Bad news for Palos Verdes residents commuting on the 110 (Harbor) Freeway without a Fastrak pass: average travel speeds in toll lanes that opened in November on freeway consistently exceeded the goal of 45 mph, according to a report released today by Metro, but peak-hour speeds in the freeway's general lanes appear to have slowed.
The ExpressLanes project is an effort to relieve congestion by offering motorists the chance to pay a toll to enter lanes that would otherwise be reserved for carpoolers. Motorists must open an account and have a transponder installed on their vehicle to use the lanes.
On the Harbor Freeway, the ExpressLanes stretch from the Harbor Gateway Transit Center in the Gardena area and Adams Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles.
According to a performance report released by Metro, travel speeds in the ExpressLanes have exceeded the goal of 45 mph "100 percent of the time."
In the general travel lanes, however, speeds have dropped when compared to average speeds in December 2011, a year before the lanes opened. Metro officials noted, however, that December speed figures can be skewed due to the holiday season, and the agency is trying to examine more data.
The report also found that the Metro Silver Line's on-time percentage increased to 77.5 percent in February, compared to 68.9 percent in October, before the lanes opened.
About 133,000 motorists who used the lanes without a required transponder have been sent notices demaning payment of the toll, with the average bill being $1.39, according to Metro.
All motorists who use the ExpressLanes must have a transponder in their vehicle and have an active account. Carpooling motorists are not charged for using the lanes, but still must have a transponder. A switch on the transponder lets the system know if drivers are carpooling or driving alone.
A carpool is considered two or more people most of the day, but carpools must have three or more during rush hours to avoid the toll.
Motorists who open ExpressLanes FasTrak accounts and obtain transponders for their cars are charged between 25 cents and $1.40 per mile, depending on traffic. If traffic slows to below 45 mph in the lanes, solo drivers will be alerted via digital signs and barred from entering.
In February, 14 miles of ExpressLanes opened on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway between the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway and Union Station/Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles.