded. Drivers can then return to the express lane. There is no violation for drivers who cross the double solid lines that separate the express lane in response to an emergency vehicle.

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19. Who’s in charge?

Alameda CTC's I-580 Policy Committee oversees the I-580 Express Lanes, and the I-680 Sunol Smart Carpool Lane Joint Powers Authority oversees the I-680 Sunol Express Lane. The Committee and JPA include elected officials from both Santa Clara and Alameda Counties.

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20. How did the express lanes project come about?

California AB 2032, passed and signed into law in 2004, authorized the Sunol Smart Carpool Lane Joint Powers Authority to implement the Express Lanes.

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21. When I drive the full length of the I-680 South Express Lane, my toll tag beeps three different times. The sign indicated a $1.50 toll when I entered at SR 84. Do I get charged $1.50 each time for a total of $4.50?

You are only charged the amount that you see when you enter the lane on I-680 South. The other "beeps" you hear are because the electronic reader reads all toll tags at the second and third entry points to make sure it captures the drivers who entered at those points, but the system is set up to override those later reads for drivers who started at SR 84 -- the first read is the only one that counts. If the sign at SR 84 says $1.50 for the entire length, then that is the toll you pay.

The I-580 Express Lanes have prices for different sections or "zones" along the express lane corridor. Overhead pricing signs show the next nearest destination as well as the toll to stay in the express lane to the end. If two destinations are shown, the top one is closer than the bottom one.

A solo driver is guaranteed the prices shown on the sign when their vehicle is first detected in the lane, even if the price changes on the next sign they see.

Depending on where you exit the express lane, a solo driver pays either the first price or the second price (not both), or they may pay a price in between. If a solo driver exits before reaching the first destination on the sign, they still pay the full price to travel to the first destination.

If a solo driver plans to stay in the lane until the bottom destination, they can ignore other pricing signs along the express lane once in the lane.

Overhead signage may also read “HOV ONLY” at times when too many people want to use the express lane and the lane reliability is impacted. This means that the express lanes are closed to solo drivers, even if they are willing to pay a toll. This message will apply only to new solo vehicles not yet in the express lane, not to the drivers already traveling in the expess lane.

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22. Why do I need to put my FasTrak toll tag in a Mylar bag when I’m carpooling on I-680?

When you are carpooling on I-680 you need to put your standard FasTrak toll tag in a mylar bag in order to not be charged a toll. If you have a FasTrak Flex toll tag, you can set it to 2 or 3+ and not be charged (your Flex tag does not need to be put in your mylar bag).

On I-680 Southbound, the electronic toll collection system recognizes if you are a carpooler if you are using a FasTrak Flex toll tag set to 2 or 3+ (and thus does not charge for your trip). However, it reads and charges a toll for standard toll tags in all vehicles as they enter the express lane. Thus it will read and charge a carpool vehicle's standard toll tag unless the toll tag is in the Mylar bag. If you need a replacement bag, just phone the FasTrak Customer Service Center at 877-229-8655 (877-BAY-TOLL), and they will mail it to you.

On the I-580 Express Lanes carpoolers are required to carry a FasTrak Flex® toll tag set to 2 or 3+ to receive toll-free travel. Flex tags are available at www.bayareafastrak.org as well as at Costco, Safeway and Walgreens stores in the Tri-Valley and San Joaquin County.

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23. What is FasTrak?

FasTrak® is a registered trademark and is the standard for electronic toll collection in the state of California. Interoperable on all toll roads and bridges statewide, FasTrak allows solo drivers to pay a fee on the express lanes through electronic tolling. To participate, drivers must have a prepaid FasTrak account and toll tag properly mounted on their vehicle’s windshield when they use the express lanes. Carpools, vanpools, motorcycles and permitted clean air vehicles can use the express lanes for free. Note that on the Bay Area toll bridges, carpoolers are charged a toll.

A Fastrak toll tag is required for all I-580 Express Lane users. In order to use the I-580 Express Lanes toll-free, carpools, vanpools and others eligible to use carpool lanes must have a FasTrak Flex® toll tag (see below).

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24. What is FasTrak Flex®?

FasTrak Flex is a new type of toll tag that helps provide additional enforcement to support the safe and proper use of express lanes. FasTrak Flex is required for carpools and other toll-exempt vehicles on the I-580 Express Lanes through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore in eastern Alameda County. FasTrak Flex will also be required for carpoolers using the existing southbound I-680 Express Lane in the future. FasTrak Flex allows a driver to set the tag in the switch position that matches the number of people in their vehicle or other toll-exempt status, and travel free in the express lane.

You need to get a FasTrak Flex toll tag if you use the I-580 Express Lanes and are a carpool or other toll-exempt vehicles.

While FasTrak Flex is currently only required on the I-580  Express Lanes, it works on the other Bay Area Express Lanes to pay to drive solo or to carpool for free (when set to 2 or 3+).

On Bay Area toll bridges, carpools must be in the carpool lane to get a toll discount and only need a standard FasTrak tag (although FasTrak Flex will work).

If you are not a carpool or other toll-exempt vehicle, you only need a standard FasTrak tag to pay to drive on Bay Area Express Lanes, however your Flex tag will work at all FasTrak Toll Facilities in the Bay Area.

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25. How does the FasTrak system work in the express lanes?

To use the Alameda County Express Lanes, you must have a FasTrak toll tag. A small device, the toll tag, is mounted inside the vehicle on the windshield and identifies the customer’s prepaid toll account. Overhead antennas in the express lanes read the toll tag and deduct the correct toll electronically from the customer’s FasTrak prepaid account.

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26. How do I sign up for FasTrak?

Getting FasTrak is easy—simply go to a select Costco, Safeway or Walgreens location to pick up a retail toll tag, or sign up online at www.bayareafastrak.org. A list of select retail locations can be found at the FasTrak website. You can also contact the FasTrak Customer Service Center by calling 1-877-BAY-TOLL (1-877-229-8655). You may sign up for a FasTrak account using a major credit card, cash or check. FasTrak Flex is currently only available online, through the customer service center, or at select Costco, Safeway and Walgreens locations in the 580/680 corridor.

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27. Can my FasTrak toll tag be moved between vehicles?

Yes. You must provide FasTrak with the license plate number, state, make and model of all vehicles in which you will be using the toll tag. If any of these vehicles change, you must contact the FasTrak Customer Service Center to update your vehicle information by calling 1-877-BAY-TOLL (1-877-229-8655), or log into your FasTrak account at www.bayareafastrak.org. We recommend that you obtain a FasTrak toll tag for each vehicle that you drive regularly, to avoid potential problems (i.e., losing the toll tag or wearing out the adhesive strips).

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28. What happens if my toll tag is lost or stolen?

If a toll tag is lost or stolen, please call the FasTrak Customer Service Center immediately at 1-877-229-8655, or log into your account at www.bayareafastrak.org and mark your toll tag as lost or stolen. You remain liable for all tolls charged to your toll tag until you have notified the Customer Service Center that your toll tag has been lost or stolen. In addition, you will be charged $20 for each toll tag entrusted to your possession that has been stolen, unless an official police report is provided.

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