As taken from the WSDOT blog post
I-405 Express Toll Lanes Part 1: What is the problem?
The main goal of HOV lanes was (and still is) to maximize the movement of people rather than vehicles.
That same article states:
..the HOV Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Report showed that the majority of respondents in a public opinion survey supported HOV lanes and overwhelming supported that all HOV lanes should be open to vehicles with two or more people.
Their own studies state HOV lanes maximize the movement of people and that the public overwhelmingly supported 2+person carpools for all HOV lanes. Furthermore, in an interview by MYNorthwest.com with Reema Griffith of the transportation commission, she admits:
“We’re not going to make light of, or suggest that it’s so easy to get a third person”
Clearly, the 2+person carpool is optimal. Yet against their own recommendations, They set the bar at 3+persons for commuters. In addition, regardless of your carpool size, you must also buy a new $15 FlexPass and open an account with $30 minimum. People who do not make the drive frequently enough to buy the pass or are from elsewhere not only don’t get free access regardless of the number of passengers, but they also get hit with a $2 pay-by-mail charge.
Now on to WSDOT’s part 2 article: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Part 2: A new option for 450,000 people stuck in traffic
This article has a wonderful videographic showing people moving to carpools and vanpools while the remaining people in the general purpose lanes are saying “We got an improved, free trip in the GP lanes.” Great propaganda, but not even close to reality.
The GP lanes are much worse now because the ETL have fewer people in them than they did as HOV lanes.
Also, the ratios in the WSDOT graphic are way off from reality. It shows 7 vehicles: one bus, one vanpool, one 2-person carpool paying and 4 solo drivers paying. The actual measurement is approximately 80% solo drivers in the ETL.
Consider the following graphic taken from their article (published 3/20/2015):
This is an examination of the HOV lanes before ETL was implemented. The HOV lane is approximately 500 vehicles per hour over the green level capacity. Studies back then have also shown that approximately 95% of all vehicles in the HOV lane were 2-person carpools. The remaining 5% were buses, vanpools, and 3+person carpools. Last Thursday I made a visual count at the 195th St overpass and recorded in a 10 minute window a total of 104 carpools (unknown size, but at least 2 person) driving in the general purpose lanes. That works out to 600 vehicles per hour displaced from the ETL into the GP lanes.
Examination of this graph would reveal that simply adding a second carpool lane would double the capacity of the carpool lanes to 2000 vehicles per hour, making them well-used (more than they are today as ETL), yet leaving an unused capacity of 500 vehicles per hour and still be in the green level capacity. Converting them to ETL does not enhance their operational efficiency over simple 2+person carpool lanes. A carpool lane has at least double the capacity of an Express Toll Lane full of paying solo drivers. In other words, compared to two 2+carpool lanes, the 405ETL have:
– lower capacity
– higher cost to operate
– more complexity
– have double the accident rate
Also in this article it states “More than 30 express toll lane systems have been successfully implemented in places around the United States… After express toll lanes opened on I-95 in Miami, HOV lane speeds tripled and general purpose lane speeds doubled.” This is totally misrepresents their situation. As published in this Miami-Herald article, And this article In Miami-Dade, drivers (and politicians) feeling toll shock, traffic hasn’t eased even as tolls went over $10.00. In fact, politicians in Florida are taking a second look at their use of tolls. So it isn’t as rosy as WSDOT would like us to believe. And perhaps the biggest failure in WSDOT’s comparison of Puget Sound’s tolls to Miami’s is that Miami built entirely new lane corridors and did NOT repurpose existing lanes. WSDOT did.