News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shocker: Higher Toll Road Tolls Mean Less Toll Road Use

Not content with bringing down a presidency nearly 40 years ago, the Washington Post came up with another massive page one Metro section scoop over the weekend: The higher tolls on the Toll Road are convincing some people to try to find another route for their Reston-to-Tysons runs. Give us some nearly-impossible-to-believe blockquote:

But after five straight years of toll increases, many drivers have decided that the convenience, such that it is, is no longer worth the cost.

“You talk to people and they go, ‘Oh, hell, no — I don’t use the toll road,’ ” said Tammi Petrine, a longtime Reston resident who used to use it but now avoids it whenever possible.

Burt Rosenberg, too, has sworn off the roadway.

“It’s the principle,” said Rosenberg, also from Reston, who uses the road only when he’s running late. “I just can’t encourage them, or they’ll just keep raising it.”

Commuters say that avoiding the 14-mile toll road has forced them to get creative, incorporating back roads and side streets into their daily drive. They compare notes with co-workers and neighbors — though not all are willing to share their routes.
Spoiler alert: Rt. 7. Secret's out!
Not surprisingly, statistics show that as tolls increase, the number of annual toll road transactions decreases. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of transactions on the toll road declined by more than 5 million.

And the dropoff hasn’t hurt the agency’s bottom line. MWAA made more than $127 million in toll revenue in 2013, compared with $88 million in 2010 — an increase of over $39 million.
That's a lot of quarters.

The Post article points out that some people are annoyed that the ever-rising tolls are being used to pay for the Metro Silver Line, though those people could always ditch their gas-guzzling cars and get downtown on the Metr--oh, right.
Officials at MWAA — which operates the toll road and is managing construction of the Silver Line — say they are sympathetic and are doing their best to temper the increases. They note that an additional $300 million in funding from the state and a low-interest loan from the federal government mean tolls likely won’t have to be increased again until 2018.

MWAA says the additional funding also means that future toll increases are likely to come less often and won’t be as steep. Still, barring another financial windfall, tolls will increase in coming years. According to an analysis by MWAA, by 2043, it may cost $11.25 per trip to drive on the toll road.
Well worth it, not to rub your shoulders with the hoi polloi on the surface streets.

So maybe we've been paying for rail service that doesn't yet exist. Fortunately, our BFFs at Metro were at the Herndon Festival this weekend, dispensing an emergency kit with everything we need to help us pass the time until it does:

We'll just double-dutch while waiting for the bus, the end.


  1. And what will a hamburger cost in 2043. Most of the increase in tolls is due to inflation, not actual revenue increase in today's dollars. Over 30 years you can at a MINIMUM expect a halving of the dollars worth if not 1/3rd. So in 2043 it will effectively be cheaper to drive on the toll road than today.

    But by all means, don't think about the things you write.

  2. Bowling for BollardsJune 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    My use of the toll road remains utterly minimal after 3 years of toll increases. It is a poor transportation value in most respects, and like the Silver Line, it goes nowhere that I need to be.

  3. @Anonymous

    How do you know that projection isn't adjusted for inflation. Those kinds of figures usually are...



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