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New toll lanes on the 10 Freeway explained

Starting Feb. 23, Alhambra's carpool lanes on the 10 Freeway will turn into toll lanes. At Monday's City Council meeting, a representiative from Metro explained how the nine miles of carpool lanes on both directions of the 10 freeway up to the 605 will be converted to "ExpressLanes" in an effort to ease traffic, especially during rush hour.

In order to use ExpressLanes, every car must have a transponder that will communicate to sensors along the freeway how many passengers are inside. The transponder is preloaded with a balance and will get charged every time a vehicle merges into the lane. Prices are adjusted depending on the amount of traffic in the toll lane and the number of passengers in the vehicle, but can be up to $1.40 a mile at the peak of rush hour, with the promise that ExpressLanes traffic will be at least 45 mph.

Transponders can be purchased at AAA, Costco, and Albertsons. Discounted transponders are also available at Metro walk-in centers in El Monte and Gardena. Visit the ExpressLanes website for more information.

Council also approved a proposed increase of funding assistance to first-time home buyers in Alhambra, which will reallocate $300,000 to the Homebuyer Program to help qualified buyers with their down payment. Entitlement programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, such as the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) also received $500,000 and $40,000 respectively to support affordable housing in the community.

Not able to attend the meeting? You can watch it in its entirety here.

City Council meets every second and fourth Monday of the month in the second floor of the City Hall: 111 S. First St., Alhambra, Calif., 91801. The next meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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11 thoughts on “New toll lanes on the 10 Freeway explained”

  1. I think it’s time that everyone really considers throwing the majority out of the California senate, and assembly. Things will only get worse in what is already an overcrowded and overtaxed state if we continue with the people that are currently running the state in Sacramento.

  2. Can someone explain to me, how is the “toll lane” will help with the traffic? Is this another way that the government take money from the citizens? Government spends all this “extra” money on these “new” toll equipments that we have to pay for now from originally was a free “old” road for us. The quality of the road weren’t improved and now we are paying for more? With the economy we have nowadays, I wonder how many people is willing to pay for the toll lane. I know I wouldn’t pay for it.

  3. Robert, can you elaborate on this idea that “not all vehicles using the HOT lanes will pay a toll.”  I suppose I don't know enough about this system. How does that work? Obviously, the price of the toll is lower when supply/capacity is high. Will it then increase in realtime as capacity decreases? Who will not have to pay a toll, and when? 

    Also, I understand the 710/Golden Gate Bridge argument, but think that the circumstances of each make it difficult to accurately compare the two. In the Bay Area the lack an alternative route means that commuters are implicitly obliged to use, and therefore pay into and support this structure, which makes it work. Here in Los Angeles it seems that there are so many alternatives for every commute that those who would be unable/unwilling to pay for the tunnel could easily avoid it, saving money and withholding their monetary support for the system. 

    Most people that I know (20 somethings) would probably always choose to avoid tolls, which means they'll be the ones sitting in traffic on the 10 or finding ways to-and-from that don't involve the 710 tolls. 

    1. @Erick,

      According to the Metro Expresslanes
      site (and based on my experience), those who are carpooling–2 or more travelling on the 110, 3 or more travelling on the 10–do not pay tolls. When you enter the lane, there are signs that indicate this, as well as the toll you’d pay as a solo or non-carpooling vehicle. The transponder has a switch to indicate solo, 2-person, or 3 or more person occupancy.

      While some may see paying a toll like this as a not desirable feature from one end to a conspiratorial ripoff to the other end, I simply see is as a tradeoff for saving 10-15 min on my commute by paying a toll that goes towards road and transit improvements.

      As for the 710/SF comparison, I was merely pointing out that the toll amounts in and of itself aren’t too different. As you point out though, there are alternatives to the 710 tunnel (surface streets), but there are also alternatives to the bridge (go around, or pay lower toll by carpooling–$3 rather than $5 or $6). It depends on how critical your time is relative to your willingness to pay for the associated cost. And there is a cost associated to whichever action you take, so it comes down to your willingness to absorb (pay for) that associated cost.

      Edit: The Metro Expresslanes site also refers to a discount program for low income drivers. I believe the discount applies to the transponder (normally $40 that gives $40 credit).

      1. Robert, Do you really think “paying a toll that goes towards road and transit improvements” will actually happen. Every penny the state absorbs for earmarks, always seems to end up in the general fund. The toll you pay might be worth the 15 minutes saved in your case. But don’t believe it will be be used for road repairs.

  4. I am so sick of being charged the outrageous sales taxes, surcharges, CRV deposits, and every other revenue source the wasteful spenders in Sacramento dream up. We pay 0.37 cents per gallon for gasoline that I believe was intended for roads and highways construction and repair. The president spent many, many millions in Ca for the so called shovel ready highway projects with the almost $800 billion stimulus package, which will have to be paid back. Now they are charging us to use freeway lanes to suck even more revenue into Sacramento to be thrown away. I will never pay one red cent to use what had been a diamond lane, on the ever congested I-10 freeway. Freeway, what a joke.

    Soon to be an Oregonian.

  5. The supply (capacity) of the express lanes is controlled by the varying toll rates you refer to, which has the effect of controlling demand. The result of all this is that the cars on the express lanes can move at a minimum speed, usually greater than the prevailing traffic speed. As you indicate, it’s up to the individual’s ability or willingness to pay.

    As for the 710 toll you refer to, this isn’t too far off from tolls levied for crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Although the toll is for southbound traffic only, you can see that vehicles with 7 or more axles can pay a toll of $42.

    The issue, or at least my issue with the 710 tunnel isn’t so much the toll, it’s not very clear whether it’s a tunnel that just connects the stubs, or if there will be entrances/exits along the way. If there aren’t any, then residents who live in the middle will continue to spill out at the last exits before the tunnel, and local streets will continue to be impacted. But I think this is a discussion for another time/thread.

    1. I would swim across the bay before paying that. If someone is willing to pay large tolls, more power to them, but I think most of us would prefer to go around than pay.

      By all means, let’s have a thread about the tunnel! I think that’s a great idea! I suppose we have to wait for an article for that? Alfred, are you game?

  6. While transponders are required and you can get one at a price, not all vehicles using the HOT lanes will pay a toll. Moreover, the tolls paid by the single occupancy drivers will go towards paying for transit improvements. The effect of this scheme isn’t too far different from tolls levied for crossing bridges or other toll roads–those who can afford to pay are able to cross bridges and use the toll roads. It isn’t too far off from property taxes we all directly or indirectly pay (landlord will pay property taxes from the rents collected from his tenants)–they go toward paying for county and city services. Unlike these examples, one has a choice based on his ability (or willingness) to pay and his desire to get to his destination. This hardly seems to be a division of class.

  7. Am I the only one that thinks these new toll lanes create a hierarchical structure that further divides those that can pay and those that cannot? Those that can afford to pay the extra few dollars are given the ability to get to-and-from faster, while those that are struggling to get by are left in the dust. Here, it's not carpooling that's rewarded, but only the ability to pay.

    1. I agree with you 100%. It appears the structure always changes, too, depending on peak and off-peak times. Therefore, you never really know what you are paying at any given time. Also, it’s not just those who *can’t* afford it, it even goes down to those who *can* afford but are not willing to pay the toll. Personally, I would rather sit in traffic than pay a toll of any amount, even if it’s only on an occasional basis.

      Try this one on for size: Metro’s proposed tunnel that is supposed to run from El Sereno to Pasadena will also have a toll to use it. The tunnel will not have any way out, only on the two ends so if you want to go somewhere in between, you’re SOL. The proposed toll will run anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00 per one-way trip. Considering there are about 21 days in a work month and you go to and from work 5 days a week using the tunnel, That’s anywhere from $210 to $630 per month to use the tunnel. Who the “H” can pay that? And if they could, who would want to? Oh, and don’t forget parking fees when you get where you are going. These numbers are buried deep in Metro’s own website. Ask your friends and family about this and see if they are willing to pay a toll like that! Literally highway robbery. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be using the streets instead!