Real Time Toll Rates ExplainedPosted Sep 30, 2013 by Sandip Shrestha, Linux Consultant
If you are a new - or even a long-time - user of the I-85 Express Lanes, you may wonder how the cost of your trip is calculated each day, and why the rate you’re charged may vary, even over the course of the same week. Unlike the GA 400 Extension, for which users are charged a flat rate each time they pass through the Toll Plaza, the I-85 Express Lanes use a system known as “dynamic pricing,” in which rates rise and fall based on a number of factors, including how many commuters use the lane in a given period.
Why, you might ask? The dynamic pricing model – also used in many other areas of the country including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle and Miami - is designed to keep the lane moving and provide reliable travel times. Motorists have the option of paying the toll when they want a more reliable trip time.
Toll rates on the Express Lanes are managed by demand. The changing of pricing is based on a proprietary algorithm that takes into account:
- The number of vehicles in the Express Lane as well as the general purpose lanes
- The capacity of all the lanes
- Overall speed of traffic in the Express Lane as well as the general purpose lanes.
- Expected driver behavior
- Tolled distance
This is a complex algorithm that changes based on these factors to determine the price for a trip. Typically during peak periods, when there is more traffic in the Express Lane, the toll increases. During off-peak periods, when fewer vehicles are using the lane, the toll decreases. The toll fluctuates to ensure traffic flows more smoothly for those who do choose to use the lane and encourage demand for it.
How pricing works
Toll rate signs are displayed at each Express Lane entry point (indicated by dashed double white lines) on the overhead toll rate signs. The top rate is the cost from that entrance to the next exit. The bottom rate is the total cost from that entrance to the last exit of the toll facility. Toll rates vary from .01 cent to .90 cent per mile.
You lock in your toll rate when you enter the Express Lanes. The rate you see when you enter the Express Lane does not change for you, for the length of that trip. So even if you see the prices changing on the message boards as you’re traveling, your toll rate remains the same.
- Peach Pass roadside technology monitors traffic flow and rates can change as frequently as every five minutes to present a more accurate cost to drivers and improve the efficiency of the lane. In addition, SRTA’s Toll Operations Center has several management functions to include overseeing the tolling system, trouble-shooting incidents and accidents, and monitoring the performance of the lanes.
We’re excited to see use of the I-85 Express Lanes continuing to gain momentum, signifying that metro Atlantans are recognizing the value of choice when it comes to their commutes. In fact, in August 2013, we saw our highest number of new accounts during this second year of operation. We also broke several records in August, including the highest total trip count and highest single day trip count. In the coming years, metro Atlantans will see more dynamically-priced toll lanes added to I-75, as well as an extension of the I-85 Express Lanes. These toll facilities will provide you with more choices as you make your daily trips. To learn more about future Peach Pass toll facilities in Georgia, go to PeachPass.com.