And so it begins: ExpressLanes — Los Angeles County's first foray into congestion pricing — open Saturday night on 110 freeway!

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The first freeway in Los Angeles County opened in 1940 (the Pasadena Freeway), the first carpool lane in 1973 (the El Monte Busway) and Saturday at 10:02:26 p.m. the first HOT lanes debuted as part of the new ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway between Adams Boulevard and 182nd Street.

Here’s the email we just received from ExpressLanes Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins:

At 10:02:26pm HOT lanes on the 110 were delivered to LA County.
Birth Length: 11 miles (Between Adams Blvd and 91 freeway)
Birth Weight: extremely heavy
Posted Toll Amount (NB) (Harbor Gateway Transit Center to Adams Blvd): $4.10
Posted Toll Amount (SB) (Adams Blvd to 91 Freeway): $3.40


Obviously traffic is fairly light on a Saturday night but the ExpressLanes may get a better workout tomorrow when the Clippers play at Staples Center at 12:30 p.m. followed by a Lakers game at 6:30 p.m. The first big rush hour test will begin early Monday morning.

The carpool lanes on the 110 remain free for carpoolers, vanpools and motorcycles. The big difference between now and life before 10:02:26 p.m. tonight is that single motorists can use the lanes in exchange for a toll. The toll will change depending on the amount of traffic; when there’s plenty of extra space in the carpool lanes, tolls will be less expensive. When there’s less space due to heavier traffic, the tolls will be pricier — the idea being to limit the number of cars so that the carpools are always flowing at a minimum of 45 mph.

Tolls for single motorists will vary between 25 cents per mile and $1.40 per mile. If you enter the lanes, the price of tolls is locked you pay is locked into the amount per mile at the time you entered the lanes.

Another key difference between the new ExpressLanes and days of yore is that ALL VEHICLES, EVEN CARPOOLERS, ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE A FASTRAK TRANSPONDER IN ORDER TO USE THE LANES. I put that in bold caps because it’s the question we’ve been getting time and again.

All the information you need about getting a FasTrak transponder can be found here. Also, here’s a recent post on The Source succinctly explaining some of the basics about the ExpressLanes. And here’s the news release posted yesterday on the new lanes.

Finally, a short editorial message from yours truly: The ExpressLanes are a one-year experiment funded largely by our friends in Washington D.C. The reason that Metro is trying HOT lanes — which are used in other areas around the country — is that the status quo on area freeways wasn’t all that great. It’s time to try another way to manage the freeways to see if there’s a way to improve traffic flows and raise some revenues that will be pumped back into much-needed traffic.

If you have questions, fire away and we’ll try to promptly answer them!


18 replies

  1. I am Overseas and had my GPS on which told me to take the carpool south on the 110 on saturday 16th november. I didnt know we needed a transponder. I think this system is so confusing for Overseas visitors who like me know about the fastrak lanes but when they say carpools can still use it and not mention anything about a transponder needed this is wrong.

    Surely there must be a bit of leway due to this?

    Who do we contact about fines?