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L.A. Metro Awards Contracts to Begin a 18-24 Month Feasibility Study to Evaluate the Possibility of Congestion Relief Pricing in L.A. County

Thursday September 26, 2019

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors today approved two contracts and options totaling more than $5.5 million to assess how and where it would be possible to pilot a package of mobility improvements including congestion relief pricing in L.A. County, one of the world’s most traffic-clogged regions.

Metro has awarded WSP USA, Inc. a $3+ million contract for the study’s technical services. Services will include investigating the feasibility and framework for testing and implementing motorist pricing strategies, evaluating several potential pricing models, identifying a location to pilot the program and establishing an implementation plan that prioritizes equity for all road users. 

Metro has also awarded a $1.9 million contract plus a $589,840 extension option to Guidehouse LLP to help engage the public in every step of the feasibility study. The contractor will reach out to stakeholders and the public to ensure their involvement and concurrence with a potential pilot program somewhere in the county. Extensive outreach will be conducted with community-based organizations and community members representing low income and other vulnerable populations at the local, county and sub-regional levels.

Any congestion relief pricing strategy will be accompanied by corresponding mobility improvements such as additional, faster, more frequent and discounted or free public transit, and safer walking and bicycling opportunities.

The strategy could enable those who choose to drive to have a fast and reliable trip while providing funds to dramatically improve travel times and customer experience on other modes, thereby reducing traffic, improving mobility and air quality, and creating a more sustainable regional transportation system for all. 

“Our current road networks are extremely congested, with almost all major roadways clogged during rush hour. Everyone knows this causes inconsistent and frustratingly slow travel times,” said Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Chair James T. Butts. “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. This study will give us the data we need to better determine if this innovative traffic-busting approach can work in the Car Capital of the World.”

Congestion relief pricing is a traffic mitigation strategy that has proven successful in other major cities worldwide, including London, Stockholm and Singapore. A similar program is now being considered in New York City. In previous pilots around the globe, agencies have found that opposition to congestion relief pricing is always strongest before implementation. Once implemented, it has proven to be popular due to the mobility benefits it generates for drivers and transit users alike.

As part of the feasibility study, Metro will create a stakeholder advisory panel to help solicit input from key constituents and add experts in road usage charging, mobility pricing and equity to its existing Policy Advisory Committee. The study will also include the specific upgrades to public transit and first/last mile solutions that will be necessary to accompany any proposed pricing concept.

Metro could potentially provide free rides on public transit as part of implementation of congestion relief pricing in L.A. County.

“Los Angeles could become the first city in the world to move to this innovative congestion relief pricing/free transit concept,” Metro CEO Phillip A. 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.” 

Following completion of the 18-24 month feasibility study, Metro will recommend one or more areas within L.A. County to conduct a potential pilot.  The Metro Board will decide whether to move forward with a pilot at that time.

Congestion relief pricing is a key element of Metro’s “Reimagining of L.A. County” initiative which seeks to greatly reduce congestion, improve mobility and air quality, improve equity, and provide a more sustainable and resilient county for all county residents.  It is also included in Metro’s Board-approved Vision 2028 Strategic Plan, the agency’s big picture plan for improving regional mobility over the next 10 years.

About Metro
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is building the most ambitious transportation infrastructure program in the United States and is working to greatly improve mobility through its Vision 2028 Plan. Metro is the lead transportation planning and funding agency for L.A. County and carries about 1.2 million boardings daily on a fleet of 2,200 low-emission buses and six rail lines.

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