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.