Sunday, 30 November 2014

More parking spaces at 610 Staffordboro Blvd. parking lot

Finally, the long awaited expansion of the park and ride lot on Staffordboro Blvd. is now open for use! This parking lot is a giant bonus to all sluggers, this way there will be more space for riders to park. Drivers now have access to more slugs to pick up and get on the HOV lanes.

Staffordboro parking lot had about 882 parking spaces shared by the Martz bus riders, vanpool, carpool and slugs. This parking lot was so popular, that many commuters from the south of Stafford parked here to slug to common destination like the Pentagon, Rosslyn, and L’ Enfant Plaza. The lot gets filled up at about 7:00 AM on workdays and slugs had to illegally park in the parking lot or nearby shopping complex; risking getting ticketed. Because the lot gets full early some of the Stafford county residents had to go about 10 miles north to 234 or Horner road parking lot to find a parking space there.

This new parking lot will have designated spaces for slug pick up and bus pick up to avoid stacking of cars in front of the buses. Each slug area can accommodate about 30 riders and 4 cars. HOV / HOT / Express lanes from 234 to 610 is scheduled to open on December 2014. That will aid drivers to jump on the HOV lanes after they pick up Slugs, which will avoid sitting on the regular lanes till you reach 234 to get on to the HOV lanes. For more information on the expansion see

Thanks to the VDoT for spending about $10 million to add 912 parking spaces and continuing to allow residents to park for free. So, why sit in traffic when you can be sitting at work already? So, drivers fill up those empty seats!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Extended slugging hours?

It is 5.35 AM early in the morning, and I see slugs already lined up at Horner road. A few cars picked up slugs. While others rushed to hit the HOV lanes before HOV enforcement goes into effect so that they can drive solo.

“Some drivers pick up slugs as early as 5.30 AM” said Larry waiting for the line for a ride to Pentagon. “Drivers do not wait around the bus stop to pick up slugs, but some do if they see people waiting for a ride.”

“I always pick up slugs, there is always a high chance HOV gets backed up and I can’t get off HOV lanes before 6.00 AM.”  said Vanessa who drives to Pentagon, “I have seen people pulled over at 6.00 AM at Edsall Road.” She said, “I have also picked up slugs after 6.00 PM near Pentagon. People wait at S.Rotary Road carpool shelter with signs to show their destinations”

With the HOT lanes becoming effective in December 2014 it is likely that drivers will be compelled to pick up slugs beyond the HOV enforcement timing. It is said that the dynamic tolls may range from $0.20 to $1.25 per mile depending on the traffic to drive on HOV lanes. Drivers can save time and toll if they prefer using HOV. So, who wants extended sluglines?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Impact on Slug lines with the New Rules on I-95 HOT / Express Lanes

Starting from December 2014 the new rules issued by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDoT) will go into effect on the improved I-95 HOT Lanes (aka Express Lanes) between Route 610 in Stafford County and Edsall Road in Fairfax County. The new rules state that all commuter vehicles (except motor cycles) will require an EZ Pass or E-Z Pass Flex in order to be able to use the High Occupancy Toll HOT Lanes. 

Regarding these changes in rules, there comes a direct impact on slug lines. Drivers who pick up slugs have to buy an EZ-Pass flex, switch EZ-Pass Flex to “HOV On” mode and drive for free on HOT lanes.  Since 1975 slugs helped drivers to make use of the HOV Lanes, in return slugs got a free ride to work. It is an effective system and will be impacted with the new rules on I-95 HOT Lanes:

  • - About 10000 Hybrid Vehicles with clean fuel plates that were using I-95 HOV lanes as Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV) during the peak hours will have to pick up slugs or pay toll. This may increase the demand for the slugs.

  • - Drivers that are waiting on the ramp so that they can get onto HOV lanes after HOV enforcement are out of luck. They have to pick up slugs or pay the toll to use the new HOT Lanes. This may extend slug lines past the peak hours.

With the new rules going into effect as soon as the 95 Express Lanes open in December, there is complete certainty that these impacts will definitely affect slug lines. However, all those vehicles with the EZ-Pass Flex will benefit from the freedom to use the HOT lanes for free when they pick up slugs or pay the variable toll between $.20 and $1.20 per mile based on the volume of traffic and zone.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Another option for an easier commute

You’ve been there, sitting in traffic on the highway while enviously glancing over at the HOV lanes watching cars fly by; while you’re dealing with the anxiety of bumper to bumper traffic, breathing in car fumes for miles behind the wheels.

Traffic on I 395

Commuters from I95 corridor to Washington DC have a reliable option to pick slugs on both ways while others working at Tysons corner, Virginia or Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland do not have much option. Now VDOT provides additional choice for Northern Virginia commuters to get on High-Occupancy or Toll (HOT) lanes, which is an extension of the existing HOV lanes. Toll will range from $0.20 to $1.25 a mile on HOT lanes depending on the traffic. The rates will be locked when you enter a segment and you have an option to exit toll lanes to regular lanes.

VDOT in partnership with Transurban-Fluor has constructed additional capacity between Springfield, Virginia and Stafford, Virginia to accommodate drivers with less than 2 riders. The new I95 HOT lanes will add an additional lane to the existing two lanes that makes it a three lanes outside beltway. I95 HOT lanes are set to open in December 2014 which will, continue to be reversible lanes northbound during the morning peak hours and south bound during afternoon peak hours.

Of course, drivers from I95 corridor to Washington DC who like to drive solo or still afraid of picking up slugs can use HOT lanes outside beltway. You all know the annoyance of traffic, why not try sluglines and save yourself some time and money.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Slugging – Real Rules or Misunderstood Myths?

In one of the last articles we talked about the phenomena of slugging – a trend that started in Washington DC in 70’s that has been growing in popularity ever since. It is an act that was invented for the benefit of all parties included, the driver and the rider aka “slugger”. 

So how is it done?

You see, when going to the work in most of the US metropolises and other large cities every single day you’ll most probably find yourself getting stuck in the traffic and moving at speed of two inches per minute more than you’d like too. 
Just next to you, there’s an empty lane, as far as eye can see, just calling you to join it. But you can’t, as it’s only reserved for HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles). So drivers and “sluggers” thought of an idea – casually pooling a random car and driving in it with the driver.

This trend was presented with lots of controversies such as the aspect of safety of both the driver and the slugger, as well as awkwardness of the situation.

Funny enough, it proved to be everything contrary – people found themselves making new friends, having fun and someone to talk to while reaching their workplace, while both drivers and sluggers being able to arrive at their desired destination much easier and more quickly.
Yet, as everything rising in popularity, it has generated lots of controversies and false conceptions and rules news reporters and mainstream media finds enjoyable to present to the public as a fact while it has nothing to do with common sense and the reality of “casual carpooling”. Reporters do have a tendency to talk on things they are less aware of.

In the video above you’ll see the reporter stating an “official” rule at the end – don’t start a conversation unless driver does first.

As a person who has been participating in this trend for decades I must disagree with this. You see, the key to an enjoyable ride for both the slugger and the driver is a mutual respect of each other’s space, time and personalities. You are more than free to kindly start a conversation yet if a rider doesn’t respond or uses one word answers, just let it be. There are people who really enjoy their quite time – respect that.

In today’s economy we are spending money in order to network and meet new people, while if done respectfully, an unknown rider who is talking next to you can prove to be your new best client, contractor or business partner. One of them was for me.

I guess this myth started because most of the Washington DC drivers worked for the federal government and were not allowed to talk about their work. But there’s no reason not to talk at all – try it, you can make a good friend.