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Tolling Points

Another SmartMove: Georgia Commuters Embrace I-85 Express Lanes

By: 
Bill Cramer

With 88% customer satisfaction after the first 12 months of operation, the I-85 Express Lanes in Atlanta are a great example of what happens when commuters get first-hand experience with tolling.

 In October 2011, Georgia’s State Road & Tollway Authority (SRTA) converted its existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to a high-occupancy toll (HOT) corridor. The results far exceeded expectations. SRTA issued 75,000 new Peach Pass transponders before the lanes opened, far above the target of 35,000 to 45,000 for the first year of operation.

 By early 2013, the customers had bought 220,000 new transponders, and sales showed no sign of levelling off. In October 2013, according to SRTA’s monthly tracking, the I-85 Express Lanes carried a record 549,192 trips, 14% of them non-tolled, at an average daily fare of $2.00.

I-85 was only the second new toll road Georgia had seen in 20 years, so SRTA knew it would have to launch a strong public education campaign, including more than 120 events and a testimonial video. But the outreach effort paid off: A year after the Express Lanes opened, an independent survey showed that 88% of I-85 users were happy with the results.

 “Every time SRTA staff spoke, we were upbeat and transparent and made it clear that we wanted to hear from people,” said SRTA’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Malika Reed Wilkins. “Regardless of who was speaking, we all had a positive energy, we all spoke the truth, and we welcomed the feedback.”

For more local success stories in the SmartMove series, visit IBTTA’s Moving America Forward web page.
photo credit: Doug Bradley Photography via photopin cc

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