No More Free Ride: Zero-Emission Vehicles Must Now Pay for L.A. County Toll Lanes

One major advantage for drivers of clean-air vehicles in Los Angeles is about to become a thing of the past. On Thursday, Los Angeles Metro officials decided to end a program that allows zero-emission drivers to use the county’s toll lanes free of charge.

Starting in November or December, those state-issued clean air stickers will mean little on the toll lanes of 110 and 10 freeways, other than 15% discount. There is one exception: those carpooling can still use the lanes for free.

Environmental advocates criticized Metro’s decision, saying incentives like these are one of the reasons people choose environmentally-friendly cars in the first place. But officials say they’re still contributing to congestion. And, when there is only one person inside the vehicle, they’re no better than any other vehicle in terms of traffic.

Metro’s plans don’t end there. It’s considering raising the carpool threshold from 2 to 3 people, which would exempt many drivers from that advantage too.

The past year has been a sobering one for energy efficient drivers, who once seemed untouchable in an environmentally-friendly state like California. California’s recent gas tax introduced a new $100 annual fee for electric cars starting in 2020.

There are still plenty of financial benefits for owners of clean-air vehicles in California. Toll lanes on Interstates 15, 580, and 880 are still free for zero-emission vehicles. For now.


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