FasTrak Toll Road Lanes Now Charge a $1 Per Month Maintenance Fee?

FasTrak HOV cameras

In a push to make toll lanes permanent fixtures on two of Los Angeles County's most congested freeways the 110 and 10, local transportation officials approved a $1 monthly fee Thursday that will apply to all drivers with electronic tolling accounts, even carpoolers and infrequent users. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 8-3 vote signals a shift in the agency's approach to drivers who use the 25 miles of experimental toll lanes that link the South Bay and El Monte with downtown Los Angeles. Previously, the agency rewarded drivers who used the lanes more than four times a month by waiving their monthly fees. Each driver's $12 in annual fees will be assessed in addition to per-mile tolls, which start at 25 cents and can go up to $1.40, depending on how crowded the toll lanes are at the time. More than 253,000 Angelenos have opened tolling accounts.

Metro owes the project's contractor $3 a month in maintenance fees for every tolling device put into service. "There are people who just want to go to the airport once or twice a month," Molina said. "But for every transponder out there, whether it's used one time or 55 times, that cost is still $3." That totals about $9.1 million a year in fees.Metro staff said that by charging every driver $1 a month, the agency would make about $700,000 more a year toward maintenance fees. Metro collected more than $23 million in tolls over 14 months, the report said, and will reinvest the money in pedestrian, transit and vanpool improvements in the areas surrounding the freeways.

Here is the Email I received

As a valued ExpressLanes customer, we would like to make you aware of an upcoming change to the Terms and Conditions of your account. Effective June 1, 2014, ALL Metro ExpressLanes accounts will be charged a $1 monthly account maintenance fee. There will no longer be an option to have the monthly account maintenance fee waived with four one-way trips per month nor will there be a waiver for LA County residents. This monthly fee will continue to be waived for Equity Plan customers ONLY.  Here is a copy of the letter.

Comments Read On FasTrak Facebook Page

So it is a complete lie that we would be able to continue using the 10/110 left lane as a carpool lane free of charge. Before it was "well it's just a $40 deposit for the transponder", now it's "just $1 per month", what's it going to be next year or the year after when you decide you need more money to keep the program going? I don't think you understand what "completely free of charge" means.

In addition, what exactly does the "monthly maintenance fee" cover? I might be able to understand if you need to print paper statements and pay someone to mail them, but you already charge for that. What company provides your database services that you need to pay per additional account? It sounds like you are being ripped off, wasting our taxpayer money, or are not making enough money from the program and therefore penny pinching to appear to be worth the investment.

By charging a minimum monthly fee to be able to use the HOT lanes at all, people that would consider paying occasional for their travels to LA will likely not bother at all as it is too complicated and requires a commitment they don't need on a regular basis, or will take surrounding freeways to avoid taking the 10/110. So yes, you might be clearing up traffic on the 10/110 by shifting traffic to surrounding freeways, but is that really the goal of the program?

In addition to be clear, your lawyer logic behind getting around AB2405 is that the $1 fee is not explicitly a toll fee, even though it is required to ride toll free?  See Legislature Assembly Bill

Are you planning on dealing with the fact that the 110S to 105 connector completely stops traffic in the HOV lane on the 105 every single day to a complete standstill? Or is that outside of the scope of your funding therefore you don't care? Do you plan on using the funds to create a HOT lane connector from the 110N to the 105? Or the 110 to the 91? What corridor improvements do you plan on using the funds for?