Latest HOT Lane Data

Here’s the data through last Friday.

As Last Democrat in Georgia mentioned last week, Insider Advantage took a poll and discovered, much to LDIG’s delight, the HOT lanes are not very popular.

“If you are aware of the I-85 H.O.T. lanes what are your opinions?”
Effective: 4%
Not Effective: 28%
Make Traffic Worse: 45%
No Opinion: 23%

Margin of Error: +/- 5% — 212 Metro Atlanta registered voters
Source: InsiderAdvantage


  1. Engineer says:

    So not very many people were driving around on Thursday or Friday (11/24 & 11/25). Overall the numbers are going up (if you ignore the fact that last week since it was a holiday week so less traffic should be expected).

  2. Harry says:

    Whether due to the HOT lanes or some other reason, anecdotal feedback I get is that he rush-hour travel times have increased substantially, compared to previous. Also, it’s not good for taxpayer morale to sit in traffic and see the HOT lanes basically empty – which was paid for with their dollars.

    I think we all need to admit this was a bad policy decision.

    • The HOT lanes may or may not end up working. However, I disagree with the idea we should make decision based on anecdotal evidence. As the data above shows, (also check the post from last Tuesday to see more detailed information) the HOT lanes are not basically empty during peak traffic hours. People are using them. Whether it’s enough to make the lanes worth keeping is a different question.

      • Harry says:

        Will you have enough data by January to make a decision to introduce legislation to kill the experiment? I guarantee you’d be the most popular legislator in Gwinnett.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        If it’s left up to SRTA and GDOT, these lanes ain’t going anywhere. I suspect that if it is left up to the state, every lane on that road will be a toll lane within 20 years at the most (likely sooner), with trucks exempted, of course.

        Exempting trucks from the tolls would be the opposite of what the state was discussing when planning the HOT Lane network back in the middle 2000’s when the state wanted to require trucks to use the lanes and pay the tolls before the powerful trucking industry objected.

        The possible three-fold increase in truck traffic from the pending expansion of the Port of Savannah is the reason why the state plans to ADD toll lanes on I-285 and on I-75 outside the Perimeter.

        The state is setting the stage now to restrict single-occupant vehicle (SOV) traffic by making driving on the freeways (and surface roads) at peak hours much less convenient than it has been through our past auto-centric history.

        The state is creating a market for mass transit from scratch.

      • GTKay says:

        I’d like to hear from people who actually commute downtown on a daily basis. My husband uses the lanes about 25-40% of the time, only in the afternoon. His morning commute is unchanged. He figures it saves him 5-10 minutes in the afternoon compared to traveling exclusively in the GP lanes – leaving between 5:30 and 6:00 from downtown. His commute time is basically the same as before the HOT lanes.

        The survey consisted of 212 people who were asked if they were “aware of the HOT lanes.” My 10-year-old is aware of the HOT lanes. They weren’t even asked if they drive I85. My guess is that half he people that comment negatively on this blog don’t even commute to work on I85. They’re basing their opinions on heresay.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Believe it not (and I know that you won’t believe your lyin’ eyes on this one), I do actually agree with you on your point about the way the survey was put together.

          To get the most accurate results firsthand, the survey should have been more scientifically targeted at those who live in and be the most likely to drive the I-85 Northeast Corridor on a consistent basis. The survey also should have sampled a larger segment of the population than just what looks to be 212 people at random from all over the metro area, though it appears that they were going for a small random survey to gage overall popular (or not) opinion of lanes in the viewing area.

          But no matter how the survey was conducted, the fact still remains that placing tolls on existing lanes just simply is not all that popular or appealing to the public. Nobody likes having to pay an additional fee, tax or toll to use something that they were already paying for with their taxes and didn’t have to pay for at the time they used it.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          “His commute time is basically the same as before the HOT lanes.”

          So he’s paying a toll 25%-40% of the time to simply maintain the commute time before HOT lane implementation. That’s heresay to us but testimony to you.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        As I have commented before Buzz, SRTA had the means to fully establish the “before” conditions, by pinging vehicles to determine volumes and speeds in the GP and HOV lane before it bacme a HOT lane and apparently didn’t. Anecodotes are all there is.

        Continuing with the poor managment theme, I simultaneously applied on-line for Peach passes for two vehicles almost two months before the lanes were placed in service as HOT lanes.

        The passes were delivered in separate envelopes, each with a couple dollars postage. No doubt thousands of others similarly simultaneously applied for passes for multiple vehicles. If those passes were likewise delivered individually, SRTA wasted tens of thousands of dollars in postage.

        I spent 20 minutes on the Peach Pass website looking to be able to verify the status of my passes after I received them, and couldn’t locate the webpage. I e-mailed SRTA for instructions, then spent over 10 minutes more trying to follow those instructions. I e-mailed SRTA again stating the instructions didn’t work, and recieved a response that that portion of the website wasn’t yet available to the public.

        Buzz, the poor management of the I-85 HOT lanes project isn’t anecodotal.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Dave, do you know what they call mismanagement at SRTA (and GDOT)?


          And if you liked how well things went on Tuesday, then you are especially going to LOVE Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

          Mismanagement doesn’t just seem to be the norm in those agencies, but the expectation.

          It almost seems that within these agencies (SRTA & GDOT) if you’re not working on something that’s going to be wildly unpopular with the public, that’ll be able to be easily demonized by the media and will make the public think even less of you then they already do, then you’re obviously not doing your job.

          Although I am mindful that the mismanagement of these transportation agencies is not the fault of the agencies themselves, but of the state government that should making an effort to manage them more effectively and competently.

          Again, at the risk of stating the obvious, the way that the state (mis)manages agencies like SRTA & GDOT pretty much epitomizes the way that state has approached and continues to approach transportation “planning” and (mis)management.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            The buck for the mistake of HOV 3+ stopped at Sonny Perdue. I know little of SRTA, so I can’t speak to it’s operation. I suspect I carry a grudge against SRTA because of the manner of the extension of SR400 toll, though that was good government Sonny’s parting gift. (I supported the extension of the toll, but disapproved of the manner in which and what for it was extended, the latter question still not well-answered to date.)

            As to GDOT, it’s been twisting in the wind for years going back to the bickering that placed Evans in the cockpit. It’s been politically leaderless since. The lack of state level transportation leadership has become Georgia standard (though maybe Deal-Reed can turn that around). It’s not that there aren’t many that are good and well-intentioned, but they just aren’t getting the job done.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              I’m not so sure that the HOV 3+/HOT lane was a mistake, but more of a really rough draft of the state’s transportation policy with regards to Metro Atlanta (especially on the freeway system) from this point going forward as it looks like any new lanes added (or “modified”) on Metro Atlanta freeways will be HOT lanes in the future according to their plans.

              I remember that Perdue basically wanted to use SRTA to kind of replace GDOT in taking the lead on transportation issues before he left office.

              • Dave Bearse says:

                $60M to install, millions a year to operate, and most importantly no congestion relief, leaving a sour taste for most Georgians being exposed to HOT lanes for the first time—on what grounds is it not a mistake?

                We both approve of transportation spending (though we dissapprove of T-SPLOST at least in some regards for different reasons), but the I-85 HOT lanes debacle only undermines public confidence in transportation spending in an electorate where most people couldn’t tell you whether HOT lanes were in the T-SPLOST or not.

                • Dave Bearse says:

                  On what grounds is it not a mistake?

                  Oh, I forgot, there’s the $50M into the pocket of Gwinnett County Transit / GRTA without a dime of local matching funds.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Maybe it’s just a healthy case of anti-government paranoia, but when considering the scope of the state’s plans to invest in the HOT lane concept and the swirling rumors that the state is talking about taking control of and overhauling MARTA by the end of the decade, one might say that it was the state’s intent to increase traffic in the remaining lanes of I-85 all along.

      There are three rail mass transit lines proposed to run parallel to I-85 in the Northeast Corridor (two proposed commuter rail lines and one proposed light rail/heavy rail line).

      Why else would the state have “informal” conversations about converting as many as three existing lanes in each direction on I-85 to HOT Lanes unless it was to make people quit driving alone and ride transit lines that don’t exist yet?

      Also, the state has plans to convert two existing lanes to HOT Lanes in each direction on the already often-gridlocked Downtown Connector. The only possible reason that the state would have to attempt to clear multiple lanes on each direction of these heavily-traveled freeways by putting tolls on them would be to force people to use alternate modes of transportation that they may not otherwise be motivated to use (subway, commuter bus, commuter rail, etc).

      This isn’t just a bad policy decision, it’s intentional social engineering. The state knew what it was doing all along by backing up traffic in the remaining free lanes.

      • Harry says:

        There’s another motivation for installing lexus lanes on the downtown connector – it lets politicians and bureaucrats get to the capitol and government offices without having to sit in traffic.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Exactly. Installation of the Lexus Lanes also lets the big money investors (international venture capitalists, corporate executives, etc) ride around the region without having to sit in traffic.

          Think about it. One of the biggest complaints of corporate executives considering Atlanta as a possible site to relocate their operations to is having to sit in traffic when traveling around the region and on the way to the airport.

          HOT Lanes are not just “Lexus Lanes”, but they’re mainly “V.I.P Lanes”. The state is clearing the roads to make way for the big money investors (and campaign contributors) while making mostly everyone else use transit (including those who thought that they were beyond having to use transit).

          • Calypso says:

            “Installation of the Lexus Lanes also lets the big money investors (international venture capitalists, corporate executives, etc) ride around the region without having to sit in traffic. ”

            LDIG, I don’t think highly of the HOT lanes either, but when you imply that to pay for the use of them one must be a venture capitalist or corporate executive, your arguement grows weak very quickly. I travelled on I-85 this morning in the GP lanes. At the height of rush hour the signs indicated it was $.30 to an exit several miles down the road and all of $.70 to the exit four or five miles past that one. It doesn’t take a tycoon to come up with that sort of cash. If someone can’t afford that sum, how can they even afford gas for their car, let alone the car itself?

            Keep in mind, I don’t like the HOT lanes either, just stop saying things that sound silly.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:


              You misunderstood what I meant. I didn’t mean that you have to be wealthy to be able to pay for to use the HOT Lanes. I meant that the HOT Lanes were created and are being installed so that venture capitalists and corporate executives can ride on the freeway system without getting stuck in traffic.

              Even if tolls are set at a lower price than was originally intended, a price reduction that the state has acknowledged is temporary by the way, having to pay to use a lane on a road can be a deterrent to unlimited use by the general public, which the state has stated is the whole reasoning behind the HOT Lane concept, to provide a lane that moves at at least 45 m.p.h. at all times.

              To paraphrase my friends in the G.O.P., “The state is clearing lanes for the job creators to ride in” as providing lanes that are free of traffic at all times (well, most of the time when there is not an accident that spills into the HOT Lanes) is meant to appeal to those who might fly into Atlanta from various spots around the nation and the globe who might want to do business by opening up an office or a factory here or buying land here.

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