The news: the transponders that are required to use the ExpressLanes are now available online, at a new customer centers in Gardena and El Monte and through the Auto Club. A press event is being held this morning and all the details are below in the news release from Metro:
With the debut of the Metro ExpressLanes along the I-110 Harbor Freeway poised to open this Fall and Metro ExpressLanes along the San Bernardino Freeway opening in early 2013, Metro and Caltrans officials today announced the opening of the Metro ExpressLanes Customer Walk-in Center in Gardena where the public can open a FasTrak® account and receive a FasTrak® transponder to enable them to enter the Metro ExpressLanes.
The new Metro ExpressLanes walk-in center is located at 500 W. 190th Street in Gardena, a facility that also houses the Metro ExpressLanes customer processing center, responsible for the distribution of FastTrak® transponders. The walk in center is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The center is closed on Sunday.
In addition, the public is encouraged to open their Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® accounts either online at www.metroexpresslanes.net, by calling 511 and saying “ExpressLanes”, at either the Gardena walk-in center or a temporary walk-in center located at the El Monte Station, 3501 Santa Anita Avenue in El Monte or mailing their application available online to Metro ExpressLanes, PO Box 3878, Gardena, CA 90247.
“Today we celebrate the opening of this Metro ExpressLanes Customer Service Center and remind the public of the need to fill out an application, open a FasTrak® account, and get on board the Metro ExpressLanes,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This is going to be an exciting ride for everyone.”
Metro, in partnership with Caltrans, is embarking on a one-year demonstration program that will convert 11 miles of existing carpool lanes on the I-110 (Harbor Freeway Transitway) between the Harbor Gateway Transit Center/182nd Street and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles and 14 miles on the I-10 (El Monte Busway) between Union Station/Alameda Street and the I-605 Freeway to express toll lanes.
“Thanks to a federal grant by the US Department of Transportation, Los Angeles County is about to enter the congestion pricing arena with the hopes of better managing our existing infrastructure while changing commuter behavior by offering real transportation alternatives along these two heavily traveled corridors,” said Duarte Mayor and Metro Board Member John Fasana.
The ExpressLanes program seeks to reduce congestion by improving travel choices in the two corridors. Solo drivers, currently not allowed to use the carpool lanes, will be allowed to use the lanes for a toll. Carpools, transit, vanpools, privately operated buses and motorcycles will travel toll free. The general purpose lanes are not tolled. Net toll revenues will be reinvested in the corridor where they are generated for transportation improvements. Toll charges will range between 25 cents and $1.40 a mile depending on demand. Everyone planning to use the Metro ExpressLanes must have a FasTrak account and transponder.
“The opening of the FasTrak® Customer Service Center is an important milestone in the ExpressLanes project,” said California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 7 Director Mike Miles. “In a short time, motorists will have the opportunity to experience congestion relief on the 10 and 110 freeways.”
Also announced today is a partnership between Metro, Caltrans and the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) to offer its members a 20% discount if they obtain a FasTrak® transponder through AAA. Members can open an account with $40 in toll value for just $32 by accessing this option at www.AAA.com/metroexpresslanes.
“The Auto Club is pleased to offer a discounted transponder price to our members to encourage them to use the new ExpressLanes,” said Steven Finnegan, the Auto Club’s government affairs manager. “Creative solutions to LA’s traffic congestion problems are sorely needed, and we hope that opening the I-110 carpool lane to toll-paying solo drivers will provide a new option and improve congested traffic conditions for everyone.”
As a typical example of costs, to open an account by credit card/debit card, $40 is initially required as a toll balance with the transponder deposit waived. As the individual uses the Metro ExpressLanes as a solo driver, they are charged a toll which is deducted from their account toll balance. There is a minimum balance threshold of $10. Those currently in a carpool or vanpool will still need to open an account, however, the Metro FasTrak® transponders has a switch on them that allows the motorists to indicate if they are in a car/van pool and will not be charged a toll to use the lanes.
Equity accounts are also available. Qualifying commuters receive a $25 toll discount during account set-up so they only pay $15 to get a transponder. They must reside in LA County and have an annual income at or below $37,060 (Family of 3). Limit one per household.
The Metro ExpressLanes program is a $290-million project funded by a $210 million federal grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation as part of the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program. Nearly $120 million is going towards actual construction costs associated with the toll lanes. The remainder of the money is being used to improve various transportation hubs along the two corridors including the Harbor Gateway Transit Center along the I-110 freeway and the construction of a new El Monte Station along the I-10 freeway. In addition, 59 new buses have been purchased to provide additional bus service along the two corridors.
The ExpressLanes project is being constructed by Atkinson Contractors, LP under contract to Metro. The contractor was competitively selected to design-build-operate-and-maintain the ExpressLanes project. The Atkinson team included AECOM for design and Xerox for tolling integration.