Metro Board approves waiving account maintenance fee for Metro ExpressLanes

 

The Metro Board voted 7 to 4 to approve the above motion by Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky to waive the $3 account maintenance fee for L.A. County residents who have a FasTrak transponder for the Metro ExpressLanes.

Metro officials said that waiving the fee would likely result in more FasTrak accounts being opened. Infrequent users have complained that the $3 fee — charged to those who use the ExpressLanes three or fewer times each month — is a major disincentive to getting a transponder.

Metro's studies have also shown that only 4.3 percent of ExpressLanes users are “infrequent.” But that number, of course, doesn't include the number of people who may open an account if the fee wasn't in place.

The vote and the discussion beforehand was hardly unanimous. Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas said that he would be willing to revisit the issue of the fee after the first year of the ExpressLanes is finished in 10 months. In the meantime, he would like to see how the lanes perform with the current rules in place.

The fee waiver goes into effect today and runs until Oct. 25. Customers who already paid the fee this month will be given credit on their bills.

Voting yes were Yaroslavsky, Diane DuBois, Jose Huizar, Richard Katz, Ara Najarian, Pam O'Connor and Mel Wilson. Voting against the motion were Michael Antonovich, John Fasana, Gloria Molina and Ridley-Thomas.

 

22 replies

  1. Yes! Thank you Sup. Yaroslavsky! I’m ordering a FasTrak transponder now. In the last 2 months I’ve had 4 occasions to use the Expresslanes as a carpooler but couldn’t because I don’t have a transponder. Unfortunately, they are not on my commute route but I occasionally use them for work or other random errands. I think this move is only fair and appropriate.

  2. I’m an infrequent user who lives and works in LA. I use the 10 expressway to go to Baldwin Park to visit my boyfriend. I have used it 3 times so far since I got mine about a month ago. I wish they would waive the maintenance fee permanently for all LA County Residents.

    • Hi David;

      I’m trying to find that out and will update the post later.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Everyone: the fee waiver goes into effect today and ends on Oct. 25. Credit will be given to anyone who has already paid the fee this month.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  3. I’m confused.

    Did the motion pass as a “six month trial to get rid of the maintenance fee to see what happens” or is it “the no maintenance fee is now permanent however on the condition that people who haven’t had usage of the transponder in six months will have their accounts terminated?”

  4. BTW, you mentioned Jose Huizar twice in the voting yes camp. The people who voted no should be ashamed of themselves. People should vote them out of office in the next election.

  5. The wording of this motion is vague at best.

    What does “six months” mean? Is it “six months” starting today, “six months” from a set date Metro chooses, or “six months” from when the account was opened? So if I decide to buy a transponder in June, does that mean there’s no maintenance fee until December?

    I agree that the people who voted no should be kicked out of office. They are clearly out of touch with the people.

  6. I was listening into Gloria Molina’s and Mark Ridley-Thomas’ lame excuses “blah-blah-blah” this and “waah-waaah-waaah” that while Zev was the only one logical and straight-minded in vocally supporting that it should be done now as a permanent measure instead of wasting more time on studies.

    Don’t these people read LA Streetsblog, Curbed, or The Source to see what the public sentiment is? Or are they too busy wasting our tax dollars going to political events and parties?

    This motion should become top story in our local news. And every news reporter should mention the names of the politicans who voted no. Their political careers are over!

  7. I’m also a little confused about the “six months.” It could also mean six months from the last time you used the lanes… because after six months of inactivity your account would be cut off anyway.

    As soon as that is cleared up (satisfactorily) and I know when this goes into effect, there’s a good chance I’ll go out and sign up for an account. The maintenance fee is literally the ONLY thing stopping me.

  8. According to the Metro ExpressLanes website:

    “Attention LA County Residents, effective 4/25/13 – 10/25/13, the monthly account maintenance fee will be waived. NOTE: It may take a few days for the waiver to be applied to your account.”

  9. How about we conscript representatives from the various regional toll tag issuers, the CHP, and any other agencies with a legitimate interest (Caltrans, DMV, Board of Equalization, etc.), and lock them in a room until they hammer out an agreement that provides for a permanently maintainance fee-free statewide FasTrak transponder which doesn’t try to pit California’s 58 counties against each other in pointless turf wars?

    The only major sticking point I can think of is what to do about automobiles with metal oxide windshields / commercial vehicles using exterior toll tags (since these probably aren’t going to be switchable).

  10. This is great news! The account fee was keeping me from getting a transponder. $3/mo. isn’t much but it’s a nuisance, and the logic behind it did not seem sound to me. The cost of the (potential) transponder arbitrage that Metro is so worried about is surely small relative to the benefit of attracting more casual carpoolers who will help the program meet its goals.

  11. I don’t know if this will have a big effect in changing people to get transponders.

    They can look at it like “oh so it’s only maintenance fee free until 10/25/2013. What’s the point of buying the transponders if it’s going to go back to the way it was in October?”

    This has to be permanent thing set in stone. No maintenance fee period. No more of these stupid studies and reports and “only up to six months” BS.

    Everyone who is disgusted at the politicians who said no to this idea should start writing angry letters, e-mails, and tweets at them for lack of common sense. At the same time those who voted yes should be praised as fighters for the common people’s cause.

  12. Finally some politician that makes sense!

    Those who voted against will pay dearly in the next election.

  13. Ridley-Thomas does make a fair point in that this is supposed to be an experiment. You need to let the pilot run its course, barring some major unforeseen issue. The service fee has been discussed for a long time. In any case, Antonovich and Molina are termed out and Fasana is a councilmember from the small city of Duarte – I’m not sure how aggrieved fee payers from outside his city would do at influencing a local election.

  14. This is indeed great news in a long time. I applaud the efforts of Supervisor Zev and those who took the correct action and voted yes. The rest should be ashamed of themselves.

    One question I want to know is how they came up with the $3 figure in the first place. There has to be some rational decision how they arrived with that number. Why wasn’t it $1? Why wasn’t it $10? How did they come up with $3? They had no data to back up what the ExpressLanes were going to be like so how did they come up with that number?

  15. I don’t think it’s far for people outside Los Angeles have to pay the $3 dollar fee. Sense I live in Orange County & I have to pay the $3 fee. I personally use it 5 or 6 times a month & I am also carpool too.

  16. The $3 maybe great news for those infrequent users who are reluctant to get the transponder because of the maintenance fee. Still, waiving maintenance fee does not seem to me that there will be more people using the lanes. No way, no how!

    Just look at I-10 or I-110 during non-business hours and you would get what I mean. If you are one of those guys with flexible working hours and go to work at 10 AM, chances are the speed you are traveling in the normal lanes is more or less the same as the ExpressLanes. Hence, why would you pay up to 4 dollars toll to use the ExpressLanes when you get the same result in normal lanes?!

    If Metro wants more people to use those ExpressLanes, they should review their toll schedule immediately and set toll price attractive enough so that drivers actually feel incentivize to use the lanes. Seriously, asking people to pay for services and getting them the same result without paying for the service is simply not going to attract people to pay for the service; that’s a simple marketing principle.