Motorcycles legal in HOV lanes, but what about FasTrak?

Cars, and one lone motorcyclist, take advantage of the FasTrak lanes on the 110/Harbor Freeway.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Most Southern California motorcyclists know they are allowed to ride in HOV and carpool lanes.

But what about Los Angeles-area FasTrak toll lanes?

Do motorcyclists qualify for those lanes? Regardless of time of day? Are they required to have a transponder, as cars are? Do they have to pay the same rates as cars? If so, which rates -- the ones for cars with passengers, or cars without passengers?

The California Highway Patrol is very clear on this:

“Motorcycles are allowed in the HOV lanes,” said Sgt. Terry Liu, express lane supervisor for the CHP in Los Angeles County.


They are not required to have any “clean air vehicle” stickers or to be carrying passengers, and there is no stipulation on what time of day or night they use the lanes.

What about the old HOV lanes, converted to FasTrak lanes, such as the ones on the Harbor Freeway south of downtown Los Angeles?

Automobile drivers using those lanes are required to have a registered transponder, for which they pay a monthly fee, and to pay the posted rate -- which rises and falls with the increasing or decreasing density of traffic on the highway -- when they do.

Not motorcycles.

“Motorcycles are allowed in the FasTrak lanes,” Liu said. “And, no, they are not required to have a transponder.”

There is, however, Liu said, “one caveat.”

While the cameras that monitor FasTrak lane usage are able to distinguish between car license plates and motorcycle license plates, they don’t always recognize a personalized motorcycle license plate.

So, if you have one of those, Liu said, you run the risk of the FasTrak cameras thinking you’re a car, thinking you’re supposed to have a transponder, and sending you a ticket in the mail.

If that happens, Liu said, you’d have to clear your personalized motorcycle license plate through the court and get your ticket dismissed.


Liu also cautioned that these rules apply to Los Angeles County only.

So, what about those Toll Road/FasTrak lanes to the south?

The official website for that network of roads says your two-wheeled vehicle gets no special privileges.

“Motorcycles pay the same toll as a two-axle vehicle when using The Toll Roads,” the website says. “Motorcyclists can use FasTrak to pay. We advise keeping the transponder in a secure location, such as on the vehicle or in a pocket or bag.”

And what about the Bay Area -- the Bay Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge?

Sorry. You need a FasTrak transponder to use those express lanes no matter what you’re driving or riding.

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