LA Metro officials have to rethink their solutions toward casual carpoolers.
Los Angeles Metro officially launched the Metro ExpressLanes along the
I-110 freeway, a pilot, one-year demonstration program. The program
included the conversion of the carpool lanes into tolled express lanes
(also known as HOT Lanes).
Tolling along this corridor began late night on November 10, 2012 with
the I-10 toll lanes set to launch later in 2013. All motorists including
carpools are mandated to have a FasTrak transponder to enter the
facility; HOV traffic must use
the Metro ExpressLanes switchable FasTrak for toll free travel.
A Good Opening Weekend:
So far, the lanes are
off to a good start, after opening to the public last weekend. Granted, using the lanes will cost
as much as $15.40 per use, but these are
mere grumblings that officials will take in stride, as the toll lanes intend to provide congestion relief and needed revenue. (
These letters to the LA Times, however, suggest differently.)
TTC's HOT Lane Position:
The Transit Coalition advocated for free non-transponder carpooling
along the Metro ExpressLanes, but Metro never adopted the concept citing
enforcement issues. Nevertheless, the Coalition's
HOT lane campaign page illustrates how non-transponder HOT lanes can
be enforced effectively by the CHP in lieu of an automated system.
TTC's A Better Inland Empire HOT campaign page
goes deeper into the facts.
Keep on Carpooling, Patriots:
Moving forward, several motorists are certainly disappointed, but should
accept the situation and explore ridesharing alternatives offered by
Metro and the private marketplace. Existing casual carpools should
continue to share the ride as
a means to reduce traffic. Carpooling is a patriotic act of combating
congestion. Same holds true for using public transit. The truth is that
the I-110 HOT lanes according to Metro will operate at speeds of at
least 45 mph, even during peak hours. Metro claims the main freeway
lanes will also benefit, but the verdict will be shown as commuters hit
the road during the next few weeks. Let's hope we don't end up with a
repeat of the
I-85 toll lane disaster in Atlanta.
Seeking Solutions for Non-Registered Casual Carpoolers:
Meanwhile, officials have to rethink their solutions toward casual
carpoolers, HOV traffic coming from the Inland Empire, taxi cab drivers,
private sector bus lines, and all other HOV patrons who may be negated
by the transponder policy to prevent a drop in the number of private
carpools for the corridor. The good news for transit advocates and the
public is that the responsibility and pressure are now on Metro and LA
officials; if free mobility and ridesharing do not improve for both the
and regular lanes along the I-110 freeway over the course of the pilot
period, the notion of converting carpool lanes into transponder-mandated
HOT lanes as a means to reduce congestion will be struck down, thus
opening the door for
possible non-transponder carpooling in the Metro ExpressLanes.
However, Metro believes the agency has developed a sound toll lane
facility and we should continue to explore ways to improve the corridor,
especially for those who share the ride, either by public transit or
private carpool. There are two ways the Metro ExpressLanes can affect
I-110 mobility: First, as Metro claims, the express lanes will improve
free mobility for both the HOT and regular lanes. Or secondly, the
transponder-only HOT lanes could be a repeat of the I-85 toll lane blunder
with worsened traffic congestion in the regular freeway lanes with the
drop of casual carpools from the express lanes. If the former,
stop-and-go traffic will be the thing of the past. If the latter, Metro
made a big mistake of mandating FasTrak transponders for carpoolers.