The Source has revealed the answer to one of the region's great transportation mysteries: How will the ExpressLanes project, which will give solo drivers paid access to carpool lanes on the 10 and 110, work? The answer involves the Metro ExpressLanes transponder--it will allow drivers to set the number of people in their car before they enter the high occupancy toll (aka HOT) lanes. Under the system put in place for the one year demonstration project, buses, motorcycles, vanpools, and carpools that currently use carpool lanes will not be charged a toll. Solo drivers, however, will be able to pay for the privilege of entering the open pastures of the HOT lane, for a dynamic price determined by the current conditions of the freeway.
According to a FAQ (pdf) prepared by Metro, "All vehicles will need a FasTrak® transponder to enter the Metro ExpressLanes. Vehicles with three or more occupants will be able to use Metro ExpressLanes toll-free at all hours. Vehicles with two occupants will pay a toll during peak hours (5am-9am; 4pm - 7pm), but will have toll-free use during off peak hours. Single occupant vehicles will now have the option to use Metro ExpressLanes but will be charged a toll." So if you have a carpool that uses one of these stretches of freeway, it sounds like you might want to add a brand new transponder to your holiday wish list, because you are going to need it to get in the HOT lane. To open an account and get the transponder, it'll cost $50 with a debit/credit card and $75 with cash. It'll be $15 for low-income drivers. Tolls themselves will range from 25 cents per miles to $1.40 per mile (the electronic signs will flash the current price).
Work on the HOT lanes began in July 2011 and tolls should start rolling out in fall 2012 on the 110 and in early 2013 on the 10.
· First look: transponders for Metro’s ExpressLanes project [The Source]
· Metro's Great Congestion Pricing Plan May Be Pushed Back [Curbed LA]