Re: Westbound Bay Bridge (80) Carpool/Bus Lane

A question for bay area commuters:

Driving on westbound 80, there are several carpool lanes that pass through toll plaza, with the toll booths unmanned/Fastrak deactivated, presumably to allow carpoolers to go right through them during carpool hours without paying toll. On the very right side, however, there is an exit also with a carpool diamond that completely bypasses the toll plaza. The exit ramp goes over the toll plaza and dumps drivers past the plaza and probably past the metering lights. Essentially, a driver can take the exit and not slow down or deal with the toll plaza at all.

There is a sign that says something to the effect of: “BUSES ONLY”
But right below, on the sign, in smaller letters “carpools ok”

I’ve taken this exit once or twice and I’ve seen other cars use it as well, but now there is an even bigger sign, in front of the first sign I described that is backlit and says “BUSES ONLY NEXT EXIT” or something like that, with no “carpools ok.” The bigger sign is not blocking the other sign or anything, just in front of it.

It seems to me that Caltrans really really wanted to emphasize that only buses can use this exit, and that carpoolers coming in from the Berkeley and beyond have to cut across a dozen lanes to get to the “real” carpool lanes.

So my question is: can carpools take this exit, or is it for buses only? Has anyone taken this exit recently? Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Carpools can use the lane.

However, unlike other carpool lanes that become normal lanes outside of carpool hours, this lane becomes a buses only lane at those times. I’ve seen many a driver waver trying to decide if they can use the lane or not.

Yes it’s a real carpool lane during commute hours (I carpool in and everyone coming Berkeley and parts north uses it).

I remember when they first put that lane into place. The signs were a little different (IIRC it originally just said “Buses Only”) and then they had to clarify it with “Carpool Lane” and then “But you can only use it during commute hours”.

Reason is simple enough, the other carpool lane (far left at the toll plaza) goes through the tollbooth. During off hours they charge you $3 like any of the other lanes. With the right-hand carpool lane they can’t do that because it never goes through a tollbooth at all, so rather than let people zip through for free they make the lane offlimits.

I took it by mistake one night while driving into SF and was sure I’d get a ticket. Nothing happened but I bet they have cameras on it now.