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Atlanta-Bound Bus Commuters Benefit from New Express Lanes
Just over a month after Atlanta's Northwest Corridor Express Lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties opened to toll-paying motorists last September, Planetizen posted that they were proving very popular based on the number of trips taken. The nearly 30 miles of two, dynamically-priced, reversible [see schedule (pdf)] express lanes even reduced trip times for those traveling in the adjacent but physically separated general purpose lanes on Interstates 75 and 575 as well, reported David Wickert for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nov. 13.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said that, with many people using the express lanes, traffic in the regular lanes was moving 10 to 15 mph faster at rush hour. And the peak congestion period in the corridor had been reduced by nearly an hour.
And last week, Wickert reported (in source article) that bus passengers using routes that travel on the new express lanes were experiencing faster commutes as well, arriving at their Atlanta destinations as much as 15 minutes early.
That’s forced the State Road and Tollway Authority [SRTA] to change schedules for some of its Xpress bus routes. ... Chris Tomlinson, SRTA’s executive director, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the agency opted to let commuters sleep another 15 minutes by pushing back departure times.
No free passage for carpools, electric vehicles or motorcycles
"Unlike the I-85 Express Lanes, transit riders and registered vanpools and registered law enforcement are the only ones who can ride for free on the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes," according to a GDOT/SRTA fact sheet [pdf]. "State-registered alternate fuel vehicles (AFVs), motorcycles and HOT3+ carpools must pay tolls on Northwest Corridor Express Lanes."
"The minimum toll will be 10 cents a mile for most of the day," noted Wickert in his article on the lanes' first weekday of operation on Sept. 10. "Overnight (roughly midnight to 5 a.m.), the cost is just 50 cents per trip, regardless of the length of the trip."
Like Virginia's rather infamous 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway, the tolls on all Georgia Express Lanes are "uncapped," i.e., there is no maximum toll, ensuring that market forces keep congestion in check. "But state officials expect cost to be minimal at first and to increase over time," adds Wickert. The highest toll was "$4.95 for the longest possible one-way trip, and average tolls have been much lower," reported Wickert on Oct. 26.
Tolls on the state's busier express lanes are higher. "SRTA Executive Director Chris Tomlinson said the cost to drive the full 16-mile length of the I-85 could reach $15 to $16 at times," reported Wickert on Aug. 18, 2018, the month the decision to uncap the tolls was implemented.
Related in Planetizen:
Positive Early Returns for Atlanta's Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, October 27, 2018
- Government / Politics
- Cherokee County
- Cobb County
- Alternative Fuel Vehicles
- I-85 Express Lanes
- Congestion Pricing
- Dynamic Tolling
- Express Lanes
- Georgia Express Lanes
- Northwest Corridor Express Lanes
- Regional Bus Service
- Reversible Lanes
- Cherokee Area Transportation System
- State Road and Tollway Authority
- Xpress Commuter Coach Service
- Russell McMurry
- Chris Tomlinson
- David Wickert