The MTA wants to take the “free” out of freeway

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/12/405-thumb.jpgIf you’re one of the bazillion LA commuters who take the 405 to and from the Valley every day, you’ve noticed the perpetual construction is finally beginning to pay off. Of course, the 101/405 interchange has been widened and improved, and now the carpool lane is being expanded. The eventual plan is to have a carpool lane that runs from the 118 all the way to to the 90. Last weekend I noticed that the carpool lane is already stretching down to Santa Monica Boulevard, and I had a moment of warm feelings toward Caltrans and their attempts to make driving in this town marginally less hellish. Then I read this and it becomes clear that the 405 widening is part of a larger MTA plan to turn our freeways into “payways.” I knew it was too good to be true.

And to all you folks preparing a holier-than-thou “just take the bus/subway/bike” comment, save it, okay? I didn’t even own a car until I was 35, my lifetime carbon footprint makes you look like Sasquatch.

(Photo courtesy of Clownfish, used under creative commons.)

6 Replies to “The MTA wants to take the “free” out of freeway”

  1. Yes there are several cities already charging a congestion fee (fancy term for congestion tax).

    The problem is that this pay to drive in what was the car pool lane is by its very nature discriminatory. It sets it up that the lowest paid workers and self employed eeking out an existance are hurt the worst.

    The undesired side effect is that more traffic also goes off the freeways onto side streets creating a negative impact on those living there.
    Also forcing cars in to stop-n-go put’s them at their dirtiest operation which best guess negates any gains on the freeway.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with a tax if it were equitable in terms of financial impact on ones household. The problem is that it doesn’t affect the very rich.

  2. Anything the city can do to decrease congestion is good. I’m not even sure that snipers at random intersections would be a mistake.

  3. Not to be too obnoxious, but that SN article doesn’t say anything about the 405, and I talked to someone at the MTA today who said the 405 is not presently a part of any of the proposals they are exploring.

  4. About time, too.
    Much more public money goes into the damn freeways than the public transportation system. To boot, there is the free motor vehicle-towing service paid for by the MTA. These two facts have long frustrated this strap-hanger, as has the congestion by the millions of cars–with one person each–that traps buses that tend to hold tens of people each.

  5. Much more public money goes into the damn freeways than the public transportation system.

    Well, that seems reasonable to me, given that a much, MUCH larger fraction of the paying public uses the freeways than uses transit.

    With roadways, you’re asking (most) everyone to pay for something that (most) everyone uses.

    With mass transit, you’re asking (most) everyone to pay for something that only a minority will use.

    Aside from federal highway money, most “public money” that goes into roadway construction and maintenance comes from fuel taxes, auto registration fees, and automobile sales taxes.

    (Historically, in addition to those sources, much of the original money to build roadways in LA came from benefit assesment districts, in which the businesses and the residents who would benefit from the roadway voted to tax thmeselves to pay for it.)

    The people who use the roadways pay for them, by and large.

    As for the federal financing of the interstate highway system, it benefits the whole country – not just as a means of improved auto transportation, but also as a major component of our commercial freight-transport system.

    (Almost) everyone benefits, so (almost) everyone pays.

    Not so with federally-funded major urban rail transit projects.

    They do nothing for commercial freight transport (unlike the PE Red Car system, which could also haul freight), and they only serve the residents of major metropolises.

    Why should folks in Fargo and Des Moines and Visalia and Lake Tahoe pay for LA’s urban transit?

    The fact that more “public” money goes to roadways than to mass transit isn’t some huge, terrible injustice; it’s the perfectly logical consequence of where the money comes from, and what proportion of the population benefits.

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