by, Karen Caruso, vice president, Americas Commercial and State Government Transportation, Xerox

The average American loses 34 hours every year stuck in traffic. That’s a day and a half! Think of all the things you could do with that extra time. Some drivers in Los Angeles are a step closer to finding out – because they are about to start getting some of that time back.

Xerox is working with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to open some faster moving highway lanes, called Metro ExpressLanes. Single passenger vehicles will be able to use car pool lanes on two key highways by choosing to pay a toll. The idea is to get more people moving. It is part of a federal congestion reduction demonstration project that includes these “HOT” lanes, improving transit service and other alternatives to driving; updating transit facilities; and providing demand-based parking pricing in downtown Los Angeles.

And if ExpressLanes were not revolutionary enough – there are about a dozen in the US right now – Xerox and LA Metro are creating a system that encourages smarter transportation choices: like a carpool loyalty program, toll credits for using public transit and adding more buses. This is a first of its kind program in the US.

Starting this week, the FasTrak®electronic transponders solo drivers need to access and pay for driving in the Metro ExpressLanes are available in Los Angeles. Carpools, vanpools, and motorcycles will also need FasTrak to travel toll-free on the Metro ExpressLanes.  Phone, web and two walk-in centers are open to help drivers get what they need and answer questions about how to better take advantage of the benefits of the Metro ExpressLanes. There is also a mobile customer service center that attends large events – literally bringing the Metro ExpressLanes store to the public.

While LA is famous for its traffic problems, Xerox is well positioned to help address these problems. Xerox designed, built and integrated some of the first electronic toll systems. We have implemented electronic toll collection projects in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and California. We work on more than 2,000 tolling lanes and process over $4.0 billion in electronic toll transactions per year on average – that is over 50% of all the electronic toll transactions in the United States. And our highly trained customer service representatives handle an average of more 10 million calls per year with our automated system handling an additional seven million more.

Drivers can start getting their FasTrak® transponders now. You can too by visiting: Metro ExpressLanes. The I-110 ExpressLanes are scheduled to open by the end of this year and the other (I-10 ExpressLanes) early next year. Drivers will start to get back some of those 34 hours they lose every year. It’s about time.