Metro Freeway Service Patrol celebrates 25th anniversary

The Metro Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) on Wednesday celebrated its 25th anniversary of helping stranded motorists with car trouble and helping ease traffic congestion. The FSP began as a test program in 1991 and has since helped more than seven million motorists — and remains a free service provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Caltrans with oversight by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

“The Metro Freeway Service Patrol is the largest free service of its kind in the nation with FSP drivers assisting about 300,000 motorists annually – and every one of those vehicle breakdowns has the potential for causing traffic jams lasting long periods of time,” said Metro Chair John Fasana.

FSP drivers change flat tires, jump start dead batteries, refill radiators, repair leaking hoses, provide up to one gallon of fuel and can tow a disabled vehicle out of freeway lanes.

“FSP is essential to keeping traffic flowing smoothly on L.A. County freeways,” said CHP Assistant Chief Greg Peck. “We estimate that because of FSP, motorists have saved nearly 9.5 million hours sitting in traffic.”

FSP covers 475 freeway miles of L.A. County during commute hours seven days per week with 149 tow trucks in operation during weekday peak periods. The average wait time for FSP is seven minutes. An FSP driver can be dispatched by a CHP officer or a motorist in need can call 511 on their mobile phone.

Metro provides 66 percent of the funding for FSP from local sales taxes and Caltrans provides the rest from state highway funds.

“FSP gives taxpayers a great bang for the buck with $13 in benefits to motorists for every dollar spent,” said Caltrans Deputy District Director for Operations Ali Zaghari. “Countywide, we’ve saved 16.2 million gallons of fuel and registered 150,000 kilograms of lower tailpipe emissions annually.

FSP service is provided by independent tow service operators contracted with Metro.

“As the population in L.A. County continues to rise, we see more cars on the freeways and a greater need to reduce congestion,” said Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Metro is committed to securing the necessary funding to keep this program strong.”

Some photos from Wednesday’s press event: