Usage drops, but more money collected in 1st month of Dulles Toll Road rate hike

WASHINGTON — Many of Virginia’s Dulles Toll Road users, particularly those paying with cash, appear to have noticed the toll increase that took effect Jan. 1.

The number of toll transactions dropped 7.5 percent this January compared to last. That is actually a somewhat smaller drop than the road’s owner, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, had forecast when tolls rose from $2.50 to $3.25 at the mainline plaza and $1 to $1.50 at ramps.

Still, the first toll increase since 2014 meant that even with fewer toll transactions, toll revenue rose 25.6 percent to $15.3 million for the month of January. That is roughly in line with the authority’s forecasts.

In a signal, toll payers using cash were more likely to change behavior based on the toll increase, the percentage of revenue collected through E-ZPass payments rose to 92 percent in January.

Over the course of 2018, 89.6 percent of toll revenue, excluding violations, was collected electronically.

In 2018, 96.3 million total toll transactions added up to $151.3 million in total revenue on the Dulles Toll Road.

After paying for operations of the road, the revenue is helping to pay for construction of the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Trains are expected to start running to Loudoun County sometime next year.

Since bond repayments will run for decades, the next Dulles Toll Road toll increase is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2023.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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