Q I read about the lady who got a ticket because her FasTrak transponder was not attached to her windshield as she drove in the express lane on Interstate 680. This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of. It sounds like "Big Brother" out of control and very heavy-handed. Isn't there any leeway on this?
A Many agree there should be.
Q The ticket for not attaching the transponder to the windshield is absurd. ... I think this woman was treated unfairly by the CHP. For both my car and my wife's, the Velcro on the transponders failed within a couple of years and the transponder would drop off the windshield several times a month at random moments. ... I've had a transponder for over 15 years, and I have never mounted it. The CHP needs to make better use of its time and our money. Sheeesh!
John Tweedy, Kirk Gibson, Ron Cali and many others
A First, here's the story again. Bob Jones' wife was on I-680 recently and decided to use the toll lane. The Santa Clara woman took her transponder from the center console and placed it on the dashboard. Soon she was pulled over and ticketed for not having the transponder on her windshield.
The CHP believes the transponder was not read properly, making it appear that she was trying to avoid the toll. Elon-the-CHP-Man said she should have been cited for toll evasion instead of failing to attach the transponder to her windshield.
He added that the vehicle code "provides specific locations for which specific devices (including transponders) can be placed if being utilized. It does not, however, require any object to be placed on the windshield at all. It appears that a toll evasion was observed and the citing officer may have unintentionally wrote the incorrect section on that citation."
And on we go.
Q I guess I am a little confused, but I have read several times we do not need the transponder in the car when crossing one of the bridges, since cameras at the toll plaza take pictures of my license plate and can be linked back to my toll account.
A That is correct. Cameras are positioned on all bridges to snap photos of cars that use the FasTrak lanes. Even if one does not have a transponder in a car registered with FasTrak, the owner will have the toll automatically deducted.
However, there are no cameras on express lanes on I-680 or at 237-880. So if a transponder is not read, a solo driver could be pulled over and ticketed by a watching officer. That possibility is greater if the tag is not affixed to the windshield, left on the dash or held in one's hand.
Q FasTrak devices in Los Angeles have tags where a driver can indicate how many people are inside their car. When will we get transponders with that capability in the Bay Area?
A Maybe by the end of 2015. FasTrak tags issued in Los Angeles have a switch that can be set to 1, 2 or 3.
Q If I pay the toll to use the carpool lane from Interstate 880 to Highway 237, can I continue to drive in the 237 carpool lane after North First Street where the toll lane ends if I am a solo driver?
A The VTA says even though the express lane ends after North First, toll-paying drivers have until Lawrence Expressway to exit the carpool lane. The 237 express lane will be extended west to Fair Oaks in a couple of years.
Q When going north on I-680 through Fremont, I've noticed lights on the southbound side next to the toll lane. What are they for and why do they point south?
A Green indicates a FasTrak transponder was read successfully. Amber indicates no transponder was read, which could mean it is a carpool, a solo driver without a transponder or a solo driver with a transponder that is not working properly. They are positioned so CHP officers in place further down the highway can more easily identify violators.