LA Metro explores concept areas for a pilot program study

By Holly Jenvey

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently held a virtual briefing to showcase concept areas as part of a two-year feasibility study to reduce traffic in LA County.

Metro presented four concept areas and explained how congestion pricing will help mobility. According to private analytics company INRIX, the I-5 and US 101 routes were the most congested roads in the country in 2019, creating a yearly delay of 80 hours.

Even as COVID-19 has decreased traffic, Metro is planning for what’s to come once the number of commuters increases. It identified that the demand of travelers is greater than the supply of roads, which causes congestion. By seeing how congestion pricing works in concept areas of LA’s busiest parts of town, Metro is hoping to get traffic under control.

“We’re really looking to reimagine mobility,” said Philip A. Washington, Metro CEO, who noted that the goal is not to drive revenue, but to increase mobility.

Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation, said that single occupancy vehicles remain the dominant form of transport across Southern California. He explained LA has not tried
congestion pricing yet, but it has proven effective in cities around the world.

Tham Nguyen, senior director at Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation, gave a presentation about the vision of the study and concept areas. It showed where congestion pricing was effective, nationally and around the world.

In Seattle, congestion was reduced by 25% in the mornings, travel time was decreased by 8 minutes, and speeds were increased from 27 to 45 mph during peak traffic hours. In London, vehicle trips were reduced by 15% to 20% with increased bus rides, while emissions were reduced by 12% to 19%. Stockholm witnessed reduced congestion by 50% in
the evenings and bicycle trips increased by 22%.

This study is part of Metro’s 10-year Strategic Plan for 2028, which is “to deliver a mobility system that enables people to travel swiftly and easily throughout the LA County region, no matter where they want to go or when.”
Concept areas 1A and 1B explore freeways running to and through DTLA. The US 101 and I-5 show delay during peak hours, which doubles its travel times.

Adjacent freeways show delay by peak hour increasing travel time by 50% to 99%. The study is looking at increasing transportation methods and decreasing travel by cars.

The second concept consideration area showed DTLA freeways. Along with I-5 and US 101, the I-10 and I-110 also show doubled delayed travel time. DTLA is home to many metro lines but is considering expansion. The Regional Connector Rail Project is tying together three light lines for faster trips and extending lines to Westwood through Koreatown, Beverly Hills, Miracle Mile and Century City.

The third area is DTLA. The I-10 corridor connects Downtown to Santa Monica and the Westside communities. There is heavy congestion on both ends of the freeway and parallel roads are being investigated. Currently, the mitigation of spillover traffic is being observed. .

The fourth area investigates the I-10 communities located west of DTLA. Currently, the freeway already has local and express buses, as well as the E Line, and will be implementing the D Line to pass through Westwood VA Hospital, Century City, Beverly Hills, Miracle Mile and DTLA.

According to a press release, the study is looking at more reliable options. Nguyen’s presentation noted that work along these concept maps will estimate, identify and evaluate air pollution and carbon emission reductions, potential traffic diversion and strategies to address it, change in trip choices including biking and walking, and strategies to improve roadway safety.

It will measure identifying and evaluating improved access to more jobs in less time, and strategies to address concerns of different kinds of travelers.

Through implementing congestion pricing, Metro is striving to achieve public health and safety, supporting environment and economic justice, improving the economy, and reinvesting in revenues of communities served and affected.

“Let’s at least try something to make a difference,” Schank said.