Drivers willing to pay an extra fee for a congestion free commute could get some good news in the coming months.
Buried in a Metro Board Subcommittee report  is an interesting update on Metro’s congestion pricing plans. In addition to turning standard HOV Lanes on the I-10 and I-110 into HOV and toll lanes during non peak hour periods, a move that seems more about capacity expansion plan than congestion reduction ; the MTA is also planning to study whether to bring congestion pricing in some form or another to five more stretches of Los Angeles County Highways.
Staff is proposing to study five stretches of highway to assess the feasibility of expanding their Congestion Pricing program. If you can’t read the map above, the report recommends studying:
- 1-1 05, from 1-405 to 1-605
- 1-405, from 1-105 to 1-5 north of LAX
- SR91, from 1-1 10 to the Orange County Line
- SR57, from SR60 to the Orange County Line
- Additional consideration may also be warranted for the 1-10 between 1-605 and the San Bernardino County Line.
These corridors were selected based on a criteria created by the federal government. Every corridor was rated on connectivity, constructability, transit benefits and revenue potential. This last category is a tricky issue for Metro who stated over and over again, in the face of harsh media criticism , that their congestion pricing plans are about reducing congestion and protecting investment in HOV lanes. The “revenue potential” of these tolls was just a bonus.
At this point, Metro isn’t using the term “Express Lanes” to discuss the study. “Express Lanes ” is the term they created for their almost-congestion-pricing pilot plans for the I-10 and I-110 that will begin construction sometime in 2011. As we discussed earlier, the Express Lanes concept, which doesn’t change any part of the road pattern during rush hour, would allow drivers of single passenger vehicles to buy a congestion free ride during non-peak hours by buying their way into the carpool lane.
Instead, Express Lanes’ impact on peak hour travel time is limited to the transit expansion projects that the federal government paid for to entice Metro to experiment with HOV/Express Lanes conversion.
As for these five corridors, Metro staff says its way to soon to know what form, if any, congestion pricing might take. But one thing is for certain, Metro’s plans for congestion pricing in existing HOV lanes go way beyond a one year pilot study on the I-10 and I-110.