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Express lanes, or High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, are carpool lanes that allow solo drivers to pay to use them when there is excess capacity. TransForm is leading an effort with environmental and social justice partners to ensure that HOT lanes create more transportation choices and support access for low-income residents.
The Bay Area could have a regional roadway network with transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes seamlessly connecting the region’s jobs centers, providing convenient and swift transit connections through the Bay Area. Planned as a transit system, one that sells excess system capacity to non-carpool vehicles, we could meet our region’s goals, the SCS targets, while providing new transportation choices. In fact, even Los Angeles is already planning such a network.
Express Lanes, particularly if done through the conversion of existing carpool and all-purpose highway lanes, may be a good step towards equitable road pricing. Through the Plan Bay Area process, we successfully advocated that our regional agencies start moving away from trying to build our way out of congestion. MTC committed to studying innovative approaches to HOT network implementation, the first step in realizing any cost savings that could go to low-income mitigations and increased transit options. However there is a lot of devil in the details. We will need to be satisfied on a range of equity, transportation and transportation funding issues before we could support a final project.
- July 18, 2013: MTC incorporated the following language into the final Plan Bay Area: "all project-level environmental clearances will comply with applicable requirements for environmental justice, and focused outreach will be conducted with low-income communities as part of the express lane network development and implementation. Furthermore, MTC will study the potential benefits and impacts of converting general purpose lanes to express lanes in order to inform implementation of the express lane network."
- June 14, 2013: In response to the public comment period, where TransForm urged MTC for a better Express Lane Network, staff presented a report that includes recommendation to study the benefits and impacts of converting general purpose lanes to Express Lanes. Such analysis would inform implementation of the network and future long-range plans. We continue to advocate for a more equitable network that includes revenues for transit.
- May 16, 2013: Read TransForm's recently released white paper entitled Moving People, Not Just Cars: Ensuring Choice, Equity & Innovation in MTC’s Express Lane Network. At a projected cost of $6.7 billion, the proposed Network is the largest highway project and the second-largest project overall in Plan Bay Area. We thought it merited some closer scrutiny. We’ve been concerned about MTC’s Express Lane Network for awhile. This paper goes much more in-depth to analyze the plan and provide detailed recommendations about how to improve it.
- September 28, 2011: MTC moves forward with CTC application for Bay Area Express Lane network, seeking authorization for express lanes on 270 lane-miles of regional highways as part of a larger network. This will be a key input into the 2013 Sustainable Communities Strategy and Regional Transportation Plan. TransForm releases independent analysis critiquing the plan's climate impact and lack of equity analysis. For details read our blog post here: MTC Express Lanes: Flawed Plan, Needs Public Planning.
TransForm's white paper, Moving People, Not Just Cars: Ensuring Choice, Equity & Innovation in MTC’s Express Lane Network, confirms that MTC's Express Lane plan is currently out of balance. MTC plans to spend most of the toll revenue to build -- or pay financing costs for -- hundreds of miles of new highway lanes. Our report recommends improvements that result in a more forward-thinking project that prioritizes moving more people in the fast lane.
The Bay Area’s very first express lane, on I-680 South, opened on September 20, 2010. Additional express lanes are scheduled to open in 2011 on I-580 and Rte 287 , and in the following years on US101 and Rte 85.
TransForm's report, World-Class Transportation for the Bay Area, outlined TransForm’s support for well-designed express lanes that invest funds generated by the lanes to expand transportation access for low-income individuals, provide greater transportation choices for all travelers in the corridor, and maintain the ability of carpools and buses to avoid congestion.
For more information contact Jeff Hobson.