WASHINGTON - We all know traffic in the D.C. region can be a trying experience with long commutes and delays, especially with precipitation falling in the area. But as the first snowfall arrived in the D.C. region Thursday evening, commuters driving during the evening rush hour in Northern Virginia found using the Express Lanes would be very costly.
A FOX 5 staff member driving on Interstate 495 found a sign showing the toll for the Express Lanes starting from nearby the Tysons Corner area to the I-395/95 exit would cost a whopping $30! Using the lanes to I-66 would be just shy of $10.
Another commuter also found similar pricing for the Express Lanes:
@fox5dc Not the highest I've seen. Was over $32 before Xmas. This is a daily occurrence on 495— mike b (@mjb32982) January 6, 2017
As of 6 p.m. Thursday, the Express Lanes website showed an expected 36-minute trip from the 495 Express Lanes starting nearby Tysons Corner all the way to I-95 near Garrisonville Road/Route 610 in Stafford costing over $45.
A spokesperson for Transurban, the company that manages the Express Lanes, said from around 4:30 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. Thursday, two salt and plow trucks were working on the southbound Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95, causing traffic to slow and increasing the toll on those lanes. The company said there is no cap on the toll and the prices will fluctuate based on the real-time traffic demand.
Transurban said customers who are concerned with the price they were charged can call its customer service number at 855-495-9777.
According to the Express Lanes website, here is how the toll rate is determined:
Tolls for the Express Lanes are dynamic, meaning they change periodically based on real-time traffic conditions to keep the Lanes free-flowing. Because toll prices are based on demand, it is difficult to predict exactly what the tolls will be at any given time.
Tolls can range from as low as $0.20 per mile during less busy times, and up to approximately $1.00 per mile in some sections during rush hour. However, rates may rise significantly above the typical range for periods of time in the event of unusually heavy congestion or a specific event like a traffic accident or lane(s) closure.
How does their dynamic pricing work?
Dynamic pricing means that tolls on the Express Lanes change periodically to keep the Lanes free-flowing. Sensors alongside the road monitor traffic levels and speed, and toll prices adjust to maintain free-flowing conditions in the Lanes – even during peak times – to provide value to customers. A network of electronic signs displays the latest toll prices.