Which cars actually drive in the I-405 'Lexus lanes?'

The top 10 most common cars in the I-405 express toll lanes. (WSDOT)

Drivers on I-405 will have to think of a new slogan for their commutes. It turns out, calling the express toll lanes the “Lexus lanes,” is not quite accurate.

It’s more like the Ford freeway, or the Ford fast lanes. Maybe the Chevy shuffle.

In any case, the Washington State Department of Transportation looked into 11 months worth of data before the I-405 express toll lanes had their one-year anniversary. Drivers with Fords use the toll lanes the most, with Chevy drivers close behind them.

The revelation comes after WSDOT dug through data of GoodToGo customers. Their accounts include information about what car they drive.

KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan reports there have been more than 12 million trips in the toll lanes since they opened just over a year ago.

“A lot of people are using them when they need it,” Ethan Bergerson with WSDOT said. “We found that most of the users – about 70 percent — are taking a trip in the express toll lanes somewhere between 1 and 5 times a month. The average is that people are using it once a week.”

Lexus lanes no more

The express toll lanes were given the nickname of the “Lexus lanes” shortly after they opened. The sentiment was that only more affluent drivers with luxury cars could afford to use them and get a quicker drive.

“We looked at the GoodToGo accounts that have used the I-405 express toll lanes,” Bergerson said. “We looked into what kinds of vehicles were linked to those accounts. We basically found that the top vehicles that use the toll lanes are Fords and Chevys. In fact, Lexuses didn’t even make the top 10, nor did other luxury vehicles.”

A total of 21 percent of the cars in I-405’s express toll lanes were Fords; 20 percent were Chevys. Nissans make up for about 9 percent of toll traffic. And Toyota is at about 8 percent. The list dwindles after that.

Bergerson said that he and others at WSDOT aren’t too surprised with the car data — at least when it comes to luxury cars and income levels.

“Before we opened the express toll lanes we did focus groups, we did a customer survey of people who uses State Routes 167 HOT lanes, which is a very similar system,” Bergerson said. “We found there wasn’t any link between peoples’ income level and what their opinions were of the toll lanes. We found support there of building the toll lanes across all income levels.”

In April, about six months after the express lanes opened, WSDOT did a similar survey of I-405 express toll lanes drivers.

“Nearly 60 percent of customers were satisfied with having the option (of the express toll lanes), compared to about 25 percent, less than half who were dissatisfied,” Bergerson said.

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