Short Version.

Metro ExpressLanes is a government program to administer variable-cost tolls on special lanes of Los Angeles County freeways. It uses the FasTrak Transponder; used by other toll programs in the state. The ExpressLanes program uses a special version of the transponder that has a switch allowing drivers to set one, two or three occupants (allowing free High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) use of the lanes).

The ExpressLanes program is fully administered by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, better known as LA Metro, and the LA Metro Board (your elected officials) set the rules for the ExpressLanes. There are no gates and drivers must be aware otherwise they can inadvertently enter the ExpressLanes (it is illegal to cross the double-double white-lines protecting the lanes).

Enforcement is handled through two very different methods:

  1. Photo Enforcement. Cameras are placed strategically to capture license plate photos of violators and mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. These fines are much less than law-enforcement fines of the CHP.
  2. California Highway Patrol (CHP). They enforce against people who have improperly placed transponders, have no transponder, or a transponder set to multiple occupants when there is only one (along with the regular traffic laws). These fines are much higher (hundreds of dollars).

You must have a FasTrak Transponder to use the lanes without getting a ticket (a transponder with a switch if you want HOV toll-waiver) and a FasTrak account to “load money” onto the transponder. Metro ExpressLanes allows you to signup for regular accounts online.

Transponders can be obtained from many locations:

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