This Sunday, tolls on State Route 520 will increase 2.5 percent. That increase means the current peak Good to Go! pass rate will increase from $3.50 to $3.59. If you don’t have a Good to Go! pass you’ll now pay at most $5.13 to cross SR 520. Peak times are 7-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.
Why the increase?
“Debt payments are the single most important consideration when setting the new rates,” According to Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Toll Division Director, Craig Stone.
Every year, the state’s Transportation Commission reviews traffic and revenue data to determine if an increase in toll rates are needed to cover the debt costs. This is the first of four annual 2.5-percent rate increases for SR 520 planned through 2015. In 2016, there is a planned 15% increase that is based on forecasted traffic levels.
If this news has you worrying about the cost of driving to work, it might be time for you to reconsider your commute. If you drive back and forth across the bridge every day of the week, you’re already spending between $1,820 and $2,600 a year on tolls alone (assuming you drive during the peak travel time, five times a week).
This 2.5 percent increase will add up to $45-$65 to your annual costs. If toll prices continue to rise as predicted, by 2016 you’ll be paying $2,310-$3,300 a year to cross SR 520.
All you need to do to save money is rethink your commute. Here are just a few ideas on how to cut your commute costs; you can find more at www.ChooseYourWayBellevue.org. All the figures below assume you’re using a Good to Go! pass. Purchasing a Good to Go! pass saves you $1.50 each way.
- Jump on the bus: You don’t pay a toll when you take the bus across SR 520. Sound Transit’s Route 550 runs every 10 minutes during peak travel times and has stops in downtown Bellevue and in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Even if your employer doesn’t provide you with a free or discounted ORCA card, you’ll be spending $2.50 a trip instead of up to $3.59. Over a year, that will save you up to $566 during peak travel times.
- Find a carpool buddy: Use the Bellevue Commute Club to find someone to carpool with. Not only will you save time using the HOV lanes, you’ll also cut your toll bill in half!
- Change your schedule: Not everyone is able to compress their work week – work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, for example – but if your employer allows you to change your schedule you could save up to $193 a year.
- Work from home: Just like a compressed work week, not everyone is able to telecommute, or work from home, but it may be possible if most of your work can be done remotely. Imagine not having to drive to and from work. No commute = no tolls!
You may have an unpredictable work schedule, errands to run after work, and many other reasons why these options wouldn’t work for you every day of the week, but you can save money by doing them as much as once a week. Every little bit counts.
Not sure how to plan an alternative commute? Contact us and we’ll plan it for you!
How else have you saved money on the tolls?