FasTrak to be accepted at SFO’s long-term parking lot 

FasTrak, the electronic toll-collection system that allows drivers to coast through toll plazas without stopping, will soon be a payment option in San Francisco International Airport’s long-term parking garage.

The San Francisco Airport Commission decided Tuesday to enter into an agreement with the Bay Area Toll Authority, an arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, allowing FasTrak transponders to be used as parking payment in the garage starting Sept. 1.

Parking in the airport’s only long-term garage, which opened this year, costs $12 per day, according to the airport Web site. Plans call for electronic-payment-only lanes — similar to those found at toll plazas — in the garage, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said. No discount will be offered to those using the new system.

There were nearly 790,000 FasTrak transponders on Bay Area vehicles as of last week, according to Goodwin. At last count, slightly more than 40 percent of cars going over Bay Area bridges were equipped with the devices, Goodwin said.

MTC has never tried to use FasTrak transponders in parking lots, but officials said they look forward to using the SFO garage as a test before extending the agreement to other SFO garages or other Bay Area airports.

"It’s a joint marketing effort between the MTC and the airport," Goodwin said. "We have something to promote with FasTrak, and they have something to promote with their long-term garage."

The trial is one of the first pieces of a two-year MTC effort, kicked off in May, to increase FasTrak-only lanes at the toll plazas and bring its usage up to more than 70 percent at peak commute times, Goodwin said.

A system already is under way in the long-term garage that automatically photographs license plates, so the airport has a record of when cars enter and exit the garage, airport duty manager Mike Towle said. He said he expects that the system to be expanded to the rest of the garages by the end of this year or by early 2007, at a total cost of nearly $6 million.

Airport officials say the license plate recognition system would decrease dependence on parking- time tickets, which often get lost, and help pinpoint car thefts, Towle said.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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