Bay Area is Losing Millions Thanks to Toll Cheats without License Plates
According to records obtained by The Chronicle, more than 2.5 million vehicles passed through FasTrak lanes at the seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area in 2016 without license plates or toll tags and without stopping to hand over cash, which is almost a fivefold increase from a decade ago. The Bay Area is reportedly losing about $13 million a year in tolls from people taking advantage of new cars having no license plates or some form of visible identification. California does not currently require new cars to have license plates or some form of visible identification when they drive off the lot, however, that will change in 2019. Starting in 2019, a new state law will require new cars, and used ones sold by dealers, to have visible and unique temporary plates before they roll off the lots. Officer John Fransen, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, states:
We routinely pull toll evaders over. It’s not hard to spot them since they go through the FasTrak lane. You see the flash. You see the paper plates. We can pull them over if there’s no registration on the windshield. Sometimes you even get a closer look and see that there’s just a blank piece of paper there.
Most of the tolls in the Bay Area charge $5, with the exception of the Bay Bridge which charges $6 during weekday commute hours and $4 the rest of the day. $5 doesn’t seem like that much, but when 2.5 million vehicles are avoiding the toll fee, it starts to add up. The new car registration law was created in part to curb the toll cheats and it will require that dealers affix temporary plates, made of a sturdier cardboard, with identifiable numbers or letters, on the front and back ends of cars. Hopefully the Bay Area will have less people trying to cheat the tolls after the law comes into effect in 2019.