How We Roll, March 6: is tolling the thing that will ‘fix’ traffic?

ICYMI: I was a little surprised I didn’t get more push back or comments on last week’s How We Roll that posed the question whether driving was getting any cheaper. Spoiler: I think it is.

Argument led to fatal stabbing on Koreatown Metro platform, police say (LAT)

The homicide occurred in the Normandie Station about 5 p.m. Sunday. The victim has yet to be identified. A 62-year-old man has been booked on suspicion of murder and bail was set at $2 million. Metro sends its deepest sympathies to the victim’s family and friends. The latest crime stats for the Metro system — through Dec. 2016 — can be found here.

Opinion: There’s only one way to fix L.A.’s traffic, and it isn’t Elon Musk’s tunnels. We need tolls — lots of them. (LAT)

In this op-ed, Herbie Huff — a researcher at UCLA — says that more tolled ExpressLanes is the only hope for fixing traffic as nothing else has worked, including transit (his words, not mine). Key graph:

Is there another way besides tolls? Unfortunately, no. We’ve tried them all. We’ve tried keeping neighborhoods suburban. We’ve tried density. We’ve tried building billions of dollars’ worth of transit lines. We’ve tried widening roads at great expense.

Measure M provides funding for ExpressLanes on the 105 between the 605 and the Sepulveda Pass project — with funding from Measures R and M — may get ExpressLanes.

Will more ExpressLanes “fix” traffic? The toll lanes would likely have better speeds but the jury is still out on how much they could help speeds in the general lanes. Tolling ALL lanes may help that, but outside of the Reason Foundation, I don’t see anyone talking about that and most politicians I know consider that the equivalent of jumping out of plane without a parachute.

That said….

Chao says U.S. drivers may face more tolls to raise infrastructure funds (Washington Post)

Tolling in British Columbia. If it works in Canada, could it work here?

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said last week that some of President Trump’s $1-trillion dollar infrastructure plan would be funded by tolls. But no word yet on exactly what might be tolled.


There has been strong bipartisan opposition in Congress to imposing tolls on the interstates, beyond those like the New Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes that were grandfathered in when they became part of the network. One senior Democratic senate aide said any plan that relies primarily on tolling is “dead on arrival.”

The Post tried but couldn’t extract any further details. My hunch: imposing tolls on entire freeways or bridges will not be super popular in states red, blue or any other color. Stay tuned.

BTW, that first article alludes to transit losing ridership in the U.S. in recent times. Here’s an interesting Twitter exchange about that:

Trump may undo vehicle rules on emissions (NYT)

Under Obama-era rules, carmakers by 2025 have to get their average fleets up to 54.5 miles per gallon — quite a big leap from where they are today. Manufacturers say they need more time, conservationists say with climate change looming, time is of the essence to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

Related: Better emissions would help those living near freeways, an issue explored recently in this excellent and provocative article by the LAT. There are a lot of factors about the health risk posed by freeways but I think this fact is interesting: generally, air pollution is higher within 900 feet of freeways.

Organizers say 100,000 people participated in 626 Golden Streets (SGV Tribune)

Click above to see more pics. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The morning crowds were pretty impressive although the crowd thinned a bit after rain began falling around 1 p.m. Metro helps fund these open streets even to promote alternatives to driving. Excerpt:

“Part of our goal is to ensure citizens have a safe alternative to get to the Gold Line and it is not constrained by the lack of parking,” said Chris Ziegler, a member of the bicycle and train advocacy group Move Monrovia.

FWIW, Gold Line average weekday boardings hit an all-time high in January, according to Metro’s ridership estimates. That said, my three cents is that a lot more can be done to make Gold Line stations in the SGV more accessible to bikes. Gold Line service to Pasadena began in 2003 and none of the city’s six stations has, I think, is easily accessible by bike.

There is room for bike lanes on some streets leading to the stations, but the city has apparently decided having parking lanes — even in front of homes with driveways — is more important.

How Uber used secret tool to avoid authorities (NYT)

When it rains it pours on the PR front. In Uber’s latest dose of bad news, the NYT reports that Uber used software to block authorities from being able to get and track Uber cars. Uber says it was within its rights but Uber doesn’t get to write the headlines in national newspapers.

Two construction firms seek an extra $300 million for bullet train work (LAT)

The two firms are Tutor Perini Corp. and Dragados USA. Tutor recently won the contract to build the second section of the Purple Line Extension between Wilshire/La Cienega Station and Century City. Although Metro and Tutor had disputes over the original Red Line, Metro officials say that they will put tight controls in place this time to ensure that expenses remain in check.

Stuff from Twitter: 



2 replies

  1. Regarding ever increasing traffic congestion, the unspoken politically incorrect Elephant In The Room is unabated human population growth in the USA.
    Phase out entitlements for multiple children and require K-12 school districts to assess fees for >2 children in the system at a time.
    Please pull your heads out of the sand, people, Now!