ExpressLanes signs for 110 freeway on the way

What’s all that stuff on the back of the truck? It’s the first sign for the ExpressLanes project on the 110 freeway, which is converting the existing carpool lanes between Adams Boulevard (just south of downtown L.A.) and the Artesia Transit Center to HOT lanes. The signs will be going up in the coming days.

What’s a HOT lane? Carpoolers, motorcycles and transit users will still travel for free, but single motorists — now prohibited from using the lanes — will be able to pay a toll to use them when traffic is flowing. The toll will depend on the time of day. The more traffic, the higher the toll. Signs along the freeway will inform motorists of the tolls.

The ExpressLanes on the 110 are expected to open in the early fall of next year with the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway (between Alameda Street in downtown L.A. and the 605 freeway) opening in early 2013.

The project is mostly funded with a federal grant to pay for a one-year trial run of the Express Lanes. The money is other improvements in both the 110 and 10 corridors, including a rebuilding of the El Monte Station, shown in the photo below.

 

15 replies

  1. Why is it taking so long when the lanes were to open last year? The 10 freeway is just a mess and it reminds me of the 710 years ago.

    Do you know if the 10 freeway between the 710 and the 605 will ever be smooth again?

  2. Steve,

    How can you write “Carpoolers, [and] motorcycles…will still travel for free,” when it states right here:
    http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/expresslanes/images/ExpressLanes_FAQ.pdf

    “All vehicles that choose to enter the Metro ExpressLanes will need to be equipped with a transponder”

    and

    “It will cost a total of $75 to open a pre-paid account [to get a transponder] with cash/check”

    and

    “There is a fee of $3 per month per Metro ExpressLanes account.”

    P.S. Earth to LA Metro: Not everyone has a credit or debit card!

    • Hi Erik —

      Sorry you disagree. You don’t have to have a credit card to get a transponder. The fee for the transponder includes a refundable deposit as well as some money that goes toward tolls. If the experiment works it could benefit carpoolers with better commute times — the 10 is going from one to two lanes in each direction. It could help fund transit and transit may move more quickly. We think it’s worth trying. The status quo isn’t so good.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. One part that disturbs me is that I can already foresee many things going wrong with it; including rental cars, out of state and even international license plates, the monthly maintenance fee issue (why TAP ReadyCards aren’t popular), utilizing again the “honor system” for the tag switch (Metro, you should be well aware by now that honor system doesn’t work), the fact thaat there are a lot of motorcycles out there THAT DON’T HAVE A WINDSHIELD to place the transponder on, etc.

    There are so many factors to consider and trying to make all of that under a simple “need transponder or get tickted” rule is like trying to squeeze an elephant into a jar.

    I would’ve preferred the PGBH toll system that they have in Dallas; toll everyone tag or no tag with OCR license plate recognition, but those with a tag get a cheaper discount.

    The LA approach to ETC is yet again, a fine example of LA always trying to re-invent the wheel when in the end, it’s just going to cost taxpayers more to fix it because it didn’t work.

  4. Steve,

    Then why can’t LA Metro use the same rules as SANDAG?:

    http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=34&fuseaction=projects.detail

    http://fastrak.511sd.com/

    On the I-15 Express Lanes one does not need a transponder if one is a carpool or a motorcycle rider. Nor do the White-Sticker holders.

    Why can’t LA Metro follow the same rules every other existing HOT lane on the West Coast is using?

    http://www.680expresslane.org/

    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/SR167HotLanes/default.htm

    Is it because this is really a Hybrid Express Toll Lane (ETL) project? If so, then congrats to the private automobile industry for finally conquering and capturing the El Monte *BUS*way!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Monte_Busway

  5. Steve,

    I have to disagree with your comment that “we think it’s worth trying.” This ExpressLanes project is being built using $220 million dollars in federal grants. Federal grants are essentially, taxpayer funds, hence there is no “trying” here. Once it’s set in stone it’s pretty much going to be that way, otherwise it’ll be just a huge waste of tax dollars to spend $220 million and scrap it because it didn’t work.

    Now I’m all in favor of an ETC system to fund some of our transit projects. But clearly there is a disagreement between how this is being implemented.

    In the previous article, you mentioned that my family from Arizona would have to get a transponder in order to use the ExpressLanes, out of which $25 is refundable for the transponder. Ok, fine that’s acceptable.

    Now what I don’t agree with is this $3 monthly maintenance fee that’s tacked on to it. I agree with the plight of Erik G. and Y Fukuzawa, you keep mentioning that “it’s free” but in reality it is not “free.”This is nothing more than a hidden tax; my relatives in Arizona are not going to be using the ExpressLanes more than 4 times per month, so they are going to be subjected to have $3 withdraw from their bank accounts every month?

    Now before you say it, I know you’re going to say “well we need some way to recover the cost of maintaining the system.” But in the eyes of the transponder user it’s pretty much:

    A. You want to use the HOT lanes, you need a transponder
    B. If you get a transponder you have to use it more than 4 times per month
    C. Otherwise, we’re going to charge you $3 every month
    D. So in order to avoid the $3, we have to use it more than 4 times per month

    Guess what. No one likes “monthly fees.” Haven’t you seen the news about the Bank of America fiasco of charging everyone $5 to use their debit cards? With this monthly fee intact, I doubt this ExpressLanes project is going to work as intended; you guys need to figure out a better way to do this instead of this sneaky hidden tax that’s imposed on it.

  6. Erik G.

    “Why can’t LA Metro follow the same rules every other existing HOT lane on the West Coast is using?”

    The same reason why Y Fukuzawa said; LA likes to try to re-invent the wheel.

    I’m beginning to think that LA just likes to do this as a way to continously ask for taxpayers for more money:

    A. Other cities do ETC uniformly
    B. LA implements it using tax-payer funds, but makes up their own confusing ETC rules in order to re-invent the wheel
    C. LA diverges from the uniform model from other cities
    D. LA’s ETC plan doesn’t fall in line with the rest of the cities creating confusion, havoc, and complaints
    E. LA asks taxpayers to fix the flawed ETC to the uniform model as with the other cities

    So LA taxpayers have to foot the bill for the cost of implementing the ExpressLanes project and then fixing it years later, when it would’ve just been easier and cheaper for taxpayers if LA had implemented it as how other transit agencies have done to begin with.

    And who gets the most out of this scheme? The board members of LA Metro who were able to milk taxpayers twice.

  7. Some of the arguing is do to a misunderstanding of what the purpose of the HOT lane is. The cover story is “to get traffic moving” but this is nuts. Cars move at the rate they move when there is a fixed number of lanes and a increasing number of cars and a random number of accidents etc. What is really going on here is far more sinister.

    The country is being sold off piece by piece to satisfy a bankruptcy that has been going on for nearly 100 years. In case you haven’t been paying attention – ports, highways, parks and on and on has been sold off. The freeways – ones the taxpayers ALREADY paid for, are going to be sold off shortly and the HOT lane revenue is part of the requirement. As soon as all the HOT lanes are complete, the freeways will be sold off and fees will go up. The reason for the “fees” is they need to be kept separate from the revenue stream, as the sale will negate the city’s revenue stream but will keep the fee stream as part of the deal to maintain the system.

    You have to dig REALLY deep to find out, but you’ll find it.

  8. How can people let metro know not everyoine wants a transponder in their car. Drivers who use the carpool lanes to carpool and dont want to pay to ride solo shouldn’t have to buy a transponder. I don’t think metro was clear about this in the beginiing. I don’t want to have to purchase one to use in the carpool lane. This really irks me.

  9. Does Atlanta, which also decided to require a transponder from all users of its Express Lane project, provide a preview of coming attractions on the soon-to-be former El Monte Busway and the soon-to-be former Harbor Freeway HOV lanes?

    http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/atlanta-traffic-hot-lanes-1193087.html

    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2607205

    http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16066640/sound-off-about-i-85-hot-lanes-tonight

    http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/16058846/georgias-tollway-authority-answers-questions-about-hot-lanes

    http://blogs.ajc.com/kyle-wingfield/2011/12/16/hot-lanes-reversal-reflects-lack-of-vision-leadership-for-transportation-in-georgia/

    But have no fear, just wait, says the Koch Bothers-financed Reason Foundation
    (Where the whole HOT idea was hatched):
    http://reason.org/news/show/atlantas-hot-lanes-need-time-to-sho

  10. I would have strongly preferred this money go to more buses to increase frequency and advertisement of such. Frequency is the key to getting people to ride. HOT lanes seem flawed in motive. How will this help decrease the vehicle per person count? People will have little motivation to carpool since HOV lanes will inevitably be made slower. It will just add to the futile feeling of driving in LA. No options but bad options. Though I support things like rapid bus ways and even the expo rail (which actually work to increase options and reduce car to person rate), I am baffled by this one. This toll will not encourage use of transit. If you want to encourage use of transit – for the basic commute only (which is really the biggest concern) – then continue making metro more accessible via frequency, smart routes, and express routes, and advertise to people about the possibility of “if everyone gets on the bus, we’ll all get there faster”. Add a bike car to metro trains. Increase bicycle participation via access improvements, posts/lockers, and advertising. Make it popular. Start a revolution. Then you’ll have so many people paying fares you’ll actually start smiling about what you do.

  11. I wonder why Metro hasnt been sued for their false claims that carpooling will continue to be free?

    $3 a month + deposit doesn’t sound free in this universe.