Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pondering the 110 'Toll' Lanes

Audience members who attended the meeting held by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) on the new project for the 110 freeway, learned more about the project.

There is really nothing to get really agitated about at this point and it might even turn out to be something of a plus, if things are done correctly.

Metro applied for and was provided with a $210 Million Dollar grant from the Federal Highway Administration to conduct a demonstration of ways to lessen congestion on two local freeways.

The two freeways that are involved in the project are the 10 Freeway, along the 'El Monte' corridor and the 110 Freeway along its High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes between the Artesia Transit Center and the end of the lanes at about Adams Blvd.

The demonstration project is scheduled to begin on or about December 31, 2010 and run for at least one year.

Buses, vanpools, and vehicles having two or more occupants will not be affected in any way, so the folks at Metro claim.

The goal is to offer those using the HOV lanes to have vehicles move along them at a minimum speed of 45 mph, 90% of the time.

The new item that is going to be added is called the 'Fastlane' concept.

Solo motorists would have the option of obtaining a transponder. They then would be able to enter the HOV lanes and pass under registers along the route that would signal a fee for using the HOV lane being charged to them.

The fees would be dynamic in nature and change as the number of vehicles in the HOV lanes grows or lowers and also may be based on time of day.

The fees would also be different depending on where a motorist entered the HOV lanes.

Folks who already travel for 'free' in the HOV lanes would not be charged at all. Only solo motorists who have a transponder and wish to use the HOV lanes would be charged.

For those being charged, along with everyone else using the HOV lanes, Metro has to guarantee that vehicles will be able to travel at least 45 mph for at least 90% of the time.

If it comes to be that the limit and the percentage cannot be met, then signs would illuminate stating that solo motorists would not be allowed to enter the lanes.

Metro also stated that there would be improvements to the northern end of the HOV lanes and there would be improvements along Adams Blvd.

There would also be increased law enforcement presence, funded by tolls collected from solo motorists who would use the HOV lanes.

There would be no changes for solo motorists who have vehicles allowed to already use the HOV lanes like hybrid vehicles.

Metro folks claim there would be no other taxpayer money used in the demonstration and hopefully, if the demonstration is successful, for the actual implementation of the project, if that were to occur.

Metro also stated there would be more transit options for San Pedro, but they were not very talkative about those options right now. Many of the audience members stated that San Pedro and the Harbor Area have always received too little attention from Metro and folks were annoyed at Metro from the get-go.

There would be many more buses added to the HOV lanes between the Artesia Transit Center and downtown L.A., but we didn't learn more about whether there would be more buses running more restricted lines between San Pedro and downtown L.A.

Everyone was encouraged to make written and oral comments during the meeting and many folks did just that.

It appeared that trust was a difficult thing to come by from audience members to the Metro representatives who were at the meeting, and to Metro as an entity.

My comments surrounded the idea that I believe no taxpayer funds should be used for the demonstration project or for the 'Fastlane' implementation and maintenance.

If solo motorists want to use the new service, then they should pay the full funding for the service and not have it come back to taxpayers or bus riders.

The grant that was provided, itself was originally collected from taxes so I don't think we need more taxation for this project.

Metro representatives stated there would be processes that low income folks could use to be able to use the 'Fastlane' service. That still has to be worked out, though.

The idea is essentially to get folks who wish to, to move into the HOV lanes and ease traffic on the regular lanes and still be able to have speed and better timeliness provided for the HOV lanes.

So now it is time to ponder, I guess. Other than the tax issues, I really have no strong opinion one way or the other. It is a change, and many folks claim change is good and necessary.

Whether it actually accomplishes what Metro wants it to accomplish has yet to be seen.

One of the reasons the 110 was chosen was that no new lanes would be needed to be constructed. There would only be the equipment used to track the transponders, the signage at entry points, some amenities at stations along the route, and some other amenities.

One thing that was revealed during the meeting is that the 110 high occupancy vehicle lanes are traveled by the most number of vehicles in the entire country. Between the Artesia Transit Center and downtown L.A. it is use by more vehicles than any other type of HOV lanes in the country, including the L.A. Basin area.

I didn't know how singled out that corridor was until tonight.

I'll post more information about the project as I learn more about it and learn if anyone is really interested in the project.

1 comment:

Gayle said...

I spoke to a Metro representative who is responsible for our area after the meeting. They plan to have more buses available for San Pedro (possibly a better express service). I agree with you that this FastLanes project just might turn out to be a good thing for San Pedro. I've taken the 445 line to downtown LA for over 20 years and am very interested in how the project will all play out.