Help is on the way.
Or, rather, more help is on the way. The Bay Area’s Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) fleet of roving tow trucks added a new 20-mile stretch of Interstate 280 between state highways 92 and 85 to its patrols, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) announced Tuesday.
The new segment that straddles San Mateo and Santa Clara counties completes a missing link in the coverage area, which already has segments on I-280 north of Highway 92 and south of Highway 85, on either side of the newly added one.
“These beloved ‘Guardian Angels of the Freeway’ deliver a vital service by providing assistance that helps unclog critical travel routes,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who chairs the MTC.
They do more than give a jump to a stuck motorist. The roving trucks patrol segments, known as “beats,” help to address accidents, stalls, debris spills and other incidents that contribute to congestion, and they help stranded motorists, according to the MTC.
The new "Beat 33" two-truck patrol brings the total network to 79 trucks on 36 beats covering 560 miles of freeways and highways around the region.
The two trucks assigned to the new Beat 33 will patrol both directions of I-280 Monday through Friday from 6-9 a.m. and from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
FSP drivers stop an average of 11,000 times a month to quickly repair or remove disabled vehicles, clear accidents, remove dangerous road debris, tag abandoned vehicles or otherwise help make the region's freeways safer and less congested, according to the MTC.
FSP drivers provide basic services for stranded motorists free of charge. These may include changing a tire, jump-starting a battery, taping hoses or providing a gallon of fuel, if needed. If a vehicle requires more extensive assistance, the FSP will tow it, at no cost to the owner, to the nearest off-freeway location identified by the California Highway Patrol.
The FSP program is paid for by a variety of federal, state and local funds, including part of a $1-per-vehicle annual registration fee assessed to Bay Area motorists.
MTC oversees the FSP in partnership with the CHP and Caltrans.