The third year is the charm for the State Route 167 HOT Lanes between Renton and Auburn.
After several years of operating in the red, HOT Lane operation is in the black, according to the SR 167 Third Annual HOT Lanes Performance Summary released by the Washington State Department of Transportation in December.
“SR 167 HOT lanes revenue exceeded expenditures by $12,000 in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 – April through June. More recent data shows the trend continuing from July through September with a surplus of $10,000. All revenue generated by SR 167 HOT lanes is reinvested in the SR 167 corridor,” according to the report.
However, the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the profitability is partially due to a change in state bookkeeping that allows the expenditures to be spread over more projects.
The lanes are not only profitable with the new accounting measures; they’ve also reduced congestion along SR 167.
“We’ve already confirmed that the SR 167 HOT lanes are doing what they were designed to do: reduce congestion and improve travel times for everyone traveling on this corridor”, said Craig Stone, WSDOT Toll Division Director. “Revenue covering the HOT lanes operational cost is frosting on the cake – it’s a great achievement as we enter the fourth year of the pilot program.”
The HOT Lanes work by allowing carpools and transit buses to use the special lanes for free, and help reduce traffic congestion by allowing solo drivers to pay a toll to use the HOT lane.
“The once underused SR 167 HOV lanes are now a workhorse,” Stone said. “Since opening the SR 167 HOT lanes in 2008, we’ve seen a 200 percent increase in drivers choosing to pay for a more reliable trip.”
Approximately 90,000 unique Good To Go! passes have been used to pay for the SR 167 HOT lanes since they opened, and revenue has also increased by 88 percent since HOT lanes opened in 2008, according to the recent report.
Other findings from the report include:
Since opening the HOT lanes, peak-period traffic in all lanes moves more efficiently:
- On average, general purpose lane daily volumes have decreased by 4 to 5 percent while speeds have increased by 8 percent
- On average, daily HOT lane volumes have increased by 15 percent while speeds have remained at approximately 60 mph
- During the weekday morning peak-hour travel, northbound HOT lanes drivers saved an average of nine minutes and paid an average toll of $1.75.
SR 167 HOT lanes survey shows strong support among business customers
- Nearly 60 percent of business customers considered the HOT lanes helpful for their business.
- Over 50 percent of surveyed business customers were interested in connecting SR 167 HOT lanes to the future I-405 express toll lanes
The full annual report and more information about the project is available online.