Bay Area Toll Authority cuts costs to spur use of FasTrak

In an effort to get more commuters out of the crunch of bridge traffic and into FasTrak lanes, the cost to sign up for the electronic toll collection program will drop, starting Sunday.

The initial amount of prepaid funds required to get the toll-paying device used by FasTrak drivers is now $25, down from $40. In addition, a required deposit fee has dropped from $30 to $20 for customers paying with cash or check. No deposit is required for customers who link their accounts to a credit card.

Officials from the Bay Area Toll Authority said they are trying to entice more drivers to use FasTrak, including weekend drivers.

A FasTrak-only lane — which allows drivers to drive through the toll without stopping by having their account debited by an electronic device stuck to their window — can handle about three times as many vehicles as lanes where drivers have to stop to pay cash, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.

During peak traffic periods, FasTrak vehicles make up about 70 percent of morning commuter traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, but less — 42 percent — on state-owned bridges such as the Bay Bridge.

The Bay Area Toll Authority has also approved a plan to begin selling the FasTrak devices at Safeway and Costco stores in the Bay Area by the end of the year. Drivers can now only purchase the devices online, on the phone, through the mail, or in person at the FasTrak office in San Francisco.

beslinger@examiner.comartsbooksLocal

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