Bay Area HOT Lanes: Will They Work?

An 800-mile HOT lane 'network' proposed for the Bay Area is now a bill in the state legislature. The MPO estimates it will reduce congestion and emissions while raising funds for transit. U.C. Berkeley's Pravin Varaiya insists it will lose money.
May 7, 2009, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission "estimates that turning the Bay Area's 500 miles of carpool lanes into toll lanes, along with adding 300 miles of new toll lanes, will generate $6.1 billion in profit over the next 25 years.

But one UC Berkeley engineering professor who has studied the effectiveness of carpool and toll lanes says the idea is wildly optimistic, and he predicts it will ultimately waste huge amounts of taxpayer money.

For years, professor Pravin Varaiya of UC Berkeley's electrical engineering and computer sciences department has pored over extensive amounts of CalTrans data. He concludes that the new toll lanes will lose money for two main reasons:

* In less-congested areas, not enough people will use them.

* On the Bay Area's more-congested freeways, heavy demand from carpoolers won't leave enough room for those single-occupancy vehicles that would pay the new toll.

"I'm willing to bet that the toll lanes won't be able recover operating costs, let alone the capital costs," he said.

Thanks to Justin Horner

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 in East Bay Express
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email