It is regrettable that Mahlon G. "Lon" Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic revived the tired moniker "Lexus lanes" to describe the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes proposed for the Capital Beltway, the Interstate 95 corridor in Northern Virginia and certain highways in Maryland [letters, July 1].

Experience from California and Texas shows that drivers of even modest means use these lanes when they are pressed for time. HOT lanes do not cause "economic discrimination," as Mr. Anderson alleged, because motorists retain the option of using toll-free lanes. Is offering the choice of faster yet more costly express mail or taxicab service "economic discrimination" because not everyone can afford to use those services?

Requiring customers to pay more for a higher level of service is an accepted principle throughout the economy. People of all income levels occasionally must reach their destination on time -- for important appointments, for job interviews or for non-reimbursible flights, for example.

Numerous surveys in our region and other jurisdictions show that the public welcomes the option of priced lanes that offer congestion-free travel. Playing the equity card to disparage toll lanes is as misleading as it is unfair.



The writer is editor of Innovation Briefs, a transportation newsletter.