In a significant vote to relieve traffic congestion and combat climate change, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board of directors unanimously voted to further explore congestion relief pricing and new mobility fees for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. Both are strategies in Metro’s “Re-Imagining of Los Angeles County: Mobility, Equity and the Environment” plan.
The board also voted to continue work on the Twenty-Eight by ’28 Initiative, which seeks ways to accelerate the delivery of 28 major projects before the Olympic and Paralympic Games arrive in the Los Angeles area in 2028. Metro staff will provide updates to the board on acceleration efforts to deliver Twenty-Eight by ’28 later this year.
One of the “Re-Imagining L.A. County” initiatives approved for further study includes congestion relief pricing, which uses tolls to more effectively manage traffic flow, especially during peak periods. Metro will begin a 12- to 24-month congestion relief pricing feasibility study to evaluate potential models and locations to test the concept.
The three models to be studied are: a cordon model, where anyone traveling into a designated zone is charged a fee; a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) model, where charges are based on the number of vehicle miles traveled within congested areas, and; a corridor model, where anyone traveling within a congested corridor is charged based on number of vehicle miles traveled within that corridor.
Upon completion of the feasibility study, the Metro Board will consider a pilot program to test the concept.
A critical component of the feasibility study is an Equity Strategy that will look at ways that congestion relief pricing can improve equity for vulnerable populations. The study will develop a plan for transit service improvements to provide faster and more reliable trips as an alternative to driving. In addition, it will investigate potential toll and fare discounts for low-income users.
“I believe the possibility of free transit is real,” said METRO CEO Phillip A. Washington during a MoveLA event on Friday. He added the idea behind congestion pricing is about re-imagining transit, while also eradicating congestion.
“It’s really about changing the behavior of people who drive every day,” he said.
Metro will also study the idea of levying fees on new mobility devices like electric scooters and ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft that profit from the use of public roadways and whose vehicles contribute to congestion.