Monday, February 3, 2014

in consideration of the purpose and uses of the sunpass express lane

The opportunity to help a friend necessitated driving down the local interstate highway, i95. Though rare enough to see me in a car, the trip downtown from the northern outskirts of the county fails to elicit some measure of excitement.
But imagine my confusion in 6:30 am 15 mph traffic. (Mind my share of rush hour horror for the last decade.) I could not imagine how rush hour's lethargic fingers reached back in the morning, so early in fact the sun had not yet risen.

The segment of 95 near the 826/441/Golden Glades interchange display chronic congestion conditions, but I assumed congestion began at 8 am. The early standstill adds kindling to a contrary notion that Miami's economy has bred a class of people who spend significant time in traffic.

Miami-Dade County developed an electronic toll express way with time or traffic variable pricing.  (find links about prices) Ranging from the current lowest of 25 cents to over five dollars in my own experience. Use of the express lane, other than through participation in a specialized program requires one purchase a SunPass branded device.
The SunPass express lane guarantees participants 55 mph speeds, but I'm here to state otherwise. And in doing so I have two points I'd like to bring up.

What got me thinking about this program is a Miami Herald article published on Sunday explaining that people speed in the express lane. That has been the case on some occasions I used the express lane. While I cruise-controlled my way at 60 mph, many people sped right past me, at some points right to the back of a bottleneck caused by other drivers going the actual speed-limit.
How many people use the express lane only so they can speed?
With such a characterization of the express lane, the response given by the authorities is questionable. They propose to have more enforcement of the limit by putting boots on the ground. Does that bother anyone else? Pulling people to the side of a highway to ticket them strikes me as extremely dangerous. Why don't they consider an electronic ticketing system? Perhaps there are ulterior motives.

On an occasion where I paid more than $5 to use the express lane I found myself at some point in stop-and-go traffic. How did that happen and why was I being charged so much for such an experience?

All of this completely disregards opinions and complaints about the program related to its legality, and whether or not it equitably serves the community. And overall, what I have considered leads me to the obvious question: what is the goal of the sunpass program, and is it succeeding?

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