Governor Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 194, which authorized regional transportation agencies and the California Department of Transportation to develop high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and other toll facilities. Before the passage of AB 194, toll lane projects had a limit of four; however, now regional agencies and Caltrans are not limited in the number of high-occupancy toll lanes they can build and operate as long as they have approval by the California Transportation Commission (CTC), a public hearing, and a demonstration of the proposed facility’s benefits to the area.
HOT lanes allow for carpools to travel free of charge or at a reduced charge and allow the use of by other vehicles at a higher charge, depending on congestion. HOT lanes reduce traffic, collect revenue to help fund transportation needs and do not undermine intended benefits of carpooling.
Benefits surrounding the passage of AB 194 go beyond HOT lanes. For years, transportation agencies have struggled with deadlines of transportation projects and the challenges associated with traffic congestion by the increase of vehicles on the roads. The administrative process implemented by AB 194 allows regional transportation agencies and Caltrans to work together with the CTC to develop and operate HOT lane facilities, decreasing headaches and challenges for all. The new administrative process through CTC eliminates the need for a legislative decision and allows for funds generated from the toll roads to benefit more than those who use the lanes. For example, tolls from HOT lanes in Los Angeles have accounted for tens of millions of dollars for the Los Angeles Metro and because decisions on how to use the funds is left to the regional agencies, the Los Angeles Metro was able to increase funding for their public transit service.