The San Mateo County Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority (SMCEL-JPA) Board of Directors held a public hearing Friday, where they introduced a Toll Ordinance to establish a process for toll collection and enforcement on the new US 101 express lanes in San Mateo County. The first phase of the lanes opening from the Santa Clara county line to Whipple Avenue is anticipated by the end of 2021, with the second phase from Whipple to I-380 by the end of 2022.
Over the past several months, a range of tolling policies were discussed and explored by the Board of Directors to determine what would work best for the San Mateo County express lanes. A final toll policy presentation was given to the Board at its March 2021 meeting with multiple options for their consideration and eventual adoption.
Tolls will be applied to express lane customers unless they are eligible for a toll-free trip, and will be charged through the FasTrak system. All customers must have a FasTrak to use the express lanes. Customers without a FasTrak will be in violation and will be subject to fines and penalties. Tolls will be adjusted during operating hours depending on demand and traffic patterns, with the goal of keeping express lane traffic flowing smoothly.
Customers driving carpools with three or more people will be able to travel free of tolls in the express lanes. Customers driving vehicles with two people or certain clean air vehicles (CAVs), such as cars that run on fuel cells, battery or plug-in hybrids that have a valid CAV decal from the Department of Motor Vehicles, will qualify for a 50% toll discount when the lanes first open. The Board will revisit the discount in the near future.
The Toll Ordinance will come up for a second reading at the June Board meeting, at which point the Board will make a final decision on adoption.
About the SMCEL-JPA: Created to own, manage, and administer the operation and maintenance of the San Mateo 101 Express Lanes Project. For more information see: https://ccag.ca.gov/express-lane-jpa/