SFO parking areas to accept FasTrak by July

FasTrak, the electronic toll-collection system that allows drivers to coast through toll plazas without stopping, could be up and running in San Francisco International Airport’s garages and parking lots by July.

FasTrak is already accepted in the airport’s only long-term garage, which opened this year, at a cost of $12 per day. The garage’s use of FasTrak was part of a trial in a two-year Metropolitan Transportation Commission effort, kicked off a year ago. The idea was to increase FasTrak-only lanes at toll plazas Bay Area-wide and bring its usage up to more than 70 percent at peak commute times, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.

The long-range plan was to eventually have FasTrak in all airport garages and lots — another attempt to encourage FasTrak usage while also making it easier for people to park at SFO, Goodwin said.

The airport will be responsible for funding its own FasTrak-only lanes; the Bay Area Toll Authority was likewise responsible for funding FasTrak lanes for the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. The costs for the airport have not been tabulated yet, but Goodwin said MTC will incur a cost of some $200,000 to recalibrate equipment to handle FasTrak users from SFO.

MTC will conduct tests at the end of June to make sure the electronic billing equipment is working properly and transponders are registering correctly. Officials expect to have the system ready to go by the beginning of July.

“I think it’s really good news,” frequent SFO traveler Paul Jensen said. “Even though the parking lots take credit cards, it’s kind of a hassle to get your wallet out, stuff your credit card back in, get your car back in gear and then get on your way again.”

At last count, more than 40 percent of cars traveling on Bay Area bridges were equipped with the transponders, Goodwin said.

Still, some travelers, such as San Francisco resident Jarrold Barini, said parking at SFO is still too expensive for him to consider leaving his car at the airport garages.

“FasTrak is nice, but are the rates going to go down?” Barini said. “If they don’t, I’ll probably just keep taking BART.”

tramroop@examiner.com


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