In an effort to reduce congestion on the regular lanes, a solo driver will be able to drive on the carpool lane – for a price, Metro recently launched the Metro Express Lanes.
If you carpool, there will still be a cost for you, too. The tolls, or cost, will vary depending on traffic and time of day. The cost will vary on the length of your trip and number of passengers.
They call this “Congestion Pricing.” The heavier the traffic, the higher the cost. First of all, you have to “subscribe” and pay up front for the privilege of riding in the carpool lane. You pay $40 for a “Fastrak” device that helps monitor the cars.
You get a discount if you are low income. There won’t be any tollbooths, but you have to go online or visit a Metro facility or mail in your subscription.
The Fastrak device on your car that identifies you so that they can charge your credit card and bill you. Sounds like a crazy idea, right? It is the kind of idea that makes one wish they had regular drug and alcohol testing for Metro planners, not just the bus drivers. With the price of gasoline at an all time high, now they will add another cost to commuting to work. This story gets worst, however.
In January, the carpool lane along Interstate 10 (the San Bernardino Freeway for us old timers) will change over to the same system early next year.
This will be in place between Interstate 605 and downtown L.A. Drivers will be able to enter and exit along several local streets including Atlantic Boulevard, Garfield, New and Del Mar avenues. Why would you want to get off? Pricing. There will be a sign that tell you the cost per mile which will be as much as $1.40 per mile, during peak commuting times.
The distance between the I-605 and Alameda Street is 14 miles. Some local cynics are predicting our own “Carmageddon” in the west San Gabriel Valley. That’s because some commuters may get off the freeway and take local surface streets to save a few hundred dollars a month.
Streets, such as Mission Road, Valley Boulevard, Las Tunas Drive/Main Street and Garvey Avenue, will be jammed packed with toll road refugees. When those streets get crowded, the traffic will spill over to local north-south streets such as Garfield, Sixth Street/Inez Avenue, and Fremont Street and Del Mar and New and Walnut Grove avenues.
Those streets are already busy on peak travel hours. I certainly hope I am wrong about “Carmageddon” here in the Valley. Fortunately, it is only a one-year demonstration project. To learn more about this plan go to www.metro.net.