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Surge Pricing For Driving LA Streets? It Could Soon Happen

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors is looking at aggressive measures for tackling LA traffic.

By Paige Austin, Patch Staff
Surge Pricing For Driving LA Streets? It Could Soon Happen
(File Photo: Shutterstock)
LOS ANGELES, CA — Is surge pricing coming to a traffic light near you? As traffic congestion across Los Angeles drags down the quality of life for Southlanders, officials are considering drastic solutions including the possibility of surge pricing for commuters driving heavily traveled streets during peek traffic.The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors Thursday awarded contracts Thursday for a study of ways to reduce the county’s traffic congestion. On solution already on the table is the possibility of charging motorists to drive on select roadways. The tolls collected would be used to subsidize public transit. Officials are looking at pilot programs that have had success elsewhere in cities such as London and Stockholm and in the country of Singapore. Closer to home, New York City is examining a similar approach.

Officials hope the strategy could make automobile travel faster by getting more people off the road while offering more accessible public transport.

“Our current road networks are extremely congested, with almost all major roadways clogged during rush hour,” Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Chairman James Butts said. “Everyone knows this causes inconsistent and frustratingly slow travel times. I think we have reached a tipping point. We are now forced to think outside the box in search of new ways to combat our worsening traffic.”

Congestion relief pricing charges drivers for when and where they travel — similar to rideshare surge pricing — and uses those funds to pay for public transit. Metro officials said any use of congestion relief pricing would be accompanied by improvements in transit and other mobility options, such as walking and bicycling paths.

“Los Angeles could become the first city in the world to move to this innovative congestion relief pricing/free transit concept,” Metro CEO Phillip Washington said. “These efforts provide an opportunity for us to reimagine Los Angeles County, provide great mobility benefits for our residents and drastically reduce our carbon footprint.”Metro awarded WSP USA Inc. more than $3 million for the study’s technical services, which include investigating motorist pricing strategies, evaluating several potential pricing models, identifying a location for a pilot program and establishing an implementation plan.

Metro also awarded a $1.9 million contract with a $589,840 extension option to Guidehouse LLP to facilitate public outreach for the feasibility study. Metro officials said the outreach will be conducted with community-based organizations representing low-income residents and other vulnerable populations.

As part of the feasibility study, Metro plans to create a stakeholder advisory panel. The study is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete.

City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.

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