Northbound MoPac express lane opening exceeds expectations on first weekday rush hour

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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.

5 comments
COMMENT
  1. I used it two days….1st day was holiday so used it out of curiousity. It is smooth and a little tight in parts. The transition is great on and off the toll lane. The 2nd day, it was strange as I was behind many cars using the toll lane and it would slow when the regular lanes would slow. We never stopped but at points around 35th street the regular lanes were stopping causing the toll lane to slow to 25mph….not due to traffic but maybe the front person was trying to follow / copy those in the regular lane….a little frustrating.

  2. Today it was 6.13$ to just go from 2222 to Parmer at 5:30…. are you kidding me!? It even came to a stop at a few points. I think at tops it would have saved me 10 minutes, hardly worth the money.

    • $6.13. I knew it should have been named “Lexus Lane”. Highways robbery or maybe “toll robbery”. LOL.

  3. How many drivers use the toll lane is beside the point. What matters is whether it will eliminate stop-and-go and increase throughput on the non-toll lanes. If it doesn’t, THE problem continues.

  4. I haven’t used it, but I have driven beside it. I was going faster than they were on Wednesday night after 9:00 pm. The toll lane’s speediness is based upon the car in front. If that car goes slower, then everyone goes slower. There should be a penalty for that.

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Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area. As senior editor, she is the point person for the company's partnership with Fox7 Austin.

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