Could increased tolling be solution to LA's traffic problems?

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Could increased tolling be solution to LA's traffic problems?
One solution being floated to help solve Los Angeles' traffic troubles is to charge drivers in busy areas during busy times of day.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Texas A&M Transportation Institute says Angelinos spend more than 100 hours a year stuck in traffic, and commuters agree.

"It's horrible all the time. It's tough to get around, especially during rush hour," said SoCal resident Art Napiontek.

According to transportation experts, congestion issues are not something the city can build its way out of with the lack of room for additional freeways.

There's a new idea being floated by Southern California Association of Governments, a city planning organization. The idea is called "congestion pricing," in which drivers would be charged to use certain roads during rush hour.

"Transportation economists have argued for 60 years that, really, the only systematic solution to congestion is tolling," said University of Southern California engineering and public policy professor Jim Moore.

It's worked in European cities like Oslo and London. With advances in toll technology erasing the need for toll booths, Moore said it's a no-brainer.

"Angelinos should like this because they love to drive. They love automobility, and if you're interested in getting in your car and going where you want to go when you want to go there, then a management option like this should appeal to you," he added.

But commuters like Napiontek said he'd rather sit in traffic than pay more money.

"It's already expensive enough here, right? I mean, rent, everything else is pretty darn expensive, so I wouldn't want to pay any more than I already am," he said.

Moore said there could be toll vouchers for low income households, and the goal is not to shut people out.

But there's one solution that everyone seems to agree on: mass transit. Santa Clarita resident Kathy Evans commutes to downtown L.A. by bus.

"Make this city like New York City -- take away the cars," she said. "I lived in New York for two years. Most people there don't own a car. People here are dead without their cars. I drive as little as I possibly can."