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Washington's 'Lexus' Lanes Light on Luxury

High Occupancy Toll lanes, long derided as 'Lexus Lanes', may have to be re-dubbed. Statistics kept by the Washington State DOT on a new Hwy 167 HOT lane show that most users are not driving fancy luxury cars.
November 3, 2008, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"HOT lanes have sometimes been dubbed "Lexus lanes" because of the belief that only rich drivers would be able to afford them and only they would pay to buy their way into car-pool lanes. The first three months of traffic indicate that they are more like "Ford lanes." That is, the most common make of vehicle that used the HOT lanes from May through July was Ford (7,500), followed by Chevrolet (6,800), Toyota (2,500) and Honda (2,400).

DOT Secretary Paula Hammond said her agency will ask the Legislature in 2009 for permission to begin studying the possible extension of HOT lanes to Interstate 405. Drivers on Highway 167 HOT lanes indicated they are more willing to pay a toll to drive in the car-pool lanes if the trip is longer.

• The biggest complaint: There are too few access points to get into and out of HOT/HOV lanes. Crossing a double line earns a driver a $124 ticket.

• The HOT lanes were closed to paying customers 45 times over five months, restricted only to car pools, buses and motorcycles. The HOT lanes may be closed to toll customers if they become too congested.

• The state is collecting about $25,000 a month in tolls."

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Published on Thursday, October 23, 2008 in The News Tribune
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