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.

22 replies

  1. This has clearly been increasing the normal commute for the general purpose lanes. I’m a reverse commuter out of Downtown in to El Segundo. I only drive 2 or 3 days a week and take Metro the others so I don’t even think twice about using the Express Lanes (and they’re cheaper than 450 Bus Fare but that’s a whole separate rant). Since the HOT opened, I’ve had my transponder and blown past traffic but I now feel like the general purpose is no longer an option as it’s absolute gridlock. What’s worse is that NO ONE else is in the HOT with me yet the toll is still not set at the minimum price.

    I also have been casually checking the few other cars in the HOT and the enforcement lights for traffic flowing the other way and I would estimate only 2 in 5 vehicles have a transponder. Trust me, you all are NOT ready to pull this off on the I-10.

    Also, is there any way to stop the annoying emails about adding my license plate? As we all know, it takes MONTHS before you’re issued a license plate for a new car purchase and I’m getting continually spammed my Metroexpresslanes about adding a license plate number I don’t have yet.

    • Hi Vince;

      1. What time of the day are you commuting on the 110? It would help to know so that Metro can monitor the situation more closely.

      2. Violation notices are part of the enforcement process and are sent to the registered owner of the vehicle when a transponder is not detected in the Express Lanes. Not all violators get pulled over by CHP.

      3. ExpressLanes did experience a glitch with their email notification system last night.  The glitch is fixed. We apologize for the inconvenience.


      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Traffic has been consistently much worse for the past 6 commutes. It has become more and more aggravating. This is after only a few days. What is going to be the “official” response if this is the way it continues to be?

  3. The traffic is now significantly worse in the afternoons going in the direction of 110N. I hope to God this isn’t the way its going to be in the future as my commute was just increased a great deal. Frustrating to see NO cars in the HOT lane, being pushed into the regular lanes to create MORE congestion and longer commute times. Not sure this is a good idea for the general population, but it’s going to make the city a little bit of money, so, doubt the feelings of the masses will be given much thought.

  4. There are definitely fewer cars in the HOT lanes than usual. It’s great for me since I carpool, so I’m not complaining! The only thing I’m worried about is that my trips aren’t getting recorded to my account. I’ve taken 4 trips, and only the very first one shows up. Maybe since the express lanes just opened, there’s some bugs to be worked out? (I don’t think it’s a transponder issue because my transponder beeps like it’s supposed to).

    I know people don’t like to pay for something that used to be free (carpool lane) or for something that they feel should be free (freeways), but I think the only group of people that that are negatively impacted with the express lanes would be people who don’t carpool on a normal basis or don’t live in LA and wouldn’t have a transponder.

  5. I drove the 110 south today from the 5 to the 105, around 11:30 (for work). Main line traffic was worse than normal for the strech where the carpool lanes used to be. There was far less cars in the HOT lanes than would be normal at that time of day. I noticed a number of vehicles (including the one that I was driving) that would normally be in the carpool lanes (2 or more occupants), but weren’t.

    My employer (that has a very large fleet in the area, hundreds of diverse vehicles) won’t pay for the transponder or the monthly fees. In my case, there are months where the fee would get charged and months that it wouldn’t.

  6. I used it this morning (11/14) but I’m a reverse commuter during this stretch. The normal lanes were backed up significantly more than usual. When I finally reached the Adams Expresslane entrance I was surprised to find the toll higher than it was on Monday ($2.80 to the 105 versus $1.80) AND the Expresslanes empty. And I mean empty even with the congestion all the way from Downtown to the 105. I thought the toll was calculated based on Expresslane volume and not the regular lane volume?

    It was definitely nice to use today but in the growing pains phase, I think I’ll be forced to use it more than I probably will in the future as it seems to have worsened the commute for the regular lanes at the moment.

  7. “How was the volume and speed on the non-HOT lanes, compared to a similar Tuesday?”

    During the 7-8AM commute southbound, the traffic was significantly worse up to the 105. On Wednesday, the traffic was also worse than usual up to the 105. The flow of traffic on the HOT lanes were excellent both days. It is obvious that the users of the carpool lanes have been pushed over to the non-HOT lanes, be it solo drivers using the HOV lanes or green sticker users. It seems that the toll is too pricey for what it is, and is creating separate lanes for haves and the havenots. I wonder if lowering the tolls will help improve the situation.

  8. As with “Just a Person”, I questioned how different was the usage patterns of the express lanes compared to that of the same lanes when they were HOV. As a carpooler, I found that the picture shown above is reflective of the pattern of driving prior to the express lane conversion. The only difference now will be that I will have to pay $3 month + a $40 transponder fee for the same “privilege”. I hope as part of the evaluation, there will be an assessment of the impact the express lanes had in comparison to HOV lanes. AND, that the council will not just look at the revenues generated as a symbol of the lanes “success” for Los Angeles.

  9. Traffic was worse than the norm! Took me an HOUR and 40 minutes to get to work vs 50 minutes. Thought it was suppose to improve our commute.

    • Hi Vic;

      CHP was out there providing enforcement using the electronic readers to help. I can’t guarantee every single vehicle had a transponder, but we believe the vast majority did.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. Is the 1,200 vehicles per hour average based on the # of transponders that were detected/recorded? I was on the ExpressLane (as a carpooler) both this morning and this afternoon and I think I only saw 1 other car with a transponder and many cars without. (Or maybe the transponders were hiding).

    Also, how frequently are trips/transactions recorded on the Metro ExpressLanes website? I accessed my account this afternoon and saw the morning trip logged, but when I just checked now, the afternoon trip (over 2 hours ago) was not on there. Just wondering how long the typical delay is – I hope my afternoon trip was logged correctly!

    • Hi Cassie;

      The majority of trips were by vehicles with transponders but Metro doesn’t have the complete numbers yet. Tranponders can be mounted in three different places on the car windshield so they may not be readily visible to a passing motorist.

      The transaction is posted to the customer account 4-6 hours after the trip.

      Hope that helps,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. How would the FastTrak lanes be able to determine if a car is lying about if they’re carpooling or not? Another question I had is if I had a standard transponder and I wanted to get a switchable one, would I have to create a new account?

    • Hi Katrina;

      As the vehicle passes through the toll plaza, it also triggers an enforcement beacon(s) to flash. One of the three colored enforcement beacon lights will illuminate briefly according to the position of the occupancy switch on the transponder signaling a single occupant, two occupants, or three or more occupants. All three lights will illuminate briefly if no transponder is detected. This beacon signals California Highway Patrol officers of the status of the transponder so they can ensure drivers are using a transponder and that the appropriate number of people are in the vehicle. Check out the video for more info.

      Also, you are not required to maintain two accounts as the switchable transponder will work on all toll facilities in California. From the ExpressLanes website:

      Yes, a standard FasTrak® can be used to pay a toll on the Metro ExpressLanes. For toll free access on the Metro ExpressLanes a switchable transponder is needed. You can obtain a switchable transponder by opening an account with the Metro ExpressLanes. It is recommended that you only maintain one FasTrak account. Please contact your current issuing agency for information about closing your FasTrak account prior to opening an account with the Metro ExpressLanes. Metro ExpressLanes’ switchable transponders can be used on any toll facility in California bearing the FasTrak logo.

      Hope that helps,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  12. “The ExpressLanes averaged about 1,200 vehicles per hour during the rush hour Tuesday morning, which is about 85 percent of weekday volume.”

    How was the volume and speed on the non-HOT lanes, compared to a similar Tuesday?

    • Hi Just a Person;

      I’m not sure — I don’t have the numbers. The traffic map on Google Maps showed traffic was moving slow on the 110 during the morning rush, which is the norm.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  13. I’m wondering how the toll is determined. Because I was driving southbound on the 110 at around 6:00 this morning, and traffic was definitely worse going northbound. But according to the signage, the toll was cheaper going northbound. That made no sense to me.

    That said, I took it last night, and it was honestly so much fun speeding by slow traffic in the regular lanes. I probably won’t make a habit out of it, but when I am in a hurry, it’ll be useful.

    • Hi Robb;

      It’s basically on a supply and demand model based on the number of vehicles that can use the lanes while keeping speeds at a minimum of 45 mph. I don’t know the exact toll prices at different times this a.m. but I do know the northbound lanes did not reach capacity.

      I think it will take some time for everyone to get used to the lanes but my hunch is that many people like you will find them useful and it will be great, in my opinion, to see freeways raise some money for transit.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source