All tolls, all the time?

A new study has weighed in on the topic of tolls and road congestion. This one is different. It considers all tolls, all the time.

A new study has weighed in on the topic of tolls and road congestion. This one is different. It considers all tolls, all the time.

The study comes from the Puget Sound Regional Council, which spent $3.1 million on studying and conducting the issue. A handful of people pretended such a system was in effect to see how their driving habits might change under such a scenario.

They were given a GPS system, a hypothetical bank account from which tolls would be deducted and told they could keep – in real money – what they had left after the experiment. The goal was to see if they would drive less, or at less congested times.

They did, but issues remain.

The study assumed a toll cost for driving on freeways or major arterials. To avoid the tolls, some participants kept driving as much, but switched to commuting, etc. by using neighborhood streets. Not only are the same number of cars on the road, but now more of them were going by people’s homes. I don’t see this as a benefit and I don’t think parents with little kids playing in the yard will either.

The study didn’t mirror reality in another way: the participants were given a bank account. In real life, people would have to pay from their own accounts. Even if people changed some driving habits, it still will cost them more to drive. In some cases, a lot.

If you drive from Bellevue to Everett on the freeway, the study estimates you’ll cut the 53 minute commute to 35 minutes. That’s good. Bad is that the toll is $10.70. Do that twice a day and you’ll spend an extra $21.40 a day. Do that each week and it will cost you an extra $107. A year? That’s an additional $5,564 you’ll have to shell out.

Bellevue to Renton? You could cut seven minutes on the now 26-minute commute. The cost? An extra $1,908, assuming the study’s guestimate of a $3.67 per way toll.

Going to and from Seattle? You’ll cut your time by about three or four minutes but it would cost you an extra $1,872 a year.

All of this tolling could produce an extra $87 billion over 30 years (figured in today’s dollars). The money could go to improving highways or better public transit.

The problem is that the improvements would come long after the tolls started. And, even more buses doesn’t mean you’ll save time once you factor in walking from your house to the bus stop and then likely having to wait at a transit station for a connecting bus.

A final concern is the tracking system every vehicle would have to have installed to tally the tolls. It’s bad enough that people would have to give up their money to use freeways they’ve already paid for through taxes. Worse, they’d have to give up their privacy as well.

More in Opinion

Heroin injection sites are not the answer to opioid epidemic | Guest Column

Response to article about Vancouver’s legal heroin injection sites to combat opioid epidemic.

Singles’ Awareness Day | Guest Column

One single person’s view of Valentine’s.

Place on the Eastside where Christmas spirit thrives year-round | Guest Column

Crossroads Mall in Bellevue is a melting pot of people.

Message from new KCLS director | Book Nook

Director excited to oversee completion of $172 million Capital Improvement Plan.

Time to focus on school choice in Bellevue and across America | Guest Column

by Andrew R. Campanella National School Choice Week Next week, schools, homeschool… Continue reading

For opponents of a carbon tax, an initiative threat looms

If legislators don’t act on the governor’s legislation, a plan could land on the November ballot.

Inslee: ‘It’s our state’s destiny … to fight climate change’

In his State-of-the-State address, the governor made the case for an ambitious carbon tax.

Eyman isn’t letting a bad 2017 slow him down in the new year | The Petri Dish

The year ended as Eyman did not get enough signatures for a ballot to reduce car tab fees.

Leading with empathy in 2018 | Guest Column

By James Whitfield Special to the Reporter As president and CEO of… Continue reading

Reflecting on the ‘old’ and ringing in the “New” Year | Book Nook

The final column of KCLS’s interim director, Stephen A. Smith.

Displaced by a hurricane: Disaster relocation lessons

Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series by Bellevue… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with Sound Publishing staff during a meeting on Jan. 20 at the Bellevue Reporter office. Photo by Matt Phelps/Kirkland Reporter
Judge delivers crushing blow to Inslee’s Clean Air Rule

It was the centerpiece of the governor’s crusade against climate change. Now it’s gone.