Coming to San Francisco without crossing the Golden Gate Bridge or Bay Bridge, it’s a bit like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe… It’s just too bad. And if you are a resident, it is absolutely impossible to not cross a bridge unless you are a full-time biker.
But beware, the eight bridges surrounding the Bay have a toll system that can be fulfilled in several ways. There are some express lanes that will let you avoid traffic jams on certain occasions too.
- If you rent a car
Ask the attendant when you pick up your car. Some rental companies handle the tolls, others do not and some increase the bill for service. In any case, you have 48 hours after the crossing of the bridges to pay online before the invoice is sent to the owner of the vehicle, therefore to the car rental company.
All details are here for car rentals.
- If you are a resident and often cross bridges, check the FasTrack Toll Tags
Toll Tag Standard
If you only plan on using FasTrak on bridges, a FastTrak Standard toll tag is all you need.Toll Tag Flex
Carpools and motorcycles need a FasTrak Flex toll tag to receive toll discounts in Bay Area Express Lanes. A FasTrak Flex toll tag also works on bridges and to pay for parking at San Francisco International Airport.Toll Tag CAV
If you drive an eligible clean air vehicle (CAV), you’ll need a FasTrak CAV toll tag to receive discounted single-occupant travel in the 101 San Mateo, 101/SR-85 Santa Clara, I-680 Contra Costa, I-880 and SR-237 express lanes.
- If you are a resident and occasionally use bridges
Choose an account associated with a license plate: the account is associated with the car and you will need to provide an email address, a credit card and the vehicle registration number.
Convenient if you stay several weeks and cross the bridge occasionally but no discount is granted conversely to FasTrack.
- If you are a resident or occasional visitor
Pay at each pass without opening an account: you can buy a pass up to 30 days in advance or pay 48 hours after your visit. You will find here all the details.
And if you are distracted, if you forget to pay within 48 hours after your visit, you will receive an invoice at your home. Beware, penalties add up in case of administrative phobia … and the rental companies will find you.
For details on bridges and how they operate, visit https://mtc.ca.gov/about-mtc/what-mtc/bay-area-toll-authority/san-mateo-hayward- bridge
Golden Gate Bridge is at this address http://goldengate.org/tolls/tollpaymentoptions.php
Finally, here is a map with all toll locations around the bay.