Express lanes are used by bikers and drivers of automobiles to avoid high traffic areas and to get to their destination quicker. While most Express lanes require cars to make a payment to be able to use them, there is good news: it doesn’t always apply to motorcyclists. Shared riders, van-pools, carpools, and motorcyclists are exempted from paying Express lane fees with either full or partial exemption. That being said, Express Lanes can be regulated differently and do not grant exemptions to motorcyclists. Here’s where you can find out which Express lanes are free and how to avoid any fees!
How can I use Express lanes?
Although the system of Express lanes seems confusing, it’s not! To get started, you’ll need a FasTrak transponder mounted somewhere on your vehicle that is not obstructed. This is used to connect with the Express lane’s ticketing system. If the automobile does not have transponders or fails to display its transponder to one of the cameras, the car will likely be ticketed. Interestingly, it is against the law to point a Transponders in the air while driving. If your bike does not have space for a transponder, a person can legally fit it in their pocket, as long as they can still have the camera recognize it.
The next step the driver should take is to check the toll rates. Some signs may state that motorcyclists must pay fees. Others may state that motorcyclists ride for free. No matter what, a driver has time to first decide on whether or not they want to enter the Express lane. The dashed lines on the road would soon turn to solid double lines, signifying that a person has entered the Express lane.
Where can I find free Express lanes?
California’s public highways and roads are regulated the same. However, private companies are able to buy entire toll roads and require everyone who enters to pay a fee. Here’s where you can find a basic breakdown of which Express lanes require a toll and which do not.
Los Angeles County: I-10 and I-110 are available for free to motorcyclists with a standard-issue license plate. A motorcyclist could use both these interstates free of charge if their bike has a standard-issue license plate, not a custom one. If your bike has a custom plate from the DMV, you could be charged with a ticket if you enter an Express lane.
Santa Clarita Valley: SR-237 is available for free during peak times to motorcyclists with the proper plates and registration. Lanes that state “HOV Lanes” are free to motorcyclists as well as carpools. Express lanes towards Sunnyvale and Milpitas are not free to anyone from the hours of 5 a.m – 7 a.m, and 3 p.m – 7 p.m. Outside of these posted hours, the Express lanes are free to motorcyclists and carpools.
San Diego County: SR-125 South Bay is not free to any vehicles. Motorcycles are to pay the same toll as automobiles. The I-15 is free to motorcyclists at all times.
Orange County: I-91 is available to riders who have set up a Special Access Account. This allows for bikers to pay discounted rates on the I-91 freeway.
San Francisco County: The City of San Francisco is the most confusing for bikers. The many different dates, times, and areas that are limited to bikers are not worth the headache of not having a FastTrak transponder. For example, near the Bay Area Bridges, motorcyclists are able to drive on Express lanes toll-free but must have a transponder on their vehicle. So in reality, it’s not really ‘free.’ On the Golden Gate Bridge, motorcyclists have a single lane that they may use for free. Other Express lanes require a toll. The bridge opens up to completely free for bikers during the hours of 5 a.m – 9 a.m, 4 p.m – 6 p.m, as well as federal holidays.
Q: Why did I get a ticket in the mail while using a free Express lane?
A: Maybe your registration is expired, or you weren’t in the proper lane. If you believe you were mistakenly ticketed, which does happen from time to time, you could contact Express lane and request an investigation. In most cases, you have 8 days to just pay the normal toll fee and not deal with the company anymore. If the 8 days pass and you haven’t paid, you would be looking at a $400 ticket.
Q: How could I find more toll-free roads?
A: Searching up your county, or searching the exact interstate you want to travel on would be the first place to start. To ensure you don’t get any tickets, it’s best you have a transponder in your car while you travel.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.