Friday, November 6, 2015

#405ETL Customer Service Edition

By Emily Pace

We wanted to share some of the common questions our customer service center is hearing.

Why am I waiting on the phone?
Customers calling the customer center are waiting on average about 25-minutes to talk to a customer service representative. Why? With the launch of express toll lanes and the civil penalty reduction program, we’ve nearly doubled our monthly call volume. The monthly call volume in September and October was about 120,000 – our typical call volume is 60,000 to 70,000. 

Reducing call volumes and wait times is our top priority. We have continued extended call center hours, so the call center is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The call center is also open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Advice if you’re calling: Typically, Monday through Wednesday have heavier volumes with longer wait times. Thursday and Friday have slightly lower call volumes and wait times. Calling earlier in the morning may also help.

Are there things I can do online without calling customer service?
Customers can address most of their account needs without waiting on hold by visiting Here are step-by-step instructions how to perform the most common account requests online:
Flex Pass or sticker pass?
Remember, you don’t need a Flex Pass to use I-405. Any Good To Go! pass will work to pay the toll or you can use Pay By Plate.  If you only drive alone on I-405 or only drive as two person carpools during the peak periods you don’t need a Flex Pass. You only need the Flex Pass if you are a carpooler meeting occupancy requirements and want to travel toll-free on the I-405 express toll lanes.

Remember, you don’t need both passes! If you have an old sticker pass and purchased a new Flex Pass, remove that sticker before you install your Flex Pass to avoid billing issues!

Where’s my Good To Go! Pass?
Drivers ordering a pass through Good To Go! are currently waiting three and a half weeks to receive their order.
  • Waiting on a Flex Pass? If you are waiting to receive the pass you ordered online through Good To Go! or over the phone, you can visit a walk-in center and they can fulfill the order for you right then and there.
  • Need a Flex Pass now? Visit a retail location. Be sure to call the retail store in advance to ensure they have the pass you need in stock.
  • What if I’m waiting for my pass but have to use I-405 express toll lanes in the meantime? If you’ve set up your account with your license plate number and waiting for your pass, we will credit back the Pay By Plate fees. Also, if you can’t declare your carpool status because you’re waiting to receive your Flex Pass order, we will waive any tolls you’ve received driving the express toll lanes as a carpool. Customer service will confirm that your pass order is in progress.
What are we doing to help address the wait time for a Flex Pass? We’ve already added a second shift to fulfill pass orders in Gig Harbor and are now adding a third shift at our office in Seattle. Since their introduction in March, we’ve already distributed more than 130,000 Flex Passes – far exceeding our first year estimates.

Save $2 on every toll for I-405 Express Toll Lanes
  • Get a Pass! – About 50 percent of drivers in the express toll lanes had a Good To Go! pass. That means 50 percent of trips on I-405 are paying extra on their tolls. If you’re receiving a bill in the mail, you’re paying an extra $2 more per toll. If you have an account but don’t have an activated pass installed in your vehicle, you’re paying an extra 25 cents per toll. That adds up! The cheapest way to pay is with a Good To Go! pass.
  • Activate the Pass! – If you received a free pass or purchased a pass at a retail store, it still needs to be activated on an account. If you haven’t activated your pass, you will get a bill in the mail and pay higher toll rates on I-405 express toll lanes, SR 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridge. Visit and  open a new account or add your new pass to an existing account.
  • One pass, one car! Remove your old pass – We’re seeing a lot of folks with two Good To Go! passes in their vehicle – typically a sticker pass and Flex Pass. Please remove the sticker pass immediately because having two passes in a vehicle may result in incorrect bills.
What toll rate am I paying? Three zones, multiple destinations.
The I-405 express toll lanes signs show  up to three destinations. – What will you pay if you’re traveling to a destination in between those zones? Let’s say you’re starting in Bellevue and going to NE 160th St:
  •  Look for the sign prior to the entry point listing rates showing three different rates for the three destinations: NE 124th St, SR 522 and I-5.
  • These three destinations show the rates for any exit up to these point.
  • Drivers exiting at NE 160th would pay $2.50 because they are traveling past NE 124th St and exit before SR 522. 


David Parker said...

How come there is no way to see (on the web, via app, etc) what the current toll rates are? I would like to check before I start my commute, as my entry points are exclusively toll, or exclusively regular (NE 6th or NE 4th), and there is no way for me to see what it is going to be before I am committed. . .

WSDOT said...

David- Where are you coming from? You should see toll rate signs on surface streets approaching the NE 6th direct access ramp before you get there.

We haven't posted the toll rates online because they can change so quickly with traffic conditions. We don't want people to leave the house thinking that the rates will be one thing, and then get surprised by a different rate when they arrive at the entry point. We're also concerned about creating the temptation to check toll rates on your phone while you're driving. With that said, we are considering drivers' feedback and know that there is a desire for this.

Helena said...

These toll lanes are the biggest mistake in transportation history. The toll lanes have increased 99.9% of everyone's commute. Everyone would be better off if WSDOT would just admit that they made a huge mistake and turned the toll lane back into a general purpose lane. The new configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and an HOV lane.

Unknown said...

Since the ETL has opened the access northbound from 520 has really slowed down. On the average, it now takes 16 minutes to get onto 405 northbound from 520 west at 3:30 PM.

Is this going to be alleviated? It is now faster for me to run 148th st to 85th. Should be faster on the main roads, not the side streets.

David Diaz said...

Northbound I-405 regular lanes out of Bellevue are more congested than ever. I never remember bumper to bumper traffic all weekend long but it seems to be the norm with the new toll lanes.

Raymond Davidson said...

I just wasted $5 to take the toll lanes today and the entire time it was SLOWER than the normal lanes. Was averaging 15-20mph at the most from I-5 to 522.

Cu Bong said...

Dear WSDOT, what is your thought about the stretch from I-5 to SR-522 on both directions during peak hours, only one lane for ETL and not it is packed and volume is now exceeding ?
-you are over sold the road more drivers using flex pass now but this stretch is only one lane, and WSDOT failed to commit 45 mph as you promised
- wide open from SR 522 to 6th st Bellevue, this made me believe that WSDOT favor drivers who live in King county and DON'T care drivers in Snohomish county ? is that too ? because NO widen projects going on for the stretch from SR-522 to I-5
-Students are getting late and can not predict time to arrive UW Bothell and Cascadia CColege because traffic getting worse
- 155 millions for the ETLs projects, but did nothing for people of Snohomish county but STEALING our money every day for the tolls but not even get the commute faster , the whole stretch from I-5 to SR 522 in the last 2 weeks were very NASTY
- using 155 M to shift the congestions from somewhere else and proclaimed it is a win for WSDOT,
-, we are , people of Snohomish county, SUFFERING everyday when driving from I-5 to SR-522 , we can't wait 6 months to years for you to fix

Steve Skeen said...

It is all very confusing regarding the flex pass, good to go and whatever else you have come up with. I just want to know if I can use the 405 lanes in a legitimate car pool (3 people) with out any of these bogus stickers.

WSDOT said...

Steve – Anyone can use the lanes. You can use them for free with a Good To Go! Flex Pass and the right number of people in your vehicle (3+ during peak hours and 2+ during off-peak.) If you qualify, you can also get the Flex Pass for free by taking a brief survey at Here are the instructions:

Paul said...

Count me among those who would like to see the rates on the web. I realize they can change. Maybe a big disclaimer on the site.

Diane said...

So inscribe from Lynnwood tonrenton and backbone Saturday.
I turned my flex pass to "toll" as I understood I should do as I was the only one in vehicle. I drove the entire distance of toll lanes - just to see if I understood how it all worked and how the charges worked.
I waited for this trip to come up in my statement. It still has not. I contacted customer service folk via email and was told I didn't travel the tolls at any time that day or any other. I asked specific questions about how I understood the tolls to work and requested a reply if I am correct or not. This part of my email has never been addressed.
I'm so confused. Plus there were people crossing the double lines just after the camera station and just before the next one so they could avoid the tolls all together. I was nearly on an accident three times on that trip because of cars unexpectedly crossing into the toll lanes.

David Parker said...

WSDOT: Where are there rate signs on the access streets? I come from 110 Ave NE, southbound, left onto 6th st, and the sign is well after 112th Ave. So technically I guess the U turn is still legal, and then back to 112 th ave and all the way to 8th st, but practically, there is no opportunity to make a choice between toll and regular. Please give us a web page for each entrance, and add as many disclaimers re rate changeability as you like. And an API would be nice as well.

WSDOT said...

Our project team is reviewing access points along the corridor, especially around 520 and 527, to understand how people are using the lanes. We know that congestion points have shifted and we are diligently working to alleviate those issues. Additionally, we thank drivers for their patience as we allow 6 to 12 months of adjustment to the new system.

WSDOT said...

David, WSDOT is in discussion about the feasibility of displaying toll rates online or in an app format. We’ll keep you posted on those efforts.

WSDOT said...

Paul – Great! We’ll pass that along to the team. Right now, the idea of posting toll rates is in discussion about feasibility.

WSDOT said...

Hi Diane – It can take up to 5 days for a toll charge to show up in your account. If you traveled in the lanes somewhat recently, I would check your account again in a couple more days. If your Flex Pass was set to Toll mode, you would have been charged for the trip. If the system read your pass as HOV, then the trip will not show up in your account at all. Just make sure that the switch “clicks” into place when switching between Toll and HOV mode.

Eric Haechrel said...

It would be very useful to have an online dashboard showing toll amounts and travel times for 405. Drivers could check this info before departing to determine if it's worth taking the toll lane (or using a direct-access ramp). Having this info in an app would be even better. More informed drivers means more efficient use of all lanes.

WSDOT said...

Eric, that’s an idea we are currently looking into. We’ve had several requests for that information to be displayed. Stay tuned for updates!

skip said...

This good to go thing is the most frustration thing I have signed up for. I am not able to access my account after several e-mails to the state and them promising to reset the account. They have access to my bank account and debit it and I cannot see the account to verify all this. Also I ordered and paid for my pass two months ago and still have not received it and of course I cannot get through to anyone on the phone. If I had known how this would go I would have never signed up for this. Another great government program!

WSDOT said...

Skip, I'm sorry to hear of the inconvenience. Good To Go! customer service has had their hands very full lately and wait times on the phone have nearly doubled. Here’s a link to our blog post that helps customers troubleshoot Good To Go! issues:

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