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FasTrak

From Academic Kids

For the Lionel model railroad product, see FasTrack (with a "c").
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FasTrak_transponder.jpg
Mounted FasTrak transponder
FasTrak logo

FasTrak is an electronic toll collection system in the state of California in the United States. The system is designed to eliminate the need for cars to stop to pay at toll booths, thus decreasing the traffic traditionally associated with toll roads. Its use of technology to improve transit is in line with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems initative.

Contents

Concept

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Fastrak_toll_diagram.jpg
Diagram of FasTrak toll collections system. As the vehicle enters the toll lane, sensors(1) detect the vehicle. The two-antenna configuration (2) reads a transponder (3) mounted on the vehicle's windshield. As the vehicle passes through the exit light curtain (4), it is electronically classified by the treadle (5) based on the number of axles, and the ETC account is charged the proper amount. Feedback is provided to the driver on an electronic sign (6). If the vehicle does not have a transponder, the system classifies it as a violator and cameras (7) take photos of the vehicle and its license plate for processing. If the license plate is registered as belonging to a FasTrak user, the account is debited only the toll charge, and no penalty.

FasTrak uses RFID technology to read data from a transponder placed in a vehicle (usually mounted by velcro strips to the windshield) moving at speeds that may exceed 70 m.p.h. The RFID transponder in each vehicle is associated with a prepaid account; each time the vehicle passes underneath a toll collection site, the account is debited to pay the toll. If a vehicle does not have a transponder, the system uses automatic number plate recognition to take photos of the vehicle and its license plate for processing.

Anybody with a FasTrak transponder can use it to pay tolls on any California toll road or bridge using the system. But the state encourages people to open their accounts with the local agency in charge of the toll road that they use the most.

A similar toll collection system is used on Interstate 95 in the northeast U.S. and in Melbourne, Australia on the CityLink tollway.

Toll roads and bridges that use FasTrak

As of February 2005

Bridges

High-occupancy toll lanes

Toll Roads

Trivia

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FasTrak_Orange_County.jpg
Three-lane FasTrak site in Orange County
  • FasTrak is a trademark of the Transportation Corridor Agencies, not Caltrans or California's state government as some people think. TCA, who administers the Orange County toll roads, was the first local agency to finance the FasTrak system. The California legislature later made FasTrak the standard system throughout the state.
  • FasTrak was made the standard system throughout California primarily because the state's toll roads and bridges are run by different government agencies. The Golden Gate Bridge is maintained by a separate agency than from the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area bridges. Likewise, the Highway 91 HOT lanes and the Orange County toll roads are run by different agencies. Lawmakers did not want either Bay Area or Orange County residents to have to carry two different transponders.
  • The 17 Mile Drive is privately owned and operated and thus not required to use the FasTrak system.

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