Monday, June 20, 2005

HOT Lanes - No Small Price to Pay

If California's experience with HOT lanes is any guide, drivers are willing to pay a hefty toll for the convenience, says the Washington Post. The 10-mile Route 91 Express Lanes in Orange County opened a decade ago and since then tolls have more than doubled.

Drivers tell the paper that the time saved is worth the money. So is the certainty that they'll reach their destination on time - "congestion insurance" is what one source calls it.

HOT lanes are planned for a 14-mile stretch of the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia, and tolls for those lanes will vary depending on traffic levels. VDOT is also looking at proposals to build HOT lanes on Interstate 95/395.

Sluggers, meanwhile, tell the Post that HOT lanes could end their access to the HOV lanes by taking away the incentive for drivers to pick them up. "Within five or 10 years, they're going to eliminate HOV completely," said one.


At 12:12 PM, Blogger subpatre said...

Low humor ....or not. Delete if inappropriate.

sP: Boy oh boy! Soaking drivers fer 75 cent a mile. Wish I had me a paving compa... uhh, I mean Transportation Consortium. Lemme see, how many days would the payback would be at ? (Starts counting on fingers)

Onlooker: You need to understand that construction costs are astronomical in NOVA. Between environmental considerations, land prices, engineering and legal fees; a company would have a lot invested.

sP: Oh I know, investment'd be outlandish. That's why I'd soak... uhh, I mean 'partner' with VDOT, you know. They'd do all that stuff. My job'd be throw down the asphalt and shake down the drivers. (still counting fingers) Hey, can you take off your shoes? I think the break-even point's in 37 days; I just need to double check.

Onlooker: Get serious. We need transportation solutions, not quick fixes. In California the government took over the toll roads to prevent gouging.

sP: ..yeah, and they turned right around and charge the same as the pirate..uhh, I mean private company did. Nah, Orange County bought em out so Orange could roll in the moolah too. But but I got that end figgured too. Cause'o my great love fer VDOT and concern fer counties, I'd split the take with them.

See, folk'd pay twenty to drive a dozen miles are the same folks gonna bug the Supervisors. So split off a buck or two for the County, then 'nuther one or two for the highway department. I'm gonna call it "ancilliary improvement funds", supposedly to fix feeder roads and stuff, hopefully another lane or two to the beltway..

Onlooker: Well, that part seems OK, adding some more capacity would actually help.

sP: No it won't. Mebbe you don't unnerstand. The solution everybody wants --the state and the local and the drivers-- is a ten percent solution. Yeah, I know it's a drug, but it's what they want. And ten percent's guaranteed. So me and my compa... uhh, I mean Consortium, will get ten percent of the traffic. And soak em!

Onlooker: Hmm.

sP: Look. Let's say I rip 20 bucks a car and give four to the government; two and two. The drivers get a nice ride. If they want that HOV stuff, reduce the rate. That adds cars, so I need to cut back cars on the road to keep ten percent only. They'll fight each other to pay, so the new price is mebbe 24 a car with a 8 buck discount for HOV. I'm still at 20 per.

Onlooker: Holy smoley! You just want to gouge the public! Your ideas don't help transportation at all.

sP: Not really. It does help -- specially me - but everybody else too. All they do is the paperwork. The real squawkers get a faster drive, the County gets extra cash and some more capacity, an VDOT gets pothole money. Mostly I get filthy rich, mebbe get t'be governor.

Onlooker: Look here son, I don't approve of your ideas at all (pulls checkbook out) but maybe you're onto something. How much stock would 1 billion buy in your paving company…uhh, I mean, your Transportation Consortium?

sB: 'Bout five percent. Make it out to High Urban Density Authority, Thruway and Highway Usage for New Key Innovative Transport. Yer paybacks in three months, plus double if the state forces a buyout.

Onlooker: OK, 5 billion to HUDA THUNKIT. Here you go.
[end vignette]

At 12:36 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Subpatre is right. according to the WAPO article, Howard Gottesman is driving six iles out of his way and paying $7.75 to drive on ten miles of HOT lane. That is roughly equivalent to what it costs to ride VRE, if you include subsidies.

What is it going to be, subsidies or free market?


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