Transit officials eye cameras to recoup lost FasTrak tolls

With FasTrak violators driving away with $7 million in unpaid tolls last year, regional transportation officials will decide today on security improvements geared at slicing that total in half.

Up for approval in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is a $7.5 million contract authorizing the installation of a new camera system capable of snapping photos of passing automobiles’ front and rear license plates, MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler said. The contract — with New York-based TRMI Systems Integration — is worth $7.5 million.

“We look at it like this — this contract will cost $7.5 million, we lost about $7 million last year in unpaid fines and we expect to cut that number in half with the new technology,” Rentschler said. “That’s about a two-year return on our investment.”

The MTC operates seven Bay Area bridges that collect roughly $400 million in toll revenue annually, but FasTrak violators have been a persistent problem. According to the MTC’s most recent monthly study, which detailed statistics from November, more than 112,000 automobiles illegally passed through FasTrak tolls without being caught.

If the security contract is approved, implementation of the new system would be complete in about a year, Rentschler said.

Automobiles using the FasTrak lanes without transponders arefined $25 for their first offense, and $70 for ensuing infractions.

Also up for approval in today’s MTC meeting is a demonstration study that would investigate the potential of video tolling systems on Bay Area bridges, which may eliminate the need for tollbooths.

wreisman@examiner.com  

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