In less than 3 months, the tolls are already maxing out at $10. This is much sooner than WSDOT ever expected. Also, they have already sold 160,000 FlexPasses, double what they expected. Just watch what happens when everyone starts using them. Representative Andy Hill recently called out their “incompetence” in a press conference where he and Representative Mark Harmsworth presented a bill to retract a toll lane and reduce the carpool requirement to 2 instead of 3 and open all lanes to all traffic for free from 7PM to 5AM.
Not surprising. Tolling does not increase capacity or decrease demand. WSDOT is going back to the Washington State Transportation Commission to request the maximum be raised. Don’t be surprised if they try to increase the maximum toll to $16. That would be about $1/mile.
WSDOT claims people are willing to pay because of the Value of Travel Time (VOT) is greater than they had anticipated. The misconception of VOT is that people view toll fees as discretionary spending — that they are choosing to use the carpool lane in the same way they might choose to go to a movie. The reality is that the cost of commuting to work is an essential living expense, similar to a heating bill. People will pay to heat their home at whatever cost until they can’t afford it. As an essential expense, people will pay it even if it means giving up non-essential expenses, like dining out or a movie or Christmas gifts.
As long as WSDOT is using Managed Traffic Lanes with tolling, you can expect two things:
1. People will continue to pay at any price until the cost per hour is greater than what they earn per hour.
2. It will have no effect on the reduction of congestion overall.
This has been proven in other toll systems that WSDOT actually cites as successful examples that they are modeling our systems after. So if you like paying tolls to drive in the same traffic you drove in before without tolls, you should be very happy with what else is coming. Expect the rate hikes to continue, just as they are in Miami and Atlanta.
The pricing will continue to escalate until we, the public, recognize the flawed logic that WSDOT is blindly following, and force them to innovate rather than repeat the same mistakes over and over. Sign the Petition and share this with someone every time you read it.