Half CA/I-110 Express Lane users are solo driver buy-ins, tolls average 54c/mile
2012/11/26: Close to half the vehicles on the I-110 ExpressLanes in Los Angeles are toll paying after first two weeks operation, somewhat more than expected according to LA Metro project manager Stephanie Wiggins. A bit over 20% are account holders with a FasTrak transponder account declaring themselves carpoolers (2 or more persons) eligible for a toll-free ride.
Almost 30% are violators, Wiggins says - drivers in the Express Lanes without a transponder account. They're not too surprised at the high violation rate given that until November 10th carpoolers needed no transponder account to travel the HOV lanes legally.
LA Metro hopes to steadily get carpoolers into conformance with the requirement that they have a transponder account.
50,000 new FasTrak accounts have been set up in the pasts several months. Motorists who want to claim toll-free rides get a switchable transponder with three positions: 1 solo driver, 2 persons for toll-free rides on the CA110. (The 3 person declaration will apply in the yet-to-open I-10 express lanes in peak hours.)
Wiggins says traffic volumes are down about 15% from when the lanes were HOV - on account of motorists not yet having got transponders. The drop could also be due to a greater police presence since the conversion to toll lanes, Wiggins thinks, and fewer solo drivers cheating.
Tolls average 54c/mile
She says tolls so far have been averaging $5.91 for the full length 11 mile trip or 54c/mile. The highest toll setting has produced a toll of $9.70 or 88c/mile. They're not allowed to charge more than $1.40/mile (CORRECTION) and the minimum toll will be 25c/mile.
Wiggins says the toll system is "working well."
Parsons Brinckerhoff did conceptual and preliminary design, and support. System integration was done by Xerox/ACS and the dynamic pricing algorithms are written by AECOM engineering. A combination of volumes and speeds in the express lanes set the tolls. AECOM brought a tested pricing model from the FL/I-95 Express Lanes north of Miami, a project with some similarities to the CA/110.
LA Metro has a target minimum speed of 45mph and has achieved this 100% so far.
That's an improvement on the norm on the HOV lanes before. They regularly bogged down with 20 or 30mph average speeds in the morning peak northbound.
Improvement in bus ridership
Wiggins says the improved bus service made possible by the project is already paying off. The faster rides, more frequent buses (every 10 minutes versus 30 minutes before) have produced a 77% increase in ridership compared to when the lanes were HOV.
he Express Lanes are divided from general purpose lanes except at dashed entry and exit points by a double white stripe with no delineator posts of the kind used on the Capital Beltway VA495 lanes.
Wiggins says there have been cases of motorists driving over the double white lines and the California Highway Patrol has issued tickets to several motorists. They are publicizing high penalties to deter the practice.
The two projects CA110 and the CA10 express lanes (to open in the new year) are together costing some $290m. Of that $170m goes on new buses, and new and improved bus stations.
$120m is the cost of the two conversions to express toll lanes - toll systems, restriping, signage, variable message signs. The two projects are about similar complexity and length so the cost of CA110 Express Lanes is best put at $60m she says.
The project is only authorized by the California legislature and the agreement with the Feds as a one year demonstration project. Reports on its results will shape its future in a year's time.