495 Express Lanes Usage Update - July 2013

Jul 10, 2013

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The 495 Express Lanes have been open approximately seven months, providing the region new options on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway. On June 24, the speed limit on the 495 Express Lanes increased from 55 to 65 miles per hour, making travel on the Express Lanes an even faster option for drivers, buses and carpoolers in Northern Virginia.

Tolling and Traffic
Demand for the Express Lanes continues to grow, with average daily traffic increasing 37.6% for the June quarter compared with the March quarter.

Growing customer familiarity continues to increase demand for the Express Lanes, particularly during the peak periods, and remains the primary driver of revenue growth. The average dynamic toll charged increased by 19.6%, from $1.43 in the March quarter to $1.71 for the June quarter. The maximum dynamic toll charged during the quarter was $7.55 to travel the full length of the Express Lanes, an increase of 19.6% compared with the March quarter maximum of $6.35.

On June 28, 2013, the final workday for the June 2013 quarter, the 495 Express Lanes achieved a record 42,998 trips for the day.

Traffic and Revenue Data (March quarter)

Average Daily Trips 18,594 21,008 28,905 23,661
Average Workday Trips 23,308 26,294 34,974 29,378

Note: There was one holiday during the June quarter (Memorial Day).

The 495 Express Lanes held a free weekend April 6 and 7 to encourage Beltway drivers to try the new travel option. The free weekend drew many new travelers to try the Express Lanes. The results for this weekend have been excluded from average daily traffic calculations for the quarter.

HOV Travel
High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV 3+) and exempt vehicles make up approximately 8% of users.

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, to keep the Express Lanes safe and clean for customers. More than 102 travelers in disabled vehicles have been helped by the Express Assist crews in the June quarter of 2013. Since launch, 272 travelers have been assisted.

E-ZPass® Update
Virginia E-ZPass has issued more than 105,000 E-ZPass around the Express Lanes corridor since July 2012.

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.

If you travel on the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass, you can pay your toll and a small fee right away at 495ExpressLanes.com/missedatoll

Customer Care and Feedback
The Express Lanes Team is receiving feedback from customers on social media channels, through emails and calls to the customer service center. The feedback varies, but comments have included, "495 was backed up. ...Thanks to the Express Lanes I drove right past it all." and "I'm loving these 495 Express Lanes, if you haven't used them yet you are missing out b/c they are a life saver! #notraffic."

495 Express Lanes Customer Care
Travelers have made use of the 495 Express Lanes Customer Service Center via email, chat or by phone. In the June quarter, customers 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

Future Improvements
On June 25, VDOT announced the 495 northbound shoulder-use lane project, which will bring extra capacity and new benefits to all Beltway travelers by allowing traffic to travel on the left shoulder of northbound I-495 for approximately 1.5 miles - a stretch spanning from the end of the 495 Express Lanes (Old Dominion Drive) to just past the George Washington Parkway Interchange. This VDOT project will provide five travel lanes – open to all Beltway travelers – to help traffic merge from the northern end of the 495 Express Lanes to the regular Beltway during afternoon peak travel times. The project will not impact surrounding bridges or neighborhoods. VDOT expects to begin construction in mid-2014 and have the new lane open to traffic by late 2014.

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