Yes, for the entire month of July, every single day that the I-405 Express Toll Lanes were in operation, they maxed out at $10, the highest possible toll rate allowed. For 38 minutes every day the tolls were being charged, they were at $8 – $10. This is taken directly from WSDOT’s report:
The I-405 express toll lanes reached the maximum toll rate of $10 on 19 days during the month of July.
In total, the toll reached $10 on 30 occasions in July with a median duration of 38 minutes. During the hours of operation for the express toll lanes (5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily Monday through Friday), toll rates were at the $10 maximum a total of 2.8 percent of the time southbound and 6.7 percent of the time northbound.
Between July 1 through July 31, the most common toll rate was $0.75. During peak periods (5 – 9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.), 62 percent of tolls paid were for 75 cents, 79 percent of tolls were for $4 or less, and 8 percent of tolls paid were between $8 – 10.
However, WSDOT staff have clearly studied a technique described in the book “How to Lie With Statistics”. In every other measurement reported by WSDOT, they have used AVERAGES, such as when reporting the speed of the lanes, they have reported AVERAGE speeds. But suddenly in this report WSDOT reported the MEDIAN instead of the MEAN (average). A quick math lesson here to see why this is deceitful…
The MEAN is calculated by adding up all the values and dividing by the number of values. When providing the MEAN, a few extreme values can have a dramatic effect on the value. Very useful if you are reporting average speeds and have a few days that were very fast while most days are very slow. This makes performance look better than it actually is.
The MEDIAN is the middle value. An equal number of values in the list are higher and lower than the MEDIAN. Using the median value neutralizes any extreme values. It doesn’t reveal how far the value is off from the median, only that it is higher or lower.
So using MEDIAN instead of MEAN when reporting how long the tolls were maxed out hides how long tolls are maxing out. In fact, some days may be be maxed out at $10 for far more than 38 minutes. The median value only means there were as many days with $10 tolls for less than 38 minutes as there were days with $10 tolls for more than 38 minutes. See the following hypothetical week:
While the MEAN (Average) length of time per day is nearly an hour, the MEDIAN is still only 38 minutes.
So why is WSDOT sending this deceptive misinformation to our state legislators? Because if legislators knew the truth, they would not support these extortion lanes.
Considering that July is the driest month of the year and schools are closed and many people are away on vacation and few major sporting events are happening, traffic congestion should be at its lowest of the entire year.
In November, I predict we will see tolls maxing out at $10 for more than an hour every day and having little effect on congestion in the toll lanes. Why?
– Daylight savings ends. Both morning and evening commutes will be in the dark.
– November is the wettest month of the year.
– Continued growth in the area while bus ridership is down proportional to growth.
– 2-Person carpooling will continue to decline, increasing vehicles on the road.
– Gas prices are expected to remain steady.
– More people will cheat when it is dark.
Soon enough we will learn the hard way that Express Toll Lanes are not only useless for reducing congestion in the general purpose lanes, but also unsustainable as a way to keep the toll lanes moving too.