Yaroslavsky submits motion to eliminate maintenance fee on ExpressLanes

Metro Board Member and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky submitted the following motion at today’s meeting; it will be discussed at the Board’s Systems, Safety and Operations Committee in January.

The motion:

The I-110 Metro ExpressLanes opened on November 10, 2012. With these ExpressLanes everyone — including those who carpool — must purchase a $40 transponder. These transponders are used to exact tolls and can be used throughout the State of California for any toll road or bridge.

With Metro’s program, tolls are only assessed on solo drivers. Those who carpool must also have a transponder, but they ride for free. Everyone pays the same initial fee to participate in the program.

There is a minimum account balance required to maintain your account. This is standard practice with most agencies. However, we also asses a $3.00 monthly maintenance fee, but only to those who use the ExpressLane less than 4 trips in a one month period.

This discourages the participation of subscribers/occasional users from outside the immediate corridor, and acts as a negative disincentive. Thus, a motorist who is an occasional driver on the I-110 is penalized with a fee. This fee is unfair and discourages new users. We should treat all subscribers equally.

I, THEREFORE, MOVE that we eliminate the monthly maintenance fee from the program all together in order to treat all participants in the program equally and fairly.

13 replies

  1. My family is an occasional user of the 110 freeway and would likely have been subjected to this monthly fee. We do not commute to work and mostly use the 110 on the weekend to visit family. Other friends of ours are retired and used the carpool lanes to go to church. None of us thought it fair that as infrequent users we would be subject to a fee that others who use the freeways regularly don’t pay. Thanks for this motion! We hope it passes.

    We sat in traffic on the 110 over the weekend in the general purpose lanes even though we were a carpool. We saw many carpoolers and motorcycles in the general lanes while the express lanes were empty! I suspect many of these carpoolers and motorcycles were Like us, unwilling to pay a monthly fee to use a freeway occasionally (especially when frequent users don’t have to pay this fee.) It is onerous enough to tie up $40 for the transponder. A monthly fee for those of us who don’t use this freeway often enough adds insult to injury.

  2. I rarely drive the 110 south of downtown where the toll lanes are (usually just for airport pickups or occasional trips to the Long Beach. I’d buy the transponder in a second if it weren’t for the monthly fee, but I’m not a current participant because I know I’d almost never hit the trip minimum to avoid the monthly fee. I’m perfectly happy to pay the $40 to buy into the system (and maybe–occasionally–the toll for using the lanes, and–much more frequently–to carpool in those lanes). But I’m not going to pay $3/month on the off chance that I may want to use the lanes from time to time.

  3. The fee was to prevent “freeloading” off other agencies, as what happened in San Diego County. But, despite having this issue addressed numerous times in public comment, Metro failed to anticipate the backlash from residents. I still have a Bay Area Fastrak transponder for times when I need to use Fastrak facilities, and that has no monthly fees at all. However, I would restrict the free transponder privilege to LA County to avoid the freeloader issue, and because the LA County Fastrak is more complex than the standard Fastrak.

  4. Ralph Nader once addressed the subject of ‘Service Fees.’ What is a service fee? Whatever you are buying, weather it be insurance or a product, the person on the other end has to do their regular job anyway. What do you get for a ‘Service Fee?’ Nothing, except the extra cost.

  5. If the monthly fee is removed and more drivers opt to use the toll road, revenue could increase more than what the fee produces.

  6. Sean,

    There’s a maintenance fee for everything because nothing is free in this world. But then, that is also not an excuse to nickel and dime everything either.

    Should there be a $3 monthly maintenance fee on TAP if people don’t use Metro more than four times a month? There’s a maintenance cost to run TAP too you know.

    In fact we already do have something similar to TAP. You load up $50 onto TAP but whatever remaining balance is gone after every three years when TAP expires. The remaining funds is taken away by Metro for them to fund their budget gaps.

  7. The monthly pilfering was the main reason we didn’t get a transponder. Whoever insisted on the fee should be fired.

  8. Why should we eliminate this fee? There should be a fee for maintenance and if anything else, it can be used for other mass transit projects. We need to stop acting like driving is a right- it’s a privilege. Cars cost our society a lot more than what people pay at the pump.

  9. Who is on the the Board’s Systems, Safety and Operations Committee and how can we contact them? EVERYONE wants to see this approved!

  10. I believe this would be an improvement, many people who used the 110 or 10 HOV lanes occassionally in the past do not want to commit to an endless $3.00 a month for continuing the priviledge.

  11. The most ridiculous situation is that anyone visiting the LA area who have a car pool is totally eliminated from using the express toll lanes at all because they would not have a transponder. In a way, this seems like a form of discrimination to visitors to the Los Angeles area.