Text Box: Tolls




What we know about tolls:


Ž    While commuters appreciate and see a need for efficient – often new and improved – highways and transportation systems, they are reluctant to endorse tolls as a way of paying for those improvements.


Key research findings:

Ž    Commuters in Northern Virginia believe that traffic conditions in the Northern Virginia region are bad, more so on the Beltway.  A solid majority sees a need for new or improved highways, including the Beltway.  There is mixed support, however, for the basic proposition of using tolls to pay for improved highways. 

·        Support increases significantly when people learn:

§         Taxes will not be raised by the improvements.

§         Tolls will be dedicated to the roadways being improved.

§         Drivers will have had a choice between free and toll lanes.

·        These conditions increase support for tolls among those who see a need for improved highways, but are initially reluctant about tolls:  heavy drivers, minorities, long-distance commuters, and I-95 HOV users.

Ž    Education about usage of toll funds can be important.  Commuters often do not know how toll money is used.  In a 2004 study, only about 4 out of 10 commuters knew how the toll funds on the Dulles Toll Road are used.

Ž    The 2004 study also indicated that “advance” knowledge about a toll increase leads to greater acceptance of the increase.  Seventy percent (70%) of those aware of the upcoming toll increase on the Dulles Toll Road supported – or at least accepted the increase – compared to only 61% of those who did not know about the upcoming toll increase.

Ž    Commuters sometimes believe that toll “incentives” can be used to encourage the use of alternate transportation modes.  For example, commuters in Northern Virginia expressed moderate support for reducing fares on the Dulles Toll Road for those who use the HOV lane.


Related Studies/Documents:


1998:  Dulles Toll Road HOV Lane Survey”

2003:  “Hot Lanes:  Northern Virginia Public Opinion on Improving the Beltway”

2004:  “Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project”