Express Toll Exceeds $50 for 1 Way Trip
Ok, today I was fighting rush hour like everyone else on my way to Dulles Airport—about an hour’s drive on a normal morning but today it would be an extra 20 minutes according to my GPS. No biggie—I had planned accordingly, so I thought, until my GPS told me to take the express tolls lane that had a whopping $18 cost flashing. It was either $18 to drive about 10 miles or all the hassle that comes with missing a flight, trying to rebook, go standby and avoid the numerous fees common to the airlines these days. The decision was simple—a little painful to think I was paying almost $20 to save literally 15-20 minutes but small cost relative to missing the flight. I jumped in the lane and felt the $18 leave my account once the electronic toll lit up as I passed underneath.
As I continued my drive, I saw another express toll posting for cars leaving the I-495 beltway and taking I-66 into DC—about a 10-mile drive. The sign explicitly said, I-66 is 100% express toll lanes and the cost for going into DC was…wait for it…wait for it…$54.90. I literally had to do a double take to ensure I wasn’t misplacing the decimal point. A 1-way trip into the city—to go 10 miles—was $55? I am thankful this is not my daily commute, but this situation is ungodly and feels to me like the government is gauging the citizens of the region. What could possibly justify this exuberant cost for daily commuters? And can you imagine being a visitor to the area heading in for some sightseeing and you get hit over the head for $55?
My curiosity sent me to the google machine to see what everyone was saying about this situation—I’m sure Twitter or Instagram would have provided more engagement from those directly wounded by this cost but I’m a super laggard with social media and have started this year out like the previous 4-5 years, “I’m going to do better with social media and stay in better touch with family, friends, colleagues, etc.” So far not so much but I’m working on it and at least I wrote this so there’s that. But that’s tangential to what I found in a Washington Post article that actually suggested that commuters are paying much less than what was actually projected—a daily commute fee of ~$15 when the projected cost was $17. You can read it for yourself here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/12/08/forget-the-infamous-40-toll-heres-what-the-i-66-tolls-are-averaging/. While the aggregate data may suggest that the cost is lower than expected--$55 is That still doesn’t explain to those that spent more than 300% of the projected cost for just ½ of the trip.
Between the express tolls and speed cameras throughout the Washington Metropolitan area our local and state government seem to have a strong business model for stuffing the coffers. I wonder what they are doing with this windfall of cash. Don’t you worry—if I get the energy and time to do the research I’ll be sure to let you know (remember, I’m trying to do better this year with my online engagement).