OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- As the new year begins, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) is making it easier for motorists to enjoy a faster and easier commute -- with FasTrak(R) electronic toll collection. FasTrak(R) toll tags are now available at 15 Costco warehouse stores in the Bay Area. Toll tags also are being delivered to 51 Safeway stores and four Safeway gas stations around the region, with all stores expected to have the tags in stock by Wednesday, January 10. A complete list of participating Costco and Safeway locations is available on the FasTrak(R) Web site at bayareafastrak.org. "With the toll tags available at Costco and Safeway, FasTrak(R) enrollment becomes a lot more convenient for a lot more people," said Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who chairs BATA's Oversight Committee. "FasTrak(R) can help you save money, too. The Golden Gate Bridge currently has a $1 discount for FasTrak(R) users, the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges are offering a $1 discount for FasTrak(R) through the end of January, and the new retail distribution program allows customers to get up to $10.50 in free tolls." The upfront cost for obtaining a FasTrak(R) toll tag through the retail program ranges from $24.99 at Costco to $26 at Safeway. At store checkout, the tag will be loaded with $25, of which $5 is immediately available for paying tolls and $20 is temporarily held as a deposit until the customer registers the tag online at 511.org or bayareafastrak.org. Once the toll tag has been registered and linked to a credit card for replenishment, the $20 deposit will be transferred to the customer's prepaid toll balance. (Customers who do not link their FasTrak(R) account to a credit card can still pick up a toll tag at Costco or Safeway, but $20 of their initial payment will be held as a deposit and they will have to send a check to increase their prepaid toll balance.) BATA will then add $5 in free tolls ($5.50 for Costco customers) to all new FasTrak(R) accounts registered through the retail distribution program, and partner American Express will add another $3 in free tolls ($5 in free tolls for Costco shoppers) for customers who opt to use an American Express(R) Card to replenish their FasTrak(R) accounts. "The retail program is the result of some great partnerships between BATA, the retailers, American Express and ACS, which operates the FasTrak(R) customer service center," said Rod McMillan, director of bridge operations and oversight for BATA. "We really appreciate the work our partners have done to improve mobility for Bay Area motorists." The retail distribution initiative is part of the FasTrak(R) Strategic Plan that BATA adopted in June 2006 to expand and improve electronic toll collection in the Bay Area. The plan's goals are to make the toll plazas at the region's toll bridges function more efficiently, and to boost the percentage of motorists who use FasTrak(R). Currently, there are more than 570,000 FasTrak(R) account holders in the Bay Area. During peak periods, FasTrak(R)-equipped vehicles account for about 70 percent of morning commute traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and 44 percent on the region's seven state- owned bridges. FasTrak(R) can be used in all lanes at all Bay Area toll plazas. During 2007, BATA will convert more cash lanes to FasTrak(R)-only lanes. This will be accompanied by lane striping and signage improvements to separate FasTrak(R) traffic and cash tollpayers as far in advance of the toll plazas as possible. In addition, the Strategic Plan calls for FasTrak(R)-only lanes to be grouped together at the left side of the toll plazas to the extent feasible, with cash lanes to the right side of the toll plazas and plaza approaches. The complete FasTrak(R) Strategic Plan is available on the BATA Web site at http://bata.mtc.ca.gov . MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. BATA, which is directed by the same policy board as MTC, administers toll revenues from the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges. Toll revenues from the Golden Gate Bridge are administered by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which joined with BATA to operate a single regional FasTrak(R) customer service center in San Francisco.
SOURCE Metropolitan Transportation Commission