What You Need To Know About L.A.'s First Toll Lanes Opening This Weekend
This weekend Los Angeles county's first toll lane will be opening. This means that solo drivers who pay a fee will be allowed in the 11 miles of carpool lanes—which will now be called Metro ExpressLanes—between the Harbor Gateway Transit Center at West 182nd Street near Gardena and Adams Boulevard just south of downtown. The lanes will open late on Saturday or early Sunday, depending on the weather.
Metro claims the plan will reduce congestion on the freeways. It's funded with a $210 million congestion reduction demonstration grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
We've rounded up some of the key points of the project via Metro and City News Service:
Everyone has to buy a transponder to get in the toll lane. Solo drivers need a transponder to pay the toll. If you're carpooling, you don't have to pay, but you still need to buy the transponder. There's a switch inside the transponder lets the system know if you're driving solo or carpooling. (And Metro says they have ways of figuring out if you're trying to cheat the system.) You can buy transponders here or by calling 5-1-1 and saying "Express Lanes." Or you can buy them in person at 500 W. 190th St. in Gardena or 3501 Santa Anita Ave. in El Monte. If you pay by debit or credit, you need to have an account with a minimum of $40. If you use cash, you need to put down a $25 deposit and start with a minimum balance of $50. Lower-income folks (less than $37,060 for a family of three) can get a transponder with only a $15 deposit. (So far 30,000 drivers have opened FasTrak accounts, which was above Metro's goal of 25,000.)
The price varies depending on traffic. Depending on traffic, solo drivers will have to pay somewhere between a quarter and $1.40 for every mile, depending on how bad traffic is. Metro said solo drivers can expect to spend about $4-7 each day.
Solo drivers can get booted out if traffic gets too slow. If traffic in the ExpressLanes drops below 45 mph, solo drivers won't be allowed in the lane. There will be signs letting you know whether the lane is open for solo drivers or not.
This is a 1-year-pilot program. We'll see how it goes. Similar lanes are expected to be rolled out on a 14-mile stretch of the 10 Freeway between downtown and the 605 Freeway early next year.