Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Today, Metro hosted it's third "online chat" with Metro Board Chair Pam O'Connor. Today's topic was HOT Lanes and the regional transportation funding crisis. For the full chat, click here.
The highlights of the chat were mostly congestion-pricing related. Metro has taken a beating for examining road pricing as a way to reduce congestion, and hopefully today was the beginning a pr campaign designed to explain what it is Metro is hoping to do.
Below are some quotes from the answers about Metro's HOT Lanes plan.
In response to a question about "punishing car poolers":
Our hope with congestion pricing is to better manage our highway lanes -- to make the system work more efficiently and optimally. We think toll lanes will keep the lanes running at 50 miles per hour. And any money collected -- although this is far from a huge money-making tool -- would be used to increase other transit options along the corridor like van pool subsidies and add more freeway express buses to help everyone move better … especially those who use transit or carpool.
In response to a question about possibly only taking one lane, so that one carpool lane would remain:
So to research, Metro has been working closely with Caltrans on this issue and both agencies feel that congestion pricing can be effective with only one lane – especially as a demonstration project -- just to see how the concept works. Certainly we like the flexibility of having two lanes in each direction, as is the case on the Harbor Freeway Transitway. With only one lane, however, the goal will be to get enough people to switch to non peak hours or to vanpools and transit so that the lane moves at a consistent 50 miles per hour.
In response to a claim that congestion pricing is a tax that "puts yet another unfair burden on the motoring public."
The goal is not so much to make big bunches of money -- because it won't (although we will take what is collected and use it for transit improvements along those corridors) -- but to squeeze better efficiency out of the lanes and frankly, people will have to give more thought to their driving habits and to the choices they make about travel.
( ed. note: It seems that either Metro or I had a technology snafu, because I haven't seen the chat updated in the last half an hour...if there are more tidbits on congestion pricing when I have access to the final transcript, I'll be sure to write about them.)