Traffic Advisory: Express Lanes Open to All During COVID-19 Pandemic
At 5 a.m. on Friday, March 20, 2020, Bay Area Express Lane operators, including Alameda CTC, jointly ceased all express lane tolling through at least April 7 unless congestion along the Express Lane corridors warrants a return to tolling. In Alameda County, tolling is suspended on both Interstate 580 and southbound on Interstate 680 over the Sunol Grade.
For detailed information on tolling suspension during the current public health emergency, view the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s press release or go to https://mtc.ca.gov/whats-happening/news/bay-area-express-lanes-open-all-during-public-health-emergency.
Express lanes increase the efficiency of our transportation system for commuters, transit and freight by giving solo drivers the option to pay a toll for access into the carpool lanes when there is excess capacity, thereby reducing congestion and improving air quality.
Express lane operations is fully electronic: No toll booths or traffic gates. All you need is FasTrak® and you are good to go! Alameda CTC currently operates two express lane corridors. For information on how to use each of the corridors, click on the links below.I-580 Express along the Tri-Valley corridor through Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore
A properly mounted valid FasTrak toll tag is required for ALL I-580 Express Lane users. In order to travel toll free on the I-580 Express Lane, carpoolers and those eligible to use carpool lanes need to have a FasTrak Flex® toll tag set to 2 or 3+. Get a toll tag today.I-680 Sunol Southbound Express Lane from Pleasanton to Milpitas The I-680 Southbound express lane requires a FasTrak toll tag for solo drivers. Carpoolers on the I-680 Sunol Express Lane currently do not need a toll tag, but can use the new FasTrak Flex toll tag set to 2 or 3+, or place their standard toll tag in a mylar bag to avoid being charged a toll. Find a carpool and use the lanes toll free! Get a FasTrak Toll Tag - https://www.bayareafastrak.org/en/home/index.shtml
Resolve Toll ViolationsClick here to resolve toll violations.
Vehicles equipped with FasTrak® can enter or exit the lanes at clearly marked points (on I-680 Southbound) or nearly anywhere along the express lane corridor (I-580 Express Lanes in the Tri-Valley corridor). Electronic signs display the current toll for solo drivers with FasTrak. When the FasTrak-equipped vehicle passes under a reader, the correct toll is automatically deducted from the driver’s prepaid FasTrak account. No toll booths, no stopping.
The I-680 Sunol Express Lane (southbound over the Sunol Grade) has specific entrance and exit points. The I-580 Express Lanes mostly have “open,” or “nearly-continuous” access configurations, meaning drivers will enter and exit the express lanes at any location similar to how they enter and exit carpool lanes today. Where necessary, due to operational or safety issues, sections of the express lanes will have limited access, meaning that entry and exit to/from the express lane is allowed only at certain locations. Where access is limited, special signage and lane striping will help direct drivers about where to enter and exit. The I-580 Express Lanes have a portion of limited access in each direction to reduce merging incidents.
Both the I-580 and the I-680 Sunol Express Lanes operate Monday - Friday 5am-8pm. All other times (nights and weekends) the express lanes are open to all with no toll and no toll tag requirements.
Tolls for solo drivers are collected electronically via FasTrak®, just like on Bay Area toll bridges. Tolls are collected only during the express lane hours of operation as posted on freeway signs. Overhead electronic pricing signs will display the current toll rates, which will increase as traffic congestion increases and decrease as traffic congestion decreases.
On the I-580 Express Lanes in the Tri-Valley corridor (through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore), which opened in February 2016, all carpools and other qualifying toll-free vehicles need a FasTrak Flex® toll tag properly mounted in the vehicle, and set to 2 or 3+ for toll-free travel. A FasTrak Flex toll tag has a switch that can be set in one of three positions indicating that the vehicle has one, two, or three or more occupants. When set on 2 or 3+, the tolling equipment knows not to charge that vehicle a toll. When set on 1, tolls will be charged. Solo drivers may use either a FasTrak Flex set to 1 or a standard FasTrak toll tag.
The price for solo drivers to use the express lanes changes to keep traffic moving and maintain reliable speeds in the express lane. Since the price to use the lane changes based on traffic, it is impossible to give specific tolls.
The tolls vary based on traffic levels in the Express Lanes to ensure traffic in the lanes continues to flow smoothly. As traffic increases, the toll increases. As traffic subsides, so does the toll. This process is called "dynamic pricing.” Dynamic pricing works to ensure that traffic flows smoothly in the express lane. Here’s how it works: Tolls are set based on the amount of traffic traveling in the express lane at any given time. During peak periods, when there is more traffic on the express lane, the toll will be higher. During off-peak periods, when fewer vehicles are using the lane, the toll will be lower. By raising or lowering the toll in response to the level of demand, dynamic pricing effectively manages congestion ensuring the express lane flows smoothly. Dynamic pricing has been used successfully in various places across the country, including San Diego, Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, and Dallas, with other new projects planned or under construction across the nation.
Express lanes offer faster, more reliable travel to bypass traffic congestion. In the Bay Area, express lanes allow toll-free travel for carpools, vanpools, motorcycles, transit buses and eligible zero- and low-emission vehicles, while giving solo drivers the option to pay to use the lane(s) to avoid congestion and have a reliable commute time.
- 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, operated by Alameda CTC;
- 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 Contra Costa Express Lanes north- and southbound between Walnut Creek and San Ramon, operated by MTC.
Carpool vehicles with two or more people, motorcycles, eligible zero and low-emission vehicles and transit buses can 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.
Solo drivers who want to use the express lane must have a valid FasTrak account and must mount a FasTrak toll tag on their windshield prior to entering the express lane. They are charged a toll each time they choose to use the express lanes.
The I-680 Sunol express lane has 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.
Motorists can enter the express lanes at designated places. An overhead electronic sign displays the current toll being assessed to travel to the destination(s) shown.
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. Toll costs vary based on time of day.
The I-680 Sunol Express Lane operates from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
On I-680 Sunol, toll rates have been established based on historic traffic conditions. The pricing varies by day of the week and by time of day; it can change as frequently as every 15 minutes.
On I-580, toll rates are calculated based on real-time traffic conditions (speed and volume) in both the express lanes and the general purpose lanes and can change as frequently as every 3 minutes.
On I-680 Sunol, an electronic sign located before each entrance to the express lane gives customers advance notice of the current toll if they enter at the next entry point.
On I-580, electronic signs located throughout the corridor give customers advance notice of the current toll to enter the lane at that point.
For both I-680 Sunol and I-580, the toll rate is locked in at the time the vehicle is first detected in the express lane, even if the toll amount changes while they are in the lane.
A solo driver without a valid FasTrak® toll tag will be in violation of state law and subject to a citation by CHP. Anyone using the I-580 Express Lanes without a FasTrak toll tag (either a standard FasTrak or a FasTrak Flex®) and a valid FasTrak account may receive a notice of toll violation in the mail.
The I-680 Sunol and I-580 Express Lanes operate 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Outside of the hours of operation, these express lanes are free for all vehicles and a FasTrak® toll tag is not needed.
If you are using the I-680 Sunol Express Lane and 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 I-580 Express Lanes, carpoolers and carpool-eligible vehicles MUST OBTAIN A FASTRAK FLEX toll tag, MUST have a valid FasTrak account, and MUST properly mount the toll tag in the vehicle and set the occupancy to 2 or 3+ prior to entering the express lane, in order to receive toll-free travel.
No. Drivers only need one toll tag in the vehicle so standard tags may be returned when it is replaced with a flex tag. If multiple tags are in a vehicle, the toll system may detect the additional tag(s) and the trip may result in multiple toll charges.
Larger trucks or cars towing a trailer (three or more total axles) may not drive in the express lanes, even if they qualify for carpool. Passenger vehicles and trucks with two axles may use the lanes. Public and private transit buses, and motorcycles can use the lanes. Vehicles allowed in express lanes must follow requirements for either carpool-eligible or solo travel, see above.
On the I-580 Express Lanes and I-680 Sunol Express Lane, your toll tag will beep twice every time it is detected by one of the overhead toll gantries. This is how you know that your toll tag is properly mounted and being read by the toll system. The express lane toll assessed is based on the first and last gantry location the toll tag is detected.
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.
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).
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 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. They are also available at Costco and Walgreens.
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.
Yes. The toll tag mounted to your windshield can be moved from vehicle to vehicle as long as it is properly mounted at each location, as described in the Mounting Instructions. It is recommended that the vehicle information, including license plate number, make, and model for each vehicle, be listed on your account. However, to avoid potential problems, we recommend that you obtain toll tags for each vehicle.
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 report 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.
If you have a valid FasTrak® toll tag – either your own or one obtained through the rental car company – you can use the Express Lanes the same way any other vehicle can.On I-680:
- If you are a solo driver, you must have a valid FasTrak properly mounted in the vehicle or you are subject to citation by CHP.
- If you are a carpool, you do not need a FasTrak. You must place any toll tag in the vehicle into a Mylar bag in order to avoid being charged a toll.
- If you are a solo driver, you must either have a valid FasTrak properly mounted in the vehicle or you must have signed up for a rental car tolling program or you will be responsible for a violation notice which will include the tolls plus penalties and fees. It is a violation of the toll evasion statutes under California Vehicle Code Section 23302 et seq. and Streets and Highways Code Section 30843 if you fail to pay the established toll.
- If you are a carpool, you must have a properly mounted FasTrak Flex toll tag set to the 2 or 3+ position for toll-free travel. Failure to do so will result in the vehicle being treated as a solo occupancy vehicle.