The following is in response to the Bothell Reporter article quoting Robert Poole of Community Transit and their displeasure with opening the toll lanes during low usage times.
– Community Transit: “Lawmakers originally committed to give the toll lanes two years before initiating any significant changes. It’s been less than six months”
Response: Toll lanes are not like wine. They do not get better with age. There is overwhelming evidence that they don’t do what they are marketed to do. WSDOT surveys also indicate the public is overwhelmingly against them, yet they built it anyway. Fortunately, lawmakers are listening to their constituents.
– Community Transit: “We don’t know what the impact will be on transit,” he said. “There is always the potential this will create a snowball effect that toll lanes are something we can get rid of.”
Response: Absolutely. They are definitely something we can get rid of and we will. HOT lanes are proven to deter carpooling. They create a social injustice. They are terribly expensive to operate. Many more reasons can be found here:
What’s more, they didn’t know what the impact would be on transportation when they implemented the lanes. Nearly every aspect of it surprised WSDOT: the number of flexpasses bought; the exposure of choke points; the carpools moving to the GP lanes while the SOVs moving into the toll lanes; the rise in accidents; the maxing out of the tolls so soon after implementing them. A total failure.
– Community Transit: “Buses run hourly on Route 535”
Response: The 535 runs a total of 15 buses each weekend day. Hardly enough to justify “owning” an entire lane of traffic. Transportation officials report an average of 4200 passengers per weekday ride buses throughout the entire I-405 corridor. That is the number of passengers one carpool lane provides *in just 2 hours*. Weekend bus ridership is less than half that. Prior to the ETL, there was no problem with congestion for those buses. There is no reason to think it will be a problem now.
– Community Transit: “Fans of toll lanes would argue for more tolls, not less.”
Response: Fans of legitimate measures to reduce congestion would argue that tolls create an elite lane. Give us meaningful bus service on the eastside that justifies displacing all the cars first. Stop wasting capital on tolling systems and put it to use building legitimate solutions to transportation.
David Hablewitz is correct on all points. This fund-raising scheme on the part of the state is elitist and inequitable.
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I am sure you recognize Robert Poole as a national consultant with the Reason Foundation that has promoted Managed Express Toll lanes across the country for decades, including the first two lane HOT lanes on SR 91 in California from Anaheim to Riverside and the Miami I-95 two lane HOT lanes. They did the same thing in Miami, by adding capacity with an additional lane, adding tolls at the same time, and claiming benefits of the tolls, ignoring the capacity addition. That is a standard Robert Poole trick. There are few if any of these lanes across the country that Robert does not have his fingers into. One would expect nothing less than his quote in the Bothell Reporter from Community Transit.
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I believe traffic counts have INCREASED due to (1) encouraging SOVs by allowing them to pay money to avoid traffic and (2) discouraging carpools by eliminating free use of the hotlanes by 2 person carpools. All claims of improvement focus on time, but I have not seen any traffic counts. Of course traffic is faster between the Bothell-Woodinville exchange (the “Bothellneck) and Bellevue – they added a lane! Actually, 2 lanes in places, with the extra entry/exit lane.
This also increases traffic on the surface streets, especially between I5/I405 at Swamp Creek and the Bothellneck, as many drivers avoid I405 in this area. This can be seen by the increase in lines entering/exiting I405 at the Bothellneck. Can someone request traffic counts of both the freeway and surface streets?
This is fundamentally wrong on all levels. To tax citizens for the purpose of building roads, and then charge again to drive on roads is double taxation. Also, the “legislation” allowing this to happen was not voted on, so its taxation without representation.