The news is that the toll roads in Orange County, California are not bringing in as much money as planned. Similarly with Maryland's Intercounty Connector. In Virginia, high occupancy/toll lanes won't bring any revenue for the state government, even though it spent half a billion dollars on them.
Some people, who don't like the idea of toll roads in general, will take these developments as evidence against the whole idea of tolling. It's not; it's evidence against the wisdom of building roads. It's especially stupid to build toll roads and competing free roads at the same time, as was done in California, just as it's stupid to build transit and competing free roads at the same time.
What's really annoying is that for some people, building toll or high-occupancy vehicle lanes is automatically assumed to be a greenfield operation, the same way Kate Slevin insisted that "we can't have BRT without" a wider Tappan Zee Bridge.
Some of this is related to the idea that a toll is only used to finance the cost of road construction - and not maintenance or reconstruction, somehow. That idea was put to rest in 1937 when Bob Moses issued new bonds for the already-built Triborough Bridge. Just as you can always remove or reduce tolls and pay for a road with tax money, you can always collect or raise tolls and use them to pay for other things.
You can always convert an existing lane to toll, HOV or bus-only. It's easier when you have a nice wide, uncongested highway so that you have room to build nice landscaped barriers around the special lanes, but there's usually room for a jersey barrier. And of course you can always make the whole highway tolled, HOV or bus-only.
The main problem is that if you only implement tolls or vehicle restrictions on new greenfield lanes or highways, those highways will be empty a lot of the time. In the past they've tended to fill up eventually, but with current driving trends this will happen more and more slowly. One day someone will look at a ten-year-old tollway and realize that the promised cars will simply never appear. How many of those empty highways will we have built by then?
It's time to stop thinking that all HOV, bus or toll lanes have to be added. That kind of thinking doesn't solve any problems, and only leads to empty roads and empty treasuries.