If you have a GoodToGo Pass, then you probably got a copy of this email:
Note in the section that reads:
How are express toll lanes performing since they opened?
Since opening the I-405 express toll lanes, drivers choosing to use the express toll lanes have seen an immediate benefit with a more reliable trip. We’ve also heard concerns from drivers and we take these seriously. WSDOT is making changes to striping at certain locations to improve access and reduce confusion.
Overall, travel times in the regular lanes in both directions have improved or remained the same for drivers going the full 17 miles between Bellevue and Lynnwood compared to this time last year. We have also seen a shift in congestion points which have led to increased traffic in some areas. It’s important to remember that it will take six to twelve months for drivers to adjust and for traffic to settle into a new normal.
We’re calling B.S. on this one.
It is all smoke and mirrors. First of all, prior to the Express Toll Lanes (ETL), every car in the carpool lane was a 2+ person carpool with 95% being 2 person and 5% being 3+/vanpool/bus. In the latest metrics as taken by stop405tolls.org on Thursday December 15th between 7:30 – 8:30am we found 97% of all cars in the ETL were solo drivers. The remaining 3% were carpools (a person was in both front seats). During our sample sets, there were NO buses or vanpools, so they comprise of a statistically insignificant portion of the traffic. This is up from the first measurement we took on December 3rd when it was 85% Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV). We will continue to monitor the demographics of the traffic, which is more than WSDOT can say. WSDOT ADMITS THEY HAVE NOT CONDUCTED ANY MEASUREMENTS OF THE COMPOSITION OF TRAFFIC. In fact, WSDOT was surprised when we told them this data in a recent meeting we had. That statistic is far from how many vehicles were setting their FlexPass to HOV. Not surprising. Officer Jeff Merrill, president of the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association openly warned WSDOT this would be the case.
WSDOT determines drive times based on instantaneous speed at points along the highway. WSDOT DOES NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DRIVING TESTS TO DETERMINE DRIVING TIMES. Their method of measuring is inaccurate, and makes false assumptions of the commuters. First, it does not consider that even people using the toll lanes must drive for as much as 3 miles in the GP lanes before and after they use the ETL because of the limited access points. Second, it assumes people are driving the entire 17 mile stretch from end to end. The result is a graph that does not reflect reality. This implies a lack of understanding or interest in what is actually going on on this roadway.
WSDOT claims in the Email above that drive times have improved. The only way there can be an improvement in traffic flow is if capacity is increased or demand is decreased. Since no lanes were added, there was no increase in capacity. Therefore, it would require a decrease in the demand, in other words, a decrease in the number of vehicles traveling on 405. And the only way there will be a reduction in the number of vehicles is that people choose routes on side roads or they choose not to make the trip at all. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing this information because WSDOT ADMITTED THEY DID NOT TAKE MEASUREMENTS OF SIDE ROADS AS A BASELINE MEASUREMENT BEFORE IMPLEMENTING THE ETLs.
Where WSDOT states in the email ” it will take six to twelve months for drivers to adjust and for traffic to settle into a new normal”, what they mean is the new normal will be side roads being continually more congested, random backups in the GP lanes as we are seeing in off peak hours and on weekends, fewer people carpooling and higher average toll prices to try to push people back into the congested GP lanes. The reality is that converting the carpool lanes into toll lanes did nothing to increase capacity or decrease demand. All it did was shuffle who drives in what lanes or on what roads. Except for those who gave up driving that way altogether.
The first step in correcting this gross error is to restore the sanity of promoting carpools. Please read and sign the petition and then share this site with as many people as you can.