4.4 miles of new carpool lanes officially opened on 10 freeway between 605 and Puente Ave.

Caltrans and Metro on Thursday morning officially dedicated 2.2 miles of HOV lanes in both directions on the 10 freeway between the 605 freeway and Puente Avenue in Baldwin Park.

The lanes cost $180 million.

“As the transportation funding authority for Los Angeles County, Metro programmed $192 million for completion of this first of three segments of the I-10 carpool lanes,” said Diane DuBois, the chair of Metro’s Board of Directors. “We are pleased Caltrans delivered this project under the programmed budget. Metro also has programmed the funds for the remaining two HOV lane segments for a total of $560 million.”

The project is the first of three segments that will provide one continuous carpool lane on the 10 freeway between downtown Los Angeles and the boundary with San Bernardino County.

Here is the most recent version of Caltrans’ map showing HOV lanes in Los Angeles County:

LA County HOV System Status 09_2012

 

Transportation headlines, Thursday, September 12

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed. Have a transportation-related article you want included in headlines? Drop me an email!

And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

Bill expanding carpool lanes on 210 and 134 freeways heads to Governor’s desk (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) would allow vehicles with just one occupant to use the lanes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at night and all weekends — although the exact times will be determined by Caltrans.

It’s a 10-month trial project that Caltrans can choose to end or expand. There was only one vote against in the entire Legislature, indicating that this is an extremely easy thing to do from a political standpoint while generating some pleasant PR.

Whether it accomplishes anything remains to be seen. It could, hypothetically, better spread out traffic during non-peak hours. Or it could just ensure that all freeway lanes are clogged no matter the hour. Thoughts, readers?

The President and the pipeline (New Yorker) 

Map: TransCanada.

Map: TransCanada.

Great article about President Obama and the impending decision on whether to approve the Keystone pipeline to bring oil from Alberta’s oil fields to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Most importantly, the article ponders the question of whether the pipeline really will have an impact one way or the other on climate change.

San Diego pilots mobile ticketing (Transit Wire) 

mTicket-3-passes_001

Those riding the San Diego Trolley (a light rail line) can now buy day passes with their phone and skip waiting in line at ticket machines. It’s just a pilot program and only in effect during Chargers and San Diego State football games and other special events. One thing to note: there are no turnstiles on the trolley system — it’s an honor system. More info on the MTS website.

Beijing subway installs plastic recycling machines (cctv.com)

Photo cctv.com.

Photo cctv.com.

Users can have their recyclables crushed and get a little money that is applied to their transit fares. Brilliant! If this existed here, I could have an entirely Diet Coke-powered commute.

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!

To accelerate the building of 13.5 miles of HOV lanes on I-5 in Santa Clarita area, Metro proposes charging tolls for vehicles with one or two occupants to use the lanes

I5_project_map

Metro this month is providing key details on plans to accelerate an important Measure R project for northern Los Angeles County. The project would add carpool lanes for 13.5 miles in both directions to Interstate 5 through the Santa Clarita area. A toll for vehicles with one or two occupants (at peak hours only for vehicles with two occupants) would be charged to use the lanes — with the tolls being used to finance the construction of the carpool lanes about 30 years earlier than planned in Metro's long-range plan.

There's a lot more detail in the Q & A that follows in the post. The absolute crucial details: the lanes would be managed to maintain speeds of at least 45 mph, the number of general traffic lanes would remain the same and the new lanes will add capacity to the freeway, especially when coupled with the new truck lanes being built on either side of the Newhall Pass.

There are two community meetings scheduled this month to discuss the project. The public can ask questions and provide feedback. Content at all meetings will be identical; please attend the location most convenient for you. All meetings are open to the public and we urge you to invite your friends and neighbors.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, 6-8 PM
Sports Complex – City of Santa Clarita
20880 Centre Pointe Pkwy
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
Served by Santa Clarita Transit Lines 5 and 6

Thursday, February 28, 2013, 6-8 PM
Rancho Pico Junior High School
26250 Valencia Bl
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
Served by Santa Clarita Transit Line 7

Below is the Q&A on the project with a lot more detail and there's a short Power Point on the project after the jump. I'm interested in your thoughts on the project, particularly if you live in Santa Clarita or elsewhere in northern L.A. County.

What exactly is the project proposing to do?

The project would use a public-private partnership to build one carpool/toll lane in each direction to the I-5 freeway for 13.5 miles between the 14 freeway and Parker Road. A private firm would be hired to help fund, build and manage the lanes and be paid back with toll revenue. That would allow the project to be completed by 2019 instead of 2040 or later.

This stretch of freeway includes some of the fastest-growing areas in Southern California — the city of Santa Clarita has gone from 79,000 people in 1979 to more than 201,000 in 2012 and is expected to add 50,000 more people in the next 30 years, not including growth in the unincorporated parts of the Santa Clarita Valley. Not surprisingly, traffic congestion in the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas has worsened; the average one-way commute time of 32.7 minutes for Santa Clarita residents is among the highest in Los Angeles County.

The carpool/toll lane will be used for free by those in cars with three or more passengers. Buses, van pools and motorcycles would also use the lanes for free. Cars with two people will be able to use the lanes for free outside of peak hours — during peak hours they will be charged a toll. Single motorists will be charged a toll at all times.

Continue reading

50K transponders issued so far; preparations underway to launch ExpressLanes on 10 freeway in early 2013

Here is the news release from Metro:

Following on the heels of the successful opening of 11-miles of Metro ExpressLanes along the Harbor Freeway and with more than 50,000 Fastrak® ExpressLanes transponders issued, motorists this week will begin seeing messages on the giant display message boards along the

I-10 San Bernardino Freeway in preparation for the opening of the ExpressLanes along this stretch of freeway in early 2013.

The large electronic digital ExpressLane message boards will display information regarding the program. No date has been set for the official opening of the ExpressLanes along the 10 San Bernardino Freeway but work is progressing for a possible late January/early February opening.

“We 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 next year,” said Duarte Mayor 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.”

Continue reading

Metro ExpressLanes flowed well on 110 on Tuesday morning

The above photo was taken at 7:15 a.m. this morning of the northbound 110 freeway; the ExpressLanes are the two far-left lanes. As you can see, traffic was flowing smoothly in the heart of the morning rush hour.

The ExpressLanes averaged about 1,200 vehicles per hour during the rush hour Tuesday morning, which is about 85 percent of weekday volume. Speeds averaged 60 mph and never fell below 45 mph, the target minimum speed on the ExpressLanes.

The average end-to-end toll this morning was $9.35; the maximum toll is $1.40 per mile or $15.40 for the entire 11-mile trip on the ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway. The minimum toll is 25 cents per mile or $2.75 for the entire 11 miles.

Three reminders:

•The toll you see posted on the electronic sign at the time when you enter the lanes, is locked in. In other words, if you enter the lanes and it’s $3.85, the toll rate is 35 cents and you will pay 35 cents per mile for the entire time you’re in the lanes.

•There are many ways to get FasTrak transponders; please see the ExpressLanes website to order online. Transponders can also be obtained through AAA (members get a discount), at Metro Customer Service Centers in Gardena and El Monte and discounts are available at Albertons and Costco.

•The $3 Monthly Account Maintenance Fee will not go into effect until after the I-10 ExpressLanes open in early 2013.

And so it begins: ExpressLanes — Los Angeles County's first foray into congestion pricing — open Saturday night on 110 freeway!

Owly Images

The first freeway in Los Angeles County opened in 1940 (the Pasadena Freeway), the first carpool lane in 1973 (the El Monte Busway) and Saturday at 10:02:26 p.m. the first HOT lanes debuted as part of the new ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway between Adams Boulevard and 182nd Street.

Here’s the email we just received from ExpressLanes Executive Officer Stephanie Wiggins:

At 10:02:26pm HOT lanes on the 110 were delivered to LA County.
Birth Length: 11 miles (Between Adams Blvd and 91 freeway)
Birth Weight: extremely heavy
Posted Toll Amount (NB) (Harbor Gateway Transit Center to Adams Blvd): $4.10
Posted Toll Amount (SB) (Adams Blvd to 91 Freeway): $3.40

 

Obviously traffic is fairly light on a Saturday night but the ExpressLanes may get a better workout tomorrow when the Clippers play at Staples Center at 12:30 p.m. followed by a Lakers game at 6:30 p.m. The first big rush hour test will begin early Monday morning.

The carpool lanes on the 110 remain free for carpoolers, vanpools and motorcycles. The big difference between now and life before 10:02:26 p.m. tonight is that single motorists can use the lanes in exchange for a toll. The toll will change depending on the amount of traffic; when there’s plenty of extra space in the carpool lanes, tolls will be less expensive. When there’s less space due to heavier traffic, the tolls will be pricier — the idea being to limit the number of cars so that the carpools are always flowing at a minimum of 45 mph.

Tolls for single motorists will vary between 25 cents per mile and $1.40 per mile. If you enter the lanes, the price of tolls is locked you pay is locked into the amount per mile at the time you entered the lanes.

Another key difference between the new ExpressLanes and days of yore is that ALL VEHICLES, EVEN CARPOOLERS, ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE A FASTRAK TRANSPONDER IN ORDER TO USE THE LANES. I put that in bold caps because it’s the question we’ve been getting time and again.

All the information you need about getting a FasTrak transponder can be found here. Also, here’s a recent post on The Source succinctly explaining some of the basics about the ExpressLanes. And here’s the news release posted yesterday on the new lanes.

Finally, a short editorial message from yours truly: The ExpressLanes are a one-year experiment funded largely by our friends in Washington D.C. The reason that Metro is trying HOT lanes — which are used in other areas around the country — is that the status quo on area freeways wasn’t all that great. It’s time to try another way to manage the freeways to see if there’s a way to improve traffic flows and raise some revenues that will be pumped back into much-needed traffic.

If you have questions, fire away and we’ll try to promptly answer them!