Recent tolls on the 110 are slowing things down for some

Recent tolls on the 110 are slowing things down for some

Los Angeles launched an experiment of sorts when it turned carpool lanes into toll lanes on the 110 freeway late last year. The idea, of course, was to get everyone moving more quickly (and to make some money to improve the Harbor Freeway corridor). The data is in and it’s not exactly what drivers and planners wanted to see. Drivers in the toll lanes are moving quickly, but the rest of the freeway has slowed down.

This drive time discrepancy might just be growing pains. MTA officials say solo drivers are no longer using the carpool lane illegally, and everyone else is just taking their time to figure out if the toll lane is worth it. But even if it’s worth the charge, the rules and cost can be confusing.  As Martin Morales wrote on our Facebook page, it’s “soooo confusing trying to read how much my wallet is gonna set me back on a given day depending the speed and number of cars on the fwy. To hell with it I’m not paying the city more money – I feel like I’m being robbed and no fun is pointed at me!”

The congestion pricing model means that you never really know how much you’re going to be charged. The price ranges from 25 cents per mile to $1.40 per mile; it’s more expensive when regular lanes get busier. And that’s after already buying the $40 transponder (Metro has already issued 12,297 tickets to drivers caught on camera without the FasTrak device).

We turned to KCRW listeners (and commuters) who use the freeway to gauge the efficacy of the toll lanes. Here’s what they said:

Gabriela Duncan: “Frustrated that I have to pay for something that used to be FREE! 20 violations for using it as a carpool lane without a transponder! Their signs make no sense to figure out how much you are actually paying and although they say carpooling is “free”, you still have to pay $40 to get the transponder PLUS maintenance fees. Just another reason for the city of Los Angeles to siphon money from its citizens. I love how they say, “It’s a Pilot Program” oh really, well get rid of it! Waste of Money!!!!

Annie Donohue : I travel on the 110 from San Pedro to the 101 or Pasadena several times a week. I didn’t want to spend the extra money for FasTrak at first, but it has been well worth it for me and has taken hours off my commute. It’s a bummer when the lane ends at Adams.

Krystal Puma: The city should have informed the public more. I and I’m sure many others are still unsure about how the lanes work

Gloria Medina: I am so unhappy with the toll lanes! My commute has worsen since the opening of the Fast Track lane. It makes me so upset to have to sit in more congestion for longer periods of time while the “LEXUS” lane is used only by a few privileged commuters. Even if I am travelling with enough passengers to qualify for carpooling I still can’t use the FasTrack Lane because I have not purchased a transponder. Did I say that I mention that I am not happy?!?

You can listen to Which Way, LA? on this here; and join the conversation here. 


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  • Rick Jager, Metro

    Although all drivers using the ExpressLanes will need to have transponders, it is important to note that carpoolers will still travel toll-free in the ExpressLanes. Additionally, the monthly account maintenance fee is waived for commuters who use the lanes for at least four one-way trips per month, whether they are in a carpool, vanpool, toll-paying single occupant vehicle, or taking transit. Metro has also established an Equity Program for low income commuters. Residents of Los Angeles County with an annual household income (family of 3) at or below $39,060 will qualify for a $25 credit when they set up their account. This credit can then be applied to either the transponder deposit or pre-paid toll deposit. The account maintenance fee will also be waived for these commuters.

    Another item to point out is that the toll is calculated based on the congestion in the ExpressLanes. As more vehicles enter the ExpressLanes and travel speeds start to slow, the amount of the toll increases. The price increases to ensure a minimum travel speed of 45 mph in the ExpressLanes .

    More information about the Metro ExpressLanes can be found online at….

  • Jacquetta

    Great post! I love reading this stuff. Keep up the good work!

  • Alex Sage

    I was navigated by map to enter the 110 freeway and it turned out to be a fasttrak only lane!!!!! But when you enter the freeway it says 110 freeway only when you enter you’ll find out that the road is not free anymore… I’m against fasttrack… they confuse people on purpose, to get more payers in!!!