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The new tax on drivers in WA, your state may be next

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posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 01:17 AM
So the WSDOT launched the new express tolling today. It seems like a cash grab, and like it's going to make congestion worse, and it irks me that 75% (potentially) of the profits will be going to some company in Texas. It's also freaking confusing. If you're from out of state, or someone like me that doesn't pay much attention to the local news, prepare to be dinged in the wallet.

For those that don't have this nonsense, here's a blip about what it is.

Dynamic tolling: High occupancy toll (HOT) or express toll lanes give drivers the option to use the lane for a more reliable trip and tolls adjust based on real-time traffic conditions.

Variable tolling: Tolls on the SR 520 bridge are higher toll at peak periods and lower during off-peak times including midday, overnight and on weekends. Variable toll rates change based on a set schedule to pay for a new bridge and manage traffic.

Tolling and express toll lanes can help improve speeds for all lanes, including general purpose and the corridor is carrying more traffic more efficiently.

Express toll lanes give drivers the option to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes by paying a toll. Similar to the SR 167 HOT lanes, express toll lanes operate as an expressway within a highway while allowing toll-free trips for transit and vanpools.

The incentive to carpool is the carpool lane, because it seems to always flow more efficiently. The idea being that more people carpooling means fewer cars on the road, less pollution etc. So now, you can also just pay to have the pleasure of using one of these lanes, even if you're driving alone. This puts a greater strain on that HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane, discouraging carpooling if you can pay the $. This doesn't ease anything, it doesn't cut the number of cars on the road, if anything it encourages more, increasing traffic, and essentially taking away the motivation to carpool as the incentive is being slashed.

I've never fully believed that HOV lanes actually accomplish what they were designed to do, and think that in reality if they opened up that lane to everyone it would help traffic move more fluidly. Most of the backups I notice in the greater Seattle area occur where there is a large number of traffic merging on to the freeway. Given another lane without restrictions, I think more people would move left, allowing the lanes that become congested due to merging less congestion, and therefore greater speed. I also don't know anyone that actually uses the carpool lane to get to work during peak hours. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but I highly doubt it's common enough to matter. We don't live like that anymore, you're not going to have enough people living close enough to justify the time to go pick them up and take them home.

So for fun, the WSDOT also changed how many people need to be in a vehicle for it to qualify to drive in the HOV lanes. It was two, now it's three. Good freaking luck finding an extra person it makes sense to carpool with.

Add an extra lane, but make you pay for it after snarling traffic and wasting tons.

For extra more super fun, you have to get a Good 2 Go! pass, EVEN if you're carpooling. This is a piece of crap you have to stick to the inside of your window under the rearview mirror. Don't get that pass? You get fined. To get one of the passes, you have to register an account, and you can't register one without paying $30. Fun fact, you can't pay less without calling the number that they warn is too inundated with responses to get through in a reasonable amount of time. Oh, and they want it to be recurring. As in you pay $30, but if the balance goes down to $8 you are automatically billed $22.

So it's effectively now a toll lane,not an HOV lane, and IF you carpool with 3 people you get charged unless you pay the $30 and have the thing in the window. You also have to remember to set it between HOV and TOLL.

More fun is that they only sell these at select retail locations, and most are running out. Otherwise you have to wait for the WSDOT to ship it. I called the local Walgreens (they only sell them at Walgreens, Fred Meyers and QFC) and they had 3 left, after getting a new shipment that day. The people behind me were there for the same reason, and from what I've heard I got very lucky.

Now, how do you get into these lanes? You can only switch into them at designated lane changing areas. Cross a double white line, and it's a $136 fine. So if you haven't driven on the freeway in awhile, and you have no idea what a double white line means, BOOM!

With the clusterf$$$ that is driving between Bellevue and Lynnwood (which I did today twice), it's almost impossible to pay attention to all the new signage and rules unless you know beforehand. The WSDOT actually has a freaking trip planner so you can figure out where you can enter these new lanes, and exit them. If you haven't driven in the Seattle are recently, you might not get just how bad the drivers are here, they don't need to be thinking about anything other than driving slow as bleep in the passing lane or speeding/tailgating in the far right lane whenever a busy area needs to merge.

This is what happens ALL THE TIME HERE.

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson said, "This proves that the state of Washington, the Department of Transportation, as well as the private company that's going to be operating this system - they have a financial incentive to create as much gridlock as possible in the three general purpose lanes because that's the only way anybody's going to be willing to pay these outlandish tolls."

Pretty freaking much. It seems like this system was designed more to grab revenue than ease traffic. It also seems like this new system is going to CREATE traffic, which seems absurd until you realize that helps boost revenue for certain departments. Screw traffic more, get more people paying to use the HOT lanes.

So where does it end? It costs more to use these lanes at certain times. Which also seems absurd. It's also confusing. Ever see one of those parking signs that lists a bunch of times, depending on the day of the week? OK, now go 60 MPH+, pay attention to the terrible drivers, make sure you flip your pass to the right thing, at the right time, and don't ever cross the double white lines (so you're STUCK in the lane you chose).

I don't see this ending here. I thought it was BS when you needed a pass for 520. That's a bridge, people who didn't want to pay had to take I 90, so they basically flooded one bridge with traffic, and grabbed a toll from people who used the other.

If I pay my freaking vehicle taxes, pay the tax for gas, etc... why should I have to pay for using a bridge on rare occasions? Why should I have to pay more to be in less traffic? I don't use roads in Eastern WA, but I pay for them. Why should a guy that DOES use the bridge daily have to pay so much more? It's a tax for living somewhere and working somewhere.

I think road taxes should be shared equitably by everyone in the state, and that this new idea of paying for a faster lane is just going to end up with the same amount of traffic while people that struggle month to month are forced to sit in traffic even longer.

Not a fix, it's a cash grab.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 01:21 AM
at least in Seattle the lanes are only business hours...way better than 24/7 here in Texas....

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 01:31 AM

The Transportation Commission also voted to increase the HOV requirement from two people to three people during the peak rush hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Everyone who uses the new toll lanes will need to get a new Good to Go pass called a Flex Pass. It will allow drivers to switch between HOV and toll modes to make sure they're being tolled at the appropriate times.

Ugh. Make sure you don't deviate from the allotted times.

Don't even consider putting a stuffed bear in the back seat because the Washington State Patrol is expected to launch a major enforcement effort to make sure there are no cheaters using the HOV lanes.

People are pissed. Lot's of people are saying "good luck State Patrol" and going for it. I'm actually thinking this might get interesting, there are only so many cops, and a lot of pissed off people willing to risk the fine.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 01:55 AM

originally posted by: GBP/JPY
at least in Seattle the lanes are only business hours...way better than 24/7 here in Texas....

See, that's a great point. It sneaks in as only during certain hours and only a certain stretch of road, then more roads start getting it, then it's all the time, then it's not $1, and it keeps going up in price.

It makes the politicians look like they're actually doing something about the abysmal traffic that is choking the area, while lining the pockets of some company in another state.

You all need to bitch more, this is going to be coming to every state soon, and it's going to get worse. It's going to force people into gridlock, and effectively screw the idea of carpooling.

The most you're suppose to be charged for driving on a public road here is $4 (one way if it's peak hours). That's $120 extra per month one way, $240 a month both, and that's a huge expenditure. I don't personally think people that can afford that deserve it. We ALL pay for the roads, we should ALL be able to take advantage of any road in a state we drive in.

My sweet old lady neighbor shouldn't be banned or subjected to less service because she doesn't drive in certain places often. She pays her tabs, she pays the tax on her gas, she shouldn't be relegated to the slow lane or certain roads. I pay my taxes, I pay for the guy over in Eastern WA that barely uses his road. We're in this together, we should all share the cost, not tax people that work in a certain area.

Maybe I don't drive down a certain highway often, but I don't mind paying a bit more so I CAN.

Not pissed at you, I just think the whole idea is unfair for everyone. The family out in the sticks that still pays money for infrastructure and lives paycheck to paycheck but barely uses a dirt road, and the jackass in the BMW that won't get out of my way deserve the same roads. Without the infrastructure, we have nothing.

It's essentially a tax on the poor. Can't afford it? Have fun wasting gas and time in the slower lane.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 02:00 AM
It's sounding like an ala carte society. A lot of people would support this if their taxes were lowered.

"I don't drive on the interstate, I stay in my own home town. Why should I pay taxes that pay to fix the interstate when I don't use it!"

So basically I can imagine a future where your taxes are line-items of services that you actually use. Who knows, maybe they'll bundle some of them for a discount like a "Police/Fire" tax. If you don't pay for it, they won't show up if your house is burning down.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 02:58 AM
In Chicago Tolls are Illegal unless it's on a bridge. The only toll within city limits is the skyway, and it's not really a bridge (sort of) there is a section that goes over the River, but it's so high up it makes no difference that it's above water. But they had to find a way to get a toll somehow. Lucky we only have that one. There is more than enough money for the roads. I've stated before on other threads that the taxes paid for each semi truck in the country comes out to like 90 billion or some crazy number like that, and that's just the trucks.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 06:15 AM
a reply to: Domo1

We've had this in VA for a while now. While it is getting used they're not getting the money they hoped for out of it.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 06:18 AM
New Jersey ditched these awhile back becasue they lead to horrifc congestion during rush hour.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 07:38 AM
a reply to: MystikMushroom

Except the money seems to be going to some company in Texas and not to a highway repair fund. Seems like a huge nightmare and tax payers will still be on the hook to fund road repairs.

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 09:37 AM
"give drivers the option"


posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 09:51 AM
The SF Bay Area has two bridges that cross the Bay, the Dumbarton (84) and the San Mateo bridge (92). Whenever the tolls were raised on one bridge, all the drivers would move to the other. Then the authorities would just have to increase the toll fee on the other bridge to restore traffic balance.

Having a toll fee that is constantly increasing or decreasing in real-time according to traffic demand just sounds insane. I'm sure there would probably be an app telling motorists the current rates. If motorists are driving along to the toll booth and know that rates are falling, they will just drive slowly. But if the rates are rising, they will try and get there as fast as possible to save a few dimes.

Having an empty lane used exclusively for car-pooling is going to drive motorists insane, and I'm sure they'll say, "please ,please, just let us use that lane. We'll pay anything to get out of the congestion".

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 09:54 AM
a reply to: Domo1
You mentioned a company in Texas receives the money for this, but failed to state the name of the company. Is there any connection between local politicians and this company, or is this a bigger issue that should be dug into?

posted on Sep, 30 2015 @ 01:44 PM
Wow, driving in Seattle sounds complicated!

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