Skip to comments.Fairfax County commuters desperate to avoid exorbitant I-66 tolls
Posted on 05/23/2018 12:11:26 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
With Metro still tackling safety and operational issues, and toll rates occasionally hitting $40 or more on the Interstate 66 express lanes inside the Capital Beltway, tolerable options for commuters in Northern Virginia seem hard to come by these days.
Kalai Kandasamy wants to offer an alternative.
The cybersecurity and information technology consultant developed a Sluglines app in 2016 that helps prospective riders and drivers coordinate trips, and he believes that establishing slug lines in the I-66 corridor could alleviate travel headaches for some workers.
Slugging fills up those empty seats, and its good for the environment, Kandasamy said. Its the most flexible and efficient transportation system Riders get to go free on their ride, and the drivers get to go toll-free.
Kandasamy describes slug lines as essentially a cross between carpooling and hitchhiking, where drivers pick up interested riders headed in the same direction in order to reach high-occupancy vehicle limits so they can use toll lanes without paying. In exchange, the riders get a free trip to their destination.
Unlike with ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft, slugging is governed wholly by participants rather than a company, and an I-66 Slug Lines flyer emphasizes that no money is exchanged between riders and drivers.
Slugging as a method of transportation took root in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in 1975 with the creation of the HOV lanes on Interstate 395 after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil embargo against the U.S. spurred efforts to reduce the countrys gasoline consumption, according to Sluglines.com.
Bobs Slug Line located just west of Interstate 95 near Old Keene Mill Road and Bland Street in Springfield is allegedly the oldest line in the region, though a multi-use parking garage proposed by Fairfax County could disrupt slugging there during construction, according to FOX5.
Because of that history, slug lines have found consistent support from commuters in the 95 and 395 corridors, with about 10,000 slugging there over the past four decades, Kandasamy says.
According to Sluglines.com, there are seven morning slug lines in Fairfax County alone for commuters going into D.C. on I-95 or I-395.
Kandasamy, who has been slugging for more than 15 years, and other slug line users set up lines in Fairfax County for I-66 commuters when Metro launched its SafeTrack maintenance program in June 2016.
However, the practice did not catch on at the newly established lines in Vienna and Herndon like they did in the I-95 corridor, in part because I-66 is HOV-2 instead of HOV-3.
If HOV-2 was HOV-3, [it] makes a big difference, Kandasamy said. It just provides a sense of security for the riders and drivers. When three strangers go together, they feel a bit more secure than one-on-one.
The arrival of tolling on I-66 could change that trend, though.
Drivers who paid a toll with E-ZPass on I-66 in February saw an average $13.22 round trip, according to Virginia Department of Transportation data reported by WTOP, which said that 989 people, or 0.25 percent of toll payers, paid $40 or more for a single trip in February.
From the launch of the I-66 high-occupancy toll lanes on Dec. 4 through the end of March, the average round-trip toll was $12.01, according to WTOP.
The tolls may still be prohibitive to many drivers, though. An 8:30 a.m. trip on I-66 from Route 123 to downtown Washington on May 15, for example, cost an estimated $36.25, according to VDOTs 66 express lanes toll calculator.
An I-66 Slug Lines Facebook page has almost 750 members. The group is designed to help users coordinate rides along I-66 to Rosslyn, the Pentagon, Crystal City, and D.C., according to its description.
I-66 Slug Lines Fairfax County morning pick-up locations currently include the Vienna Metro station, the Fairfax County Government Center, the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville, and the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride lot on Sunrise Valley Drive.
The Herndon-Monroe line in particular has gained momentum recently, since the garage has free parking, according to Kandasamy.
With construction work now underway to add 22.5 miles of new express lanes on I-66 outside of the Beltway, Fairfax County issued a news release on May 3 urging commuters to find travel alternatives to driving alone, including offered incentives for carpoolers and vanpoolers.
Kandasamy says that I-66 Slug Lines has been talking to Fairfax County and VDOT officials about establishing official, designated slug line pick-up locations so that riders and drivers will have a clearer idea of where to meet.
Currently, the Vienna Metro station, for instance, only has a small laminated sign at the kiss-and-ride lot on the south side of the station to indicate where riders can be picked up.
We havent gotten any traction on that yet, Kandasamy said.
Another good reason to shut DC down and move 2000 mi west.
Liberal Democrats in Fairfax County being nickled and dimed by tolls?
Not my problem.
All politicians should be mandated to use the Slug lanes in a clown car.
I just love it... the idiots in VA’s Washington suburbs vote for Democrats and then complain they get vamoosed.
That makes it my obligation to clean up their mess, why exactly?
When you lie down with dogs, expect to wake up with fleas.
It kinda is your problem. These people live in Worshington because they have government jobs paid for by you, the taxpayer. The obvious fix to this congestion is to diminish the size of the government. Many of these commuters would then need to move somewhere to get real jobs.
Wonder what they’re doing with that windfall. Highway robbery is making a comeback.
“don’t you think it’s a scandal
How the people have to pay and pay?
Fight the fare increase, vote for George O’Brian
Get poor Charlie off the MTA!”
Spending on pet Democrat projects that have nothing to do with transportation.
“Every year, the outlaws swing out of the trees, rob the merchants and ride back to Washington D.C. for a glorious feast over the stolen goods, which they may in some small way share with a few peasants, to secure their support. “
You ought to see the Fine Trap I-66 has for those not familiar with the EZ Pass system. Their signs are for shit, esp. at night, and it causes you (and me) to get a $25 ticket for using a road that we’ve used for 40-50 years without any trouble.
At 60 MPH, you can’t safely read the EZ Pass signs and the exists are not lit properly nor signed regarding whether the EZ Pass system is in effect late at night.
The whole Virginia road system, esp. under the Democrats, is nothing but a ripoff of the taxpayers who have already paid for them and maintenance.
Pretty soon, nothing will be free re the main roads. If so, at least give us signs that properly explain how to use them and when the EZ Pass hours are in effect.
Shit, Sunday nights should be “cost FREI”.
Not all the crooks are in DC. Just go 90 miles south to Richmond and you’ll find the best in the state (politics).
I’ve got more respect for a burglar, pickpocket or plain old armed robber. At least you know what they are and what they call themselves. Politicians are nothing but elected thieves despite what they call themselves.
There may be “something rotten in Denmark” but it smells just as rotten if you come to the “Tax-Triangle” of Maryland (all Democrat controlled legislature); DC - almost all Democratic, crooks and fools); and Virginia (Dems are taking control of the state government and have given us such intellectual gems as Sen. Mark Warner, Gov/Sen. Tim “All I Want Is a Brain” Kaine; Gov. Northam, another mental lightweight; and tax and spend state politicians who are wrecking a once great state with their support of illegal aliens, more taxes, and pisspoor planning.
Blue NOVA has turned VA into an extension of MD.
It outvotes conservative southern and western VA.
Every election cycle the #1 local/state issue is traffic, yet they vote in people that make things worse. My agency wants to promote me and have me run a national program for 4 years. Im not going to do it for an added 1 1/2 hours of commuting per day for a $5k pay raise. If I wanted more money that bad I would quit and go to the private sector.
They’re idiots and when they complain about it they don’t draw the connection to the liberal politicians they put in office.
Sympathy on them is wasted since you can’t teach people who do the same stupid thing over and over and over again.
“Another good reason to shut DC down and move 2000 mi west.”
Moving some of the agencies out has been bandied about for several months now. Too logical for the Feds.
And Hogan would rather spend a couple billions widening the beltway.
I’m getting EZ Pass this year. Every time I travel, where there are tolls, there are less and less cash toll booths. Most of them are inconvenient to get too from any lane.
Most people just have toll fares debited from their bank account via a transponder attached to their car or truck.
Toll booths are gradually being phased out.
Between salaries, health bennies, and pensions, human toll collectors have priced themselves out of the market.
And its more convenient to just zip along without having to wait to pay the toll fare.
Gonna avoid that area on my trip - a few years ago they had a lot of construction and we got herded into a lane we didn’t want to be in because our lane was closed off - they still had their cameras working though and I got a bill for $40.00 in the mail a few weeks later - w/o ever knowing I had hit an EZ-Pass/Toll lane because there were no signs or even choices available...
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