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Metro hasn't figured out how to manage its freeway express lanes. Why not return them to carpoolers?

To the editor: It’s time for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to admit its mistakes and return the toll lanes that are also open to cars with multiple occupants to their rightful users: carpoolers. (“L.A. County will consider tighter rules for carpool and toll lanes,” March 22)

As a longtime two-person carpooler on the 110 Freeway, I can tell you that the toll lanes have become so congested as to provide no advantage over the regular lanes at certain times. So why would any right-minded solo driver pay for a FasTrak transponder to gain the privilege of saving little time in traffic?

The answer is the dirty little secret of the toll lanes: The current system of enforcement makes it virtually impossible to catch solo drivers who illegally set their transponders to the carpool setting.

The carpool lanes were originally designed to keep cars off the freeway. Metro should not punish legitimate two-person carpoolers because it cannot enforce its rules against solo drivers who cheat.

George Pisano, Rancho Palos Verdes

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To the editor: Your article states that “drivers can use the [toll] lanes for free if they carpool.” This parrots the propaganda used to push the toll lanes.

I never drive solo in the toll lanes, but still I had to pay $40 for the transponder to use them as a carpooler. Furthermore, anyone with a transponder is required to maintain an account with a credit card on file and to pay a $1 monthly maintenance fee. I am one of many drivers who uses the 110 Freeway only to drive to LAX; in effect, we are subsidizing the solo drivers who pay to use the toll lanes.

To really make carpooling free, Metro should issue transponders that only function in carpool mode and do not require an upfront or a monthly fee. Better yet, get rid of toll lanes and raise the gas tax. Allowing solo “carpool” drivers undermines the sound policy of encouraging carpooling.

Alex Murray, Altadena

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To the editor: How far down the road is Metro looking? Tweaking the rules for toll and carpool lanes is a fool’s errand and a waste of money and time.

Given an ever-increasing population, the environmental impact of driving cars, the fact that lower-income drivers can’t afford the tolls and the minimal traffic relief provided by the lanes, Metro should focus on mass transit, period.

Dorrit Ragosine, Los Angeles

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