Congestion pricing comes to Los Angeles

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photo by sanspoof via Flickr/CC

Starting this weekend, solo drivers will be able to bypass traffic on a stretch of the Harbor (110) Freeway by paying to use 11 miles of carpool lanes.

Existing “HOV” lanes will be renamed as “HOT” – high-occupancy toll lanes – allowing single drivers to use the carpool lane for a fee, depending on the traffic.

The so-called High Occupancy Toll lanes will be L.A. County’s first attempt at congestion pricing. Similar ideas have been used around the world – in Singapore, London, Stockholm and other cities, including in the United States.

ExpressLanes requires drivers to purchase a transponder for $40, plus a $3 monthly maintenance fee. There’s also a sliding fee of 25 cents to $1.40 per mile, depending on congestion.

 The $210 million program is supported in part by federal funding. Drivers caught using ExpressLanes without a transponder could be fined up to $341.

Metro plans to expand ExpressLanes to the 10 freeway, from east downtown to the 605.

KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis spoke to Michael Cabanatuan, transportation writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, about how congestion pricing has worked in that city, and to Martin Wachs of The RAND Corporation.