How does Bay Area FasTrak work?


While traveling across the US, sooner or later you will come across the FasTrak payment option. It is a fast and cashless method to pay tolls on express lanes and bridges. A FasTrak account is available to anyone who has a mailing address in the United States. The toll tag can be used anywhere you see its logo displayed, including the toll facilities in California. So far, five tolling agencies in California have distributed over 2.5 million FasTrak transponders. Toll tags can be purchased at a local retail store – then, you can activate them through the new account enrollment process. The account is free to open.

What is FasTrak?

FasTrak is the electronic toll collection system used in the state of California. It is used on all the toll roads, Bay Area toll bridges, and high-occupancy toll lanes along the California Freeway and Expressway System. The main idea behind FasTrak was to eliminate the need for cars to stop to pay at toll booths. Therefore, it’s become much easier to decrease the traffic congestion that results from more vehicles on toll roads.

How does FasTrak work?

The system is based on transponder tags mounted on the vehicle’s windshield. When a vehicle enters the toll lane, the tag is detected by the system. Then, it’s classified based on the number of axles, and the ETC account is charged the proper amount. If a vehicle doesn’t have a transponder tag, or if the transponder tag isn’t detected, a photo of the vehicle and its license plate is taken for processing. If you are a FasTrak user, your account will be debited only at the toll charge. Otherwise, you will receive a toll violation.

As you can see, FasTrak California is very convenient as you don’t need to carry cash to pay tolls. Also, another plus is that you are eligible for discounts on bridges and express lanes.

There are three FasTrak Bay Area tags:

  • A FasTrak toll tag is required for carpools, motorcycles, and vanpools to use express lanes free or at a reduced toll.
  • Standard FasTrak toll tag for solo-driver use in all express lanes.
  • FasTrak CAV toll tag for eligible clean air vehicle solo and carpool use in all express lanes.

How to use FasTrak Bay Area

Paying with California FasTrak is very easy. After you sign up for an account, you just add money to it. Every time you cross a toll booth, and the tag is detected, the toll amount is automatically deducted from the prepaid account balance. You can send money online, by phone, by mail, and in person. FasTrak California is free to use. There is a deposit for the transponder tag, but it’s returned when the tag is returned.

FasTrak payment – how much does FasTrak cost?

Maintaining a FasTrak account is free of charge, no matter which type of vehicle's license plate, account, or of toll tag you use. You may open your account with a credit card, cash, or check. If you link your account to a valid credit card, your account will be automatically replenished as needed. If you use cash, money order, or check, you will need to add more money to your account manually every time the balance gets low.

FasTrak Los Angeles toll violation – what happens if you go through FasTrak without a pass?

As all Bay Area bridges and express lanes have mounted high-speed cameras, it is easy to verify what vehicle travels in the lane without a FasTrak toll tag. When you fail to pay the toll, a toll invoice for the toll amount will be issued. If you don’t then pay a toll amount, a first notice of toll evasion will be issued. It’s a violation that statuses under California Vehicle Code Section 23302 et seq. and Streets and Highways Code Section 30843. If a first notice of toll evasion isn’t responded to, a second notice is sent. It results in additional penalties and fees. Bay Area FasTrak customers, whose accounts are in good standing at the time of the violation, will receive the notice because the vehicle license plate wasn’t listed on the account. If you want to avoid a toll violation notice and penalty, the vehicle license plate number must be added to your FasTrak account.

FasTrak Bay Area – additional information

Many people wonder if FasTrak is safe to use. In fact, there was a very thorough analysis of the transponder tag and analysis of its security issues at Black Hat 2008. Transponder tags are updated on a regular basis – it’s done remotely. Also, they don’t use encryption. Their specifications and basic functionalities are listed under Title 21, Division 2, Chapter 16 of the California Code of Regulations. Anyone can get familiar with them if needed, as they are fully accessible to the general public.

How to get started with FasTrak San Diego

There are two ways you can get started with FasTrak Bay Area. One of them is signing up for an account. You can do it online or send in an application via mail. You will receive a reply with a ready-to-use, fully-functioning transponder tag. The sticker transponder tag should be mounted on your vehicle’s windshield so that tolls can be collected automatically. The second option is to pick up a toll transponder tag at one of the FasTrak retail locations. The toll tag can then be activated by finishing the account enrollment process online or over the phone with one of the FasTrak customer service representatives.


May 16, 2023


Recommended articles

By continuing to use our site, you agree to our privacy policy. Learn more about how we use cookies by reviewing our privacy policy


Scan QR code to
download Uproad!

Open phone camera and scan