Despite Monday being a national holiday, the first weekday afternoon rush hour when the new northbound MoPac express toll lane was open saw record-breaking numbers.
Typically, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority sees about 1,200 vehicles per hour traveling at 5 p.m. in the section of the toll lane north of RM 2222 that opened in October 2016. By 5 p.m. Monday, that number was over 1,600 vehicles per hour in that section. The full northbound toll lane opened Oct. 7.
By 5:30 p.m. Monday, the agency counted more than 8,600 toll transactions for the day on the entire northbound toll lane, with the majority of transactions coming from the section south of RM 2222.
“We expected a slow start and people to try it out of curiosity,” said Tracie Brown, the agency’s director of operations. “It has exceeded our expectations.”
The minimum toll rate for each section is $0.25, and the price increases as traffic increases to try to keep the lane flowing at 45 mph. The section north of RM 2222 previously saw a peak toll rate at $0.75, but on Monday, that rate set a record of $0.84. The toll for the entire trip from Cesar Chavez Street to Parmer Lane was $1.41.
On weekends, the Mobility Authority usually tracks about 1,200 toll transactions. This past weekend with the opening of the full northbound lane, the agency recorded 13,299 transactions. Brown said that is likely due to people wanting to try it out and because of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Numbers are likely to increase later in the week during rush hour on Wednesday and Thursday, which are the two more congested days of the week, agency officials said.
The southbound lane is slated to open in late October or early November.