Bay Area Express Lanes FAQ

Select a different help topic below to switch FAQ pages


Express lanes are specially designated highway lanes that are free to carpools, motorcycles, vanpools and other eligible vehicles during designated hours, but that solo drivers can use if they pay a toll. At other times, the lanes are open to regular traffic. During operating hours, the toll may change every few minutes to manage demand for the lane and provide a reliable trip.

Population and jobs are growing in the Bay Area, but the region does not have the funding or room to build much additional roadway capacity. Express lanes make sure that any unused space in carpool lanes can be filled with vehicles. At the same time, the lanes encourage carpools, vanpool and transit, getting more people through congested corridors. Bay Area Express Lanes:

  • Provide a choice for solo drivers to use lanes they could not use in the past for a more reliable trip.
  • Improve carpool enforcement to reduce carpool lane cheating.
  • Make best use of HOV lane capacity.

Click here for the locations and operating hours of existing lanes.

Some express lanes have specific designated entry and exit points, while others allow drivers to freely enter and exit where they choose, just like today’s carpool lanes. A good ‘rule of thumb’ is that drivers can enter and exit express lanes wherever there are dashed lines, but should never cross solid double lines. Learn more about lane access.

Express lanes are toll-free for qualifying carpools, vanpools, buses and other toll-exempt vehicles. For solo drivers with a valid FasTrak® toll tag, the tolls to drive to specific destinations are posted on signs above the express lane. Tolls increase as traffic increases and decrease as traffic decreases. The toll you see on the sign when you get into the lane is guaranteed, even if the toll changes while you are in the lane.

On the 14-mile I-580 Express Lanes and the 14-mile I-680 Sunol Southbound Express Lane in Alameda County, recent average daily tolls were between $2 and $2.50. Tolls in peak periods climb higher and have reached between $8 and $10 on these lanes. These rates provide an example of what to expect. Learn more about pricing and pricing signs.

Tolls are collected electronically using a valid FasTrak® toll tag. Tolls are collected only during the express lane hours of operation as posted on the highway. Overhead electronic pricing signs show the toll rates to use the express lane to specific destinations. Learn more about how the lanes work.

Yes, if you are a solo driver, you need either a standard FasTrak® or FasTrak Flex® toll tag to pay to use the express lane. If you are a carpool, clean air vehicle, or other vehicle eligible for toll-free travel, you may be required to use a FasTrak Flex® toll tag to travel toll-free depending on the express lane. Learn more about the express lanes FasTrak® requirements.

There are three ways:

  1. Sign up for an account and order a ready-to-use toll tag to be mailed to you;
  2. Pick up a toll tag at a convenient retail location and activate it by completing the account enrollment process; or
  3. Add a tag to an existing account.

One account can register up to four tags under the same account deposit. For new accounts, learn more about getting started with FasTrak®.

You can visit the FasTrak® website by clicking the Metropolitan Transportation Commission dropdown in the upper right corner of any 511 webpage and selecting FasTrak®.

Express lanes revenue pays for increased enforcement by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to reduce carpool cheating. For some HOV lanes converted to express lanes, express lanes provide an opportunity to selectively limit access in/out of the lanes at heavy weaving and merging locations, offering a smoother trip for carpools. In addition, in some places, congestion lasts longer than the HOV hours of operation. Since express lanes often expand the operating hours, carpoolers are rewarded with a faster trip whenever there is congestion. Finally, the vision for Bay Area Express Lanes will provide more connected miles of lanes that provide carpoolers with a travel time advantage.

^ Back to top