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20 percent of HOT lane users don't pay toll

DULUTH -- Interstate 85's toll lanes have brought in more than $200,000 a month since November, with about 20 percent of users not paying the toll.

According to recently released revenue figures, the first month of operation in October brought in $105,807. The number nearly doubled in November, and remained above the $200,000 through January. February's revenues were not available.

In its first four months, the 800,000 trips on the HOT lanes provided more than $750,000 in revenue, which goes to pay for staffers at the customer service center, tolling operations, equipment, maintenance and other expenses.

State Road and Tollway Authority spokeswoman Malika Reed Wilkins said officials are analyzing the revenues vs. expenditures and a clear picture should be available at the end of the year.

According to the statistics, about one in five cars using the lane are not paying the toll. Wilkins said the system does not differentiate how many of the non-toll drivers are carpooling. Others who drive emergency vehicles, transit buses, motorcycles and some specific alternative fuel vehicles can also use the lanes for free.

Originally, the authority expected 27 percent of trips to be non-tolled in the first year, Wilkins said, adding that the remaining months could give a more complete assessment.

And while the toll lanes -- which run 16 miles from Old Peachtree Road to Chamblee-Tucker Road -- have been at capacity for months, not all Peach Pass holders have used them.

While more than 140,000 Peach Passes have been issued, as of Feb. 29, Wilkins said a total of 57,168 unique transponders have been used in the lanes. Revenue figures do not include the $20 pre-payment cost of a Peach Pass, Wilkins said, stressing that the numbers reflect the toll transactions that occur within the lane.

In terms of revenue, SRTA's income will eventually include fines paid for violating the rules of the HOT lanes. A three-month grace period ended in January, but Wilkins pointed out that the 2,603 violations recorded in February also include violations from the Ga. 400 tollway.

Comments

R 2 years, 9 months ago

Come on, please don't tell us that they can't define the vehicle usage profile breakdown of free users status. Wouldn't a first year grad student be smart enough to recommend they be able to figure out how to MAXIMIZE carpooling as a green initiative, if for no other reason to keep the FED dollars rolling in. If on the outside chance that they really CAN'T analyze the data to that level, terminate some high paid staff and hire some others to go get a multi-user copy of EXCEL or even GOOGLE office. Are we really afraid to reveal the existing results on-hand?

It's just this type of foolishness that casts such a dim view on the ability to properly administer the TSPLOST, even if one is even slightly inclined to support it.

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dav 2 years, 9 months ago

You mean I have to pay to use that lane?

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gwinnettresident1 2 years, 9 months ago

Why is it that every time we see a picture like this one the HOT lane is empty? Look at this pic and the heavy traffic. Seems a perfect time to pay the toll DONT YOU THINK

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HonestIngine 2 years, 9 months ago

What is amazing is that statistics can be interpeted to say what ever is in the best interest of the organization requesting the statistics.

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kevin 2 years, 9 months ago

$750,000 less to spend in our poor economy. I thought this operation got Federal funds to pay for the equipment? Now they are having to find ways to spend their surplus money to keep more bureacracy in government funded jobs. (governement meaning taxpayer funded)

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Ashley 2 years, 9 months ago

$750,000 sucked out of our economy and thrown down the rat hole on nothing. Imagine this spent on Education or making the port of Savannah deeper. Or widening I-85. What a government created waste!

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HonestIngine 2 years, 9 months ago

Keep in mind the citizens of Gwinnett County, Have this extra lane to relieve traffic, and most of us still get home at 6:30-7:00 sometimes later.. I have not seen that much of an improvement. Scratch the Peach Pass and let the citizens use the highways, as intended. Don't see our one term and done governor, Deal driving on them. He and his buddies have this system in their pockets and are making money at our expense. Time for the newspaper to investigate all of Nathan Deal, Deals with state contractors, etc.

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Hangdog 2 years, 9 months ago

It is not an extra lane. It was stolen by SRTA and GaDOT. The Fed. government funded the creation/addition of the HOV lane around the 96 Olympics...then the SRTA and GaDOT thieves stole it under the guise of 'giving Gwinnett commuters another option'. Their other excuses have changed as the useage results have come in. Now they say that relieving traffic congestion was never a goal of the hotlanes.

I too would love for one of the news agencies to do a FOA request on this debacle.

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JohnGalt 2 years, 9 months ago

LMAO, let’s do a little math here shall we? So, if the first four months provided revenue of $750,000, then the average revenue was $187,500 a month ($750,000/4). They did say they were at capacity did they not? That would lead us to conclude that a reasonable expectation in revenue going forward is about that amount ($187,500). If that’s the case, then based on the $60,000,000 implementation price tag alone, and that doesn’t include maintenance, salaries for those completely incompetent, useless and worthless gov’ment employees and this extortion they have exerted on the people of Gwinnett County, then we’ll break even on this boondoggle in 320 month or 26.6 years (without taking into account the interest paid to the Chinese for the money the we borrowed to pay for this foolishness). I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a really great plan does it not? Anybody? What a deal! Anybody want to sign up for such an absurd personal financial situation consistent with these types of conditions? I wouldn’t. This monumental idiot, Malika Reed Wilkins, is a joke. This whole program would be a joke if it weren’t so serious. Anybody that had a hand in this mess needs to be held accountable for it. And anybody that supports it is a complete fool and an idiot. I’m really sick and tired of these people and all of their consistent persistent quest to take from the producers in our society to provide for the looters. This is not about the environment or traffic. This is all about money and the redistribution of wealth. Nothing more ~ nothing less! Let’s just call it what it is and stop trying to present it as something that it isn’t.

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notblind 2 years, 9 months ago

Explain to me how you hold a bureaucrat accountable?

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Hangdog 2 years, 9 months ago

Another kicker to this is SRTA/GaDOT have at times admitted that the revenue won't even pay for the maintenance/upkeep of the toll lanes.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 9 months ago

I totally agree...Is there any watchdog committee, overseeing the local (Gwinnett County) government or the State Government? I know they established one in the "New Peachtree Corners City" to oversee and report to the citizens, the runnings of the limited "lite city".

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 9 months ago

From the GDP facebook page: Deborah Storm "the toll lanes are rediculous anyway. i wont use them."

If my memory serves me correctly, Ms. Storm of Occupy Gwinnett was suppose to protest the HOT lanes after they failed at stopping foreclosures. I guess her promises were hollow and Occupy Gwinnett failed to deliver once again!

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NewsReader 2 years, 9 months ago

Storm and Cleanupguy are probably related to one another!

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 9 months ago

I have contacted Ms. Storm about her inaction and failure to get rid of the HOT lanes. It is ridiculous that Occupy Gwinnett does not deliver as promised! :)

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jack 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm curious as to whether any of the folks crossing the solid-double white lines into the HOT lanes are being fined through the highly touted "invisible barrier enforcement".

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R 2 years, 9 months ago

If they can't identify who should be there to begin with, how can you prosecute violators?

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notblind 2 years, 9 months ago

Just another voluntary tax for the goobermint.

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Hangdog 2 years, 9 months ago

I hope the voters of Georgia remember that the people who are responsible for the trainwreck and constant lies will also be partly responsible for spending the T-SPLOST money should the voters be stupid enough to approve the T-SPLOST. This includes the over-educated braintrust of Malika Reed Wilkins, PhD, Gena L. Evans, PhD, and our current governor.

I see at least 6 cars a day cross the double lines on my commute from the Pleasant Hill exit to Midtown so I doubt they are being fined. They have never released any numbers concerning fines. Additionally, all you have to do is turn off your toll tag especially if it is dark outside. If they can't tell you who should be there, or what type of non-paying arrangement it is, how can they tell if you have 2, 3 or 8 car riders, especially through tinted windows.

The only thing this group analyzes is how to make the statistics represent what they want them to say, no matter how assinine their statements generally are.

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notblind 2 years, 9 months ago

Voters don't get to fire bureaucrats. Politicians face voter ire , bureaucrats get to work on their agenda under the radar.

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jamesgriffin 2 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that all media outlets including the GDP are spinning this as "20% don't pay toll" as opposed to "80% aren't carpooling". We took what was an HOV lane encouraging drivers to carpool, even 2 per car, and made it into "pay a fee and forget carpooling" lane. The follow-up story should be: How many former HOV-2 ride sharers now have become two HOT solo drivers? The DOT doesn't want you to think that way, so their news release is spun as a revenue success story so we don't think about it.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 9 months ago

Agreed... Again spinning statistics in their favor.

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Hangdog 2 years, 9 months ago

Or how many former carpoolers are now pushed back into the 'regular' lanes either as 2 people in one car are actually increased traffic by being two, single rider cars.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 9 months ago

Do any of you even use the HOT lane? Better question, do any of you travel I-85 every single day Monday through Friday? Into town and out of town? Que the crickets. Why?

Cause I drive it every day and have for the last 8 years! I am HAPPY to have the HOT lane along with 58,000 other people (I am rounding up for those of you already hot under the collar). Why am I happy? Because I am MOVING and not SITTING. Its that freaking easy. But you clowns just keep sitting there typing on your computer as you think about... "When was the last time I drove on 85?". Yes, I have a carpool partner still and we use the HOV lanes inside the perimeter. Our commute rocks and I have been saving 1/2 a tank of gas! Why? because I am MOVING and not SITTING and stopping and starting.

The picture that the GDP is using has to be from the first week of the lane's usage. Now it's hardly open. Furthermore, if you drive it everyday, you know where you can get out of the lane and use the other lanes. That means for every car in the HOT lane that is one less backing up traffic. Get past the blockage, get out of the HOT lane and continue on.

Ground truth sucks! Blows up all those "Facts" you jokers juggle in your head. My time is worth it. My time sitting in traffic is not.

Thank you DOT for the HOT lane! Love it! Gonna go get in it in about 30 minutes.

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Ashley 2 years, 9 months ago

What a clown. Next you will pay to use the parks. Most Gwinnettians do not even have access to the HOT lanes. I live on Hwy 120 and would have to travel to Indian Trial to use it. I no longer car pool and your kids now suck my exhaust.

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NewsReader 2 years, 9 months ago

Was it your time when you wrote all this BS before you were getting ready to leave work and go home? Or was that somebody else's time ~ and money? Never mind! We already know the answer to that.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 9 months ago

Do you pay for your peach pass? or is it given too you by your employer or do you work for the State Department? is the 58,000 people those who have peach passes or those who use it everyday? not trying to be funny just want backup to your statement. Just keep in mind if everyone used the lane, you would be sitting in traffic just like the other clowns you refer too, and the cost would be higher than what is being charged. At some point, all our Interstate highways become toll roads.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 9 months ago

@honestlngine Yep. I pay for it out of my pocket. $20 bucks comes off my credit card everytime it gets below a certain threshold. My employer would laugh if I asked them to cover my cost. I work for a private employer, the same one for the last 8 years.

@NewReader, I work for my income, pay my taxes. As much as you so desperately want me to be some troll, I am one of the paying customer s of the HOT lane. You need to wake up and realize that this life is only getting more expensive, so belly up to the table big boy... you are gonna have to pay one way or the other.

@Ashley, like I thought... you don't even use the lane so you don't get an opinion. Next.,

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coffeepuppet 2 years, 9 months ago

HOT lanes; not an extra lane, not a new lane. It was there and paid for already, then someone decide to make it an elite lane. A special place for those willing to pay again for what long time Gwinnettians had paid for. I've traveled 85 in Gwinnett for over 30 years and for the first time I cannot use every part of a public road.

I remind you, these lanes are not toll lanes available for anyone who chooses to pay. With 400, I can pay or take another route, my choice. But 400 can be utilized by all travelers if they wish to pay. The 85 HOT lanes are private membership only.

The vacationers passing through don't have the option, unless they plan in far advance to buy a Peach Pass. People who live in other parts of the state and cannot justify the need for a PP are left out. No longer are the vans and buses from other areas welcome. Georgia is really showing visitors the red carpet is not rolled out.

The rates vary. Who knows what it will cost each trip. Trust the signs, sorry because the rate changes again. There is not even an agreed contract price per trip, it can change by the mile. Also there is the confusion of HOT lane and HOV lanes. If you are not familiar with the location of each you may not utilize the HOV when available. Or continue to ride in the HOT lane have been legally in the HOV lane.

All of this has caused more backup on Buford Highway and Peachtree Industrial, because it no longer makes sense to get to 85.

Sure I understand the worth of my time, but when the state begins to double dip it's citizens we are all in trouble. This was never about easing traffic in Gwinnett. It was about revenue, just like red light cameras and radar. But I'll stop before going there.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 9 months ago

I contacted my long lost friend at Occupy Gwinnett about their failed comittment and unkept promises to rid us of these HOT lanes and Peach Pass. Have no earthly idea why she doesn't respond to our repeated requests!

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VicMorrow 2 years, 9 months ago

As I drive back and forth from Lawrenceville to Midtown each day, I look over at the empty asphalt that my motor fuel taxes helped pay for, but the government has decided to double dip with a toll. It makes my blood boil. It was infuriating enough when it was a HOV lane, but at least AFV (Armored Fighting Vehicles) were allowed to use it free. Now even our fighting men have to pay a stupid toll to use a publicly funded roadway. This is government abuse at its worst.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 9 months ago

Man... the HOT lane was awesome this morning! Traffic was piled up between 316 and Indian Trail and there i was doing 75 in the HOT lane. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!! Please do not use the HOT lane! It totally affects my commute when you folks start thinking about how great it is.

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Hangdog 2 years, 9 months ago

You know how they determine if the HOT lane is a success? If the average speed during 'rush hour' is above 45 mph. So, if only one car used it during rush hour, the PhDs at SRTA would proclaim it a success. The less people that use it, the more successful it is considered. Amazing.

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Braveshopr 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm wondering if it's unconstitutional, as it is part of a highway where only the well-heeled can afford to use.

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Buck11 2 years, 9 months ago

I love the HOT lanes! I now get to work and home P.D.Q. compared to life before them.

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