Congestion pricing proposed for Los Angeles

A regional government planning agency has proposed a congestion pricing plan for a heavy traffic portion of Los Angeles. It would become the country’s second city imposing fees to discourage traffic.

Regional leaders seem to be in no hurry to implement the plan. And the LA plan focuses more on reducing traffic congestion and less on generating revenue than a similar program being developed in New York City.

The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) released a lengthy and detailed proposal for a “Mobility Go Zone” in the Los Angeles area known as Westside. It includes a portion of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and two of the country’s most congested highways. A PDF document with the report is at the SCAG website. 

The proposed section is one of the most heavily congested corridors in the area, running between the busy beach community of Santa Monica and downtown LA, says Eric Gregory, manager of Certified Transportation Services of Santa Ana, California, and vice president of the California Bus Association.

The study does not mention privately-owned bus or motorcoach transportation but considers discount policies for “carpools of three or more passengers.”

Vehicles entering the Go Mobility Zone would have to pay $4 during the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Area residents and low-income residents would receive discounts of 90 and 50 percent. Fees would be levied through transponders or automatic license plate recognition. The report estimates an average of $69.2 million in annual net revenue from Los Angeles vehicle operators as compared to the New York City plan, expected to aim for $1 billion annually.

Currently, vehicles carrying a single occupant account for 42 percent of all trips and 76 percent of work trips in the Los Angeles region, according to the report. The SCAG report projects reductions of 21 percent in vehicle miles traveled and 24 percent in vehicle hours traveled during the peak hours.

The Westside area includes the University of California-Los Angeles, Santa Monica College and a hospital.  According to the report, this area experiences such severe daily congestion that speeds can be as low as five miles per hour. One study reports Interstate 405 northbound and I-10 eastbound in West Los Angeles to be the third and sixth most congested highway corridors in the nation. The program would become effective on Jan. 1, 2021.

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