July 14, 2006

 

 

 

 FASTRAK IMPROVEMENTS PROPOSED FOR

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

 

On July 14, the Board of Directors (Board) of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (District) approved several modifications and upgrades to the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) FasTrak® system.

 

Modifications to Regional FasTrak Business Rules

In June 2005, the GGB and Caltrans FasTrak customer service centers (CSC) merged under one Regional FasTrak CSC in San Francisco.  In 2004, prior to the merger, both the District Board and Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) approved business rules for the Regional CSC and all changes to these rules must be approved by both agencies.  The District Board approved the following changes on July 14, 2006, and BATA is anticipated to approve them on July 26, 2006. BATA administers all tolls on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges and Caltrans owns, operates, and maintains these bridges.

The modifications are being made to enhance marketing throughout the Bay Area, and once approved, will go into effect on October 1, 2006. For the GGB, the modifications will assist in further growing the FasTrak market share for two specific traffic groups: weekday reverse commuters and peak time weekend users. The following is a snapshot of the current GGB FasTrak market share which shows that there is room for FasTrak market share growth: 

Time Period

FasTrak Share

The GGB portion of the total 520,000 Regional FasTrak accounts is approx. 100,000 accounts, with about 150,000 tags. 50% of GGB toll transactions are paid using Fastrak.

Weekdays, 7 am to 9 am

70%

Weekdays, 5 pm to 7 pm

57%

Sunday evenings, 4 pm to 6 pm

35%

Reduce pre-paid balance from $40 to $25

The minimum prepaid balance and account replenishment amount is currently $40 for customers opening FasTrak accounts with a credit card. Cash/check customers will continue to have a prepaid balance amount which is set at $50.  Once an account is opened, usage is reviewed one month after account opening, and thereafter on a quarterly basis, and, based on the actual usage, the prepaid balance and replenishment levels are adjusted.

Lowering the prepaid balance and the initial account replenishment amount from $40 to $25 to open a FasTrak account using a credit card, will result in more accounts opened taking advantage of the $4 FasTrak toll rather than paying the $5 cash toll. This will result in increased growth in the weekend and afternoon FasTrak market share further improving traffic flow during these peak periods.

Reduce tag deposit from $30 to $20; Reduce tag replacement fee from $30 to $20

Tag deposits are required for all cash/check customers and for credit card customers who have more than 3 tags.  No deposit is required for the first 3 tags for credit card customers.  Customers who originally paid a $30 tag deposit will have $10 transferred from tag deposits to pre-paid tolls.  Additionally, the charge for misused, damaged, lost or stolen tags would be reduced from $30 to $20.   The reduced tag deposit of $20 allows the District and BATA to recover the cost of tags as BATA is purchasing a much greater volume of tags for the regional program now with a 5 year warranty, driving the price per tag down. Originally, for the GGB FasTrak program, tags were purchased at lower volumes and with an 8 year warranty.

Open a FasTrak Account

To take advantage of these modifications, after they go into effect on October 1, 2006, customers can open their account on-line at www.bayareafastrak.org or call 1-877-229-8655.

FasTrak Market Share Growth Equates to Reduced Wait Times at Toll Plaza

For the GGB, increasing the FasTrak market share has a direct correlation with the improved flow of traffic at the toll plaza.  Within three months of system launch on July 13, 2000, morning commute wait times of up to 15 or 20 minutes had virtually been eliminated as the morning commute FasTrak market share quickly grew to 30%.

FasTrak Market Growth

Morning commute

Weekday

overall

Weekend overall

% of all toll transactions

Accounts/Tags

Feb. 2001, 8 months after launch

59%

40%

21%

35%

51,000 accounts 70,000 tags

Oct. 2002, 26 months after launch

69%

52%

33%

46%

80,000 accounts 100,000 tags

Upgrades to Golden Gate Bridge FasTrak Equipment

 

The District Board also authorized the award of a contract with TRMI Systems Integration, to replace the FasTrak toll lane and toll plaza equipment, at a cost of $4.5 million ($4 million for equipment changes and upgrades and $500,000 for three years of maintenance).  The original FasTrak equipment contract was awarded in 1998 and the toll lane and plaza equipment installed in 1999 at a cost of $5.1 million.  Many of the toll system components have reached the end of their estimated seven-year life cycle and are becoming less reliable and more expensive to maintain. 

  • The toll lane equipment that will be replaced includes portions of the toll lane treadle system which is used to determine how many axles a vehicle has; the toll collectors receipt printers, touch screens, and card readers; the driver feedback displays, overhead tag readers, violation enforcement cameras, and lane controller hardware and software.
  • The toll plaza equipment will be replaced with a more robust system that includes hardware and software to exchange toll transaction and violation files with the CSC, manage the databases, support revenue audit processes and generate traffic and revenue reports. 

Funds for the $4 million toll lane and plaza upgrades are included in the FY 06/07 Bridge Division Capital Budget and the District’s Ten-Year Capital Improvement Program.  Funds for the $500,000 for three years of maintenance beginning on July 1, 2007, will be included in future Bridge Division operating budgets. 

Project Timeline

October 2006  final design of the new system
December 2006 initial testing
February 2007 preparation and installation
February/March 2007 more testing, toll lanes converted to new system one lane at a time
April 2007  full system “go-live”