New Year brings new Bay Area toll-payment assistance programs

The John A. Nejedly Bridge in Antioch. Photo from BATA website.

Free crossings for eligible veterans begin Jan. 1, penalty-waiver program coming

Dec. 27, 2022 – The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and the Golden Gate Bridge District today announced two new bridge toll assistance programs that will benefit customers from lower-income households as well as eligible military veterans, beginning in 2023.

By July 1, 2023, BATA and the Golden Gate Bridge District will institute a policy for toll bridge customers whose household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $55,000 for a family of four) to receive a waiver of any penalties assessed for late or missed payments of toll invoices and toll evasion notices incurred for toll bridge crossings between March 20, 2020 and Jan. 1, 2023. The waiver applies to the Golden Gate Bridge and to the state-owned Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland Bay and San Mateo-Hayward bridges. The waiver will not apply to Express Lanes.

The setting sun reflects off of the Carquinez Bridge’s towers. Photo: MTC

The Low-Income COVID Waiver program — created by Assembly Bill 2594, which was authored by San Francisco Assembly member Phil Ting and enacted earlier this year — will allow qualifying motorists to request from FasTrak® a waiver of outstanding bridge toll violation penalties. Waiver recipients will be required to pay tolls and any fees charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles for vehicle registration holds due to the non-payment of penalties.

The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Photo: MTC

Another new state law — AB 2949, authored by Assembly member Alex Lee of San Jose — goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023, granting eligible veterans of the U.S. armed forces free tolls on California toll bridges. These include the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the state-owned Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland Bay and San Mateo-Hayward bridges. The free-passage benefit does not apply to Express Lanes.

To be eligible for free travel across California toll bridges, vehicles registered to military veterans must have a license plate with one of the following designations: Congressional Medal of Honor, Disabled Veteran, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Ex-Prisoner of War, or Purple Heart.

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field. By Noah Berger

Eligible veterans do not currently need to have a FasTrak electronic toll payment account to qualify for free passage, although a FasTrak-enrollment requirement will be instituted in the future. To avoid being charged a toll, veterans who already are FasTrak customers must place their FasTrak tag in a Mylar bag when traveling through bridge toll plazas. Customers may request a bag by logging into their FasTrak account, clicking ‘Vehicles and Tags’, and selecting ‘Request Toll Tag Supplies.’ Veterans also may request a Mylar bag by calling the FasTrak customer service center at 877-BAY-TOLL (877-229-8655). These bags are free of charge.

BATA administers all toll revenues from the San Francisco Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District owns and operates the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field by Noah Berger


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