Solo drivers take carpool lane at a cost

LOS ANGELES The governor signed the bill on Monday. High Occupancy Toll lanes, or "HOT" lanes, will be used on two busy Southern California freeways.

If you have two or more people with you, you can still use the carpool lane on the 110 Freeway at no cost. However, cruising in the carpool lane will soon be open to lone drivers on the 110 and 10 freeways.

"I'm desperate everyday on those freeways. But I don't know that I would pay every time," said Victor Cohen, a local driver.

"We have to innovate and we have to do all that we can to make sure that we relieve traffic in the city and county of Los Angeles," said state Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles).

Ridley-Thomas wrote the legislation and he says it will not only ease congestion, but it will also improve air quality and create jobs.

The pilot program involves a 16.5-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway between 182nd Street and Adams Boulevard. It will also include a 14-mile stretch of the 10 Freeway between Alameda and the 605 Freeway.

The program is funded by a $210-million federal grant. Ridley-Thomas says it will cost commuters between $1.00 and $10.00, depending on the time of day and the amount of congestion.

Many drivers aren't sure if they're willing to cash in to keep moving.

"It would have to depend on how much it would cost for me. I mean, I don't really mind traffic so much. I find my little shortcuts and stuff. But, yeah, it would depend on how much it would cost," said Melissa Daniels, a Southern California driver.

"It would depend on how much," agreed Carla Boyd, another driver. "And I don't really think it is a fair and equitable plan because, then, anyone with money is going to have the prerogative to get into the carpool lane."

The legislation does require discounted tolls for low-income commuters. But, at this point, the exact cost of using the carpool lane if you are by yourself has not yet been set. The state hopes to have the program up and running by the middle of next year.


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