Commute Options Could Increase HOT Lane Efficiency

The State Road and Toll Authority (SRTA) recently released usage data for their I-85 express lanes system, which utilizes a variable based toll to offer a consistent and reliable trip for motorists and transit patrons on the majority of I-85 in Gwinnett County. Tolls fluctuate throughout the day to ensure that traffic flows steadily throughout the facility, while patrons of transit and registered carpools/vanpools of 3 persons or more can use the system for free.

The chart below shows the average weekday assessed toll and the percentage of facility trips which were free (mostly carpool/vanpool/transit riders) since the I-85 express lanes project opened in October 2011.

SRTA toll

The data illustrates a pair of interesting trends:

  • After nearly a year and a half of operation, the average daily toll collected has increased nearly 28 percent, from $1.19 in October 2011 to the current rate of $1.52
  • During the same time period, the share of toll lane users who are not charged a toll (namely carpools of 3 or more and transit patrons) has steadily decreased from a high of 23% when the project began operation a present day low of  13 percent

These trends are important to keep an eye on since an increase in non-tolled trips helps to maximize the efficiency of the facility. A higher percentage of non-tolled trips could help increase the reliability of a facility with finite capacity and decrease costs for all toll paying I-85 commuters. Georgia Commute Options offers resources that make carpooling or transit on the I-85 corridor (or any corridor) easier than ever. GCO representatives can refer commuters interested in carpooling or vanpooling to over 50,000 other commuters who are interested in sharing their ride with others. Through the Guaranteed Ride Home program, carpool or vanpool users who have an emergency can take advantage of free, on-demand trips back to their home or car.

To learn more about these programs and more, visit the Georgia Commute Options website at www.gacommuteoptions.com

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