Metro Board to consider motion on studying new ExpressLanes corridors

The above motion is to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at their meeting Thursday. With the ExpressLanes being made permanent earlier this year on the 10 and 110 freeways, the motion asks Metro to begin studying other potential freeway corridors where congestion pricing may work.

The Board this summer also voted to study expanding the ExpressLanes to the 105 freeway between the 605 and 405 freeways.

This is a ‘stay tuned’ type of item. A study to expand the ExpressLanes is a first step in a much longer process. For those who don’t use the ExpressLanes, carpoolers and motorcycles mostly can use them for free on the 10 and 110 (on the 10, vehicles with two occupants still must pay a toll between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.). The idea is to sell extra space in the carpool lanes and raise money for transportation improvements in both corridors, including transit service.

Please see the Metro ExpressLanes website for more information on the lanes and how to get the transponder needed by all cars to use them; motorcycles do not need a transponder.

 

12 replies

  1. Great idea! I’m all for this, and HOT lanes on the 405 would be a good way to start raising money for the Sepulveda Pass transit corridor.

  2. Has Metro ever came back with how the ExpressLanes are doing once they instated Molina’s “tack a $1 per month transponder maintenance fee” earlier this year?

    • Yeah, I’m not keen on how this membership fee was added. The lanes are profitable enough without the additional fee. Metro should get its cut from tolling and FasTrak should get its cut from the interest on the money deposited into FasTrak accounts. The $1 fee at best encourages casual users to cancel their memberships and at worst functions as a backhanded way to pull money from people’s credit cards when they forget that their balance is running low.

  3. “The public accepted tolling as a means of improving mobility. During the first year alone, drivers acquired 259,000 transponders…” What nonsense. No, the public acquired transponders as the only means to use the carpool lanes without getting a ticket. If I am in a car with 2 or more people, I should be able to use the carpool lane as they were intended, regardless of whether or not I have a silly transponder. Under this system, a transponder should logically only be needed by someone who wants to drive ALONE in the carpool lane.

    This issue got me to looking deeper into the situation. What I found is…
    The transponder in and of itself is a profit center for FasTrak, a pseudo agency responsible for pushing traffic reduction snake oil in counties all over the state.

    Los Angeles County, already has a way to finance transportation projects, it’s called Measure R, which is a half-cent sales tax we agreed to in 2008 for 30 years, specifically to fund transportation improvements. This is in addition to $0.69 cent a gallon California gas tax which is supposed to be used for the same purpose. But, like the way all government agencies mishandle funds, after just five years since measure R was passed, this just isn’t enough now to do what they said they would do. And many lawmakers are crying that increased fuel economy in our cars is reducing their gas tax revenue. Another reason why ALL cars don’t already get 50 miles per gallon.

    So, the county needs more revenue and downtown company execs wanted to get to work faster without suffering the indignity of using public transportation, so they expanded FasTrak to collect taxes in the guise of carpool fees and transponder maintenance fees by forcing regular carpoolers to get a transponder. Forced Measure R2, let’s call it.

    The result? We now have another source of public transportation funding to squander on such things as costly environmental studies and we have more single drivers in the carpool lanes, negating the very purpose of a carpool lane.

    Am I the only one who has noticed that the express lanes are just as crowded during rush hour as the standard lanes? This is also slowing down the Silver Line, making that option even less appealing. Isn’t the 24-hour traffic snarl that is the 91 Express Lanes enough evidence to lawmakers that these plans do not work? The only thing that works is to incent daily commuters to carpool with the reward of saving driving time. And, to use public funds, i.e., Measure R and gas taxes, responsibly in the first place. Like we do in the private sector… do more with what you have. Create better ways to get things done. Pay your workers to reduced costs, not to increase them. Get rid of unproductive or inept employees, simple things like that.

    Also, have our leaders, the very people responsible for bringing business to the region, thought about the fact that LA is a tourist destination? What about all the families who visit Southern California and find themselves getting a costly ticket for using the carpool lanes as a carpool lane, but. oops, without a transponder? How are these unsuspecting people supposed to get a transponder when they are just visiting for a few days on their way to one of our tourist destinations? How many of them visit and then get back home to find a GIANT ticket waiting for them because they used a carpool lane as it was intended to be used? Did the study factor this into the equation. My guess is no. I know that I avoid visiting certain cities like Chicago and Houston because of their confusing toll road systems. Now we want to add LA to that list of cities for potential tourists to avoid? California lawmakers’ decisions have forced the film industry to seek other locations to shoot (Vancouver, Atlanta). Now we are telling tourists, “Don’t bother showing up either because you might accidentally get a ticket”.

    Again, all this comes back to a circular argument that FasTrak exists only to manufacture tax dollars, plain and simple. All other economic factors be damned.

  4. I can see sometime in the future, we will have turnpikes like they have in the east and all lanes will be toll. It will happen sometime in the future. I think it is a bad idea, like I have said before when people from out of state come to town; they can not use the express lanes even with a car pool without a transponder.

  5. No sense in wasting money in ExpressLanes!
    It’s a failure in the long run.
    Time to invest in public transit and reliable rail connections all over LA County.
    People should have an option to use mass transit, if they wish to.
    Current transit system is a joke. Let’s get serious about it!
    Stop this ExpressLanes boondoggle.

  6. Metro just basically guaranteed that I will not vote for another 1/2 cent sales tax. Put simply, they go back on their promises. Those lanes were promised as “Carpool” lanes when voters approved the tax back in the 80s & 90s. It’s classic bait and switch. Now, that they’ve suckered the people of LA County, they’ll try again.

  7. I read on SGV Tribune that Mr. Fasana said the 210 (and 405 and 5…) freeway is being considered for ExpressLane expansion.

    Is the 210 officially being discussed by Metro, or is Mr. Fasana thinking out loud?

    • Hi Woody;

      I don’t believe anything is officially being discussed yet. I’m sure the 210 (along with freeways) will get a good look in the study because: 1) traffic on it is awful, particularly between Pasadena and the 605, and; 2) the 210 was considered as part of the original ExpressLanes proposal. If memory serves, San Gabriel Valley officials were leery about trying the ExpressLanes on both the 10 and 210 so they just went with the 10. Stay tuned.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source