Home Transportation First-Week Update: 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway

First-Week Update: 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway

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From VDOT:

FIRST WEEK UPDATE: 66 EXPRESS LANES INSIDE THE BELTWAY
Data from first four days shows faster, more reliable trips on I-66

FAIRFAX – Morning and afternoon commutes were faster and travel times more reliable during the first four days of I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway operations, according to data released today by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
“Based on four days of data, it is clear that the Express Lanes on I-66 Inside the Beltway are already providing an improved and more reliable trip for carpoolers, bus riders and solo drivers who choose to pay,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “Travel times on I-66 were 10-12 minutes over the four-hour rush period last week compared with 15 to 30 minutes last December, and travel times on parallel roads are either similar to last year or improved.”
Drivers who chose to travel alone during rush hours paid an average round-trip price of $14.28. Over the initial four days of the I-66 Express Lanes, average prices during morning peak hours were $10.25 and average prices during afternoon peak hours were $4.03.
Average Prices through Dec 7, 2017 on I-66 Express Lanes
 
Eastbound (AM)
Westbound (PM)
Daily Total
September 2015 Estimate
Average Price (HOV-2+ free)
$9.00
$8.00
$17.00
December 4, 2017
Average Price (HOV-2+ free)
$10.70
$3.80
$14.50
December 5, 2017
Average Price (HOV-2+ free)
$12.87
$4.10
$16.97
December 6, 2017
Average Price (HOV-2+ free)
$8.20
$3.91
$12.11
December 7, 2017
Average Price (HOV-2+ free)
$9.23
$4.30
$13.53
Further analysis of the first four days of Express Lanes indicates the following:
  • Vehicle trips in the morning period ranged from 13,390 to 14,548 vehicle trips. In the afternoon, vehicle trips ranged from 15,798 to 17,401.
  • The percent of carpool trips increased markedly through the week. During Monday morning’s commute, 38 percent of trips were carpools. During Wednesday and Thursday mornings’ commutes, the percent of carpools rose to 45 and 43 percent, respectively.
  • A.M. prices averaged $10.25 across the four days. Morning prices peaked at $40.00 on Tuesday for one six-minute interval, with no more than 28 drivers paying this price. This price was not realized throughout the remainder of the week as morning trips are being more evenly distributed across the express lane hours.
  • P.M. prices were consistently lower, averaging $4.03, across the four days. Afternoon prices peaked at $26.75 on Thursday. A better distribution of trips across the four-hour period, the lack of a merge between two highways westbound on I-66, and a variety of P.M. destinations contribute to lower average prices in the afternoons.
I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway Usage for First Four Days
 
December 4
December 5
December 6
December 7
EB-AM
WB-PM
EB-AM
WB-PM
EB-AM
WB-PM
EB-AM
WB-PM
Vehicle Trips
13,473
16,307
14,548
15,798
13,390
16,113
14,388
17,401
% Carpoolers
38
30
41
34
45
35
43
33
Highest Price / No. of vehicles that paid
$34.50 / 39
$12.50 / 33
$40.00 / 28
$10.75 / 46
$23.50 / 34
$13.25 / 28
$26.75 / 18
$21.50 / 25
% less than $10
34
69
33
65
38
63
36
65
% less than $5
17
43
17
38
19
40
17
38
Drivers using I-66 during periods prior to the former HOV hours (before 6:30 a.m.) also experienced a faster and more reliable trip. In December 2016, traffic at 6 a.m. traveled at 30 miles per hour (mph) or less, and speeds did not increase to 45 mph until after 7 a.m and could only be maintained for a 15-20 minute period until it dropped to 25 mph and did not recover to above 45 mph until after 10 a.m. Last week, I-66 Express Lanes traffic maintained highway speeds of approximately 55 to 60 mph each day for the full four-hour morning commute. See chart below.
In addition, drivers on parallel arterial roadways including Routes 7, 29 and 50 experienced similar or improved travel times over the first four days. See charts below for details.
VDOT is responsible for operating and maintaining the I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway. It takes about three days for operators to process each vehicle trip on the Express Lanes, to provide information such as traffic volumes and toll pricing. Toll revenue is invested back in the I-66 corridor expanding bus, carpool, and other travel options to move more people more efficiently.
The Express Lanes, which allow carpools to continue to use the lanes for free and solo drivers to travel legally for the first time ever during rush hours, are part of a comprehensive multimodal set of improvements to the I-66 corridor. Other key elements moving ahead include widening I-66 from the Dulles Toll Road to Ballston, and continued investments in new transit service and other services like carpooling incentives.
Click here for more information about the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project and new transit service and other multimodal projects in the I-66 Corridor.