50K transponders issued so far; preparations underway to launch ExpressLanes on 10 freeway in early 2013

Here is the news release from Metro:

Following on the heels of the successful opening of 11-miles of Metro ExpressLanes along the Harbor Freeway and with more than 50,000 Fastrak® ExpressLanes transponders issued, motorists this week will begin seeing messages on the giant display message boards along the

I-10 San Bernardino Freeway in preparation for the opening of the ExpressLanes along this stretch of freeway in early 2013.

The large electronic digital ExpressLane message boards will display information regarding the program. No date has been set for the official opening of the ExpressLanes along the 10 San Bernardino Freeway but work is progressing for a possible late January/early February opening.

“We encourage San Gabriel Valley commuters to get their FasTrak transponders now so they will be ready to enjoy all the benefits of the ExpressLanes when the lanes open on the 10 freeway next year,” said Duarte Mayor and Metro Board Member John Fasana. “With the successful opening of the I-110 ExpressLanes, we look forward to seeing how the I-10 ExpressLanes will reduce traffic congestion in the San Gabriel Valley.”

Metro, in partnership with Caltrans, is embarking on a one-year demonstration program that converts 11 miles of HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on the I-110 (Harbor Freeway Transitway) between the 91 Freeway and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles and 14 miles on the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway between Union Station/Alameda Street and the I-605 Freeway to HOT (High Occupany Toll) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the lanes for a toll. The Harbor Freeway ExpressLanes opened to the public on Saturday, Nov. 10.

The ExpressLanes program seeks to reduce congestion by improving travel choices in the two corridors. Carpools, vanpools, and motorcycles will travel toll free. All will need a FasTrak® transponder to travel in the ExpressLanes.

When the I-10 ExpressLanes open next year, the rules for carpools on the I-10 freeway will stay the same as they are today. Carpools are three or more people traveling during peak travel times of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, with holidays excluded. During peak travel times, carpools of just two people can travel in the I-10 San Bernardino ExpressLanes for a toll. All other times, they will travel toll-free in the Expresslanes.

At all times on both freeways, the general purpose lanes are not tolled. Net toll revenues will be reinvested in the corridor where they are generated for transportation improvements. To prevent backups in the ExpressLanes, the tolls will be adjusted from .25 cents a mile to a maximum of $1.40 a mile and will increase as the number of vehicles in the ExpressLanes increase.

Construction workers have been busy over the last year installing a host of power and utility support units needed for the operation of the dynamic message signs (DMS) along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway corridor. These signs will begin their testing phase this week displaying information regarding the ExpressLanes program. The testing will continue until the system is opened to the public in early 2013.

In addition, work continues along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway as workers install various toll transponder readers and freeway signs.

For now, the carpool lanes are still operating on the I-10 freeway until the conversion to Metro ExpressLanes, so solo drivers cannot use FasTrak on the I-10 freeway until the ExpressLanes open next year. As part of the testing of equipment, carpools with a FasTrak transponder may hear a beep when traveling in the HOV lane on the I-10 freeway. This means the equipment has detected the transponder but no tolls are being assessed and no information is being transmitted.

Along the I-10 freeway, an additional toll lane is being constructed in each direction between the 605 and the 710 freeways to add capacity along that heavily traveled corridor. Prior to the ExpressLanes, there was only one carpool lane operating in each direction along the El Monte Busway. None of the general purpose lanes will be taken away to convert the lanes and make the improvements.

Metro encourages those planning on using the new ExpressLanes to open an account and get their transponders now. To open a FasTrak account and receive an ExpressLanes switchable transponder:

Visit www.metroexpresslanes.net

Call 511 and say “ExpressLanes”

Visit walk-in centers at 500 W. 190th Street in Gardena or at the El Monte Station, 3501 Santa Anita Avenue, El Monte

Mail an application, which is available online, to Metro ExpressLanes, PO Box 3878, Gardena, CA 90247

The costs vary depending on payment methods. Drivers who open their accounts with a credit or debit card will pay $40 and the transponder deposit will be waived. The $40 will be applied to any tolls incurred while driving solo in the Metro ExpressLanes. There is a $3 monthly account fee, which will go into effect when the I-10 Freeway Expresslanes open early next year. The monthly fee is waived after four one-way trips in the Metro ExpressLanes and/or on travel on eligible transit in the ExpressLanes corridor.

Discounts are available. Members of the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) can open a Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® account at a discounted price of $32 by visiting www.AAA.com/metroexpresslanes or visiting their local AAA office. In addition, 21 participating Costco stores throughout Los Angeles County are providing a 10 percent discount to their members who open up accounts at their stores. Participating Albertson stores also are providing a 10 percent discount to their customers who open accounts.

In a first for an ExpressLanes project, low-income commuters can receive a $25 toll credit when setting up an Equity Plan account, and the transponder deposit will be waived. They must reside in Los Angeles County and have an annual income below $37,061 for a family of three. There is a limit of one Equity Plan account 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 110 freeway and the construction of a new El Monte Station along the I-10 freeway. In addition, the project funded the purchase of 59 new clean fuel buses to provide additional bus service along the two corridors and 100 new vanpools.

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/ACS Inc. for tolling integration.

15 thoughts on “50K transponders issued so far; preparations underway to launch ExpressLanes on 10 freeway in early 2013

  1. Linda Chen · Redondo Union High School

    it is so sad that the world is in a fiscal crisis and those put in charge hadn’t got the sense to take the $260mil (part of the $1billion) to pay down our budget deficit. the 2 lanes are already there. how they could possibly spend $260mil to put up some signs on an 11 mile stretch freeway demonstrates how utterly wasteful greedy and self serving those in charge are. the whole project was predicated on “redistribution of traffic” as the 2 carpool lanes are not moving enough cars while the remaining lanes remain congested as ever. at $20mil a yr of revenue it will take over 10 yrs just to recoup the initial wasted investment. here is a really really novel idea. keep the $260mil, forget the carpool lanes, let them be permanently regular lanes – the traffice will immediately self redistribute to maximize usage of all 6 lanes so peak traffic congestion would have gotten the most use out of the 2 extra lanes. as for none peak hrs – everyone flies at 65+ miles an hr – no one will care if there are car pool lanes or not. so wow surprise surprise, we are $260mil AHEAD! and tax payers are not getting screwed. yeah 1 year pilot!!! what a bunch of lies!!!!!!! 10 freeway conversion is already underway. 1 month has gone by and no traffic has been redistributed. the scant usage of the carpool lanes is the same as before, they kicked out the green cars and replaced with some people who are willing to pay. at the end of the 1 yr, nothing would have changed, and what, they are going to spend another $260mil to change it back? no!!!!!! like i said 10 freeway conversion is already underway. it is absolutely disgusting the powers that be would throw away $260mil to line their own pockets and then turn around and rip off the taxpayers at perpetuity.

  2. I don’t go down the 10 and 110 often enough to justify subscribing to the transponder, so there’s really no incentive to carpool, now, when I do. Plus, who wants to have every one of their trips recorded? This is a stupid idea and I hope someone puts an initiative on the ballot to prohibit these conversions.

  3. This is a great project, and I hope it will be successful. My respects to the technicians and workers who make this project possible.

  4. The Metro Express Lanes system is a failure for Los Angeles County residents.  It is causing undue congestion in the regular lanes and is very unfair to many drivers.  

    My family uses the 110 freeway occasionally, primarily on the weekends. We used to use the carpool lanes.  Given the policy for the fastrak, we will not purchase a $40 transponder and then pay a $3 monthly fee for our infrequent use of this freeway.   

    This weekend we went to visit our family in the south bay and used the regular lanes.  At 1:15 pm, the regular lanes were packed with traffic moving at about 25 miles per hour.  In my estimation, about one third of the cars in the regular lanes were carpoolers with two or more passengers.   The express lanes were virtually empty.  It was the same in both the northbound and southbound lanes.  

    How does this policy reduce congestion and improve air quality?  Instead of carpoolers using the express lanes as they would have under the old system, they were adding to the congestion in the regular lanes while the express lanes were empty.  The government made a few dollars by charging the handful of people willing to pay for tolls and fees on Saturday, while thousands of people needlessly sat in traffic, wasting time, energy, and gas.  No wonder the Express Lanes are being called the VIP lanes!  

    At church on Sunday, several retired members of our congregation complained of the same problem.  They carpool north on the 110 to come to church, but can no longer use the express lanes.  It does not make financial sense for non commuters to pay for transponders and monthly fees to use the Express Lanes occasionally.   But now we are all senselessly stuck in traffic even though we are carpooling.

    Therefore, 1) carpoolers and motorcycles should not be required to get a transponder ( this is what is done in the Bay Area), 2) there should not be a monthly fee for infrequent users, and 3)  fastrak transponders and policies should be consistent throughout the state.

  5. Okay, Fastrak is a month old and the congestion is STILL worse on the 110 as cars are NOT in the HOT lanes but forced into the regular lanes. If the city wanted to do the smart thing and actually rid 110 of congestion–they’d just get rid of the ridiculous HOT lanes [now dubbed express lanes] and let citizens use all available lanes. No, that would make the quality of life improve for many daily commuters. Instead, these boneheaded yahoos make it worse…and soon, they will spread the idea of the Fastrak [an oxymoron if there ever was one] to more highways, creating even MORE congestion in a city infamous for that. Nice job boneheads.

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