Life in the fast lane, how many drivers are using the Mopac Express Lane

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — While some drivers are against toll roads, Liz Markland says the new northbound MoPac toll is saving her time since she lives up north but works in south Austin.

Markland says life in the fast lane has already shown her benefits. “It saved me a lot of time, I was meeting friends for happy hour up north and I work down south and it saved me probably 20 minutes,” says Markland.

It has been two weeks since the full northbound MoPac Express Lane opened. The busiest days so far have been Thursday and Friday, most likely a sign that we are all speeding towards the weekend.

“If I’m in a rush or want to get somewhere fun, like happy hour, then I’m going to go quickly down the toll road,” says Markland.

Since the full toll opened, it peaked the first Thursday, Oct. 12, with some people paying more than $8 for a trip from downtown to Parmer Lane. The average toll during the evening commute for a full trip in the express lane has stayed under $3. During the second full week of operations, the most expensive toll for the full trip was $6.50 on Tuesday, Oct. 17–that day tallied 15,396 total transactions.

For some, the cost is not worth it. “It’s nice, it’s great and all, but I’m tired of paying for it. That’s all,” says Greg Strubel “I’m tired of paying for everywhere I’ve got to go. I thought our tax dollars paid for that a long time ago.”

Steve Pustelnyk with the Mopac Improvement Project says there are still there are things they need to improve on, such as moving crashes out of the express lane. Pustelnyk wants to remind drivers that the toll is also a main route for buses and emergency vehicles.

“The main intent of the lane, ultimately, is to give express buses and van pools a priority trip, where if you get on the bus you know you’re going to get there on time every day. That should encourage more people to use the bus, because buses won’t take up all the space, we’re also allowing vehicles to buy into the lane for those days when they have a high priority trip and they can’t afford to be late.”

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority says they expect the entire southbound toll to be operational within the next week.

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