Gridlock steals valuable time and creates stress for all of us as we go about our daily lives. Yet efforts to ease traffic haven't caught up with the demands for regional growth. While the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced traffic congestion for the moment, traffic is likely to return as economic and population growth gets back on track. In fact, during the summer of 2020, the overall travel on our regional freeway system was back up to 90% of what it was before the pandemic in January 2020.
Traffic is complicated and there's no one solution but Metro has a plan to make it easier to get around LA. Metro's strategic plan, Vision 2028 , involves efforts and projects that span all aspects of our transportation system. This includes the Traffic Reduction Study, which will explore a new approach.
The law of supply and demand applies to nearly all products and services in the U.S. When we sit in traffic, it's because the number of people in cars who want to use the road (demand) is greater than the space available (supply). Roadway projects that add more supply, such as adding more lanes or increasing the capacity of interchanges, are generally expensive, take a long time to complete, have not been able to keep up with rising demand and often have a range of negative impacts.
That's why the Traffic Reduction Study will look at how we can reduce traffic by managing roadway demand through congestion pricing and providing more high-quality transportation options to make it easier for everyone to travel. Congestion pricing manages the demand for driving by charging in specific places, at specific times, when there is congestion. Providing more high-quality transportation options gives more people reliable choices for getting around besides driving. Together, these elements can encourage some people to change the way they travel some of the time, freeing up roadway space to help traffic flow freely. It only takes a small number of people to change how they travel to have a big impact on traffic. For example, during school holidays, approximately 10-15% fewer people drive during rush hour — and the effect on traffic is significant. Other world-class metro regions have used this approach to reduce traffic and improve overall travel.
The Traffic Reduction Study will focus on determining if, where and how a potential pilot program would be successful somewhere in LA County.
Metro is committed to a study process defined by transparency, data-driven decision-making and inclusive engagement to gather input and inform the design of a recommended traffic reduction pilot program. There will be multiple milestones where potential pilot concepts, technical analysis and public input will be brought forth for discussion and consideration.
Engaging the general public and a diverse range of stakeholders will be a priority throughout the process. Metro will be particularly intentional in its efforts to engage communities historically marginalized in transportation decisions to ensure the recommended pilot would benefit these communities. Ultimately, any potential pilot will require partnership with one or more cities.
Metro will also seek to design the recommended pilot to support economic prosperity, environmental and economic justice, and improved public health and safety.
Upon completion of the study, the Metro Board of Directors will decide if this pilot will be implemented.