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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Express lanes will cost drivers masses of money -- and the state will collect millions from us

Uploaded: Feb 15, 2022
"The integration of managed express lanes will reduce congestion all along the U.S. 101 corridor. It will encourage carpooling and transit ridership as well as the use of technology to help manage traffic," Toks Omishakin, Caltrans director, said in a video about the project.

The traffic wizards and geniuses in our state have been at it again – this time in a big way that will affect highway motorists for years to come.

Gone is the concept that our roads are for all, day and night. On its way out is the notion that major highways should be freeways – because it seems the mental maneuvers of Caltrans is to create toll roads and get us to use public transit. But will it “reduce congestion all along U.S. 101 corridor,” as Caltrans claims??

Ha! We will see.

Their new Caltrans express system for Highway 101 and other major state routes was created, officials say, to better manage traffic congestion. What used to be HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are now “express lanes” and they charge us a fee for usage for most of us (except carpools of three or more and a few other exceptions). No longer is use limited to commute hours, but now the express lanes are in effect from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays – 15 hours a day.

Surely, I don’t have to point out that in addition to the money we will have to dole out to use our roads, plus the $25 annual FasTrak fee we need to buy to get a discount on these lanes, Caltrans profits considerably. We drivers will be filling their coffers for years to come.

Caltrans officials calculate they will reduce traffic by charging us to use our roads, with the hope that the additional cost will induce more people to use public transportation.

C’mon, they and we all know how inadequate public transit is in this area, so much so that people are using it less and less, for good reasons.

What this new express lane concept really is: A complicated computer-based system that can quickly charge higher fees for roads that are being used. That has not happened here before.

The express lanes Feb. 11 here – a pre-Valentine’s Day loving gesture?

I knew the past year or two the lanes were being changed, but what Caltrans was actually doing slid under my radar screen. They plan to build new express lanes financed by user fees from you and me. This system has already cost millions – and it is only partially completed

The way the new lane configuration will be working on 101 is to take one or two of the highway left lanes on a four- or five-lane portion of 101 and turn them into express lanes. The remaining will remain regular lanes.

The fees will change based on the amount of traffic. A given segment (say Oregon Expressway in Palo Alto to Redwood City will constantly fluctuate. The more traffic, the higher fees. Sometimes it might cost 50 cents to ride this strip of highway; other times $5 or $6.

There will be signs above announcing the express lane(s) are ahead, but no formal entry lor exit lanes to and from these lanes, as happens elsewhere in the country. If you are driving in the highway’s left lanes, you may realize you are now using the express lane - the toll is enforced.

I worry about all those out-of-town drivers who suddenly confront our express lanes. Once they are on them, they unknowingly may ride for miles incurring higher tolls. Without a FasTrak card, drivers will be charged the full rate for segments of 101. There will be no toll booths, but there will be cameras that will record all drivers’ license numbers. Bills will be sent to the users. The rates are announced at the entry point (say Oregon Expressway) and the rates may vary from area to area (also posted on the screen).

The problems I see are:

• The user fees for the express lanes are really a regressive tax. The fees will put a big financial burden on the poorer people who use 101 to go to and from work. Can they afford paying several dollars daily for this commute?
• Electric cars or plug-in hybrids will no longer be able to use express lanes for free, nor will those with disabled tags. Three or more in a car will not be charged for express lane usage, but two can use them at a fee, with 50 percent reduction if they use their FasTrak card, which they will have to purchase.
• Express lane charges will be passed on to taxi users and airport express vans, which we will pay.
• Fines will be severe -- $941 or so – for those single-occupancy drivers who try to take advantage of the express lanes.
• Organizers say this system will result in less traffic, which I don’t quite get. If the regular lanes become jam-packed, are they suggesting we will instead use public transportation? Guess they are!
• If people don’t use the toll lane because of cost, we will see a lot more traffic on the remaining regular lanes. I predict a lot of people will be angry. And if they get stuck in a traffic jam, road rage may erupt.

I drove north on Highway 101 Monday at 11 a.m., and the rates were 50 cents to Marsh Road and $1 to Ralston Avenue on the express lanes. Traffic was light. Returning south minutes later, the charge was 75 cents from Woodside Road to the Embarcadero/Oregon off-ramp. Many of us use 101 not for commuting, but to get from hither to yon, and if we are late for an appointment, we will use the express lanes.

I went online and bought my FasTrak card for $25, a 15-minute procedure. My logic: I will be using 101, so I better have a FasTrak card in my car

I wish we had all been consulted in some fashion about this dramatic change on our highway system.

Nevertheless, I will try to be positive about Caltrans’ pay to play approach to our roads. Maybe the wizards and geniuses will get out their wands, and after hearing from the public, make this system work. They will need a bit of wizardry

My thanks to the Weekly staff for its great report on these new changes: “Confused by the new lane signage on U.S. Highway 101?”
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Anne is a registered user.

I think we need a proposition so we can vote to make "Express Lanes" illegal in California.

Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Anne is a registered user.

I think we need a proposition so we can vote to make "Express Lanes" illegal in California.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

What will happen when there is a major accident in regular lanes and all traffic has to pass on the left?

This is a two tier travel system. Those who can afford to pay it will do so. Those who can't won't. Those who are confused, will be fined.

In the past it worked quite well and very simply. If you had two or more in the car you could use it. Morning and evening commutes were 3 or 4 hour blocks.

This is unfair, confusing, and likely to slow up the regular lanes even more.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 6:09 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Anything new can be seen as confusing to some, but these lanes have been around the US since the 70s. If you can't read a sign on the road without getting confused you shouldn't be driving. Just pay attention.

I don't use pay lanes myself (we pay enough in taxes, thank you) but when they first came our way (680) I read an article saying these lanes are used by all income brackets, and people who use them -- it's not regularly. This was a study in several states (including California) and Canada. Accidents didn't increase.

For those who say "only the wealthy" please be realistic. We're talking a toll lane, not oceanfront property. Under that same analogy only wealthy people pay to park or pay to cross a bridge, and everyone else stays home.

Good lord!

Posted by Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:29 pm

Eeyore (formerly StarSpring) is a registered user.

Pretty sure your $25 is a credit towards future tolls, not a one time purchase of the device.

Posted by Eeyore (formerly StarSpring), a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:35 pm

Eeyore (formerly StarSpring) is a registered user.

And the East Bay has been living with this for years, and LA before them. I drive that corridor once a month or so and it seems to work.

Posted by Jason Biggs, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2022 at 8:35 am

Jason Biggs is a registered user.

The east bay hills 680 corridor is one of the worst freeways in California, rivaled only by the I-5 strip between Orange & LA counties due to the hordes of reckless lane-changing commute drivers and countless traffic gridlocks.

Everyone seems to be in such a hurry these days & for what?

Just leave earlier & watch the fools drive by.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Feb 16, 2022 at 2:13 pm

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

Having the choice to pay cash instead of paying in time when there's a traffic jam is an important and valuable option. There's no reason to only cater to people who are willing to waste a lot of time.

Posted by Diana Diamond, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Feb 16, 2022 at 4:16 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Jennifer - Yes, express lanes are all over the country, and have been there for a long time. But they all don't charge drivers money, as this new plan here does.
When I was living in Chicago years ago, Edens Highway was a five- or six-lane highway going from the northern suburbs through Chicago and south. They had two express lanes on the let that drivers could access by going onto the h on-ramp, and then drive with the faster flow of traffic -- at no charge. Once on, a motorist could exit every two or three miles or so. If the traffic on the right looked heavy, drivers would stay in the express lanes. People would move in and out of the lanes. It worked -- BUT THERE WAS NO CHARGE. This 101 system will cost us all a lot for a long time.

Posted by MyFeelz, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2022 at 5:18 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I signed up for a car license account with Fastrak, so I don't need a toll tag thingie. I have heard the tolltag sometimes charges a person twice for one ride, etc. To avoid hassles of trying to get a refund for overcharges, the license plate account works for me. When I go into a toll zone, my license plate image is captured. Usually it's not posted on the site until a couple of days later. But I have a pre-paid debit card attached to the account, to pay for those rides. These toll systems are not going away. Once, while driving through Indiana I tried to get across the state in the most economical fashion. That's when they used to have toll booths, with people standing there. I asked for a map that showed the tolls, and they gave me one that showed alternate routes I could take to get around the tolls. Now thanks to COVID there's nobody working at toll booths; in fact toll booths have gone the way of the dinosaur. The single worst thing I've heard about Fastrak is when they send a bill that you never receive for one reason or another, and the fines keep stacking up. For that reason, I will always do the debit card on file with the license plate account.

Posted by staying home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 10:20 am

staying home is a registered user.

Toll roads are pretty common elsewhere. I've encountered them up and down the east coast and in Texas. In nearly all of those cases, there wasn't a practical way to avoid the charge. Not sure if the fuel tax structure was less or not. Here on 101, we may be creating a 'pay to speed' tier, but is it really that different than those when people purchased electric cars for access? I know a few people that picked up used Prius' to get the clean air HOV tag. The real flaw is in the variable rate structure and complexity of what to pay and when.

Posted by Evergreen Park Observer, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:02 am

Evergreen Park Observer is a registered user.

Just one more thing to have to keep track of. When they start using this extra money to create better mass transit, then I will be more positive about it. I don't see why this system has to be operative all day instead of just the heavy commute hours. So tired of things being made more difficult.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:02 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Is anyone surveying how this is impacts local roads like Middlefield as drivers seek alternatives to 101?

I've seen such a drastic increase in traffic I now have to go blocks out of my way to make a u-turn to get into my driveway without crossing the densely packed traffic. I say BLOCKS because that's how far the backups go!

Posted by NS, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:19 am

NS is a registered user.

In fairness, please provide accurate information. There isn't an annual $25.00 fee for a Fastrack account but it is meant to be replenished as you use the roads or bridges that have fees. The $25.00 is applied as warranted. Unless you never have used the Golden Gate, Bay Bridge or Dumbarton Bridge to name a few around here, you have had to have a Fastrack account. Toll takers were eliminated a few years ago, I believe pre-Covid, not only for efficiency and a way to move traffic better, but also it is really a very unhealthy and dangerous job for a person. While I don't like the whole system I do object to a variable fee. If there's going to be a fee, I would prefer it be a flat cost. I understand the concept of regulating traffic but we don't have viable mass transit here so CalTrans should be honest in their intentions. It's a catch 22, they need more funds to continue to build more of this system and the cost to monitor it. They should at least promise decent road surfaces as a bonus feature.

Posted by Challenged, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:30 am

Challenged is a registered user.

"If you can't read a sign on the road without getting confused you shouldn't be driving. Just pay attention."

A couple of things.

* The signage refers to 3+ occupants in a vehicle, suggesting that you can drive in the express lane with your family. Not so. You have to have the special FasTrak Flex device, and make sure it's set to "3".

* Last month, my family briefly drove on 237 -- two lanes, no traffic -- none of us realized we were in the express lane. (We have a FasTrak device but the readers often fail to pick up on it.) A bill showed up weeks later for 70 cents, plus a $25 fine. We only had that one incident, but I can imagine someone making that mistake daily and not realizing what was going on until a much larger bill arrived.

We have had FasTrak for years and I thought I understood the system. Caltrans did a terrible job of getting the word out to people, especially peninsula drivers who don't go across the bridge and thus never needed FasTrak. I don't recall seeing a single notice or billboard on 101 telling people to sign up for FasTrak -- only signs saying that "tolling" would start soon -- and I travel to SF frequently.

In lieu of adequate outreach, they might have held off imposing fines for the first few weeks until we all figured it out, but no: they want their money now.

Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

So...Where you you, reporter Diana, when this was being contemplated by elected representatives? I wrote a letter opposing it. I learned about the agenda item by reading agendas. There was little to no coverage in local media.

It would be helpful if coverage were offered BEFORE decisions are made in order to inform the public, so they can be aware and engage in the process at a moment when they might influence decisions. Too late now.

Not every citizen has time to read government agendas, but it is your job to read them and report in a timely way on what is before our electeds.

Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 12:18 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

I just want to add that I view this as incredibly regressive action. It will certainly impact the poor--people who tend to drive long distances more frequently because affordable housing is farther from Bay Area jobs.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

One of the problems about reading the signage, is there are so many signs that we expect to read, yet we are supposed to have our eyes on traffic not signage. I have been known to miss an exit because of the amount of big trucks that block my view of upcoming exit signs (at least before GPS told you). On unfamiliar roads keeping into the right lanes for splitting highways can be difficult and confusing if the exit appears to be left and right as well as when the route you are on appears suddenly to be the exit lane.

There are a blight of signs everywhere, we can't possibly read every sign. Green or yellow writing on electronic signs which blink different wording are confusing. White words on color backgrounds are much harder to read than black on white.

Other countries use symbols, international symbols that are standard worldwide. A symbol can relay a lot more information that a couple of words on an electronic background with pixels missing.

As drivers, we should be focusing on safety and traffic and too many signs are a distraction particularly if they are for a new feature or you are unfamiliar with the area.

Posted by We Are The People, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm

We Are The People is a registered user.

I had the opportunity to drive 101 yesterday.
Since the 'Pay Lane" Open up. What a MESS!
Now I know now to use my "Magic Power" of "Short Cuts".
Luckily I know all the short cuts from the border of San Mateo County from Santa Clara. Toward Redwood City!
If necessary, I think that I can use the Powers, (if I have to) from San Jose all the way up towards San Francisco? Of course there are Lights. Still smoother and quicker. Better in using what was ONCE a HIGHWAY, that is now "Snail-way".

The day before that, while traveling SOUTH was a "NIGHTMARE"! At 4:10PM, Starting at Embarcadero Rd! Smh
I was only going to San Antonio Rd.

The former Traffic going in that direction, usually didn't get "CLOGGED",
Not until San Antonio Rd. Going that way wasn't a problem before?
Because I could get into the Slow Lane that merges onto San Antonio Road? More People know (coming off of Embarcadero) They know that they can Ride until they get to the turn-off? It was terrible!!!

So Here I go, adding to the "Cut-Through" traffic in Palo Alto!
(Which I don't want to have to do)!
Palo Alto, eventually will put up signs about not cutting through and they'll have Palo Alto Finest, staged strategically on their Motor cycles.
I grew up in this Area. I have a local License (if stopped)!

My opinion is this? The Traffic was better before without them Charging the few that want to "Zoom" through? Before it didn't get clogged up, not until you passed Whipple Rd

The Days of Traveling from Point A to Point B & C, in 5 up to 15 Minutes,
are LONG GONE! They are going to have to Fess up and Build another BRIDGE
across the Bay Waters, or extend Bart along the Water way, down to the San Jose,
area. Down to Los Banos. Problem solved? The COST?
They are charging us anyway and its going to go up?

Stop kicking the Can down the Roads.

Posted by Another Bob, a resident of Community Center,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Another Bob is a registered user.

I think your number of $941 is way off. You probably meant $490--the base penalty for a solo driver in an HOV lane. I assume this applies in an express lane, but I'm not sure. If you don't pay a toll, then there is (in addition?) the following, from

"If you use an express lane without a valid FasTrak toll tag, you will receive a violation notice. The following is a schedule of toll evasion penalties:

First notice issued: $25 penalty
Second (delinquent) notice issued: $70 ($25 penalty plus $45 late fee). If the toll is paid within 15 days, the penalty is reduced to $25
Failure to pay the second notice may result in additional penalties and fees and withholding of your vehicle registration by the DMV and/or a referral to a collections agency. In addition, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane (also called "carpool lane") violation penalties may apply."

That is what I could find with brief searching, so please change the $941 if it is incorrect.

Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:17 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

First notice issued: $25 penalty
Second (delinquent) notice issued: $70 ($25 penalty plus $45 late fee). If the toll is paid within 15 days, the penalty is reduced to $25

For many people living on limited incomes, this is grocery money. This is regressive.

Posted by menlo mom, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:20 pm

menlo mom is a registered user.

In regards to those who were commenting about how tolls are a thing all over, not a new concept, pay it if you're in a hurry or don't if you're not, I'd like to add another view. As someone who grew up in the Chicago area, I experienced express lanes (which were free but also ADDITIONAL to the regular lanes), and also toll roads (a main staple in the Chicago interstate system). But what I'd like to add is the fact that California is #1 of all states in state sales tax, #1 of all states in income tax, and #8 for corporate income tax. I don't mind the concept of toll roads, in face I'm in favor of the idea that those who most use the roads should pay for the right, but (1) I am not in favor if we're already paying the more taxes than anyone else. That tells me that we are not spending the money well, and I have not faith that Sacramento will spend additional money any better. And (2) California, particularly the peninsula, is different than most places in the country, in that we have such a disparity between the have's and the have-nots, and unfortunately the have-not's very often need to drive vast distances to get to work, due to the lack of affordable housing near their employment. So, although I do agree with the concept of toll roads, I think this is an unfair, regressive tax, and without adding MORE lanes, I don't see how this is fixing anything. It's basically a Disney Fastpass.

Posted by CyberVoter, a resident of Atherton: other,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 3:40 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

My real objection is that the Democratic Super Majority in Sacramento continues to pass laws that rarely are well publicized in the local press before they are passed. The public is now waking up to the massive additional driving tax in this article & also the SB-9 real estate debacle.
We will continue to be taxed & regulated to poverty until we make real changes in Sacramento. Ask State Representative Berman how he voted on these measures & why?
You will not change the policies without changing the people making them!

Posted by Novelera, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I am confused. I somehow managed to register on Fastrak. Since there are no longer toll booths at the Benicia-Martinez bridge that I take around once a month to arrive at my son's house in Vallejo, I get a charge on my credit card when I travel there. It also works when I cross the Bay Bridge. Is this the same as a toll tag should I decide to drive in those express lanes, or do I get slammed with a huge fee for doing so. So far I haven't had the courage to try it.

Posted by Alain, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 6:36 pm

Alain is a registered user.

I used the new "improved, more fluid" highway 101 today for the first time since Feb 11.
It has become the most dangerous strip of road in California. Zooming cars on the left lanes and traffic jams on the right lanes. Two major accidents during my round trip Mountain View to Belmont.
The new express lanes are a disaster and cause accidents with cars changing lanes constantly. There will be fatal accidents.
This is not working and will not work. Go back to the smooth system of before Feb 11.
Or apply the fees for 2 periods of four hours per day, I.e. 5 am - 9 am and 3 pm - 7 pm

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 7:55 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

So far I've noticed regular lanes extremely crowded 237 to Willow Rd both directions.
This was mid morning!
Also if one has FastTrak Flex but is going three exits it won't be easy or worth it to go over go the FastTrak lanes then
Fight traffic get back over right to exit. Exception is left side two lane exits onto 85.
Overall, this seems another way for politicians to nickle and dime us.
The lanes cost millions to install and freeway was disrupted: more to come.
Not thrilled.

Posted by biking parent, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 8:09 pm

biking parent is a registered user.

So so many tears.

> We drivers will be filling their coffers for years to come.

In other words, drivers are now being confronted with having to pay for using public infrastructure. How come Diane Diamond doesn't have the same concern for people who use public transit? How come she doesn't have any outrage for people being forced to pay for the bus or the train?

Every time a driver chooses to drive the road they use gets degraded and will eventually required to be repaired.

The amount of wear and tear a bus rider or train rider imposes on public infrastructure in minuscule by comparison.

So yes drivers should expect to pay for the cost of repairing the infrastructure that they wear out.

Posted by WhatAboutme, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 17, 2022 at 9:46 pm

WhatAboutme is a registered user.

Posted by biking parent, a resident of Rex Manor,
1 hour ago

You seriously need to read all of Diana's complaints/blog to see what is going on with her -- during pandemic she was so Upset at being sat at restaurant, and seems to believe everyone is experiencing her suffering.

I'm sorry but she is so out of touch with society, I mean it is Fastrak, not "FasTrak", no wonder her fees might be higher, if she can't manage to know the proper spelling.

Posted by ALB, a resident of College Terrace,
on Feb 18, 2022 at 11:21 am

ALB is a registered user.

Thank you Diana Diamond for your excellent writing on this critical topic.
You always choose topics that are important to residents. Thank you for sharing your views on a variety of subjects.

Posted by Frozen, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Feb 18, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

It is, in fact, spelled FasTrak on their website and all their emails. Ageist comment noted.

Posted by Whatsit, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road,
on Feb 18, 2022 at 1:49 pm

Whatsit is a registered user.

So getting the capitalization of a made up word exactly right matters somehow?

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Feb 18, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Copying my comment from the main page.

Reading the various threads on Nextdoor, there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding. Even in the above article, it mentions a $25 annual fee, which is not the case.

I have used the lanes on the EastBay and in the LA area and each of them are different with different rules. The places to enter and exit are poorly marked. Today driving NB I found a 50c fee to Marsh and a $1 fee for Ralston, total $1.50. Coming back I saw 50c fee to Embarcadero and then $1.50,$1.30 to 85/237. In other words, great confusion and even trying to remember and work out the math is even more confusing. Does this mean the only places we can enter/exit are Ralston, Marsh, Embarcadero, 85 and 237? This was midday, what will prices be like in busy commuter times when the regular lanes are at 25mph?

This is a tax for those who understand it, and a dangerous fine for those who do not. What a way to raise money from those who can least afford it or don't understand the 101 system compared to other CA systems.

I saw very few cars in the Express lanes. I wonder how many of those are paying, are free and even more interesting are going to be fined?

Dreadful in every way

Posted by Hinrich, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Feb 20, 2022 at 8:13 am

Hinrich is a registered user.

This will do nothing to improve traffic flow. It serves to generate revenue for the State by taxing mobility. It also extends the states ability to track you - phones track you, your car tracks you - now even the road tracks you. It is fast becoming the surveillance state's fully integrated control system. Sounds extreme and it is. Sold as something else but in fact, in time, it is Big Brother and in time, we will all be very sorry we allowed it. Once allowed, a surveillance state never rolls back. We already pay so many taxes and fees just to move our cars to work or the store - gas, license, bridge, registration, sales taxes on the purchase - this is one more $$ grab. Down the road, charging by zip code (wealth tax), engine type (gas, renewable), etc. No one is free if travel is heavily taxed and monitored. Freedom still matters. Once allowed, charging tolls on public roads will only spread. This is a ‘more revenue scheme' with lot's of downside and no discernible public benefit. This is yet another reason to leave the Bay Area.

Posted by Johnny Yuma, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Feb 20, 2022 at 10:02 am

Johnny Yuma is a registered user.

Toll lanes anger me. We pay taxes for basic infrastructure: safe roads, electricity, clean water, and so on. Why in the hell should a portion of a roadway be a toll lane? Frankly, toll lanes discriminate against those who can't afford to pay the fee. And by the way, you and I know that the fees will only increase...

Posted by Steve Raney, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 20, 2022 at 12:48 pm

Steve Raney is a registered user.

An in-depth equity analysis produces results that may feel counterintuitive:
* Climate-motivated transportation behavior change is coming to the Bay Area whether we like it or not. Even stronger measures are in the works.
* Factoring in the Global South, Express Lanes increase equity.
* For the Bay Area only, given income-related travel differences and some compassionate mitigations, Express Lanes are pretty good on equity.
* Charges for EVs that previously drove for free increase equity.
* Where new freeway lanes are built to accommodate new Express Lanes, total driving mileage increases, harming the climate and reducing equity.


Posted by Erik R, a resident of another community,
on Feb 23, 2022 at 4:09 pm

Erik R is a registered user.

After having grown up in the Bay Area all my life, I still get confused by all the express lanes because I never know if I qualify, and if I need to get additional hardware, or if I'm going to get charged for violating the lane. I agree with Johnny on the taxes. And with inflation happening everywhere, you can be they will increase.

Posted by Rachel, a resident of another community,
on Mar 16, 2022 at 6:13 pm

Rachel is a registered user.

For too long has underfunded public transit been expected to "pay for itself" while drivers get to use road infrastructure for free. I love the express lane, and hope soon all lanes will be tolled, like Singapore's ERP.

Caltrain and VTA should see an increase in ridership as a result, allowing for more frequent and improved public transit service.

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Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.