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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

March 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Poll: Drivers say they’ll avoid I-90 tolls — but will they really?

i90

I-90 Bridge (Photo: Mike Siegel)

According to a poll released Thursday by PEMCO Insurance, more than half of area drivers — 58 percent, to be exact — say that if a toll is put into place across Lake Washington on I-90, they will drive across the bridge less often.

About one-third (37 percent) specified that they would drive north or south around the Lake just to avoid a toll. According to traffic data from Washington State Department of Transportation, that would total, on average, 77,000 cars taking an alternate, much longer route.

Not everyone who was polled vowed to drive more. A toll would propel 28 percent of drivers to choose greener commuting options, such as taking the bus, carpooling, or telecommuting.

And 3 percent actually said they’d move to the other side of the lake just to avoid the toll.

That’s pretty dramatic.  But not all drivers follow through on these threats.

In April 2010, PEMCO asked local drivers if the then-impending 520 toll would change their driving habits. According to PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg:

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) reported they would use the 520 bridge less often. However, a 2012 PEMCO poll, conducted about one year into tolling, revealed that nearly half of respondents (46 percent) reported that they use 520 just as often as they did before the toll.

But PEMCO’s latest poll does show that 11 percent of drivers did in fact switch to I-90 5 days per week after the 520 toll was instated, and another 13 percent say they use I-90 a couple times per week because of the 520 toll.

Not everybody hates the idea of a toll: 6 percent said they’d actually use I-90 more often if they have to pay.

How about you?  How would an I-90 toll change your driving behavior?  Take our poll, and sound off in the comments.

Comments | More in Market Research, Reports | Topics: drive, i-90, poll

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