How Express Lanes Work

Bay Area Express Lanes are specially designated freeway lanes that allow vehicles to pay tolls, pay discounted tolls, or travel toll-free based on the lane’s operating requirements. Tolls increase as traffic increases and decrease as traffic decreases to provide a more reliable trip.

Tolls are posted on overhead signs and collected electronically with a FasTrak® toll tag linked to a pre-funded account. Most express lanes require a FasTrak Flex® toll tag to travel toll-free.

Outside posted hours of operation, express lanes are open to general traffic at no charge and have no requirements for FasTrak® or vehicle occupancy.

Bay Area Express Lanes: An Overview

For a quick overview of Bay Area Express Lanes, watch this video. In all, the Bay Area has plans for 600 miles of express lanes by 2035.


  • Details

    In the Bay Area, different express lanes may have slightly different layouts, signs, equipment and rules. This drawing provides a starting point to understand the basics.

     

    View the PDF

  • Getting In/Out

    Bay Area Express Lanes have sections where access into or out of the lane is restricted and sections where it is unrestricted.

    Unrestricted sections are marked with dashed lines separating the express lane from regular traffic, and cars can enter or exit the express lanes in these sections.

    Restricted sections are marked with double white lines. Crossing double white lines is a traffic violation. If you are in a section with double white lines, highway signs explain where to exit the express lane to access highway exits. 

    Learn more about "Restricted Access," "Mostly Open Access," and "Open Access" (PDF)

  • Pricing and Signs

    The price to use the lane goes up or down every few minutes depending on traffic. Learn more

    • Signs show one or two destinations and the price to travel to each.
    • You are guaranteed the price shown when you get in the lane, even if it changes down the road.
    • Depending on where you get out of the lane and the lane's specific tolling rules, you pay either the top price, the bottom price or a price in between.
    • Your monthly FasTrak® statement will show the start and end point of each express lane trip and the price you paid.
    • The pricing signs on some express lanes may occasionally display “HOV ONLY” instead of a price. This indicates the lane is too crowded and does not have room for toll-paying vehicles to enter.
  • A CHP officer issuing a citation to a driver in vehicle pulled over from the I-680 Contra Costa express lanes.

    Enforcement

    The California Highway Patrol (CHP) performs enforcement for all Bay Area Express Lanes. CHP officers help limit the use of the lanes by drivers who are not eligible for discounted or toll-free travel and maintain safe driving conditions in the lane.

    CHP enforces all laws within the California Vehicle Code while patrolling Bay Area Express Lanes, including:

    • Carpool occupancy requirements
    • Clean air vehicle requirements
    • Proper mounting of valid license plates
    • Illegal lane and buffer crossing
    • Proper mounting of a valid FasTrak® toll tag
    • Proper switch position setting on a FasTrak Flex® toll tag

    Some express lanes have automated toll enforcement like at Bay Area bridges. License plate cameras identify vehicles in the express lane without a valid FasTrak® toll tag, and FasTrak sends the registered vehicle owners violation notices for the toll amount and penalties. This helps to make sure express lane users follow the rules.

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