May 29, 2024
Plus, one reader has a suggestion to fix the roundabout confusion in San Jose, citing a situation in Berkeley

Q: A while back, FasTrak sent me an invoice for a toll lane violation. The photo clearly showed my car in another lane, not the toll lane. I phoned and the agent agreed, then gave me credit on my account. It’s not a big deal, just 50 cents. But since I only occasionally cross a bridge and never drive in the toll lanes, I was recently told I could never use up that 50-cent credit unless I illegally used a toll lane worth exactly that amount.

This seems ludicrous. What a waste of money to send regular statements for a 50-cent “forever” credit. I’d gladly donate that to FasTrak, if it would stop the nonsense.

I have a valid license plate account that automatically pays from my credit card. An agent and I tried to use the credit by deleting the credit card and then I crossed a bridge for business. The toll invoice will still not use the lane violation credit.

Can you help?

Kristin Biechler, Castro Valley

A: John-the-MTA-spokesman described yours as an interesting case, made trickier by unlinking your credit card from your FasTrak license plate account. Because your account no longer is linked with a credit card, you must pre-fund the account with a minimum balance sufficient to pay the full amount of one toll. Partial tolls will not be charged to the account. Crossing a toll bridge with insufficient funds in the account will result in a toll invoice for the full toll amount. So, for example, if your account has a prepaid balance of $0.50 and your bridge toll is $7.00, you will receive an invoice for the $7.00 toll. His recommendation is that you call the FasTrak customer service center again and restore both the credit card linkage and the 50-cent credit with your license plate account.

Q: Regarding a reader’s recent question about when she makes a left turn via the roundabout at Leland and Basile in the Burbank area of San Jose, where some drivers don’t realize she has the right-of-way, there’s a simple solution. Have good signage in the roundabout, saying something like “Traffic in the circle has right-of-way”. Berkeley did this decades ago at the busy Arlington Circle, a larger roundabout with six roads entering it, and signs in the circle facing each entering road.

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I’ve made a left turn from Marin to Arlington, going most of the way around the circle (roundabout), hundreds of times over the years and using my left-hand turn signal. I never recall this confusing any drivers, and Berkeley drivers are at least as assertive/aggressive as those in Silicon Valley!

Peter Ross, San Jose

A: Thanks for sharing your experience.

Look for Gary Richards at or contact him at [email protected].