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(California) Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

Discussion in 'California' started by DirectAndCurrent, May 20, 2014.

  1. DirectAndCurrent

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    I've read through a great number of threads about toll tag placement, and in the case of Bay Area FasTrak in particular, I'm curious if there is anyone here who does day-to-day commuting over Bay Area bridges and does NOT even try to play the transponder game. With transponder "misses" in the past I've always seen it reconciled on the statement within a few days due to the photographic interpretation. Specific questions I can't seem to find answers to:
    • If this is more than occassional, i.e., every single weekday, will I eventually get a nastygram from FasTrak about it? Do they actually care?
    • Once I get my HOV stickers, would I still get debited according to the clean air single occupancy carpool rate when they use the photographic interpretation method?
    Thanks if anyone here has some actual experience with this. These things are all a complete nuisance.
     
  2. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    My understanding - based on hearsay and a post by @MikeK on these forums a long time ago - is that you will get a nastygram if you go the photo route exclusively.

    When I used to cross the Dumbarton every day with the MS for a few months last year before I moved to the Peninsula, I had several misses in the carpool lane (since the speeds are about 50 mph rather than the 25 mph through the non-carpool FasTrak lanes) but had no issues with the photo-based toll tagging. Was charged only $2.50 every time.
     
  3. SanCarlos

    SanCarlos Member

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    I don't get any misses as long as I hold the Fastrak transponder on the right side of the mirror where the dots are.
     
  4. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    ...or just get the black license plate version of the FastTrak transponder and mount it behind the nose cone and be done with it....works 100% for me, no hassles, no hate mail. Only down side is if you use the special variable $$ HOV lanes and would ordinarily remove the transponder to avoid the fee.
     
  5. strider

    strider Active Member

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    When I called FastTrak to get a second transponder the operator tried to talk me out of it. She said to just add the license plate and go. I insisted on a transponder but I submit my experience.
     
  6. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    ...good luck with that....
     
  7. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

    Well I can't speak to the Bay Area, but I do the photo method multiple times a day every day of the week for years with all my cars pretty much. The ezpass system out here just associates my license plate with my account and bills me correctly. I've never received any kind of nastygram. I still think it's funny when I see the red light and the picture snap every day haha
     
  8. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    Once I switched from the Roadster to Model S I have had no luck with fasttrack. I tried holding it in every conceivable fashion and I have two of them. I gave up a long time ago....

    No nasty grams have been sent to me. probably use it a few times per month.

    Interestingly enough I bought an EZPass for the east coast during the supercharger road trip I'm on and I could get that one to work!


     
  9. iffatall

    iffatall Member

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    The problem is the license plate transponder is that you cannot turn it off when needed. For example, on roads where regular cars are supposed to be charged, and you are not, you will be charged if you used a license plate transponder.
     
  10. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I am a Bay Area resident. I thought that if I am in my Tesla and go through a bridge toll booth in the HOV lane that I pay less but still have to pay something. See FasTrak - Keeping the Bay Area Moving

    Quote:"California law allows single-occupant use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOVs) lanes by certain qualifying clean alternative fuel vehicles. Eligible clean air vehicles may use the FasTrak carpool lanes on bridges and qualify for the discounted toll rate with an active FasTrak tag."

    I use the external license plate mounted transponder.
     
  11. Malasada

    Malasada Member

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    Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

    I've been going over either the San Mateo or Bay Bridge every day since January 2013 in my S using primarily the front plate for FasTrak toll payment with no issues or nastygrams yet. The carpool lane reader has been correctly charging the reduced tolls during the carpool lane hours using this method.

    Incidentally, there was a spot on my dashboard just above the screen where the transponder worked about 20% of the time with my original windshield. Since it got replaced a few months ago (the common pressure crack on the passenger side), it hasn't worked at all regardless of where I put my transponder.
     
  12. Haggy

    Haggy Member

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    You left a line out of your quote. It went on to say "Eligible clean air vehicles do not require a FasTrak tag to use the Express Lane network."

    What all that means is that if you have a MS, you don't need the transponder for express lanes. It also means, but doesn't say explicitly, that if you do have the transponder, you get charged. FasTrak transponders aren't tied to specific vehicles, but vehicles are tied to specific accounts. So if you have three transponders and three vehicles, you can put any transponder in any vehicle. In an HOV lane, you need to remove the transponder to avoid the charge. They don't have anything in place to tell how many occupants you have, or whether you are in an electric vehicle. If you have only one vehicle and one transponder on the account, it's almost a given that you were in an EV. But even at that, you have the right to carry your transponder with you when you use Uncle Joe's Plymouth Duster. So the bottom line is that turning it off is the only way you can avoid paying tolls in areas where you don't need to pay, and having a transponder is necessary for carpool lanes on bridges where everybody in the lane pays the same discounted price.

    That being said, I have more vehicles than transponders, and never got a letter related to using the license plate method. But I suppose it comes down to them not knowing what transponder I would have used had one been there. If my wife uses hers daily, it won't get associated with a plate since the transponder gets read and there's no need to look at the plate. So when a plate gets read and there's no transponder, they don't know if it's a case where the one my wife uses simply didn't register, or whether it's a different vehicle with no transponder. That probably explains why I'm way under the threshold for plate scans vs transponder readings.

    I've heard of people in SoCal being pulled over for not having transponders, even in cases where they wouldn't need to pay. I think you'd be able to win that one in court, on the grounds that state law requires all FasTrak systems to be compatible with each other. Since BA FasTrak transponders need to be removed in mixed use lanes, it follows that the SoCal system should be required to work with no transponder when there's no toll. The SoCal transponders have switches that can be set to the number of occupants, so if a Tesla had one in the bumper with the switch permanently set to 3, it would work. But you can't have a transponder from one part of the state when its use is almost exclusively in another part of the state.

    The best situation would be for Northern California to introduce transponders with switches. If everybody reading this thread contacts a legislator, it won't be quite enough, though.
     
    • Informative x 1
  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

    Okay, now I'm confused ;-)

    To me the law says that "eligible clean air vehicles" pay a discounted toll, but are not exempt from tolls. So that is why I use the license plate transponder on my S.

    Am I wrong? You appear to be saying that the Model S is exempt from tolls because you posted "if you have a MS, you don't need the transponder for express lanes". I was not aware of that.

    If I went through a bridge toll lane with no transponder wouldn't that trigger a license plate photo and a toll charge?

    You posted "Eligible clean air vehicles do not require a FasTrak tag to use the Express Lane network."

    Is a "tag" a transponder?
     
  14. jaanton

    jaanton Roadster NA #1026

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    Actually this is happening. With the advent of express lanes in the Bay Area transponders with switches are being introduced. Following article mentions next spring for the bay area switchable transponders.

    Bay Area carpoolers must use FasTrak in express lanes under new law - San Jose Mercury News
     
  15. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    Don't confuse carpool and bridge toll lanes with Express Lanes. You still have to pay something for the carpool and bridge toll lanes, but can avoid paying in the Express Lane. As jaanton noted, the rules will undoubtedly change next year when the Sf Bay Area gets switchable transponders. Bye, bye to my license plate unit mounted behind the nosecone....
     
  16. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    #16 ecarfan, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
    Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

    Sorry, I've lived in the Bay Area for 16 years and drive a lot in my job, to the South Bay, East Bay, and into Marin, and I am not aware of any "Express Lanes" on the freeways I use. I assume an Express Lane is a limited access lane of some kind. So I Googled it and found this document http://www.mtc.ca.gov/projects/express_lanes/pdfs/expresslanefactsheet_031413.pdf

    It sounds like this type of freeway lane is planned but doesn't exist yet?
     
  17. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    #17 gg_got_a_tesla, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
    Bay Area FasTrak*— Is the license plate pic method working?

    They do exist on the East Bay. Between Dixon Landing on 880 in Milpitas over to First St on 237. And, for a good stretch of 680 south of Pleasanton.

    SR 237 Express Lanes

    Express Lanes : Alameda CTC
     
  18. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    Also coming to 580 between Livermore and Pleasanton this fall, I believe.

    O
     
  19. spaghetti

    spaghetti Member

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    I use these everyday, and love them. Can't imagine not using them during peak commute hours.
     
  20. EXTURBO

    EXTURBO Member

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    The FASTRAK toll tag works if placed on the right side of the rear view mirror (top of the windscreen, top edge of the tag on the windscreen dots). Have used this method successfully on the Carquinez Bridge and Bay Bridge on my two month old model S. Don't believe you need the license plate method, thankfully!

    Just FYI, previous unsuccessful attempts include trying the toll tag on the left side of the mirror on the top as well as on the driver side bottom of the windscreen to no effect.
     

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