The 495 Express Lanes has been open since November 17, 2012 with the dynamic tolling system, variable messaging signs and operations center operating well. Still in a ramp up period, the Express Lanes has created new options in Tysons Corner and Merrifield and one transit operator has already updated its bus schedules due to time savings.
Tolling and Traffic
Average daily traffic grew 13% for the March quarter compared to the December quarter, while average daily traffic grew 15% from the first full week in January to the week prior to Easter.
Increasing customer familiarity and a shift of traffic demand to the peak periods has been the primary driver of revenue growth. The average dynamic toll increased by 33% from $1.07 for the December quarter to $1.43 for the March quarter. The maximum dynamic toll charged during the quarter was $6.35 to travel the full length of the Express Lanes, compared to the December quarter maximum of $3.70.
Traffic and Revenue Data (March quarter)
|495 EXPRESS LANES||MARCH 13 QUARTER||YEAR TO DATE FY 13|
|Average Daily Trips||21,008||20,203|
|Average Workday Trips||26,294||25,192|
Note: There were three holidays during the March quarter.
Consistent with other express lane facilities, the 495 Express Lanes are still within the expected ramp-up period with both usage and pricing expected to increase progressively over time.
High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV 3+) and exempt vehicles make up approximately 8% 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. In February 2013, the operator revised its schedule because the bus was saving an average of 20 minutes getting from Woodbridge to Tysons via the Express Lanes.
- Fairfax County Connector launched its fast, convenient express bus service to Tysons from Burke with in January 2013, with additional routes from Lorton & Springfield added in March 2013.
Safety on the Express Lanes
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 in the March quarter of 2013. Since launch, 170 travelers have been assisted.
There has been an increase in E-ZPass adoption over the last 15 months, but approximately 46% of Beltway travelers report not having an E-ZPass.
Using the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass can result in invoices and escalating fees. Ignoring multiple toll invoices results in a traveler’s information being sent to a debt collection agency and then potentially to the court system. To avoid escalating fees and court, it’s best to pay invoices in a timely fashion.
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. The feedback varies but comments included that they "used the @495ExpressLanes tonight for first time. Saved 15 mins." and "495 express lanes saving my life again."
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
- Disputes over collections
- Questions regarding E-ZPass
- Questions about using the Express Lanes