GA/I-85 toll lanes lookin' peachier - strong growth in traffic at 6th month
By Peter Samuel
2012-04-24: Georgia's I-85 Express Lanes in their sixth month of operation continue to show strong growth in traffic with a stable average toll rate of around $1.20/trip. In March weekday trips averaged 16.8 thousand (k) 2.3 times the 7.3k in October last year, the first full month of operations of the high occupancy/toll lane.
Only month so far which has not seen growth was December - probably because of the Christmas/New Year holiday season.
The figures are compiled by Georgia State Road & Tollway Authority (SRTA) which operates the lanes that extend from the I-285 belt route 16 miles, 23km northeast out of central Atlanta. A single toll express lane operates to the left side of six regular lanes dropping to five in each direction.
Lanes are free to vehicles with 3 or more occupants, others are tolled. Toll rates are varied during the day according to density of traffic in the lanes so as to allow free flow
The project got off to a difficult start in the first week of October last with toll rates too high and relatively empty lanes. That first week got the project massive bad publicity locally, but the project was gotten back on track in the second week of operation and has steadily attracted more traffic - and less publicity - since.
Traffic up 62% since Nov 2011
Traffic in March is up 62% on the 10.3k/weekday of November, the first full month of smooth operations. There has been some increase in untolled, mostly high occupancy (3 or more persons) vehicle usage which is some 16% up on November and 51% up on October.
But 95% of the growth since November has been in toll paying vehicles which now comprise 85% of total vehicles in the lanes. Toll payers have grown 155% since October and 75% since November.
Tolls stable, revenues close to $5m/yr
Average tolls have not changed much ranging between $1.09 in the second month and $1.26 in the fourth month of operations (January 2012).
By our estimate they're running toll revenues weekdays $17k or in the range $4.5m to $5.0m a year.