Engage political champions to keep controversial High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane projects on track.

Experience with the variable pricing projects in Los Angeles (Interim Results)

Date Posted

Metro ExpressLanes: It's About Time

Summary Information

In 2008, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) was selected to participate in the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) - Congestion Reduction Demonstration (CRD) program. Using a portion of the grant money provided by U.S. DOT ($210 million), Metro and Caltrans, along with local mobility partners, will embark on a one-year demonstration program beginning Fall 2012 to convert 25 miles of High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the I-10 and I-110 corridors.

In 2009, six public hearings were conducted prior to the adoption of the tolling policy and toll rates by Metro. The adopted toll rates are a minimum of $0.25 per mile and a maximum of $1.40. In 2010, two environmental impact reports (EIRs) were completed (one for each corridor), the Low Income Commuter Assessment was completed, and a contractor was selected to implement a design-build-operate-maintain (DBOM) contract. In 2011, construction was initiated and in 2012 operations are scheduled to begin on the I-110 followed by the I-10.

The system is designed to operate 24/7 and maintain free-flowing traffic conditions within the HOT Lanes (Metro ExpressLanes). Roadway striping and overhead message signs (FasTrak signs) separate the Metro ExpressLanes from general purpose lanes and overhead dynamic message signs display two toll amounts at designated access points: 1) the current toll to travel the next major exit; and 2) the current toll to travel the end of the Metro ExpressLanes. Toll rates will vary depending on traffic conditions, distance traveled, and vehicle occupancy. Prior to entering the Metro ExpressLanes travelers will set vehicle occupancy (1, 2, or 3+) using a switch mounted on an in-vehicle transponder unit. Enforcement will be achieved using visual and electronic means at the roadside.

The webinar containing these interim findings was the 10th session of the 2011 FHWA Webinar Series: Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing

Lessons Learned

Project updates have been posted regularly on the Metro ExpressLanes project website [1]. The following lessons learned were highlighted during a UPA-CRD update webinar held December 15, 2011.

  • Have a political champion to ensure successful implementation of HOT Lane projects. Champions are critical to launch pricing projects to gain acceptance among key policy makers and other stakeholders.
  • Engage the public early and often throughout the life of the project. Corridor advisory groups comprised of business and community leaders can collaborate on goals and refine project elements. Communication and public outreach is most important at key milestones.
  • Make HOT Lane projects multi-modal. A multi-modal approach increases public acceptance. Advancing a variety of modal options enables everyone to benefit.
  • Address equity issues early in the planning process. A comprehensive plan gains more acceptance if equity issues are integrated into the pricing project. So, while low income commuters generally use transit, they appreciate the opportunity to use the ExpressLanes when they choose.

Overall, the program is expected to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, increase travel time savings, and improve trip reliability. Additional evaluation data will become available as the project progresses.


[1] http://www.metro.net/projects/expresslanes/. Last Accessed January 3, 2012.