Friday, October 16, 2015

What has two wheels and pays no tolls on #405ETL?

By Ethan Bergerson

Join us for a live chat on this subject on Facebook and Twitter, Monday, Oct 19 at noon.

Motorcycles travel free on I-405 express toll lanes with a Good To Go! motorcycle pass, and if you ride I-405 you can get a free motorcycle pass. We’ve given away about 10,000 free motorcycle passes, which combined with the 10,000 motorcycle passes already on the road means a lot of bikes should have been good to go. But, now that the first toll bills have started to arrive in the mail, we are starting to hear from motorcyclists that some passes are not working and some are receiving charges even though they have a motorcycle pass.

What you need to do?
In order to travel free, motorcycles must have a properly installed motorcycle pass.

If your pass is installed correctly, and your statement shows a toll for riding your bike on I-405 with a motorcycle pass, we will refund the charges.

If your online statement shows a toll and 25 cent photo toll fee, it means your motorcycle pass wasn’t read by the toll equipment.  You may need to visit a customer service center so that we can test your pass and replace it if it doesn’t work or is incompatible with your motorcycle. Be sure to check to see if your pass is installed correctly and read below to see some examples of installed passes that are not reading.

If you have a Good To Go! account, you can check to see if you were  charged for your trip by logging into your Good To Go! account online.
  • Newer motorcycle passes should not show any record of I-405 express toll lane trips online.
  • Motorcycle passes purchased before March 2015 can check for toll credits online. These passes will show a toll and a credit for the same amount about 5 days after your trip. Your charges and credits will both appear in the "account history" page about 5 days after your trip, but may not both be visible on the "my account" page.
Older passes should check their account history online 5 days
after travel for credits for I-405 travel.
If you have a motorcycle pass and it’s not registered to a Good To Go! account, you should not receive a toll bill. If you do receive a bill in the mail, do not ignore it. Please contact us and let us know so that we can work to resolve this issue.   

Why  is my motorcycle pass being charged a toll on I-405 express toll lanes?
Up to 300 transactions with older passes were improperly tolled. We fixed this error last week and, going forward, these customers will see a charge and a credit back on their Good To Go! statement. We are crediting this group of riders for any transactions that occurred prior to the fix.

We’ve also been hearing from riders whose pass isn’t working due to installation issues or interference from the bike itself. Make sure that your pass is installed correctly and be gentle when installing to avoid damaging the pass. Check out the examples of problems we’ve run into to see if any of these issues apply to you.  If you find that your pass isn’t working, you may need to visit a customer service center so that we can test your pass and get you a new one it if it is not working or incompatible with your motorcycle. If you see any of these installation errors, we will replace your pass.

Installation problem examples:

Vertical installation

Passes should be installed horizontally. Installing the pass vertically can reduce the range and accuracy of the built in antenna.

Angled headlamps

Bending the pass can cause the antenna to malfunction. If your bike has a sharp angled headlamp, we suggest mounting the pass on a flat surface on either side of the curve.

Not a pass at all

Make sure that you installed the motorcycle pass, and not the barcode that came in the packaging.

Mystery problems

We’ve also experienced some passes failing even when there doesn’t seem to be any installation problem at all. The passes are fragile, so maybe they’re just stretched a bit too thin. Whatever it is, if you’re having problems please let us know and we’ll work with you to get it fixed.


Jeff Gray said...

"What has four wheels and sits in a 15 mile long parking lot for over an hour when driving from Lynnwood to Bellevue?"

Every car in the GP lanes since the Extortion Toll Lanes went live.

Unknown said...

I've done all of the above for 520 bridge and pass still fails every single time. Even had the pass replaced at a customer service center who OK'd the placement and it read fine by the test machine, but then I'm still charged every single time I pass a toll.

Dang Nguyen said...

wsdot can snap everyone's license. Just cross check with DOL and you know when it's a motorcycle. BAM! Problem solved.

Michael said...

If you can take a picture, read the license plate and then compare the license plate number to a database in order look up the owners address to incorrectly mail a bill to them how come you can't just check the registration that says the vehicle is registered as a motorcycle and then not bill them? Isn't that easier? It seems that if it is a federal requirement that motorcycles travel for free in ETLs then it should be up to the WSDOT to determine how to NOT toll motorcycles nit the riders.

Jeff DeLong said...

My first issue is that there really should be no reason for the motorcycle passes for free travel. There is a clear distinction between a M/C plate and a car or truck plate. On top of that the registration clearly states that the plate is registered for a M/C. Why did an error like this get past the programmers? They are already looking at the DOT's records for the addresses, it cannot be that difficult to pull the vehicle type data from a table.

My second issue is that I have the M/C pass on my bike and the 520 bridge reads it without failure yet 405 has never been able to pick it up. Why use a system that does not pick up passes as easy?

My third issue is that I have been getting charged for the use of the toll lanes on my motorcycle. I spent an hour at the Bellevue store on Wednesday Oct 14th to talk to them about the tolls and they said they removed them, but they are still on there as charges and there has been no credit to my account. Why is it taking so long for the credit? Should it not be done by now?

Some suggestions that would have made the lanes more accepted by commuters:

If you had implemented a 2 lane system all the way from Lynnwood to Bellevue with one lane being 3+ and the other lane being 2+ or toll then you would have satisfied the federal requirements for maintaining 45 MPH or more in the carpool lanes and could have avoided the exponential rise in traffic in the regular lanes.

I see no reason to charge tolls between the later night time hours, even if it were like the 520 bridge and were only between 11PM and 4AM.

The bottom line is that the tolling of 405 has come across to the tax paying citizens who pay taxes for these roads already as a huge money grab for the state and implemented poorly when a higher percentage of the toll is going to another state completely. Why would you not keep this in state and create jobs for the community that has to pay these atrocious fees.

WSDOT Toll Division said...

@Jeff Gray While we're seeing some congestion points shifting, overall we're seeing travel times for the corridor as a whole are improving. Check back for updated traffic data later this week.

Paladn said...

I got a motorcycle sticker, put it on correctly and got a charge. I went online to dispute it and the dispute page doesn't work! Keeps coming up with an error!
So I CALL in to dispute it (today at 1:00 PM) and after all the routing, get to a message that the office is CLOSED, but that the hours are M-F 8:00-5:00!
I guess there's not a lot of interest in "helping" us with our disputes?..

WSDOT said...

Jeff – You have made some great suggestions and our project team will make note of those. We appreciate you voicing your concerns and apologize for the inconvenience that the motorcycle pass has caused you. We first suggest that you make sure the motorcycle pass is positioned correctly on the front of your bike so that it will be read correctly. You can find more detailed instructions here. Good To Go! Customer Service is happy to test scan your motorcycle pass as well to make sure it will be properly read.

We are actively monitoring the use of express toll lanes along the I-405 corridor and are prepared to make changes where they are needed. As with any big changes, we anticipate a learning curve. However, we remain optimistic about express toll lanes as a positive solution to terrible congestion along the corridor.

WSDOT said...

Paladn – We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced today. Unfortunately, the Good To Go! Customer Service Center was closed earlier today due to a bomb threat. All customer service centers and the phone line are back to operating as usual.

Unknown said...

520 isn't free to ride across.

WSDOT said...

Correct. We are tolling SR 520 to fund a new and safer SR 520 floating bridge. As a result, motorcycles on the SR 520 bridge are charged a toll.

The I-405 Express Toll Lanes were built to restore trip reliability to the I-405 corridor vs. paying off a new bridge. As a result, motorcycles can ride for free in the Express Toll Lanes. All exemptions are set by the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Chris said...

Any word on whether or not the entrance to the southbound ETL lane (south of SR 527) will be extended more to the north. Its pretty scary trying to change lanes in a turn at the crest of a hill. You can't see traffic coming at night on a MC until its right on top of you.

BandAHag said...

WSDOT, Please clarify:
In this blog Ethan Bergerson says,

..."If you have a motorcycle pass and it’s not registered to a Good To Go! account, you should not receive a toll bill."...

Yet just now, when I called the support # about getting billed despite having a Pass, I was told I HAD to have an account, no way around it.

Which is it?

WSDOT said...

BandAHag, Motorcycle passes do not need to be registered to a Good To Go! account on I-405. We are sorry to hear that you were told otherwise. All of our customer service representatives have been trained on this. If you contact us again and feel that you are not being helped, you should ask for a supervisor.

ilikethings310 said...

WSDOT, please explain how you can not tell via hardware/software that a motorcycle is in the lane, but at the same time you absolutely can tell when a car is using a motorcycle pass to threaten toll evasion fines?

Dan Battern said...

So far I have been charged $12.50 between tolls and photo fees. I have the motorcycle pass installed correctly and an account. Why are the charges appearing on a vehicle that is supposed to be free. Honestly, the implementation has been in competently handled. If motorcycles are free after creating an account and putting a device on our light, don't charge. If the photo fee that was added 17 times to my account can't identify a motorcycle you need a new system.

Dan Battern said...

I have been charged $12.50 in tolls and photo charges on a motorcycle with the pass installed correctly and an active account. If your photo can't determine it is a motorcycle when charging my account maybe the license plate would be a hint. This is unacceptable, I have submitted an email but still waiting for a response. I only travel one exit and expected no charge since that is what your page said. Logged in to the account after hearing other motorcyclists saying they had been charged. Have you considered blocking the system from tolling and adding photo fees to motorcycles or will you wait to see if the people figure out they are being erroneously charged?

WSDOT said...

Chris – We're still monitoring and evaluating the access points to determine where to change or extend the access, and your feedback is helpful as we move forward. Thank you!

WSDOT said...

ilikethings310, our specific system cannot reliably identify motorcycles automatically unless they have a motorcycle pass. The system counts axles, not wheels. There are technical improvements that might be able to be made but they are more complicated than you might think. We know when a car is using a motorcycle pass because motorcycle passes set off a beacon on the toll equipment.

WSDOT said...

Dan – sorry that is happening. Please visit one of our customer service centers to have them evaluate your pass installation. They can test it and give you a new pass. The system currently can’t tell the difference between a motorcycle and a car, but we will definitely refund your tolls. Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

jsquared3000 said...

I ride a motorcycle, have the free pass correctly installed on my headlight. I just received a bill for $57.25 starting on 10/22/15 - 11/24/15. I leave my place at 6am and return home at 4pm using 405 from 522 to i90. The bill shows 20 toll charges during that time frame. Of the 20 charges 18 are for the south bound commute. Since I have only been tolled for 2 north bound commutes I would assume that my pass is working about 50% of the time... or working when there is some daylight still remaining. As others have stated if you can find out the registered owner and address by the license plate, you should be able to see that it is a motorcycle and not send out a bill. This would save time and money on your end not having to field complaint calls, and not waste my time having to call in and dispute the charges.

WSDOT said...

Jsquared3000 - First of all, I want to reassure that you we will waive your toll bill. Simply email and explain the situation as you did in this post. Let them know all the bill numbers and your license plate number.

Unfortunately, there is not a single list of all motorcycles available for us to automatically prevent charges based on license plate alone. We looked into this, as well as several other options such identifying motorcycles by visual characteristics or weight. However, our tolling equipment just wasn’t able to always accurately tell that bike was a bike. After considering many options, we determined that giving out free motorcycle passes to signal our tolling equipment was the most effective solution to identify motorcycles and stop bills from being sent. While some riders have experienced problems with this, it has worked well in most cases and we have always been able to find a spot on the motorcycle that worked when riders bring their bikes into a customer service center.

Marcus206 said...

Someone peeled off my sticker while I parked at the grocery store...

WSDOT said...

Marcus, sorry to hear that! Once a motorcycle pass has been removed, the transponder is typically damaged and unusable. If your pass is connected with a Good To Go! account, please mark that it has been stolen. You can apply for a free replacement by submitting a short survey. The link is under "Free motorcycle pass for motorcycle riders" here:

thisisnoturs k said...

is this illegal to charge people that live here and who have and are already paying taxes towards these roads to tax them to drive on a road that they are paying for multiple times? tabs, road tax, regular taxes collected?????? I ride a motorcycle and am being charged, Washington state law says we are allowed to be in these lanes yet you want to force me to put a sticker on my bike and still charge me anyway, I also have to purchase this sticker if I am correct. Your system does not work and is not helping traffic! You surely do not drive on 405 if you think these tolls have helped, also they are causing more drivers to drive back roads. So now I get to waste my time and go and fight this dumb charge that is against Washington state law. To you who designed this system..... stop charges until you have them right unless we are able to bill you for our time for you wasting our time.

WSDOT said...

thisisnoturs k, sorry for the confusion, motorcycles do not pay tolls on the I-405 express toll lanes, but you will need to have a motorcycle pass. We are offering passes free here: If you would like to dismiss your charge with a customer service representative, you can call 1-866-936-8246 (0,1,0 to skip straight to rep). Since bills have just gone out, we've been experiencing high call volumes. You may rather a rep call you by going to, click the contact tab, and click the "Click to Call" button on the right-hand side.

Norton Rider said...

Motorcycles get to use I-405 express toll lanes free of charge. Why then is a pass required? It is a waste of time, money, and resources to make and distribute these passes. I wish the WSDOT would be a good steward of the taxpayers money.

A system that is sophisticated enough to detect license plates should be more than capable of automatically detecting motorcycles. Moreover, if the system is so unsophisticated that it only counts axles, it should be programmed to differentiate motorcycle license plate numbers from other vehicle numbers. Think of it, somehow there's a link to a DOL database because toll bills are sent to a vehicle's registered owner. This same DOL database surely has the type of vehicle associated with each license plate number.

Lastly, attaching a sticker to a headlight is probably a violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards §571.108 Standard No. 108. The headlights on motorcycles in the US meet this standard as manufactured and not with a pass attached to them, regardless of how clear and small the pass is.

WSDOT said...

Norton, a motorcycle pass is required so that the system in place on I-405 can recognize that the vehicle is exempt from paying the toll. Unfortunately, it cannot tell the difference between a motorcycle and another vehicle at this point. Should you choose not to install a motorcycle pass on your bike, you will receive toll bills in the mail from our photo tolling system. You’ll need to contact Good To Go! to waive the tolls as motorcycles are exempt from paying tolls on I-405 as you’ve already stated.

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