Seeing improved travel speeds, increased transit ridership and new revenues, the Metro Board of Directors has decided to pursue a plan to place more toll roads on other freeways throughout Los Angeles County two years after the first toll program began.
The motion, recently approved by the board and co-authored by Board members Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Director John Fasana, calls for a study to expand the High Occupancy Tolls to other Los Angeles County freeways. The proposed strategy to add toll lanes will be brought back to the board early next year.
Research over the past two years has shown that the toll roads have increased the use of public transportation, including a 27 percent increase in Silver Line ridership and the formation of 117 vanpools. The toll roads have also brought in more than $18-million, far surpassing the goal of $10-million, with 259,524 transponders issued by Metro during the pilot period exceeding the goal of 100,000. In addition, travel times for commuters on both the Harbor Freeway and the El Monte Freeway were reduced.
“Nobody likes traffic,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “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.”
Los Angeles County’s first ever High Occupancy Toll lanes opened on November 1, 2012 on the 110 Harbor Freeway, between Adams Blvd and the State Route 91. The second toll lane opened on February 23, 2013 on the 10 EI Monte Freeway, between Alameda St and the 605 freeway.
Moving forward, the Metro board will continue to operate the existing toll road program while also ensuring that all residents regardless of income have access. In addition, Metro plans an increased effort to improve outreach and public education about the Express Lane program, including more signs with a clear message for motorists to avoid confusion and an additional investment to improve customer service for residents with questions.