110 toll lanes: Dividing more than just the roads?

After two years, the Metro Transportation Authority project to convert the 110 freeway carpool lanes to toll lanes may become the victim of it’s own success.

So many drivers are using the northbound toll lanes to avoid morning traffic that the paid lanes now have heavy traffic and have slower speeds. Traffic in paid lanes have increased 20 percent, even as the fee per-mile has reached its maximum cost.

Courtesy of: scpr.org

The tolls range from 25 cents to $1.40 per mile or a maximum price of $15.40 for an 11 mile stretch.

High prices in tolls were supposed to free up paid lanes and make them faster but it is quickly becoming clear that isn’t happening.

“The fact that the speeds are getting low suggests prices aren’t high enough,” said Clifford Winston, a Brookings Institute economist who focuses on transportation policy.

Many paying commuters believe the only solution to this problem is to raise the price even more to discourage other drivers from utilizing those lanes. That way, those who have the highest value on their time will pay the most.

110 Freeway

Southbound traffic on the 110 freeway. Courtesy: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Raising the toll price even more concerns some Metro board members because the toll lanes have already been given the nickname “Lexus Lanes” due to the amount of higher-income commuters using the lanes.

There is fear that this will divide commuters even more, leaving lower-income drivers stuck in traffic, clearly identifying who can afford the toll lanes and who can’t.

The board is set to discuss further price increases this fall as Metro tweaks it’s traffic algorithm.

Original story here.

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