On Monday, Georgia’s first experiment with high-occupancy toll lanes began on I-85. Before the Thursday evening rush hour, Gov. Nathan Deal waved the white flag.
As my AJC colleagues have documented, frustration with the new HOT lanes ran high this week. But no one, including advocates of the lanes that charge variable toll prices depending on traffic levels, expected things to run perfectly from the get-go.
And we barely finished with “get” before Deal decided to “go” in a different direction.
Did Gov. Deal act prematurely in changing the HOT lane prices after four days?
Total Voters: 411
The lanes have drawn complaints from motorists for the prices charged, but the data available so far indicate that the tolls actually paid have been toward the lower end of the pricing scale of 10 cents per mile to 90 cents per mile: “Before Deal’s action,” the AJC reports, “the maximum that had actually been charged to travel the full 16 miles was $5.50; under the new pricing it will be $3.05…a 44.5 percent decrease.”
At $5.50 for 16 miles, the average price per mile was about 34 cents. At $3.05, the average would be about 19 cents.
Short of a technical problem with calibrating the price to ensure traffic in the HOT lanes travels at least 45 mph — and there’s been no suggestion that happened — it seems awfully premature to change the pricing plan after less than a week. It may well be true that the HOT lanes weren’t being used as heavily as expected. But it’s only been four days; most commuters are still getting used to the switch from HOV lanes to the new toll system.
That’s my take. What’s yours? It’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and in the comments thread below.
– By Kyle Wingfield