App claims more are spending time in traffic due to 520 tolling



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Posted on January 11, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 12 at 12:01 AM

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A new app claims thousands of drivers are spending more time in traffic because of new 520 tolling.

520or90 was developed by four local people, who work at different tech firms.  The app takes in current WSDOT traffic information and calculates gas prices to drive to the I-90 floating bridge.
“There has definitely been an impact on tolling,” said Latika Kirtane, one of the brains behind the app, who pointed to her phone around rush hour and noticed. “The 90 will cost me $3 in fuel and almost cost me 40 minutes.”  
520 drive times were normal and the ride across was still slightly more expensive.
The developers say normal morning work week traffic between Bellevue and Seattle from January 3rd to January 6th peaked at 8 a.m.  The average worst time was 23 minutes to cross I-90 and 14 minutes on the 520.  It also peaked, during the same time frame, around 5:45 p.m.  It took drivers 32 minutes to cross I-90, and 19 to cross the 520.
But Kirtane says a big factors are gas prices and time savings for those who are choosing to use, or not to use, 520.  Kirtane says at this rate, typical 520 commuters will save eight hours a month in traffic, and I-90 drivers will save $90 during the same time span.  The app allows users to alter their calculations based on whether they have a Good to Go pass, car type, and type of gasoline used.
Kirkland-based Inrix, which has been monitoring traffic, as well, says it is likely too early to draw conclusions about how traffic will look in the near future.  Jim Bak, spokesperson for Inrix, says the app’s numbers look accurate, but also a little conservative.  
“It could be a couple weeks before we can make a decision on future traffic flows,” said Bak.
WSDOT released some numbers late Wednesday which seem to suggest just minor increases in traffic flow near State Route 522, north of Lake Washington.  An agency spokesperson says traffic volumes have increased 10 percent on I-90 since tolls went into place on the 520 floating bridge.