It’s clunky and will take some getting used to, but the state believes drivers will easily adapt to the new Good To Go “Flex Pass” that will be required to get a free ride in the new Express Toll Lanes on I-405.
The pass sticks to a windshield with small Velcro tabs. The one issue: reaching it to flip between HOV to toll mode while driving. That might be just as distracting as eating a sandwich or making a call.
State Tolling Director Craig Stone believes drivers can handle it.
“They’ll be able to switch it between HOV mode and toll mode. It’s pretty intuitive,” Stone said. “I think our drivers can get it.”
Drivers will need a Flex Pass to ride in the HOV lane for free once the lanes open later this year. The passes went on sale Monday, and Stone says drivers need to start getting up to speed on how this is going to work.
“It’s mission critical for us to make sure people really understand how the express toll lanes will work – get ready for them – so in the fall when they open up they will not be caught by surprise,” Stone said.
The passes cost $15, but the state is giving them away for free, if drivers sign up with “ride-share” and fill out an application. It will work on every toll road.
Ten of Puget Sound’s 14 HOV systems are failing and nowhere near meeting the goal of 45 miles an hour on average. That’s why the state is going to the express tolling system.
“On 405 here we actually have bus drivers getting out of the HOV lane to go into the regular lanes, because it’s faster for them to get there. That system is broken.
And don’t forget, the HOV requirement has changed. Drivers need three people in the car to ride these lanes for free during peak hours.