Hey, I-66 Whiners: Join a Friggin’ Carpool!

The Interstate 66 toll lanes opened Monday in Northern Virginia, and dynamically priced tolls during the morning commute hit $34.50 for the 10-mile stretch from the Beltway to Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Post.

The high price for the tolls — among the highest that drivers have paid for the privilege of traveling on a state-owned highway in the United States, the Post observes — induced the usual hand wringing. Reports the Post:

“I drove onto I-66 around 8:10 this morning to Washington and my one-way toll was $17.25 — which I at first thought I’d misread,” Justin Cole said. “With tolls reportedly climbing to around a daily one-way peak of $34.50, that is going to introduce a real hardship for people on low wages or working in the nonprofit or public sector.”

Others took to social media to express their outrage, with the hashtags #I66tolls and #highwayrobbery trending.

“This is like a bad telethon, watching the number go higher and higher all morning,” tweeted commuter Cameron Gray.

“The tolls on I-66 are being increased so only the 1% can afford to use it. Time to get that private jet,” said another.

“It’s price gouging,” said Virginia Del.-elect Danica Roem (D), who won office last month on a platform that focused on traffic in her suburban Prince William County district. She said she will push to cap tolls in the coming General Assembly session.

“We are talking about $34.50 for a few miles inside the Beltway. That’s clearly price gouging,” Roem said. “Where else in the country do you pay a $34.50 toll to go somewhere?”

I have to say, a $34 toll for a 10-mile trip is extravagantly high. I would never pay it. Here’s a tip to the whiners: Don’t have to pay it either! Just drive on I-66 like you always have! There are no fewer lanes than there were before. Was traffic on I-66 this morning any worse than it was last week? No? Then get over it!

As long as you’re not the person paying them, high toll fares are good news. When the state covers its cost of setting up the HOT lane infrastructure, it will devote surplus revenue to multimodal improvements — buses, Metrorail, bicycle, pedestrian facilities — that take commuters off I-66 and make the highway a little less congested for everyone else.

As for the proposal by Del.-elect Danica Boem, D-Manassas, to cap the tolls, it’s time for an economics lesson. The tolls are driven by demand. If the toll reaches $34, that’s because people are willing to pay that much for a quicker trip. If you cap the toll at, say, $10, too many people will crowd the HOT lanes, and average driving speed could well drop below the guaranteed 45 miles per hour. That would kill the reward for ride sharing, and fewer ride shares would mean more cars on the road.

Carpools, vans and buses get to use the HOT lanes for free. If you really, really, really want to use the HOT lanes, then stop your bellyaching, relinquish your privilege as driver of a single-occupancy vehicle, and join a friggin’ carpool!

  • old_redneck

    ????!!!????!!!!

    Has Hell frozen over? Or am I in the wrong place. I thought I was reading Bearing Drift, The Premier Republican Blog in Virginia but now it appears I have stumbled onto Mother Jones or The Rolling Stone — Republicans promoting car pooling? Republicans promoting mass transit?? Republicans suggesting we give up the independence of driving alone and adopting a socialist, communal carpool or mass transit???

    If you’ve really gone that far off the deep end, I have some Joe Biden For President 2020 bumper stickers . . . be glad to send you one.

    • Randall Wenger

      I have to agree. When I read the top three headlines on the BD page today, I wondered why they read like progressive click bait. This one an the impeachment article look like they would have come from the mainstream media. Are the Rino’s taking over BD, too?

    • Rick_Sincere

      Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, but libertarians (and some conservatives) have pushed user fees — tolls — as a better alternative to taxes for decades. Promoting various choices in any economic sector, whether toothpaste or transit, is also a core principle. There’s nothing new here.

    • Chris

      This comment is a good illustration of why major metropolitan areas are so reliably Democratic. City dwellers understand that – to quote the Constitution – government exists to “promote the general Welfare.” It’s sort of like the prisoner’s dilemma – for any one person its easier to drive themselves, to not pay for transit, etc. But if a large number of people carpool or take transit it’s better for EVERYONE – including those same solo drivers. Government exists in order to tackle collective action problems like inefficient commuting patterns. For some reason a lot of conservatives can’t understand this.

      • Biscuit

        Lol, Are you going to use one of Terry McAuwfull’s Bike Paths today under 4 inches of snow? Or how about a trip from Manassas Virginia to DC on a nice Raining Day? Or how about an trip on a dis-functional Metro system that will get you from Tyson’s Corner to DC in an hour and a half!

        I drive that route almost every day using both car and Metro and your rhetoric does not comport with Reality: And isn’t that on of the hallmarks of Conservatism? “All EXPERIENCE hath shown” that if one needs to get anywhere on time in the DC area one uses the automobile. Yep, the Automobile, that’s it; end of sentence. Hence, building bike paths that no one will use except Utopian Liberals and RINO’s ain’t going to do a single thing to alleviate a single traffic jam in the DC Metro area. Not one.

        Or maybe you prefer to throw more money into the WMATA toilet? The logic: If it doesn’t work throw more money at it until id does; Very Conservative.

        The whole idea of blocking this major traffic artery was garbage from start to finish and it will accomplish nothing but make the State richer at the expense of many and fill the pocket of bike path builders and all the rest of the graft up here. With Republicans like the Bearing Drifters, who needs Democrats?

  • Downstater

    Easy for you to say join a carpool? What about the person who doesn’t have a fixed work schedule or needs to get to medical appointments, or who is just fed up with the state government imposing one more tax on them? And it is a tax. And we already pay state inc. tax + the extra locality sales tax that was supposed to go for transportation.

    • Chris

      That person can commute however they commuted last week, since 66 used to be HOV ONLY.

  • Chris

    There are two possibilities for all the bellyaching.

    People who are complaining about the tolls either:

    a) Don’t drive on 66 and therefore didn’t realize that before this week the entire highway was HOV only and people had to carpool or not use the road, period, whereas now thanks to the toll there is a new option for those willing to pay for it.

    or

    b) Used to drive on 66 without carpooling, illegally, and are upset that they can no longer cheat other commuters.

    I have no sympathy for either.

  • Chris
  • SlugLines

    Toll is here to stay, and no one will do anything about it. As in I-95 corridor, pick up slug and curse on HOV. Coordinate you ride via https://www.facebook.com/groups/I66Sluglines/ or get sluglines mobile app at https://sluglines.com/app Sluglines the most efficient transport system in the capital region. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23b846e2a542563f9caa239712fa6c03ab3bb89ca6a543ab63e9111f355199d5.jpg

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