The controversy over the opening of the Atlanta High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes is noteworthy, as we’ve discussed earlier. In particular, popular opposition has grown because the general purpose lanes have experienced slower traffic during the first couple of weeks as the Georgia toll authority corrected errors and glitches in its pricing strategy.
So, the news from Miami, Florida that its HOT Lanes have improved traffic speeds on the general purpose lanes is a useful, and welcome, contrast. PolitifactFlorida was checking on Governor Rick Scott’s claim that the HOT Lanes improved traffic flow, and found that speeds on the free lanes went from 20 mph to over 40 mph during rush hour after the HOT Lanes opened. The HOT Lane users were averaging speeds greater than 50 mph. (See also here for an earlier report.) As Politicfact notes:
“Scott is right: converting high-occupancy vehicle lanes to express lanes speeds up traffic, the program overview shows.
“Traffic in both HOV and general lanes crawled below 20 mph during the morning and afternoon rush, according to a 2008 study of the HOV lanes. With the express lanes, southbound traffic in non-toll lanes jumped to an average 51 mph during morning rush hour, a 35.7 mph leap. In the northbound non-toll lanes during the afternoon rush, traffic sped up to 41.3 mph, improving by 22.5 mph.
“DOT puts it more simply on its website: “With the opening of the express lanes, drivers are experiencing improved speeds above 40 MPH in the local lanes and 50 MPH in the express lanes along the northbound and southbound directions during rush hour periods.”
Notably, the Miami HOT Lanes also had their difficulties when they opened up. Bottlenecks at the terminal points backed up traffic, scuttling travel time savings, and many drivers had trouble adjusting to the pricing schedules which changed in real time.
So, the Miami program had growing pains, and we shouldn’t be surprised that the Atlanta HOT Lanes are experiencing problems as a new program starts up.