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Los Angeles to end free express lane perk for electric vehicles
Southern California, namely the Los Angeles area, is known for its intense traffic congestion due to overpopulation and lack of alternative transportation options. To combat this problem, there are two different types of specialized lanes that are aimed at targeting the issue. On some highways, there are carpool lanes which can be used by vehicles with at least 2 people on board, and there are Express Lanes which are toll roads used by people who would rather pay than be stuck in traffic. Currently, green energy cars and motorcycles are allowed to use both of these lanes, and they are not required to the pay the toll when using the Express Lanes if their car qualifies for either a green or white clean air vehicle sticker.
Unfortunately, that benefit was quite tempting for anyone attempting to avoid traffic, so tempting in fact, that there has been a 1000 percent increase in the number of stickers issued by the California DMV since 2013. And in just over two years, the peak morning traffic in the LA area has nearly doubled. The Express Lanes are becoming so congested and backed up, that they no longer adhere to the state mandated minimum of 45 mph. Something major needs to change according to the Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority, so come the end of this year, most likely November or December, simply possessing a clean vehicle sticker will no longer get you free access into the Express Lane. Instead, anyone with a car that boasts the clean air sticker can receive a much more modest 15% discount for Express Lane access.
Of course, going from paying nothing to paying $12.75 for this benefit could be a slap in the face for drivers of green vehicles, but sometimes, the ability to avoid traffic at peak hours is priceless. And this can be an especially difficult change to stomach for those who purchased electric vehicles and clean air cars for their commute in order to reap the benefit of greatly reduced traffic driving in the Express Lane for free. In response, metro board member and city councilman, Paul Kekorian, went on record to say, “If the question is social equity, I cannot rationalize subsidizing someone who puts their tie on and hops in their Tesla to drive to work, and not subsidizing a guy who throws his tools in the back of his Toyota pickup truck to go to work.”
The traffic issues have become such a problem in the Los Angeles area that there has been talk of completely redefining the definition of carpool, specifically in reference to the Caltrans’ serviced carpool lanes. Instead of allowing any vehicle with two or more passengers, it’s possible they may only allow registered buses and vanpools in these specialty lanes. Of course, at this point, it’s still only speculation, so the only confirmed change is that access to the Express Lanes will remain off-limits for solo drivers of green cars unless the privilege is purchased at a meagerly discounted rate. Anyone driving a car sporting a clean air vehicle sticker will still be allowed to use designated Caltrans’ carpool lanes free of charge until further notice.