ExpressLanes van out and about and perhaps coming to a neighborhood near you

Mel the ExpressLanes van at El Monte Station opening yesterday.

Metro just released this schedule for Mel, the ExpressLanes van that’s traveling the countryside, signing up commuters for transponders before the Nov. 10 deadline.

Mel, a specially equipped van painted bright green to serve as a visible outreach program, is traveling around the region to bring FasTrak® accounts and transponders to commuters so they will be ready to use the Metro ExpressLanes when the lanes open on the 110 Harbor Freeway on Nov. 10 and on the 10 San Bernardino Freeway early next year.

“Drivers can open their FasTrak® accounts and receive their transponders wherever they see our van, which is named Mel for Metro ExpressLanes,” said Stephanie Wiggins, executive officer, Metro Congestion Reduction Demonstration Initiative. “Mel has been to college campuses, government offices and special events, and she will be traveling to even more locations around the Los Angeles basin to make it easier for the public to get the transponders they will need to take advantage of the Metro ExpressLanes when they open.”

Metro ExpressLanes is a one-year demonstration project to reduce traffic congestion along 11 miles of the 110 (between Adams Boulevard and the 91 freeway) and 14 miles of the 10 (between Alameda Street and the 605) by turning the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes into HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes that allow solo drivers to use the carpool lanes by paying a toll.

For now, the carpool lanes are still operating. But when tolling begins Nov. 10 on the 110 ExpressLanes and early next year on the 10 Expresslanes, all drivers will need a FasTrak® account and transponder to travel in the ExpressLanes.

Carpools, vanpools, motorcycles and buses will continue to travel for free in the lanes. Solo drivers will be assessed a toll, which will vary depending on traffic.

To avoid traffic back-ups, sensors will be used to measure congestion in the Metro ExpressLanes and will increase the toll from 25 cents a mile to a maximum of $1.40 a mile as more vehicles enter the Metro ExpressLanes. Net toll revenues will be reinvested in transit and carpool lane improvements in the corridor where generated. 

To open a Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® account and obtain a transponder, please meet Mel at one of her upcoming appearances listed below:

Oct. 13, 2012
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Space Shuttle Event
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

Oct. 17, 2012
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services
8300 S. Vermont
Los Angeles, CA 90044

Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15, 2012
11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Farmer’s Market at Los Angeles City Hall
City Hall South
200 N. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Nov. 3, 2012
Game time
USC Football Game Day at USC Campus
West 34th Street near Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Nov. 10, 2012
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Artesia Transit Center
731 W. 182 St.
Gardena, CA 90248

Nov. 13, 2012
5 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Artesia Transit Center
731 W. 182 St.
Gardena, CA 90248

Metro ExpressLanes will be adding other dates and places for Mel appearances. They may be found by visiting In addition to Mel, there are several other options for opening a Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® account and obtaining a transponder, including:

● Visiting

● Calling 511 and saying “ExpressLanes”

● Visiting walk-in centers at500 W. 190th St.  inGardenaor at theEl MonteStation at3501 Santa Anita Ave.inEl Monte

● Mailing an application, which is available online, to Metro ExpressLanes, P.O. Box 3878, Gardena, CA 90247

The costs vary depending on payment methods, but drivers who open their accounts with a credit or debit card will pay $40 and the transponder deposit will be waived. The $40 will be applied to any tolls on the Metro ExpressLanes. There is a minimum balance threshold of $10, and a $3 monthly account fee. The monthly fee is waived after four one-way trips in the Metro ExpressLanes and/or on transit in the ExpressLanes corridor.

Discounts are available. Commuters who open a FasTrak® account by Oct. 16 will qualify for $5 in free tolls and be entered into a drawing for an iPhone 5. Members of the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) can open a Metro ExpressLanes FasTrak® account at a discounted price of $32 (an $8 savings) by visiting their local AAA branch office or online at

In a first for an ExpressLanes project, low-income commuters can receive a $25 toll credit when setting up an account, and the transponder deposit will be waived. To qualify, the commuters must reside inLos AngelesCountyand have an annual income below $37,061 for a family of three. There is a limit of one equity plan per household.

To schedule a visit by Mel to a public event or workplace, please contact Allison J. Richards, 213-922-7468 or email her at 


2 replies

  1. How do transponders limit ‘cheating’ on the HOT lanes?

    I ask because if the enforcement focus is on cars without transponders, than people with transponders can switch it to carpool and avoid charges with little fear of reprisal. Whereas those without transponders will be sanctioned even though they may be carpooling and not subject to toll fees anyway.

  2. Awesome story… I wish the State would build an HOV or Toll lane on Santa Monica Freeway and Golden State Freeway North and South or take a lane away for HOV or Toll. Either way, riding my scooter I get all the benefits!