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Old 02-12-2013, 09:10 AM
 
3,552 posts, read 5,563,906 times
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http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/b...e-one-percent/


too many cheaters or not too many users?
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,101,754 times
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I don't see many people using them. The problem may be that they made the whole beltway better so people feel no need to spend the money. Most of the congestion I see now is around the Wilson Bridge where they didn't put them. Perhaps after the area grows and things clog up again they'll become more attractive.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:33 AM
 
3,157 posts, read 8,122,522 times
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Way too early to tell on this.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,101,754 times
Reputation: 6826
If they really wanted to make them more popular they'd remove the speed limit.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Virginia
8,121 posts, read 12,694,716 times
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Rarely do I travel the Beltway, but I've been up that way a few times lately for doctor appointments. When I went through over the weekend, I think the toll was around $1.20 or so to go from around Braddock to Westpark. There was almost no traffic and I did see a car or two on the HOT lanes, although I couldn't fathom why they were using them. I had a doctor's appointment in Tysons Wednesday and left to come back to Springfield around 6:15pm. There was a similar toll amount, the regular lanes were moving at speed and again it looked like only a few cars were using the express lanes.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Chester County, PA
1,077 posts, read 1,436,004 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgbwc View Post
Rarely do I travel the Beltway, but I've been up that way a few times lately for doctor appointments. When I went through over the weekend, I think the toll was around $1.20 or so to go from around Braddock to Westpark. There was almost no traffic and I did see a car or two on the HOT lanes, although I couldn't fathom why they were using them. I had a doctor's appointment in Tysons Wednesday and left to come back to Springfield around 6:15pm. There was a similar toll amount, the regular lanes were moving at speed and again it looked like only a few cars were using the express lanes.
I have personally used them every, single time I have been on the Beltway since they went in, and I love them. It is so nice, to have two lanes to yourself without other people tailgating you, passing you only to slow down in front of you, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. I am sure I am in the minority, but I will gladly pay a dollar or two for a more enjoyable drive any time of day.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:59 AM
 
2,688 posts, read 5,964,161 times
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I think people don't know how to use them yet and for some reason aren't taking the time to find out. I use them several times a week and they are well worth the low price. When I tell people this, they're always intrigued and ask questions about how they work. I understand that, because I haven't needed to use all the exits yet and so am not familiar with all the locations (where to get on, where to get off). I also see questions in places like the Dr. Gridlock column. So ...

There are no tollbooths. You don't need cash because you can't use it. You pay by EZ Pass. However you can still use the lanes without an EZ Pass. Get on, get off, and then within five days go to 495expresslanes.com where you can pay the regular fee plus a $1.50 service charge. (You'll need to enter your license plate number to find the charge.) This is helpful for people who want to try it out before getting an EZ pass, who don't use 495 often, or who use it only during non-rush hours but discover that there is an accident that is tying up traffic during non-rush hours. (If you don't pay within the five-day window you'll get a ticket but I don't know for how much.)

You can use a regular EZ Pass if you have one. If you'll be driving with three or more people in the car, you can get an EZ Pass Flex. You can shift this into HOV mode, which signals that you have three or more people in the car and then you won't be charged for the trip. Supposedly the system can detect if you're cheating by claiming passengers you don't have (I don't know the specifics). If you don't have an EZ Pass Flex, you'll be charged the regular fee. You can switch the EZ Pass Flex back and forth, you don't have to keep it in regular or HOV mode all the time.

I know a lot of people have been using EZPass for years but I just got one to use on the Express Lanes so this was new to me. You can go on the EZ Pass website to check your transactions. You can also program it to automatically add money via your credit card whenever the balance dips below a certain amount.

One of the questions is how to know whether to get on when you can't see the traffic ahead. That's just a judgement call. If you know what the regular rate is to where you're going, and you see that the amount is elevated, that's a sign that there's a slowdown somewhere and it may be worth taking the lanes. I just routinely get in them during morning and evening rush hour. But recently during the day I saw the price was elevated and so got in the lanes and was able to sail past a huge backup at 3:00 pm.

I really think that as more people try them, they'll discover the value and usage will go up.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:02 PM
 
939 posts, read 1,610,008 times
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This might explain why the toll has gone up significantly in the past few weeks. It's now about $5 to get from the inner loop entrance to the end, where as just a few weeks ago, it was maxing out at slightly over $3. The same can be said for the opposite direction, but not with such extreme increases. I remember posting when they first opened that they seemed to cheap to be true. I figured they would let people get used to it for cheap prices, jack up the prices, and then have people still taking them because they can't go back to traffic.

Coincidentally (or not), since the prices have increased, traffic on the regular lanes is back to being almost as bad as it was before they opened.

Good job whoever signed off on this. It's only an 80 year lease with a foreign company and no financial incentive to expand the for probably decades until the state ponies up and buys this company out, much like they're trying to do with the greenway after everyone has started to complain about those tolls.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Annandale, VA
5,098 posts, read 4,316,185 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
I don't see many people using them. The problem may be that they made the whole beltway better so people feel no need to spend the money. Most of the congestion I see now is around the Wilson Bridge where they didn't put them. Perhaps after the area grows and things clog up again they'll become more attractive.

I agree. These were built in anticpation of future growth and not current congestion. Too many times VDOT has been caught trying to keep up with current trends.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:12 PM
 
2,688 posts, read 5,964,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airjay75 View Post
I have personally used them every, single time I have been on the Beltway since they went in, and I love them. It is so nice, to have two lanes to yourself without other people tailgating you, passing you only to slow down in front of you, weaving in and out of traffic, etc. I am sure I am in the minority, but I will gladly pay a dollar or two for a more enjoyable drive any time of day.
This is true, sometimes when I get in at rush hour the regular traffic is moving pretty well so the time savings isn't a lot, but the ride is much smoother and less stressful.
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