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Express Lane

110 Freeway Toll Road Evasion Tickets: Is This Extortion?

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Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 7:05 AM
click to enlarge MICHAEL R PERRY/FLICKR
  • Michael R Perry/Flickr

Amanda Ferguson, 42, of Echo Park, on May 30 received in the mail a toll road ticket for driving on the 110 in South L.A.

She is upset. But not so much about the ticket as its due date -- May 30, the same day the ticket arrived in the mail. Had she failed to pay the $3.05 due on that very day, she would have owed $28.05 for being "late."

Many people are angry about the new tolls and surprise tickets. Sometimes motorists don't even realize they were on a toll road until the demand for payment arrives in the mail.

Ferguson explains:

I don't have a problem paying the $3 fine. It doesn't seem reasonable to demand payment on the same day it arrived.

I was frustrated because I wasn't given time to understand what the violation was about. A few days notice would be good to open the mail, send out a check for what was being asked.

We went to the MetroExpressLanes.net website and found this Metro rule about how the fees work:

All vehicles traveling on the Metro ExpressLanes must have a FasTrak® transponder.


On the I-110, vehicles with two or more occupants per vehicle will be able to continue using the Metro ExpressLanes toll-free.


On the I-10, vehicles with three or more occupants will be able to use Metro ExpressLanes toll-free at all hours. Vehicles with two occupants will pay a toll during peak hours (5 a.m.-9 a.m.; 4 p.m.-7 p.m.), but will have toll-free use during off-peak hours.

She drove with a passenger on the 105, then the 110, as she returned home from LAX the morning of May 13, the date of her violation. She didn't have the FasTrak "transponder" required of all motorists who use the experimental, congestion-priced route that has been in effect since November. She didn't even know she was on a toll road because -- lucky woman -- she very seldom has to actually drive on the crammed 110.

Her ticket, for "toll evasion," showed she used the 110 northbound between Slauson Avenue and 39th Street, a section of about 1.6 miles designated as part of a Metro Express Lane.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF AMANDA FERGUSON
  • Courtesy of Amanda Ferguson

Rick Jager, a Metro spokesman, had a curious response to Ferguson's ticket, which was due to be paid to Metro pretty much right that minute, or else:

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