They’re taking the “free” out of freeways.
This weekend, solo drivers using a 14-mile stretch of the San Bernardino Freeway will have to pay a toll if they want to use the carpool lanes. The existing carpool lanes are being converted to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes between the 605 interchange and Downtown L.A.
Carpoolers will not be charged for using these special lanes, but they will still need a FasTrak transponder. Solo commuters will be charged a toll in these Express Lanes. Tolls will vary based on traffic congestion. Metro says they’ll range from 25 cents a mile to $1.40 a mile.
That would make the highest potential toll a whopping $19.60 one way. Metro estimates the average toll will be somewhere between $4 and $7.
At a news conference, Mayor Villaraigosa praised these new lanes as the wave of the future. Already, there are HOT lanes on the 110 Harbor freeway. Metro is considering a plan to put them on Interstate 5 between Castaic and the San Fernando Valley.
I asked the Mayor to respond to criticism that these lanes favor wealthy drivers.