Despite an independent study that found the relatively new toll lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways in L.A. didn't improve traffic flow much, county transportation officials are looking to expand the tolls to other stretches of your favorite parking lots.
The lanes have brought in $18 million to county transportation coffers since they first took the “free” out of freeways in L.A. in 2012. That figure surpassed a $10 million goal, says the office of county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Metro board members Ridley-Thomas, Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, and John Fasana, Duarte councilman, this week asked for a study that would look into expanding the pay-to-drive program.
Earlier this year a study prepared for federal transportation officials concluded that the 10 and 110 freeway toll lanes, which essentially allow paying motorists to use what were once carpool lanes, didn't really affect traffic flow that much.
In some cases the lanes actually moved slower than they did as carpool lanes. Metro's own summary said the analysis found “degradation in travel times” … “on some portions of the 10 and 110.”
However, during certain times of the day, such as the morning peak time, travel times decreased “marginally” on the 110, Metro said.
And Metro public transportation ridership in the area increased by as much as 27 percent, officials said. That's a good thing because it generally means fewer cars are on the roads.
Ridley-Thomas' office says 259,524 transponders, necessary to use the toll lanes, have been issued since 2012, far surpassing a goal of 100,000.
Although the toll lanes comprised a pilot program, in September legislators gave Metro the okay to move forward indefinitely with the pay-to-drive programs across L.A. county.
The toll lanes, with charges that rise and fall depending on traffic, haven't been entirely popular with the populace, and it's hard for us to get our head around paying for something—a public road—we already paid to build.
But they're better than stupid carpool lanes, which nobody but tourists and Prius drivers seemed to use. Ridley-Thomas:
Nobody likes traffic. But with these toll lanes we are seeing some positive results that benefit residents. This is one critical tool in our attempts to reduce congestion and pollution.