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October 18, 2011 > I-680 express lane marks first anniversary

I-680 express lane marks first anniversary

Submitted By Metropolitan Transportation Commission

The Interstate 680 Express Lane celebrated its first anniversary on September 20, 2011, with weekly use reaching a new high and almost half a million drivers, to date, paying a toll electronically for a faster trip over the Sunol Grade.

"Use is increasing. Each month, more drivers choose the Express Lane to avoid traffic congestion," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chair of the I-680 Express Lane Authority Board of Directors and a Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) commissioner. "Hundreds of commuters use this facility daily. The Express Lane provides a reliable option for commuters who depend on travelling through the corridor in a timely manner."

The 14-mile stretch of I-680 from Pleasanton to Milpitas is the first Express Lane in Northern California. Carpools/vanpools (with two or more passengers) can use the lane free of charge during hours of operation, while solo drivers pay a toll for the convenience of by-passing traffic.

"The results show Express Lanes are an effective way to ensure there is an option for commuters who want a reliable commute," said Andrew Fremier, deputy executive director of operations for MTC/BATA. "The experience gained from the first year of operations on I-680 allowed us to develop a realistic long-term strategy for establishing a true regional bet work of Express Lanes in the years to come."

The I-680 Express Lane opened at 5 a.m. on September 20, 2010. After the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays, use by paying drivers was stable from January to May at about 1,400 toll trips per day, almost all during the morning commute from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. This average rose to 1,500 per day in June and July to 1,600 per day in August and to more than 1,700 per day, so far, in September. Weekly use peaked the week ending September 16, 2011, with 9,757 toll trips and $29,321 in revenue. The greatest daily use occurred on February 8, 2011, when 2,324 toll-paying drivers used the lane.

In all, there were 482,552 toll trips on the Express Lane during the first year of operation, generating revenue of $858,328. Express Lane speeds are 9 or 10 mph faster than the speeds in the general purpose lanes during the morning commute. On average, most drivers use the Express Lane twice a month, with fewer than 200 using the lane three or more days per week.

The Express Lane operates Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. At nights and on weekends, the lane is open to all drivers. Solo drivers who want to use the I-680 Express Lane need a FasTrak toll tag mounted on their windshield. Drivers are charged a toll each time they choose to use the Express Lane. The operation is fully electronic, with no tollbooths or tollgates, so customers do not need to slow down or stop to pay.

Motorists with a FasTrak toll tag can enter the Express Lane at designated places. An overhead electronic sign displays the current toll being assessed. Toll costs vary based on real-time traffic levels on the Express Lane to ensure that traffic in the lane flows smoothly.

For more information about the Express Lane, visit www.680ExpressLane.org. To sign up for FasTrak, visit www.BayAreaFasTrak.org.

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