A New Way to Rethink Our Roads and Reduce Traffic
The era of highway expansion is over in the Bay Area, and only leads to more traffic and pollution anyway. That’s why we need to make rethink our roads in ways that can improve transportation choices for everyone.
Express lanes, also known as high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, have the potential to help. Express lanes let carpools and buses get out of traffic – and then if the lanes aren’t full, allow solo drivers to use them for a fee. Express lanes can be a powerful tool for better managing our roads and are successfully reducing traffic in cities around the country.
Express lanes also raise money – money that can and should be used for express buses, vanpools, rideshare programs, and other affordable transportation choices along the same corridor – but is too often used to simply build more highway lanes. That’s why TransForm has taken on this issue as one that will shape the future of our transportation system.
Express Lanes Could Fund More Transportation Choices Instead of Highway Expansions
The Bay Area already has express lanes on I-680-South and the SR 237/I-880 corridor, and plans are in place for a network throughout the region. Unfortunately, the current plans fall short of their potential.
The Bay Area’s planned network would spend $6 billion in revenue from express lanes just on the highways, including hundreds of miles of highway expansion. What’s worse, the network has no commitment to funding public transit.
A recent TransForm report shows a better way. On many highways we don’t need to expand. We could instead convert a regular lane in each direction to an express lane. This would save money, reduce environmental impact, and free up funds to put towards better transportation choices. We call this the “Optimized HOT” approach, and we’re urging leaders across the region to pilot this in the Bay Area. But outdated state rules create barriers for this approach, which we’re also working to change.
By 2019, we want Bay Area transportation agencies to have at least two “Optimized HOT” demonstration projects in place and to devote at least 50% of express lane revenues to alternatives to driving and put a program in place to ensure low-income families share in the benefits of the network.
We also want Caltrans, California’s Department of Transportation, to eliminate roadblocks to this approach throughout the state.
- TransForm’s report proposing a better approach to Highway 101, Innovation Required: Moving More People with Less Traffic
- Our infographic showing what "Optimized HOT" looks like
- TransForm’s white paper critiquing current plans for the Bay Area's express lanes network
- TransForm’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan
- Express lane efforts across the region: