Drivers keep on truckin' despite toll hike
A lot of truckers are still using toll roads despite a rate hike that went into effect Jan. 1.
At a finance committee meeting Wednesday, tollway financial staffers reported revenue from commercial vehicles reached $109.9 million in the first quarter of 2015. That's a jump of 46.8 percent compared to $74.8 million in the first three months of 2014.
The number of truck transactions also went up from 22.4 million January through March 2014 to 23.5 million this year, a boost of 5 percent.
Toll revenues overall came to $269.4 million in the first quarter, an increase of 21 percent compared to $222.7 million a year ago, officials said.
Rates at the average toll plaza increased for commercial vehicles by about 40 percent in 2015. For example, a large truck using an I-PASS that was charged $4 at the Elgin Toll Plaza in 2014 now pays $5.60 in the daytime.
The commercial vehicle toll hike this year will be followed by 10 percent in 2016 and another 10 percent in 2017.
The new truck toll rates date back to 2008, when the former tollway board backed a $1.8 billion road program that included interchanges at I-57 and the Tri-State plus I-90 and Route 53/I-290 as well as 80 miles of "green lanes" intended for carpools or single occupants paying a premium.
The green lanes, estimated to cost $400 million, never materialized after their chief proponent, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was thrown out of office.