40% of ExpressLane Funds Will Go Towards Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements

When Metro first proposed converting HOV Lanes to congestion pricing lanes where drivers could choose to pay cash for a congestion free trip, some politicians and news paper columnists were outraged. Some where so outraged at the “Lexus Lanes” they worked tirelessly to get them moved somewhere else. Others were so outraged they wrote research-free opinion columns standing up for all of the poor people that wouldn’t be able to buy in to the toll lanes every day.

Projects such as Carson's bike plans may be funded by ExpressLanes.

Those people were nowhere to be found last week when the Metro Board of Directors advised staff to allocate roughly 40% of toll funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects, injecting literally millions of dollars into the systems surrounding the ExpressLanes on the I-10 and I-110.

“Bike paths and walkways are important components of the ExpressLanes project, and the communities along the Harbor and Santa Monica Freeways—where the pilot project is in place–  will see the benefits of the projected $16 million to $19 million in revenue,” writes County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas. “The guidelines for reinvesting these funds take a holistic view of  transit.”

After the federal government granted enough funds to Metro to dramatically increase bus service along the freeway corridors impacted by ExpressLanes, the program now has direct benefits for the car-free and transit dependent. Some of whom have even less fiscal means than the car owners being defended by hysterical politicians and out-of-touch newspaper columnists.

And the representatives of the areas that are seeing the benefits of ExpressLanes are ecstatic.

“It’s wonderful to see Metro invest toll revenue in local communities,” writes Lauren Grabowski, the  HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Project Manager for Connecting Carson, the City of Carson’s Active Transportation Plan.

“Carson City Council has already approved of a bike plan which identifies projects that can connect Carson residents and workers to two I-110 Express stations, Carson Station and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center. But finding funding is always a challenge. Developing these projects will encourage people to use the Metro Express Buses on the I-110 as well promote community healthy through increased physical activity and cleaner air. It’s a win-win.”

Carson City is located just on the I-110 Corridor. Similar enthusiasm can be found along the I-10 ExpressLanes corridor.

“Although the San Gabriel Valley is in the midst of developing a regional bicycle master plan, funding for projects is always an issue,” writes Javier Hernandez, with the advocacy group Bike SGV. “The Congestion Reduction Demonstration has exceeded expectations to generate a local funding source for such projects.  BikeSGV is extremely excited about this opportunity to fund projects that will improve current biking and walking conditions sooner than later.”

Grabowski and Hernandez were two of a team of advocates who testified at last week’s Metro Board Meeting that included Eric Bruins from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Hilary Norton with Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, Tafarai Bayne with Trust South L.A., and Andres Ramirez with Community Health Councils. One of the leaders of the effort was Jessica Meaney with the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership who is also well known as a steering committee member for Los Angeles Walks.

“We’re excited to see Metro’s sustainability planning policy applied to investment decisions,” Meaney explains.
“With only 1% of all Metro’s funding currently going to walking and bicycling investments in LA County which represent over 20% of the trips, this is promising finance policy step forward, and helps start conversations and policy links to Metro’s forthcoming Countywide Complete Street Policy which will come before the Board in early 2014.”
  • Anonymous

    This is great news. Congestion pricing on freeways, with the finds going towards transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvements seems like a complete “no-brainer”. I’m glad this project is working out as intended.

  • It’s wondrous how my opinion of Metro has changed over the last couple years. They’re really doing some great things.

  • Anonymous

    nitpick…Carson City is in Nevada. The city of Carson is along the 110.

  • This is outstanding news. That amount doesn’t sound like much when you think about road funding, but it can make a HUGE difference for poorly-funded (and much less expensive) pedestrian and bike infrastructure projects.

  • Tim

    What a joke! Exactly how are “Bike paths and walkways” “important components of the ExpressLanes project? They are completely unrelated other than they both convey people. The ExpressLanes Project is about taking away freeway lanes that were already paid for by the public and reallocating them in a way that allows the government to charge additional dollars for them. It’s a money grab. Nothing more. This new 40% “allocation” is just another giveaway of now-public money to endorse politically correct ideologies ie: “walking and biking are good, cars are evil”. How about we license bikes and pedestrians the same way we do cars so they can contribute to the cost of creating and maintaining their own rights of way?

  • Tim

    It’s correct as written, as in “Carson” City Council- not “Carson City” Council. Much as “The Torrance City Council” and “L.A. City Council” are correct. Of course that means in Nevada it may be the “Carson City City Council” which seems somehow redundant. : )

  • Anonymous

    Well, I was referring to “Carson City is located just on the I-110 Corridor”. Which it is not. But again, not exactly history’s greatest crime and since you’re correcting me… ;)

  • calwatch

    Not this again. The Express Lanes take away nothing for 97% of the existing drivers. You can get a transponder, for a $50 deposit (less than the cost of registration or a tank of gas), put it in your car, and use it only for carpool qualifying trips for no additional cost than the $50 if you have a LA County billing address. Heck, if you make below $40,000 a year, you can even have $25 in free tolls!

    The El Monte Busway was constructed as a bus only lane, so any carpools being allowed to use it is gravy. On the Harbor Transitway, it was constructed with Proposition C transitway funds. For the vast majority of people, nothing was taken away. And how about we license voters and force them to read budgets before they spout off on uninformed rants? It has the same effect.

  • Tim

    The Express lanes on the Harbor Freeway took lanes that were for carpools and converted them into toll lanes. That means that people that used them for free now have to pay for the privilege. They have to pay for the box and if they don’t use the toll lanes they get charged $5 a month anyway. Therefore those of us that live nearby and occasionally have need of these lanes do not have access to them free as before. They were taken. Period.

    I am quite well “”informed” on this and although it is a rant, it is 100% correct.

  • calwatch

    Um, you do realize that for the foreseeable future, if your billing address in LA County, the transponder is free? And the fee was always $3 a month, never $5. If you live in LA County there is no reason not to get the transponder. If they start imposing fees again, which most of the MTA Board does not support at this time, just cancel the account and send it back.

  • Earl J.

    The “freeways” are anything but free. Driver’s gas taxes do not provide enough revenue to maintain the existing interstate and highway network. The federal government is still spending billions each year to widen freeways; the widening of I-405 through the Sepulveda Pass is currently at $1.3B for about a miles worth of an additional lane.

  • Tim

    I did not infer that Freeways are free. That would be silly. Apparently you don’t know the etymology of the term. Our state should have plenty of money to maintain the roads except for the fact that our friends in Sacramento have been “borrowing” from that fund for over a decade to pay for their other pet programs.

  • Tim

    Just checked the Metro web site and if this is true the info is not available there or is so buried as to be inaccessible.

  • Alex Brideau III

    On the main ExpressLanes webpage, just below the “Get Started” box you’ll see a wide pink box that says, “Latest News: Attention LA County Residents, the monthly account maintenance fee is waived for the remainder of the pilot period (Feb 28, 2014).”

  • Ruud

    Good work.

    To all nay-sayers: if government would not have subsidised motorways out of general tax funds in the past, there would not be any motorways to begin with. Instead of calling it a “money-grab” I would call it “redistribution of funds” for a better future.

    Roads, cars, all so necessary because of choices made for you by big oil companies in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To secure their own future they bought up train and other mass-transit. Just read about some of the court cases of that time if you really want to know why and how the US ended up as an urban sprawl… and creating the car as a necessity of life even now decades later…


Metro ExpressLanes and Carpooling: The Facts, the Benefits and More

(Those of you that follow Streetsblog on Twitter may have noticed the ExpressLanes team at Metro were less than thrilled with our article on the concerns some have with the transponder requirement to access ExpressLanes. We invited them to write a response and Stephanie Wiggins, Executive Officer for the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Initiative, responded. – D) […]

Balancing Cars, Cash and Congestion: Metro Silver Line BRT in ExpressLanes

At the April 2014 board meeting, Metro’s ExpressLanes and the Metro Silver Line were the big success story. The ExpressLanes program is a $210 million federally-funded trial project to “to develop multi-modal solutions to improve traffic flow and provide enhanced travel options on the I-110 and I-10 Freeways.” The program converted freeway carpool lanes to […]

40% of Proceeds from ExpressLanes Going to Active Transportation

While much of the attention on yesterday’s Metro Board committee hearings was on the showdown over active transportation in the Short Range Transportation Plan, some good news emerged in the Congestion Reduction Committee tasked with overseeing Metro’s ExpressLanes Program. Over $26 million in funds collected by variable toll lanes on the I-10 and I-110 were […]

Congestion Pricing Opens on the I-10, Hysteria on Hold

This weekend, Express Lanes opened on 14 miles of the I-10 between Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles and the 605 freeway. The lanes converted existing HOV lanes to HOV/HOT lanes during non-peak hours. This means solo-car commuters can buy their way into the carpool lane if they have a FastTrack transponder. Carpoolers will also need […]