FasTrak Incorrectly Charges Millions of Drivers and Does Not Care

The picture above is California Highway sign is from the quarterly Metro Transportation Commission report. I have personally never seen the digital sign mention the Flex Fastrak transponder. You will see below the large highway sign a tiny 2 foot tall by one-foot wide sign. The bottom half of that sign mentions that Flex Fastrack and 2+ people are needed for toll-free commuting. FasTrak has what appears to be intentionally bad communication about Flex Fastrak in order to collect millions in additional tolls. If FasTrak cared about not incorrectly charging drivers they would have replaced Fastrak with Flex Fastrak for all drivers in California.


* February, 2019 there were errors in the system where people with Flex were incorrectly still charged tolls. Drivers must call Fastrak this months to get those charges dropped * Old FasTrak is useless. All California drivers should switch to Flex Fastrak and have it set to position 3 * MTC should replace Fastrak with Flex Fastrak instead of requiring drivers to request Flex device * Fastrak will not reverse charges more than a month old * Five years ago, Fastrak admitted to an error of less than 1%. There are about 1 million cars every month using commuter lanes. This means 1000 errors per day. * Fastrak tested the technology to detect the number of passengers in a car. They are only considering to use this technology to catch more toll cheaters and not for preventing unfair charges to those who are commuting with 2+. * About $3-6 million per year in toll charges to drivers with 2+ commuters but without Flex Fastrak. This amount will increase over the next few years with more toll express lanes.


For decades, California drivers have been able to use commuter lanes on an honor system combined with police ticketing. This is still the case over the vast majority of highways. However, there are about ten sections of toll commuter lanes. If you do not have the Flex version of the Fastrak transponder then tolls would always be charged. The old Fastrak transponder is only useful to prevent $25 tickets. Over the next few years, there will be an expansion of toll charging commuter lanes to nearly all major highways in the SF Bay Area and Los Angeles. There will not be an inadequate communication to drivers. Most drivers who use highways without the tolls have not switched to Flex Fastrak. The I680 opened with a toll on the commute lane. From Oct, 2017 to March, 2019 about $4.2 million in tolls were collected. I believe 10-20% of those tolls are from people mistakenly believing they are getting free tolls when they do not unless they have a flex fastrak and have it set to 3. The I580 and other roads are making $10 million in tolls per year. $32 million in total tolls with a likely 10-20% of those from people with FasTrak and not Flex. There were notifications in 2015 in the local newspapers and TV news. There are no reminders with the regular mailings of bills. FasTrak should have sent Flex to everyone with a regular Fastrak in the I680 and I580 and I237 corridors. They converted the Fastrak to Fastrak Flex. Fastrak is useless for getting free tolls for commute lanes. In 2018, there was testing of cameras that could detect how many passengers are in a car. The three companies MTC has contracted with for the tests are Conduent (formerly Xerox), Transcor and Indra. The systems will be tested along the same stretch of freeway in consecutive months. Rentschler said all the companies boast accuracy rates greater than 95 percent in use elsewhere. The systems employ a variety of tools to enable them to look inside vehicles, even through dark-tinted windshields, to count passengers. They include standard and infrared cameras that can detect human skin, systems that illuminate images to make them easier to read and geometric algorithms. MTC only is focused on using the technology so that they can charge $490 fines on cars with one person in the car using the commuter lane. SOURCES- MTC Quarterly report, Personal experience with Fastrak
Many of the Single-Occupant vehicles are high-occupant vehicles without FlexFastrak.
Written By Brian Wang

18 thoughts on “FasTrak Incorrectly Charges Millions of Drivers and Does Not Care”

  1. I got a $6 notice for a bridge that I had never crossed. I called the customer svc # and the woman said that I had to go to their site to dispute the charge. When I went there, I found a broken system. There seems to be no way to actually dispute a charge. When you try, you are sent to a payment page with no 'dispute' button or instructions there. I ended up paying the charge, thinking that a dispute page would then open. No. The Contact Us email page is not working. When I selected 'dispute' (or another other subject) nothing happened. There was not 'activate' control of any kind. I did find an 'email' button on a different Contact Us page, but it does nothing. I did find a mail address for disputing charges. Their picture of the subject vehicle clearly shows a "B" where my license plate has an "8". The charge was trivial but I did not want it to happen again or let the real bridge-crosser escape his duty to pay.

  2. Sydney had a private company bid for, and then build a “cross city tunnel” that could take you from the East side of the CBD to the West side, under the whole thing.

    At the time this was a bit confusing because there wasn’t known to be a particular problem with travelling that route, without using a tunnel.

    As soon as the tunnel was completed, the city council proceeded to close a bunch of intersections and put in one-way roads and turning restrictions so now there WAS a problem travelling that route, and people would be forced into the (privately owned) toll tunnel.

    Nobody used it anyway, preferring to sit in traffic jams for an extra 10 minutes rather than being FORCED into a toll road. And the private company went bankrupt.

    So, yes the government CAN decide to create traffic jams. And yes people can fight back.

    (The tunnel was bought out of bankruptcy by another company for a lower price, until that company went bankrupt too. They were bought out for an even lower price, at which point the tunnel started to become profitable because the interest payments were now low enough to be paid by the vehicles that DO use it. Also, many of the changes to the surface roads were reversed, and so people stopped being so resentful and the number of users went up.)

  3. Yup. Typical Blue State Model: Tax the crap out of its productive citizens so the pols can spend on lavish public sector bennies to buy votes. Meanwhile, the quality of public goods provided by the Blue State go down the tubes.

  4. It’s the People’s Republic of California…surprised it isn’t more.
    Gotta pay for all those illegal aliens & welfare bums somehow.

  5. Why are you looking for others to foot the bill for the services you use? You should pay your way in this world and stop looking for handouts.

  6. Only a month to correct a government(read stupid) institutions mistakes? How often do they bill you?
    This is a big juicy class action lawsuit just waiting for some law firm. This is one the Democrats probably can’t blame on the Russians, or Trump. Imagine what percentage of the jury pool in California is tired of being pushed around by careless/crooked, bureaucratic state institutions! They aren’t letting illegal aliens sit on jurys yet, are they?

  7. These sorts of systems are how the state plans to make up the loss of revenue, once motor fuel taxes, and license fees start dropping dramatically because of electric cars, and self driving taxi/uber service.
    Californians need to stage an overthrow of state government, before their state becomes just another third world s***hole. I notice SpaceX is going to build BFR in Texas, and Florida, but not CA. How long will it be before Tesla’s assembly is done near the gigafactory, instead of LA, followed by the Boring company? The current factory in Hawthorne would make a nice homeless shelter. People, and corporations respond to economic incentives, such as lower taxes, less regulation, and fewer crooks in office. Welcome to Nevada/Texas/Florida!!!

  8. It has bad incentives built in, too: As soon as you can pay the state to bypass traffic jams, the state has an incentive to CREATE traffic jams.

  9. The fixation with pay-to-play is a cynical rip-off of serious economic contributors on their way to and from work. End all road tolls!

  10. I can see how you can scan a car from the front and get an accurate reading of one, or two, people in the front seats. (Definition of accurate to be argued about later).

    But I’ve got no idea how you can scan the people in the back of a vehicle, given the vast range of different geometries, rear window shades, tiny rear windows, different window positions, etc, etc,

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