Wednesday, January 26, 2011

King 5 Releases Poll on What People Will Do When Tolls on 520 Arrive

King 5 News has released a survey results of 500 participants regards how they will react to tolls on 520.

Here are the highlights:
—Use of 520: 54% say they will try to avoid 520 all together once tolls are imposed.  25% say, they will probably reduce their use of 520.
—Alternate routes:  75% say they’d consider an alternate route.  So what would that be?  19% say they’d go around the north end, 71% say they’d use I-90.
—Effort to avoid a toll:  We asked how much time people would be willing to spend to avoid a toll.  10% say, five minutes or less.  But 36% say they’d invest an extra 5-10 minutes to avoid a toll.  And 32% say, they’d be willing to make a 10-15 minute detour.  14% say, they’d be willing to drive more than 15 minutes longer.
—Public transportation:  18% say they’d be more likely to use transit.  17% say they’d be more likely to carpool.
—Major life changes:  13% say they’d actually consider moving.  16% say they or someone in their family would consider changing jobs to avoid the toll.
I find this polling information very interesting.  A few observations:
  1. Diversion of traffic onto I-90 is going to be a very real issue very quickly.  I predict that within the first year of tolling 520 there will be active discussions about tolling I-90 as well due to the very large traffic diversion that takes place with 520 tolls starting (not to mention 520's incomplete financing plan).
  2. In good news, transit use and carpooling is predicted to see a strong surge once tolling starts.  Sound Transit bus routes between downtown Seattle and Microsoft are already overcapacity during the peak times.  There is going to be demand for more transit service in the corridor, not less.
  3. If metro doesn't secure additional funding options from the legislature there likely will be cutbacks of metro service on 520 in the next few years making the demand versus service imbalance worse.
  4. Senator Haugen, chair of Senate Transportation, and a host of Republicans dropped a bill (Senate Bill 5416)  yesterday that would prohibit all tolling revenue ever collected in Washington to go towards transit service in the tolled corridor.  If this bill passed (or Tim Eyman's proposed initiative that does the same thing passes) a small portion of tolling revenue could never be used to help meet the drastically increased demand for transit the tolled corridors.


  1. Great to hear a few bucks may actually change people's commuting habits. I hope this means me and my fellow bus riders won't get stuck in traffic that's backed up onto I-5 going East, and all the way past 405 going West. So long as I get a seat, that is.

  2. Sweet. I think a number of respondents may be bluffing, but I hope they aren't. The back-up on Montlake is nasty headache any time I drive that way (not often).

    I crossed 520 for the first time at rush hour (after 15 years of living in the area) a couple weeks ago. I simply don't understand how people do that day after day. $3.50 to save half an hour? No brainer.