Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#405ETLS after hours

By Jennifer Rash

Starting on Friday, March 18, the I-405 express toll lanes will no longer operate 24/7/365. That’s right, we’re shutting off the tolls at 7 p.m., and opening the lanes to all traffic all night (and weekend) long until Monday morning at 5 a.m.

Wait, what’s happening?
For the past two months, we’ve been working with the Governor, the legislature, and the Washington State Transportation Commission, on a plan to change the I-405 express toll lanes hours of operations.

On Tuesday, March 15, the Commission and WSDOT announced the express toll lanes will be free on nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., weekends, and six major holidays (for those doing the math: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).

Why these times?
Since we launched the express toll lanes last September, regional drivers have made millions of trips in the express toll lanes, showing us just how much they value reliability during the weekday commute. However, we’ve also heard many concerns from drivers, including asking for the express toll lanes to be free during periods of low traffic like nights and weekends.

After nearly six months of monitoring and analyzing traffic patterns, we feel the new hours of operations will still allow us to provide a faster, more predictable trip to transit, carpools and toll-paying customers when they need it most, while balancing traffic across all lanes during off-peak travel.

What do drivers need to know?
This is another big change on the roadway, and we expect it may take drivers some time to get the hang of the new rules:

  • Check the signs. The signs will display the words “Open to All”. That means drivers can enter the lanes for free without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool. 
  • Use the designated access points. Drivers must observe the designated access points, and are not permitted to cross the double white lines at any time. Failure to observe these rules may result in a $136 ticket. WSDOT designed an express toll lanes interactive map to help drivers learn the access points and plan trips.  
  • Direct access ramps are HOV only during off-hours. Only transit and two-person carpools are permitted to use the direct access ramps at NE 6th Street in downtown Bellevue and NE 128th Street in Totem Lake. These signs will show HOV2+ NO PASS NEEDED. This means there will be limited exits for drivers traveling southbound through Kirkland and downtown Bellevue due to the restrictions at these two locations. WSDOT is looking at options to improve access in these areas. During weekdays, drivers will still have the option to pay a toll to use these ramps.
  • Other tolled facilities operate as usual. The SR 167 HOT Lanes and SR 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridges will operate as usual. 

What’s next?
We’re planning more than a dozen changes to the I-405 express toll lanes corridor to increase capacity and improve operations including:

  • New merge-and-weave lanes and hard running shoulders at key northbound I-405 chokepoints near SR 520 and SR 527, 
  • Improved striping and signage
  • Longer access points that make it easier for drivers to merge into the toll lanes, and
  • Improved algorithms to keep the toll lanes moving.

Getting more information
And finally, we anticipate Good To Go! customer service call volumes may increase with this and coming changes, so we encourage drivers to first look for information online at GoodToGo405.org and pay toll bills and set up accounts using MyGoodToGo.com.

We ask drivers to be patient as we continue to improve the operation of these lanes, and  please continue to send us your feedback.


Jakob said...

Is the 'open to all' based upon entry to the lanes? If I enter the lanes at 4:50am and it turns 5am by the time I exit, will I get tolled upon exiting?

WSDOT said...

Jakob, good question. The toll lanes essentially “turn back on” at 5 a.m., meaning after 5 a.m. you’ll pay the first toll you see for your destination. Since it’s so early in the morning, that toll may be at its minimum – 75 cents. However, if you’re already past the last gantry, the rest of your trip will also be free. You can check out those toll points here: http://wsdot.com/traffic/seattle/flowmaps/I-405Toll.aspx?_ga=1.13069303.1300767039.1443464614

jmcmurdo said...

"Direct access ramps are HOV only during off-hours." I hope this doesn't last. I use the HOT lanes specifically because I work in Bellevue and live in Kirkland. The NE 6th St. express ramp and NE 128th St. express ramp shorten my commute time considerably. Sometimes I don't leave work until 6:30p, so I'll have to hurry, otherwise I'll have to do the 4 lane merge at 124th.

Ryuki said...

Are the toll lanes remaining 3+ occupants during prime hours, and there's no specific benefit to vehicles with 2 occupants? Right now during off-prime hours, 2 occupants ride free. Since everyone rides free during non-prime hours, there's no incentive to 2 occupants vs riding alone. Is this correct?

Unknown said...

I do not wish to sign up for a good to go account at all. Ever. May I use the lanes during these off peak hours?

WSDOT said...

@Ryuki, while the toll is in effect, the carpool rules will remain the same (3+ during peak hours, 2+ during off-peak). The changes in hours of operation will not affect the current carpool requirements.

WSDOT said...

Unknown, you can use the lanes anytime, even without a Good To Go! account and pass. However, if you use the lanes without a pass during toll hours (5am-7pm), you will receive a Pay-By-Mail bill with an added $2 administrative charge. This is also true during the off-peak hours (9am-3pm).

On evenings and weekends, drivers can enter the lanes for free without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool.

WSDOT said...

Jmcmurdo, when the lanes are open to all, the direct access ramps will be transit and HOV only ramps. This is because the NE 128th St. ramps were funded by Sound Transit using Federal Transit Administration funds. The agreement with Sound Transit and FHWA restricts use of these ramps by general purpose traffic, although tolled vehicles are allowed.

Dan said...

Restricting the direct access ramps to HOV during free hours is a real hassle. Modify the agreement with Sound Transit to allow this. Or, charge me 5 cents to use the exit, thereby making it a toll so that you can get around the restriction in the agreement. Having to cut across four lanes of traffic to get off at 120th or 124th is just going to create more traffic jams.

JLGIII said...

These changes make absolutely no difference to me, commuting from Lynnwood to Bellevue every weekday at 7am. The regular lanes will still continue to be way slower than they used to be at that time. This is not a fix for peak times. It's an unnecessary fix for non-peak times. Call it what it really is.

JLGIII said...

I don't get it. These little changes make a difference to a very few people. Commuting from Lynnwood to Bellevue at peak times and reversely at peak times will still continue to be slower in the non HOV lanes than before the Tolling started. Especially in the bottleneck between Lynnwood and the Woodinville interchange.
There's your REAL problem.
At non-peak times, traffic is rarely a problem anyway. And 5am isn't a peak traffic time. It doesn't kick in until 6am-ish. So there's an hour you should give back to the people.
And when I do use the HOV lanes, I don't see an issue with the entry points.
I don't see how this really fixes anything.

Vince R said...

@WSDOT - this is a much needed step forward. Thanks.

Two more asks:

1. Please fix the GPS data for peak travel times so that the information transmitted to GPS navigation units represents the commute experience that most drivers will see (those not in the ETL).

2. Please remove the restriction for entering and exiting the lanes during 'open to all'. This artificial restriction creates weaving hazards needlessly. I understand the need for them during tolling periods, even though they create a safety issue, but there is no need for them when you are not tolling.

I want to recognize steps forward even if they are small ones... and even if it took a huge amount of people voicing their anger over GTG.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of review that needs to continue. I am still waiting on answers for questions in 'dollars and sense' on why some of the expected expenses do not appear to be present on the quarterly report.

@JLG I agree with you. The area north of 522 still sucks for commuting and GTG made it worse. It is still a real problem that I don't see a solution for, even in the 'S.M.A.R.T' plan which covers the next 30+ years of transit development for Puget Sound. People need to continue to be contacting their representatives about the issues until they get fixed. Don't let issue die because you are tired of hammering at it.

Real story: Over the last few weeks I have been working with recruiters. Each one of them has complained about their commute and how bad traffic got after GTG went in, but none of them contacted their representatives because they didn't think anyone would listen.

In my opinion, people don't realize that in cases like this, 'silence' and in-action is considered 'success'... don't sit on your haunches gripping about it.... realize that we, all of us, need to participate in the solution to this problem. I have never seen a project from any agency that has people so peeved off as GTG has made them, not even the NSA revelations by Snowden... so that is saying something.

Vince R said...

@Ryuki This is like the HOV lanes were before. They were free for all to use, carpool or not, prior to GTG, during certain hours.

This means that the operational overhead for our tolling systems has been reduced, which might not make sense to a lot of folks, but by only tolling during peak times, this changes the overhead profile for tolls collected and means more dollars collected actually go into the budget, even if less dollars are collected.

For our commuters, this means a higher percentage of the money collected will actually be going towards our budgets (instead of to toll operators and credit card processing), which to me is a big win for our commuters, even if it doesn't fix the other problems that GTG has created.

Vince R said...

@Ryuki, Sorry, I misread your comment the first time through. You are right about the incentive for 2 person carpooling. In fact, a study done during the initial phase of planning for GTG indicated that traffic would be worse as a result of the decision to push 2 person carpoolers out of the HOV lanes and into the GPLs. I believe I posted this on the 'dollars and sense' blog entry. It also indicated that the only real benefit would be that the displaced 2 person carpoolers would be replaced with 1 person (non-carpoolers) that were paying tolls.... which is pretty much exactly what you are highlighting... its an 'anti-incentive'.

Rahul Upadhyaya said...

I have good to go that works on 520 bridge. Will it work on I-405 as well?

Vince R said...

@WSDOT - I think some information, either yours or other information on this change, is wrong or misleading. Can you clarify?

What you said:

"@Ryuki, while the toll is in effect, the carpool rules will remain the same (3+ during peak hours, ====> 2+ during off-peak <====). The changes in hours of operation will not affect the current carpool requirements."

"===> <===" marks the confusing part which seems to be counter to the 'free and open to all on weeknights, weekends, and some holidays' (aka, off-peak)

What other information said:
"Changes are coming to the I-405 express toll lanes. Starting at 7 p.m. this Friday, March 18, I-405 express toll lanes will be free and open to all on weeknights, weekends, and some holidays."

Even more specific was this language:
'The signs will display the words “Open to All”. That means drivers can enter the lanes for free without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool. '

and this

'After nearly six months of monitoring and analyzing traffic patterns, we feel the new hours of operations will still allow us to provide a faster, more predictable trip to transit, carpools and toll-paying customers when they need it most, while balancing traffic across all lanes during off-peak travel. '

Vince R said...

@Unknown - According to the most recent information, 'open to all' appears to be free of tolls and needs for the 'GTG pass'. I think that means, you don't need to sign up if you only use it when it is 'open to all'.

Sean Jenkin said...

You mention the reason for 124th not being able to be used by solo drivers in the evenings/weekends, is that the same reason for the 6th st on-ramp? Now I have to remember that if it's before 7pm leaving work I can use 6th, but after 7pm, I have to go to 4th or 8th. I'd rather just pay the toll at all times for the convenience of using the on-ramp.

WSDOT said...

Vince R, I hope I can clarify. The toll lane hours of operation are 5 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekdays. During hours of operation, there are peak hours (5-9 a.m., 3-7 p.m.) and off-peak hours (9 a.m. -3 p.m.). The carpool requirements for these hours have not changed – 3+ during peak hours, 2+ during non-peak hours.

When the toll lanes are not in operation (7 p.m. – 5 a.m. on weekdays, all day on weekends and six holidays), drivers can enter the lanes for free without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool.

Thanks for bringing the confusion between off-peak hours and after hours to our attention. We will make this distinction clearer in the future.

WSDOT said...

Rahul, Correct, you only need one Good To Go! pass for all state tolling facilities– that includes the SR 520 Bridge, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, SR 267 HOT lanes and the I-405 Express Toll Lanes.

WSDOT said...

JLGIII, We understand your frustration. As with all of our roadways, we are seeing higher volumes of vehicles on I-405 compared to the same time last year. The increased capacity from a new fifth lane south of SR 522, combined with the improvements at the SR 522 and I-405 interchange, are putting more pressure on the Lynnwood to Woodinville interchange where five lanes of traffic goes down to three lanes. We are evaluate options to address limited capacity in the 3 lane section between SR 522 and I-5. Long term options include adding a second toll lane in that section, a direct access connection to SR 522, and installing hard running shoulders from SR 527 to I-5. However, these studies are still developing costs estimates.

Jon Larson said...

Why aren't you handling the price change when the free period ends in the same way as any other time?

Under normal operation, "you will pay the toll rate you see when you entering the express toll lanes."

Using that standard, if you enter when it's free--say at 4:55AM, you should not be charged if you are still using the lanes @ 5AM.

However, you said above "The toll lanes essentially “turn back on” at 5 a.m., meaning after 5 a.m. you’ll pay the first toll you see for your destination." That violates your stated terms of operation, and it means that a person will be charged before they have opportunity to see the current rate and decide if they want to remain in the lane.

The price you pay should be the price posted at the point/time you entered in every case--this should not be an exception.

Vince R said...

@WSDOT - A second toll lane is not what is needed on the Woodinville - Lynnwood section. It is in dire need of two things:

1. Additional GP capacity
2. A solution to the traffic backup that occurs every day at the Bothell-Everette Highway exit/entrance.

That one entrance/exit, for all intents and purposes, shuts down the GPLs during rush hour traffic.

As far as capacity is concerned, 405 has not grown to meet the regions needs and WSDOT knows this need is just going to increase (by no less than 20%) over the coming years. We need to have the same capacity along the entire stretch of 405... not 5 lanes in some areas and 3 lanes in others.

In addition, the region is growing towards the east. Years ago there was a 'master plan' to add another bypass highway, like 405, but further east, in the hwy 18 area. That plan disappeared something like 15 to 20 years ago. Our traffic needs are much closer to San Jose CA but we have not created the alternatives routes to the same extent that has occurred down there.

So before the land becomes too expensive to acquire, we should consider a third bypass highway east of Issaquah, somewhere in the HWY 18 area. It almost makes sense to have it pass through somewhere between 203 and the high power lines... coming back to I-5 somewhere north of Everette or Marysville. This could relive traffic on 405, I-5 through Seattle, and HWY 9. It would increase property values in the areas around it and create an additional transportation route in the event of a major catastrophe, like an earthquake.

The major drawback to that plan is we are talking a 70 mile, 4-6 lane highway pretty much right at the snow line, so this is a huge cost to build and maintain. Someone with superman like skills would need to crunch the forecast numbers to see if the long term increase in property and use taxes would offset the expense.

This would create a great bypass for long haul truckers as well. One option would be to invest in HWY 18 to I-90 and extend it north a few miles each year. Having seen the I696 project, building something like this after the areas get developed becomes astronomically expensive.

carlmon said...

Taking away general purpose capacity to create toll lanes only helped those who are wealthy enough or desperate enough to pay the tolls - everyone else suffers at their benefit. Changing the times of operation, and changing the entry points only benefits that relatively tiny group of beneficiaries, but still leaves the same catastrophic conditions for everyone else during peak hours.
Focusing only on how to improve the toll lanes completely ignores how badly they have harmed, and will continue to harm the vast majority of 405 commuters. It's like putting a band-aide on a scratched elbow when your other arm is severed, and calling it good.
Additional total capacity is the ONLY way to solve the problem for all users. If the GP lanes are flowing there would be less need for an HOV (or toll lane), so could maintain required federal HOV speed standards to maintain your precious FHWA funds with only one lane, and without robbing the poor to feed the rich.

Tami miller said...

make a exit access to the 160th exit going south on 405. Right now you can not exit the pay lanes to take that exit.

Unknown said...

Okay I got up an hour earlier today to discover that the tolls were STILL ON between 4:25-4:45 this morning. Come on WSDOT, what gives?

Unknown said...

Toll lane billing and rules were too complicated before. Now even moreso? What percent of drivers can keep the changing rules and fees straight and who is paying for all the installation and administration costs? Maybe if you care about the fees, you can't afford to use the private lanes? These lanes cater to the 1% (who don't need more favors!). Let's do away with them and go back to simply sharing the road.

Helena said...

I 405 north of Hwy 522 does not need another toll lane. It needs another general purpose lane. WSDOT just does not get it. Same goes for I405 from Renton to Bellevue which only has 2 lanes in each direction. A joke!! We will fight WSDOT until the end of time to prevent this to happen on the southern end of I405. We were promised 2 general purpose lanes in each direction years ago on this section and we are going to make sure the new lane that is going to be built in 2019 is a general purpose lane. We are already preparing for a fight to prevent the biggest threat to our neighborhood in recent memory; the infamous extortion lanes!

WSDOT said...

Unknown, I hope I can summarize the rules of operation more succinctly:
The 405 express toll lanes will only operate between 5am and 7pm on weekdays. Anyone can use these lanes, but those with a Good To Go! pass will pay the lowest rate. Those without a pass will pay the displayed rate plus a $2 Pay-by-Mail fee. Rates are displayed by destination.
Carpools need a Good To Go! Flex Pass to ride free in the lanes during operation (3 or more ride free all the time, 2 or more ride free from 9 am to 3pm). Vanpools and transit also ride free.

When the lanes are not in operation (evenings and weekends), anyone can use them without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool.

WSDOT said...

Carlmon, the problem was that neither the GP or the HOV lanes were flowing freely. We can’t build our way out of congestion, especially at the rate of population growth in the region, so we opened the express toll lanes to introduce reliability for carpools, transit and single drivers who chose to pay the toll. The benefit of adding an additional lane doesn’t outweigh the high cost – they would simply fill up and we would need to build more lanes.

Helena said...

This statement is complete nonsense from WSDOT. Adding a general purpose lane will benefit the general public which is a majority of the traffic. Take I405 from Renton to Bellevue for example; this section of freeway is one of the worst stretches of freeway in the United States. It is horrible because it only has 2 general purpose lanes in each direction. This stretch of freeway DOES NOT need an extortion lanes added. If WSDOT thinks adding a toll lane on this stretch of freeway before the much needed general purpose lanes, they are clearly mistaken and it would be one of the dumbest and one biggest mistakes in transportation history. This stretch of freeway is in dire need of general purpose lanes. We were originally promised 2 more general lanes in each direction and our group of neighbors in the Kennydale neighborhood are going to fight you if you are dumb enough to attempt to try and ram this though our neighborhood. We are going to fight this and we will win. WSDOT doesn't care about solving congestion in general purpose lanes nor do they listen or care. Real Lanes for Real People!!

tina said...

Is your answer to Rahul correct about only needing one pass? I read you have to have a Flex-Pass (candy bar type) on the 405 toll lanes *not* of the GTG pass to get the HOV rate, otherwise you pay more. I also read if you already have a GTG pass you need to remove it and replace it with the FlexPass or you get billed double. This is very, very confusing. Please explain in detail how this works, or point to somewhere online where it is explained in detail.

WSDOT said...

Tina, Drivers can use any Good to Go pass to pay the posted toll rate. If you plan on carpooling, we recommend using a Flex Pass. The Flex Pass is the only Good to Go pass that will allow you to travel free while carpooling. Once you activate your Flex Pass on your Good To Go! account and install it on your windshield, please remove any other passes from your vehicle. You only want one pass in your vehicle at a time. The Flex Pass will work on any WA state toll facility, including the SR 520 Bridge.

WSDOT said...

The terms of operation reflected our original intention for the express toll lanes as a 24/7 system. Since we’ve changed the hours of operation (per the Governor’s direction), the “pay the price you see when you enter” doesn’t apply in the 5 a.m. case.

The difference in this situation is that we are turning the system ON – meaning we don’t have the data for when drivers enter the lanes prior to 5 a.m. All other times, the system is already turned on, so the data is available to show when you entered the lanes and can record the price you’ll pay for that trip. While we realize this difference can be confusing, the likely toll rate will only be $0.75 at 5 a.m. on a weekday.

Vince R said...


"We can’t build our way out of congestion, especially at the rate of population growth in the region, so we opened the express toll lanes to introduce reliability for carpools, transit and single drivers who chose to pay the toll. The benefit of adding an additional lane doesn’t outweigh the high cost – they would simply fill up and we would need to build more lanes"

Actually, you can build your way out of congestion, it is just impractical and too expensive.

That aside, when I read what people are writing, and that WSDOT is failing to acknowledge (as a result of trying to push GTG too hard), is that there are major issues in the capacity of the GPLs and some of the current highway designs where adding capacity or redoing the design would significantly reduce the burden on ALL drivers, reducing the need for GTG expansion.

For example, 405 N of 522 has traffic jams pretty much every evening. Those of us that drive it regularly know that the Bothel-Everette Highway exit/entrance is a significant contributor to the issue. As it stands today, that one exit impacts both general purpose lanes and usually results in traffic backing up to 522 (or further). A strategic change to that one exit could result in a huge reduction in traffic jams on 405 N and would save ALL commuters travel time.

If WSDOT cannot understand that, then we need new traffic engineers that can.

GTG is really a band-aid that only a few can afford, that costs everyone else money and time, and doesn't really fix the bigger picture problems.

So while I agree that it is impractical to build your way out of congestion, I disagree that GTG is the answer to our traffic jam problems. We should not be tossing our hands in the air and saying that GTG is how we plan to address this issue. That is ludicrous.

Our highways are 'living' things that need to grow, change, and react. We need to be able to move the most people and products as possible for the least amount of resources (time, money, etc). GTG does not meet that need.

WSDOT recognized that there was a problem, but they didn't fix it. Instead, for the majority of commuters, WSDOT made the commute worse, then tries to market this change as a benefit. As a daily commuter, I do not need to be told how great the system is when I can measure how bad it is failing with a clock. Time lost is concrete. My clock doesn't know marketing speak. My clock doesn't lie. My clock a great way to measure success or failure. With few exceptions, GTG fails the clock measurement, which at the end of the day is how I am judging this project.

So WSDOT, congestion is a ration of demand over supply. Congestion impacts traffic flow, just like weather, construction, highway design and a number of other factors. Your customers, the daily commuters, are telling you that you have to fix the traffic flow issues. GTG didn't do it. What is your next move?

Helena said...

Vince, you are totally right on this. WSDOT and there engineers are some of the worst in the United States of America. How dumb can you be to even think that I405 from Renton to Bellevue does not need another general purpose lane. We were originally promised 2 general purpose lanes in the original master plan. This was a great plan and would make a huge difference in traffic relief. Could you imagine how bad the traffic would be if the idiot engineers at WSDOT decide to put an extortion lane on a freeway with only TWO general purpose lanes before the much needed general purpose lanes? It would be a traffic catastrophe. We need to hire people from Cal trans and Fire the current people at WSDOT. We are NOT going to let WSDOT add an extortion lane through our Kennydale neighborhood. We are going to fight this until the end of time. By the time the new lane is constructed on the southern half of I405 in 2019, it will be a general purpose lane and the extortion lanes will be a distant memory. So everyone needs to keep calling there legislators as it is working. We still have more work to do. "Real lanes for Real People"

Vince R said...

@Helena, WSDOT

The problem with extending the GTG project south of I-90 is that there is not enough capacity. This is further complicated by issues in the design of the highway.

For example: The I-90 to E-405 S interchange is a daily cause of traffic flow issues. We have 3 lanes from I-90 (1 HOV from W, 1 GPL from W, 1 GPL from E) entering 405 on a two lane exit, with only about 800 ft of merge space. This means we have 5 lanes of weaving traffic in 800 feet. This design impacts traffic as far north on I-405 as SE 8th street on a regular basis.

I agree with you that removing any GPL capacity on 405 S from Bellevue is a bad idea. GTG as implemented north of Bellevue, if done south of Bellevue, will have a significant negative impact on traffic flow and congestion if no GPL capacity is added.

One of my main concern with GTG, as many others have also pointed out, is that not only does it make commuting worse, but it doesn't fix the underlying problems that impact ALL of our daily commuters. We all saw the improvements made when the 'S-Curves' in the Renton area were fixed.

There are plenty of other fixes, like what was done with the 'S-curves', that would improve traffic flow. A great example is the clover design for 167 from 405 that leads to back-ups on 405. We added a merge lane to the right for the additional traffic but we never got rid of the clover design. It still negatively impacts traffic so how far back do we need to build the merge lane? But we need to ask 'Why' first...

"we have a need for a long exit ramp on 405-S to 167." "Why?" "Because traffic flows poorly there at rush hour?" "Why?" "Because there is a 150 foot long weaving lane under 405 that serves both 405 N and 167 E, and that slows traffic down" AHA... so if we fix that the weaving clover design, it will positively impact traffic flow on 405 S.

Our traffic flow could be much better if we ask the question of 'Why' a lot more. 'Why' does the traffic slow down on 405 S near I-90 every day? 'Why' does a single accident on Aurora create massive traffic jams in Seattle that take 6 hours to clear? 'Why', 'Why', 'Why'...Of course some areas do need additional capacity, but our traffic flow problems are not just caused by congestion. If we invested the same amount of money we spent on GTG in fixing design issues, we would be further ahead for ALL daily commuters.

buffalo said...

We all pay taxes to drive on these highways. We pay them in the form of gas tax and car tab fees. Now we pay in the form of Flex passes and GTG, and ironically we pay sales taxes on top go that, so we are paying a tax on a tax. The entire GTG scheme has left thousands of people crammed in the right lanes, while the wealthy, the rare 3 person carpool, or the simply frustrated sail on by on the left, if they dare to commit to the restricted egress made available by WaDot.
Essentially, WaDot has taken the basic need of transport away from many with the claim the percentage of people able to drive on I405 would increase. It has not. It has, instead lengthened the commute of many and turned the pockets inside-out of the willing payers, and the many that is shaken out just goes down the rathole of bad government planning, where one bad idea wrecks the lives of an entire region.

Vince R said...

@buffalo - you missed a few taxes ;) but yes, you nailed one of the biggest issues with this system... social injustice. If they had not increased congestion in the GPLs, and had actually added capacity for the ETLs, this wouldn't be a problem. But by moving 2 person carpoolers into the GPLs alone, without considering the reduced capacity, the congestion in the GPLs increased.

Keep letting your representatives know this is not ok. Its a voting year... make it count.

陳柔孜 said...

Don't think so becuz it's charged (the cameras) in entrance not exit

Jon Larson said...

You can't just declare that the contract terms 'don't apply' on your blog and expect that to hold water in a court of law. Additionally, while the amount per incident may be only .75 cents, the fact that you are collecting anything in these cases is a violation of the terms, and could be considered fraudulent charges.

As to the necessity, I don't believe that you have to turn the system off in order to force the charge to $0.00 during specific times. If you can set minimums and maximums during specific hours (which is a core function of the system) then you can leave the system on and set a maximum of $0.00 during the free periods.

Bill Griffis said...

I was charged toll of $2.50 on 5/9/2016 at 7:12PM and also on 5/10/2016 at 7:05 PM. Why did this happen? Are you charging tools to some and not others--special treatment? Who gets special treatment and how do I become a member of this "group"?

WSDOT said...

Bill Griffis, unless you qualify to ride toll-free, you will pay the toll rate you see when you entering the express toll lanes between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. What is displayed on your account history or toll bill is the time your vehicle exited the lanes.

ShellyR said...

Have you ever looked at what the toll lanes have done to the traffic in surrounding neighborhoods? Because I have seen what's it's done first hand and to call it FUBARd seems like an understatement!! I drive from right next to Inglemoor High School to Juanita High School to drop my kids off every day. I have done this for 5 years now. And what started out as a 10 - 15 min commute has now become a 15 - 30 min commute depending on how bad traffic is on I405 and how many people (GTG drivers included) have bailed onto side streets. And it's not just my neighborhood. It's like this from one end of your toll lanes to the other. But, unfortunately, it is worst right here as people are tired of sitting in the bottle neck around Woodinville and I don't blame them. I'm just tired of hearing people say "traffic is better because of this" or "give it more time and more people will use it" - no one wanted this. At least no one I've met (and, as a ride-share driver, I've met A LOT of people!). Stop throwing more money at this, cut your losses, sell the tech to another state and walk away. Give us back the lanes so we can have back our sanity!! (Sorry...just my opinion)

And to the thing that brought me here in the first place - the carpool 2+/carpool 3+/open to all times/rules are confusing at best. Not to mention how the carpool LANES are open nights/weekends/holidays but not the carpool EXITS? That makes no sense. I get you signed a contract but...it still makes no sense. But not much of this does...at least to me.

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