OAKLAND, CA -- The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) has reminded drivers of big-rig trucks, cars, and trucks hauling trailers, and other vehicles or combinations with more than two axles that the second step in the two-phase toll increase approved in 2010 for multi-axle vehicles on Bay Area toll bridges takes effect July 1. The first step in the toll increase took effect in July 2011.

Beginning July 1, 2012, tolls for vehicles or combinations with three or more axles on the seven state-owned toll bridges will be fully indexed at $5 times the number of axles, or $15 for three-axle vehicles; $20 for four axles; $25 for five axles; $30 for six axles; and $35 for rigs with seven or more axles. The fully indexed toll rate on the Golden Gate Bridge will be $6 times the number of axles, with a $5-per-axle rate for FasTrak customers.

BATA approved the two-step increase in tolls for multi-axle vehicles on the state-owned bridges in January 2010 as part of a comprehensive toll increase package to finance seismic retrofits of the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges, to help offset the increased cost of debt financing resulting from financial market turmoil that began in 2007, and to counter revenue losses caused by a decline in toll-paying traffic on the bridges since fiscal year 2003-04. While the toll hike for most vehicles went into effect in July 2010, the Authority voted to delay the increase for multi-axle vehicles for one year and then implement the new toll schedule in two steps. This phased approach was designed to allow commercial trucking firms to incorporate the higher tolls into new contracts with shippers. These contracts typically carry 18- to 24-month terms.

California state law (Streets & Highways Code Sec. 30150.2) requires that tolls on state-owned toll bridges be based on the number of axles on a vehicle or the total number of axles on a vehicle plus the total number of axles on a drawn trailer or vehicle.

BATA said that it encourages all motorists — including drivers of big-rig trucks and recreational vehicles — to take advantage of the FasTrak electronic toll collection program to make toll payment easier and more convenient. FasTrak can be used in all lanes at all Bay Area toll plazas. FasTrak toll tags are available at Costco, Safeway and Walgreens stores throughout the Bay Area. Customers also can enroll in the FasTrak program online (at 511.org; or bayareafastrak.org), by telephone (dial 511 and ask for "FasTrak" at the first prompt), or in person at the FasTrak customer service center at 475 The Embarcadero in San Francisco.