They are jumping off the shelves as the old saying goes. The big surge in the sale of the new E-ZPass Flex transponders at retail locations in Northern Virginia appears to be a harbinger of the pent-up demand for better mobility via the gridlock-busting 495 Express Lanes.
The lanes are expected to open around the busy Christmas travel season, and area motorists, who suffer from some of the worst congestion in the nation, can’t wait to get their hands on the devices. To avoid a toll fee, all users of the 495 Express Lanes must have either the new-fangled E-ZPass Flex transponder or the E-ZPass. Purchases of the devices are booming at AAA Mid-Atlantic’s retail locations in Northern Virginia.
“Judging from AAA’s sales, a lot of motorists have great interest in using the Express Lanes when they open in December,” said Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs. “We’re amazed – we’ve sold over 3,000 of these units in just a couple of months at our five Northern Virginia locations. That indicates some real interest by drivers wanting to take advantage of moving along in traffic faster by using these lanes.”
As of the second week of October, 1,988 traditional E-ZPasses have been sold at AAA Mid-Atlantic stores in Alexandria, Fairfax, Lansdowne, Tysons and the Car Care Insurance and Travel facility also located in Fairfax. At these five locations 1,207 E-ZPass Flex devices have been sold. All told, drivers have purchased 3,195 of one of the transponders. Currently in Virginia, there are more than 900,000 active E-ZPass transponders. There are 11 million electronic toll transactions a month.
E-ZPasses Sold So Far At AAA Mid-Atlantic Locations In Northern Virginia
|Totals||1,988 (62 percent)||1,207 (38 percent)||3,195|
If you’re driving through Northern Virginia, it’s hard not to see the signs advising motorists that the long-anticipated Express Lanes on I-495 are ready to open soon. They are also encouraging those who plan on using these new lanes to purchase an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex transponder before they open.
AAA Mid-Atlantic began selling both devices in July and sales have been brisk as the date of the opening of the Express Lanes draws nearer. “We anticipate an even greater number of sales of E-ZPasses or E-ZPass Flex units as we get closer to the opening of these lanes,” said Victoria Stark, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Retail District Manager.
All E-ZPass users will be able to travel on the Express Lanes. However, there is an added incentive for purchasing the E-ZPass Flex if drivers are interested in carpooling. The E-ZPass Flex features a switchable transponder that allows vehicles carrying three or more passengers to use the Express Lanes for free when they flip a switch saying “HOV ON” on the transponder indicating that they are carpooling. If E-ZPass Flex users are driving by themselves or carrying only one other passenger, they must switch back to the other option or they will incur a fine from the police.
Transurban, its construction partner Fluor and the Virginia Department of Transportation are developing the Express Lanes on the Northern Virginia side of the Capital Beltway (I-495) – which is one of the most congested interstates in the nation.
For those who purchase an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex before October 31, they will get one toll-free week on the Express Lanes. Visit 495ExpressLanes.com for details. E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex transponders can be purchased at Northern Virginia AAA Mid-Atlantic locations at:
AAA Tysons Corner
8300 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 110
Vienna, Virginia 22182-3288
AAA Fairfax CCIT
9400 Main Street
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
4100 Monument Corner Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
2231 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1700
19317 Winmeade Drive, Suite N109-110
Lansdowne, Virginia 20176
A list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Virginia’s E-ZPass Program is available at: http://www.ezpassva.com/StaticPages/FAQ.aspx#6