Tomorrow’s Big Metro Board Agenda Item: Expanding Congestion Pricing

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An Exit for Los Angeles off I-210

Headlining tomorrow’s meeting of the Metro Board is a motion by County Supervisor Michael Antonovich requiring staff to examine other highways where Metro could implement congestion pricing.  Antonovich wants the study completed by June’s Metro Board Meeting.  To see the the rest of tomorrow's agenda, click here.

Antonovich’s motion claims to address the concerns of San Gabriel Valley residents and politicians that they are being singled out by Metro’s current plans to implement HOT Lanes on the I-10, I-110 and I-210.  The resolution states:

Since the agreement by the Metro Board of Directors to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with USDOT, there have been concerns raised by the residents of the San Gabriel Valley about why their freeways were targeted for the grant, and why Metro did not apply for other freeway corridors like I-405 and US-101. Furthermore, members of the San Gabriel Valley state and federal legislative delegation have also voiced complaints that they were not properly informed about the congestion pricing proposal. One member has since introduced legislation at the federal level designed to terminate this USDOT grant implementation. 

While it is good to Metro move to address the many critics of congestion pricing, it won’t have the desired effect of muting the complaints.  The editorial outcry against the HOT Lanes project isn’t about the Valley being singled out, it’s about car culture advocates’ outrage about being asked to pay for their God-Given right to a congestion free ride.

If Antonovich wants to expand Metro’s options for future congestion pricing projects, that’s good news and something that should be applauded.  But if anyone thinks that Metro is going to turn the tide of newspaper editorials and politicians pandering to their car-driving constituents by trying to be more fair about where they implement congestion pricing, they're in for a rude awakening.

Congressman Miller isn't concerned about fair.  He's concerned about looking good to car driving commuters.  If he were concerned about what was fair he wouldn't denigrate transit in the same statement he praises car culture:

Miller said the money Metro would get wouldn't even go to improve roads. Instead, it would go for buses, rail lines and park-and-ride improvements.

Newspaper opinion writers aren't interested in being fair.  If they were, they wouldn't just re-write each other's columns in a race to the bottom of the original thought barrel.

When Mayor Bloomberg introduced his congestion pricing plan for New York City, car culture struck back with many of the same arguments we're hearing today.  Years later, the proposal died in the state legislature without even coming to a vote, despite massive compromises and efforts to address people's concerns.

Let's hope Metro has learned a lesson from the New York experience and keeps it's focus on what's best for LA County's transportation system and less on what a group of obstructionists think is "fair". 

Photo: moncefc/flickr