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!

Reminder: why Election Day matters in Los Angeles if you care about transportation

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Click above to find your polling place.

As you may have heard, there’s a runoff Tuesday in Los Angeles to elect the next mayor of the second-largest city in the nation — a city with about 3.8 million inhabitants and some well-known transportation challenges.

I ran the following post on March 4, the day before the primary election in Los Angeles. I’m running it again today as a reminder to vote in tomorrow’s mayoral election between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel because whichever succeeds Antonio Villaraigosa will likely have a hand in many important transportation decisions, including project acceleration, the future of congestion pricing projects, the construction of five rail projects and possible changes in Metro’s fare structure in the future.

Look up your polling place here.

Metro is a county agency and is overseen by a 13 member Board of Directors who serve as the deciders on most significant issues. The Mayor of Los Angeles gets a seat on that board and gets to fill three other seats with his appointees.

A majority of the Metro Board — i.e. seven votes — is required to approve most items. Four of those seven votes are controlled by the Los Angeles mayor. That means that the mayor controls more than half the votes needed to approve items that have impacts across Los Angeles County and the region.

Here are some items that are likely to confront the Metro Board in the next four or so years, meaning they’re items likely to confront the lucky soul (if luck is the right word) who becomes the next mayor of the City of Angels and/or Parking Lots:

•There is the not-so-tiny issue of whether to accelerate the building of Measure R projects and, if so, how best to pay for it and which transit and road projects are included. The next mayor may also choose to use their bully pulpit to persuade Congress to adopt the full America Fast Forward program, which would greatly expand funding for transportation projects.

•Although Metro CEO Art Leahy has already said there will be no changes to Metro’s fares in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, he also said it’s an issue that will likely have to be revisited sooner rather than later in order to help Metro keep up with its expenses.

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Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 23

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Los Angeles mayoral candidates talk transportation at last night’s debate (NBC4)

Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel were asked about public transportation and accelerating Measure R projects at last night’s debate at USC.

In this first video excerpt, the candidates were asked what they would do to increase use of public transportation while working with Metro (sorry about the commercials):

In this second excerpt, the candidates were asked if they would support sacrificing traffic lanes and street parking for dedicated bus lanes:

The questions were good but I’m not sure asking the candidates to squeeze what could be a much longer conversation about transit and transportation into just a couple of minutes is very fair to the audience.

Video interviews: the mayoral candidates (L.A. Times) 

The opinion section of the Times posts 30-minute interviews with both Garcetti and Greuel, including questions about pedestrian safety and transit. The interviews are also posted in segments so viewers can watch the parts that most interest them.

Letters: give the 110 toll lanes more time (L.A. Times) 

Readers opine on the recent story in the Times about the ExpressLanes project on the 110 freeway. Among the letters is one from a USC professor urging residents to give the ExpressLanes more time to change driver behavior (i.e. not use the 110 at its busiest times) and another reader urging Metro to adjust the tolls so that more motorists in the general lanes will want to use the ExpressLanes.

This date in history: April 22, 1964 (Primary Resources) 

It was 40 years ago that a plan was released explaining how the proposed Beverly Hills Freeway would be a tunnel while traveling under Beverly Hills with no exits or entrances, by the way. For those keeping score at home, the freeway lost. Check out the report in the post — fascinating read on the east-west freeway that never came to be.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, April 11

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Gold Line crosses the 1st Street Bridge; click to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The Gold Line crosses the 1st Street Bridge; click to see larger. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro’s free ride may soon be over (L.A. Times)

Jon Healey looks forward to gates being latched on the subway this summer, saying it’s about time people had to pay to ride trains in Los Angeles.

Packed audience cheers and questions MyFigueroa! project (L.A. Streetsblog) 

A community meeting was held earlier this week to review plans to put Figueroa on a road diet and add bike lanes and pedestrian improvements for the stretch between Staples Center and USC. Among the predictable concerns: would losing a lane of general car traffic lead to more congestion in downtown? My three cents: is the status quo — basically having a mini-freeway cleave through downtown and South Park — really that great?

Ideas for downtown L.A.: minor tweaks to 110 overpasses will boost pedestrian activity (DTLA Rising)

Blogger Brigham Yen takes a closer look at the long, loud overpasses that carry 7th Street and Wilshire over the 110 freeway, neither of which could accurately be called pedestrian friendly. Brigham has a few suggestions, including planters and raising the railings. A lot of development has taken place on the west side of the 110 and connecting that area to downtown proper seems like a smart and humane move.

 

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, April 10

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro local bus on Broadway passes the entrances to Grand Park in downtown L.A. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro local bus on Broadway passes the entrances to Grand Park in downtown L.A. Click above to see larger; looks better larger! Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Traffic zips in toll lanes but slows in free lanes (L.A. Times)

The Times kicks the tires of the ExpressLanes project and looks at the preliminary data released last month for the project on the 110 freeway. The gist of it: speeds are up in the ExpressLanes, down in the general lanes and some motorists are happy and others are very not happy. Transportation experts continue to back the project, saying it’s the best way to potentially add capacity to the freeway and it will take time for the public to get used to the lanes.

LADOT lays the ground for functional car share with Hertz; goodbye Zipcar? (L.A. Streetsblog)

The city of L.A. is considering switching its car-share vendor to Hertz from the current Zipcar. The issue is there are very few Zipcars in L.A. — just 40 (yikes!), mostly around UCLA and USC — and Hertz is seemingly offering the city a better deal by paying for exclusive parking spots and revenue sharing. My three cents: too bad it has to be one car share firm over another; it would be great if consumers had a choice.

Semi-related: As we posted recently, there are now four Zipcars available for rental at Los Angeles Union Station. More info here.

Mayoral candidates miss the train (LAObserved) 

Bill Boyarsky attends a community meeting over a proposed apartment complex at the future Expo Line’s Sepulveda station. Residents are worried about traffic and meanwhile, Boyarsky writes, neither of the candidates to be the next mayor of Los Angeles — Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel — are saying much about transit and what it will do to the city in the future. Excerpt:

What was missing here and in other city policy discussions was an examination of what these train lines would do for—and to—the city. In the Valley, there is talk of converting the popular Orange Line express bus to light rail, better able to handle the growing patronage. A Crenshaw rail line will be built and light rail is changing East L.A. The subway extension will remake the neighborhoods in the Wilshire corridor.

It’s definitely something for Greuel and Garcetti to discuss. But the subject deals too much with Los Angeles’ future to attract attention in a campaign where both candidates are worried about a short-term gain of votes in an election less than two months away.

A Los Angeles primer: the subway (KCET)

Fun and well-written post by Colin Marshall looks at the phenomenon that many Angelenos have never set foot or tushie upon the subway here — a subway system that Colin thinks is quite pleasant albeit somewhat limited. Excerpt:

Yet on the whole, those I introduce to our subway emerge impressed. Say what you will about their limited reach; the Red and Purple Lines surely must rank among the cleanest, most comfortable, least urine-smelling systems in America. You may lose twenty minutes waiting on platforms, but you’ll have taken a subway — in Los Angeles! Some transit observers regard this town as a child who, having broken a leg on the playground, started school only after a considerable delay: perhaps he hasn’t caught up with his peers yet, but you should’ve seen how far behind he was a year ago. This sense of Los Angeles in the remedial class intersects with the notion, correct or not, that transportation just works differently here: differently when we didn’t have a subway, and a different kind of subway now that we have one.

Read the whole thing. Colin makes some very cogent points about the region and its attitudes toward transportation and, more specifically, the changing attitudes of some younger residents toward the concept of automobile ownership.

It’s Tulsa versus Milwaukee in Parking Madness title game! (D.C. Streetsblog)

The funny-but-sad tournament is trying to determine which American city did the best job of turning its downtown area into a giant parking lot, i.e. a parking crater, to serve whatever buildings were allowed to remain. Check out the photos of Tulsa, which appears to have leveled a big chunk of its downtown since the 1970s to accommodate more cars. Geesh. If you’re just turning in, L.A. surprisingly got bounced in the tourney’s first round by Dallas. Speaking of L.A.-Dallas….that was a sour third period last night, Kings. 

First preliminary report issued on performance of ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway

The ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway. Photo by Metro.

 

The Metro ExpressLanes pilot project released its first performance report on Wednesday, offering a statistical look at how the project is faring on the 110 freeway. The ExpressLanes on the 10 just opened in mid-February and those lanes will be evaluated in future reports.

Metro and Caltrans officials stress that the data is preliminary and subject to change. That said, the agency is also keenly aware that public interest in the ExpressLanes is high and Metro wants to get data to the public as quickly as possible. The report is posted below. The main takeaways:

•Travel speeds in the ExpressLanes on the 110 have exceeded an average of 45 miles per hour 100 percent of the time during peak periods from the opening in early November through the end of February. Average speeds in the northbound ExpressLanes are 10 miles per hour faster during the morning peak period from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. than speeds measured before the ExpressLanes opened.

•The number of vehicles using the 110 ExpressLanes at the end of February was about 96 percent of the total that used the lanes before the toll lanes debuted in November. The number has been steadily rising since the ExpressLanes opened.

•Average speeds in the general lanes during peak periods have dropped when compared to speeds measured in December 2011 although they have started to improve. One caveat here: Metro knows that Dec. 2011 is not an ideal baseline because average speeds in December are usually skewed by the holiday season. The agency is crunching more data.

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Southbound 110 ExpressLanes closed tonight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.; three bus lines impacted – Silver Line, 460 and 550

Due to emergency ExpressLanes maintenance, southbound service on Silver Line, 460 and 550 will be affected tonight from as early as 9 pm through approximately 5 am Wednesday morning.  Northbound service is unaffected.

When barricades are present, all southbound express buses will bypass 37th St/USC, Slauson and Manchester stations, then merge back into the HOT lanes and resume regular route at Harbor Fwy Station (Green Line).  Affected passengers should use Line 81 on nearby Figueroa to connect with express buses at either Harbor Fwy Station or at Figueroa/Adams.

Metro ExpressLanes apologizes for any inconvenience.

Countdown to I-10 Metro ExpressLanes: understanding the differences between the 10 and the 110 ExpressLanes

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The ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway are scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, weather permitting. While the concept is the same as the existing ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway, there are some similarities and differences.

The big similarity: if you plan to use the lanes in a private vehicle (i.e., not a bus), you will need to have a FasTrak transponder. They can be obtained online at www.metroexpresslanes.net, through AAA or at Costco and Albertsons. If you get a transponder at AAA, Costco or Albertsons, please click here to complete the registration process.

ExpressLanes staff put together this handy list to help explain those differences:

•The 10 and the 110 corridors have different minimum occupancy requirements as a carpool lane that do not change for the conversion to ExpressLanes. The 110 allows vehicles with two or more people to travel toll-free 24/7; however the 10 allows three or more passengers to travel toll free 24/7.

Two person carpools using the 10 ExpressLanes pay a toll during rush hour (Monday through Friday 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.) but are not charged a toll during non-rush hour (Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and weekends). The overhead electronic signs will make it clear when tolls for two person carpoolers are in effect.

•The average toll will likely be different due to the differences in length and space available to toll payers. The 10 is longer (14 miles from Alameda Street in downtown L.A. to the 605 freeway in El Monte) and the 110 is shorter (11 miles from Adams Boulevard in downtown L.A. to the 91 freeway).

Metro has also added a second ExpressLane on the 10 (between the 605 and the 710) to provide nine new miles in each direction; the 110 already had two lanes in each direction for eight of its 11 miles. This lane is added through re-striping and did not take away any general purpose lanes.

•The number of entry and exit points are different:  the 10 ExpressLanes has four entrance points westbound and three entrance points eastbound while the 110 ExpressLanes has four entrance points northbound and six entrance points southbound. The exit and entry points are shown on the above map.

Metro ExpressLanes is an exciting new endeavor. But like all new undertakings, it will take some time to become familiar with how it works, and it will take time before we experience the full benefits and rewards of this new traffic flow improvement project. We expect to see traffic flow enhancements and congestion reduction as the project progresses over time along with some immediate advantages such as new and more frequent transit service. Participant-adoption, and on-going feedback as a vital partner in this program will ensure its success as well as an improved travel experience for all commuters between the 110 and 10 freeways to downtown Los Angeles.

Early notes from Metro Board meeting: update on ExpressLanes speed, Metrolink TAP-enabled tickets, Airport Metro Connector

A couple of notes from early in the meeting:

•After two-plus months of operation, the ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway have allowed for travel speeds of 45 mph or over 100 percent of the time, reported Metro officials. That's important because the federal grant that allowed Metro to construct the lanes is dependent on speeds remaining over 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time. As motorists likely already know, officials also reported that congestion remains in the general lanes.

•Metro CEO Art Leahy also said that progress toward latching of the gates at Metro Rail stations is being made and he showed a prototype paper ticket for Metrolink riders that is TAP enabled — it has a chip embedded in it — and can be dispensed from Metrolink ticket machines. Here's a pic:

And the Metrolink folks just emailed over a look at some of the design prototypes they're working on for TAP-enabled tickets:

•LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said that LAX continues to make progress on its specific plan amendment study, the document that has to be completed before the airport can launch any kind of effort to build a people mover or light rail station on airport property. She said that LAWA staff continues to work closely with Metro staff on the Airport Metro Connector project to connect the airport to the larger Metro transit system. Alternatives being considered by Metro include bus rapid transit, light rail and a people mover.

Lindsey also made the point that LAX remains the busiest in the United States in terms of the number of passengers who start or end their trips at LAX.

 

ExpressLanes to open on 10 freeway on Feb. 23

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Here’s the news release from Metro:

More than 80,000 FasTrak® ExpressLanes Transponders Issued; Numerous Discounts Offered

Metro ExpressLanes to Debut Along 14 miles of the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway on Saturday, February 23

Following on the heels of the successful opening late last year of 11-miles of Metro ExpressLanes along the Harbor Freeway and with more than 80,000 Fastrak® ExpressLanes transponders now issued, Metro plans to open an additional 14 miles of Metro ExpressLanes along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, February 23, 2013, weather permitting.

For the past couple of months, motorists have been seeing messages on the giant display message boards along the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway in preparation for the opening of the Metro ExpressLanes.

“We are excited to announce the opening date and want to 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 in February,” said Duarte Councilmember 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.”

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

Metro, in partnership with Caltrans, is embarking on a one-year demonstration program that converts 11 miles of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the I-110 (Harbor Freeway) between the 91 Freeway and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles and 14 miles on the I-10 San Bernardino Freeway (El Monte Busway) between Union Station/Alameda Street and the I-605 Freeway to High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the lanes for a toll. The Harbor Freeway ExpressLanes opened to the public on Nov. 10, 2012.

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