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One in four drivers in LA’s express lanes aren’t paying to use them

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Rule-breakers are slowing down traffic during peak hours

110 freeway
The express lanes on the 110 freeway close to solo drivers during periods of peak congestion.

As Los Angeles continues to lead the nation in traffic jams, opportunistic drivers may be compounding the problem by taking advantage of loose enforcement in Metro’s toll lanes along the 110 freeway. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 25 percent of drivers who use those lanes on a given day skip out on payment, limiting the effect of the freeway’s demand-based pricing system.

Instituted in 2012, the high-occupancy toll lanes are available to drivers with a FasTrak transponder, which is used to report how many people are traveling in the vehicle at a given time. For much of the day, solo drivers can pay a per-mile rate to use the lanes, but during particularly congested periods, the lanes are open only to vehicles with multiple occupants.

According to the Times, the most common violation seen by Metro is fraudulent transponder adjustment—when drivers falsely report there’s someone else in the car with them to take advantage of reduced tolls or to stay in the express lane during HOV-only periods.

Metro is reportedly developing a new system to automatically detect the number of occupants in a vehicle, but the technology hasn’t yet been rolled out and rule-breaking drivers are clogging up the express lanes, slowing down the rate of traffic.

In response, Metro is also considering stricter rules for carpool lanes, including new fares and a three-occupant requirement for certain lanes.

For the full analysis on the number of drivers cheating tolls, click over to the Times.