Donal's picture

    Lexus Lanes

    As I mentioned, Miller-McCune recently wrote about body snatchers (drivers) and slugs (random commuters) who team up to take advantage of the HOV or carpool lanes in the DC suburbs and a few other places. The theory is that carpooling reduces the number of cars on the road. In some HOV lanes you can also skate through if you're driving a Prius or other ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV). The theory is that ULEVs spew less pollution and should be encouraged.

    According to the LA Times OpEd, If L.A. freeways aren't free, the MTA now proposes to sell access to the diamond-marked HOV lanes that get you into and out of Los Angeles. The theory is that people that won't support higher gasoline taxes will pay to get to work faster.

    In Los Angeles today, there's a plan to create an unusual new user fee that is stirring up concern. Under a demonstration project, solo drivers on two of the region's most congested freeways — the 110 south of downtown and the 10 east of downtown — would for the first time be allowed to pay to drive in the carpool lanes. To participate, they would have to enroll in the program and be given an electronic "transponder" that attaches to windshields and dashboards. The transponder would be read by overhead sensors and the motorist would be billed automatically.

    The cost to the driver would vary depending on the volume of traffic, but the county's Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimates that, for $6, a solo driver could go nine miles on the 10 Freeway; in other words, it would cost several thousand dollars a year to commute to work both ways in the carpool lane every weekday at rush hour.

    Not surprisingly, almost everyone hates the idea. "Class warfare on the freeways!" "I think it's unfair since we already paid for these lanes with our tax money." "Charging motorists for toll fees is really beyond ridiculous." "We don't need to turn the carpool lanes into Lexus lanes."

    Verticle Joyride comments, "They sold us this idea in Nor CAL and the commute time for poor folks went up. Only the rich get the better commute times. Don't believe the theory becasue it is now a fact that adding an extra lane for rich people will hurt the poor."

    Michael62 comments, "Please do not get suckered into toll roads, this is only a way for a few corrupt people to steal money from hard working people. As a native that happens to currently live in a state with toll roads all I see are sub par roads and congestion at the toll gates that lead to greater amounts of air pollution."

    I hate the idea, too. Seriously, why charge the rich anything at all? They create so much wealth just by driving around, that LA should pay them, in the form of a free, dedicated traffic lane, just for getting out of bed by ten, and driving their Jag or Lexus to the free parking space, next to the private elevator to their corner office. Instead of wasting money on transponders, LA should set up a free Starbucks drive-through at the entrance to the "Work Harder-Drive Faster" lane.

    OK, seriously, I hate tolls - I hate paying for anything - but I can see that free roads have led to gridlock, and gridlock has made the carpool lane a valuable piece of real estate. Everyone steadfastly opposes raising general gasoline taxes, but the government has to raise money for maintaining infrastructure somewhere. Therefore drivers will see more user fees, tolls and congestion pricing.

    And for all the people who were just googling Lexus Lane, here she is:



    I duuno. I have a hard time buying the idea that public infrastructure can become private real estate just because the rich people are willing to offer money to kick the poors to the side. HOV is fair. Selling that HOV lane seems far less so. It's not really the money part to me, it just doesn't seem right.

    Of course it isn't right. That doesn't mean it won't happen anyway.

    True, that.

    Totally OT: are you solid on the science side of the global warming debate? (I always forget who's good at what around here).

    I follow energy depletion more than climate change, but I was listening to this yesterday:

    Bill McKibben: Why Climate Change Is the Most Urgent Challenge We Face

    Latest Comments