The “Soft Launch” Of The Bay Area’s Newest Express Lanes

San Mateo Daily Journal reports, “The [US] 101 express lane section from Whipple Avenue in Redwood City to Interstate 380 in South San Francisco is now open to the public, with transit authorities declaring it a soft opening.” For the time being, only HOV 3+ vehicles and motorcycles may use the lanes on weekdays between 5:00 AM and 8:00 PM. (Use is unrestricted at other times.) The early launch gives operations staff the ability to test the toll system, refine signaling and assess volume. Sometime early next year, after tolling is activated, solo motorists will have the option to pay for lane access during peak traffic periods.

San Francisco Chronicle notes that the new lanes, the extension of a southern section that opened early this year, are “the first in the Bay Area to require a minimum of three occupants to get a free ride, though the carpool lanes on Interstate 80 between the Bay Bridge and the Carquinez Bridge require three passengers but don’t yet have an express lane option.”