Friday, December 14, 2007

Sig-Alert: Carpool Lanes to Go Toll?

(Pic by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times)

Oh yeah, this is going to go over well with drivers. As the Los Angeles Times writes, the MTA and Caltrans are considering turning the currently free carpool lanes on Los Angeles County freeways into toll lanes. Whaaa?

From the paper:

The idea is part of plans by the MTA and Caltrans to implement "congestion pricing" in L.A.: charging a toll to use certain roads in return for faster speed. The toll prices would rise during rush hour.

The concept quickly gained steam in November after the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would give out more grants to fund such projects.

L.A. missed out in the last round of grants issued in August because local officials did not seriously consider such a congestion pricing plan in the county's last federal application.

"We're just too congested to turn our backs on that kind of opportunity," said Carol Inge, chief planning officer for the MTA. The cost of the toll lane conversion could be about $100 million, Inge said.

Officials said the plan would not only add revenue to shore up the region's crumbling roads, but help manage traffic congestion on the converted carpool lanes. As the tolls rise during peak hours, penny-pinching commuters may opt to use the regular lanes, freeing up space in the toll lanes.

Those who pay the higher toll win the prize of a shorter commute.

So much for the free carpool usage among properly registered Hybrid drivers as well.

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