495 Express Lanes Usage Update – January 2013

Jan 11, 2013

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The 495 Express Lanes opened a month early on November 17, 2012 with the dynamic tolling system, variable messaging signs and operations center operating well under real traffic conditions.

The opening of the Express Lanes introduced the biggest change to the region’s traffic patterns in more than 30 years and has improved the traveling experience for all users of the Capital Beltway.

Tolling and Traffic
Traffic demand has ramped up over the first six weeks of operations with the percentage of new users each day trending positively.

During the period, traffic increased 57.2%, from an average of 15,201 daily trips to 23,903 daily trips.

As congestion increased, demand for the Express Lanes also increased, resulting in escalation of the dynamic pricing. To travel the full length of the Express Lanes, the minimum toll price for the period was $1.65 and the maximum peak price was $3.70. The average toll per trip thus far has been $1.07.

On average, 92.6% of trips are tolled trips.

Traffic and Revenue Data (December quarter)

Average Daily Trips 18,594
Average Workday Trips 23,308

Consistent with other express lane facilities, there is expected to be a ramp-up period with both usage and pricing expected to increase progressively over time.

HOV Travel
High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV 3+) and exempt vehicles make up approximately 7% of users.

New Bus Routes:

  • Omniride’s Tysons Express began using the 495 Express Lanes in November for its route from Woodbridge to Tysons Corner.
  • Fairfax County Connector will launch its fast, convenient express bus service to Tysons from Burke with routes beginning January 14, 2013, with additional routes being added in spring 2013.

Safety on the Express Lanes
In the first few days of operations, there were some incidents in the area near the southern terminus of the 495 Express Lanes. Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation took actions swiftly to improve this area for travelers. To better highlight the start of the Express Lanes, they added new messages to dynamic signs, installed additional reflective posts and reworked and added pavement markings. Since the improvements were made this area has seen significantly less driver confusion.  

Since launch, the 495 Express Lanes Assist crews have been patrolling the Express Lanes to help travelers in case of an incident. They also patrol the Express Lanes for debris in order to keep the Express Lanes safe and clean for 495 Express Lanes customers.  More than 85 travelers in disabled vehicles have been helped by the Express Assist crews.

E-ZPass Update
There has been an increase in E-ZPass adoption over the last 12 months, but approximately 46% of Beltway travelers report not having an E-ZPass.

E-ZPass is the best way to use the 495 Express Lanes. Travelers can learn more about E-ZPass at 495ExpressLanes.com/using-ezpass

Customer Care and Feedback
The Express Lanes Team is receiving great feedback from customers on social media channels, through emails, calls to the customer service center. They say that the Express Lanes are saving them up to 20 minutes on their commutes, that they are “a game changer” and "the best money I've ever spent."

Drivers are pleased at the time savings realized from using the Lanes. They also see the value in paying a toll for a predictable, quick trip to their destination, especially when the regular Beltway lanes are gridlocked.

495 Express Lanes Customer Care
Travelers have made use of the 495 Express Lanes Customer Service Center via email, chat or by phone. Since launch, customers have contacted the customer service center about several topics, including:

  • Missed a toll inquiries
  • Disputes of toll invoices
  • Questions regarding E-ZPass
  • Questions about using the Express Lanes

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