Metro releases latest report with preliminary data on ExpressLanes’ performance on 10 and 110 freeways

ExpressLanes Performance Update-Prelim Report, July 2013

The Metro ExpressLanes pilot project publicly released its second performance report Monday morning, offering a statistical look at how the project is faring on the 10 and 110 freeways. This is a follow-up to the first report, released in March.

I’ll offer the same caveat we did in March: Metro and Caltrans officials stress that the data is preliminary and subject to change. The U.S. Department of Transportation has hired the Battelle Memorial Institute, a private nonprofit research firm, to conduct a full and thorough evaluation of the ExpressLanes and their overall effectiveness after they’ve been opened at least one year.

That independent evaluation won’t be issued until mid-2014. In the meantime, Metro will be releasing preliminary performance reports such as the one below in order to provide everyone a general idea of how the ExpressLanes are doing.

A few highlights from the new Metro report:

•In April, the average speed in the ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway was 64 mph during the weekday morning peak commute between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. The average speed in the ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway was 65 mph.

•In April, the average speed of the general lanes on the 110 was 48.3 mph during the same morning peak commute. In April 2012 before the ExpressLanes opened, the average speed was 48.4 mph. The average speed of the general lanes on the 10 freeway was 51.6 mph between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.; the average speed for the general lanes before the ExpressLanes opened is still being evaluated.

•Average work week trips were 57,256 on the 110 ExpressLanes in late April, exceeding the average volume of about 54,000 trips before the ExpressLanes opened. On the 10, the average work week trips were 24,613 at the end of April. That’s 88 percent below the pre-opening average volume of 28,000 but Metro expects the number of trips in the ExpressLanes to continue rising and exceed the pre-opening volumes sometime later this year.

•On the 110, 59 percent of those using the ExpressLanes are carpoolers and 41 percent are solo drivers. On the 10, users are 57 percent carpoolers and 43 percent solo drivers.

•There were 152,787 FasTrak transponders issued through the end of April.  As of June, the number has grown to 180,901. Some of those transponders are being used in multiple vehicles.

•Account holders by house income bracket are evenly distributed: 8.5 percent make less than $35,000, 19.9 percent make $35,000 to $49,000, 35.6 percent make $50,000 to $74,999, 21.3 percent make $75,000 to $99,000, 12.2 percent make $100,000 to $149,999 and 2.4 percent make over $150,000. In other words, it’s pretty much a bell curve and suggests the notion that the ExpressLanes are “Lexus Lanes” — i.e. only used by those with very high incomes — is not correct.

•Transit ridership on the bus routes using the 110 freeway was 14,137 boardings in April 2013. In April 2012– it was 12,920. In addition, there have been 58 new vanpools formed to use both corridors.

For those interested in getting a transponder in order to use the ExpressLanes, please click here. Through Labor Day, tolls during non-peak hours have been lowered to as low as 15 cents per mile, 10 cents lower than the usual base toll of 25 cents per mile.

Any thoughts on the ExpressLanes, Source readers? Please feel free to comment — and please keep comments brief and to the point so that other readers will actually read them!

41 replies

  1. The assumption that many carpoolers have been kicked out of the lanes because for some reason they don’t want to buy a transponder is a false one. Anyone who has driven the 10/110 corridor before the ExpressLanes program knows that the lanes were full or carpool cheaters who switched in and out with impunity. This program threw a lot of cheaters out or gave them a chance to “go legit” by paying.

    Realistically, if you commute every day as a carpool, shelling out a one-time fee of $30-40 for a transponder so you can keep that right is a no-brainer. The people who truly can’t afford it are taking buses. If you can drive, you can afford a transponder, and it’s just not as onerous as people make it out to be.

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  2. B. Kuo,

    “Realistically, if you commute every day as a carpool, shelling out a one-time fee of $30-40 for a transponder so you can keep that right is a no-brainer.”

    Except for INFREQUENT carpoolers, they become subject to a recurring $3 minimum usage monthly maintenance fee. Add that up over 12 months and it’s an extra $36 per year tax for the sake of owning a transponder if it isn’t used more than four times a month.

    Not everyone has a need to use the 10/110 daily. There are 10 million people living in LA County. What percentage of that 10 million do you think uses the 10/110 on an infrequent basis?

    Think of how this affects say, a family or group of friends living in Torrance who goes to the Kings, Lakers, Dodgers game once a month. Or a Downtown LA business person who takes his boss or picks up a client to/from LAX once a month. The group of retirees living in Burbank heading off to the Normandie Casino in Gardena. An elderly couple who drove from out of state who visit their relatives in Los Angeles. The family tourist renting a car at the Hertz at LAX. You fail to consider all these vital economic activities that are done on an infrequent basis but are done by a large number of Angelenos every day. Do you think it’s alright to tax them $36 a year because even though they are carpooling, they are subject to that $36 tax because they don’t ride use the 10/110 more than four times a month?

    So if these activities happen on an infrequent basis, but are done by so many Angelenos and out of state (or even out of country – we have drivers with Canadian and Mexican license plates) visitors, out of 10 million LA County residents, how much do you think that’s going to affect the decision making if the FasTrak transponders which tacks on a $3 minimum usage monthly maintenance fee attached to it in addition to the one-time $40 fee for the transponder?

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.

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  3. SOmewhere, somehow, the program on I-110 and then on I-10 will need to be evaluated, because, at least in theory, it is a one-year test. The FEDS gave METRO the money in the form of a grant to “test” the program. Theoretically, local officials could pull the plug, take back the transponders, tell “Xerox Solutions” to go back into the slimy cave they crawled out from, and let things revert to the “pre-test” transponder-less normal.

    In spite of widespread disgust with the roll-out, with the increased traffic and slower speeds in the “poor peoples’ lanes” and a general rejection of charging taxpayers to use lanes paid for by the taxpayers, will there REALLY be a forum, or fora, for The People to express their outrage at this fiasco? Will METRO advertise these public meetings (if they are ever held), and will everyone who wants to speak be allowed to? Will the METRO Board even listen?

    Are the results of the “statistics” already cooked, the results already decided, and the “public comment” a mere farce to screen the bureaucrats obsession to keep this idiocy going indefinitely, taxpayers be damned?

    “It is tough being a cynic these days, because it is so much work to keep up.” ––Lily Tomlin

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  4. Please give me back my carpool lane! That lane (viaduct and all) was funded under previous taxation! This policy essentially steals a critical piece of infrastructure and makes a pay-for-service.

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  5. Why do we keep talking about the maintenance fee? Do people not know that it has been waived through October 2013 for L.A. County residents? (And no, don’t insist that the fee is coming back. If you know anything about how government dishes out benefits, you know that it’s easier to go to the moon than to reinstate the fee.)

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