by Alan Allegretto, managing director, Transportation Solutions, ACS, A Xerox Company

As work officially begins on new “Express Lanes” in Los Angeles, some drivers there will soon have a quicker ride home, to work or wherever they are going – and ACS transportation technology will help make it happen.

The LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officially broke ground in early July on a project that is designed to help ease congestion on two of LA’s busiest highways. Solo drivers will be able to drive in some of the local highway car pool lanes for a fee. The price will change in real time based upon how fast traffic is moving in the Express Lanes. The goal is to keep traffic moving at speeds of at least 45 mph in the ExpressLanes.

The idea is to make better use of underutilized “high occupancy vehicle” lanes, also known as HOV, “diamond lanes” or carpool lanes. Drivers will put a small transponder on their windshields that can be read by overhead sensors. People will be able to flip a switch on the transponder to a position that indicates they have enough people in the car to qualify as a carpool. Cameras, computers and California Highway Patrol will make sure folks follow the rules or get a ticket for breaking the law.

As cool as this sounds – it’s not totally new, it’s just applying existing technology in a new innovative way. It’s called all electronic tolling. If you live in the Northeast it’s E-ZPass, in Florida – SunPass and California calls it FasTrak. This is where ACS excels – as a worldwide leader in electronic toll collection, ACS collects half of all tolls in the United States and will operate this part of the system – collecting tolls at highway speeds thanks to transponders in vehicles and video technology along the Express Lanes.

So sometime in 2013 about 25 miles of highway in LA will be reconfigured and ready for use… and ACS will be there every step, er, mile of the way quietly in the background making sure the tolls, technology and traffic work smoothly.