Updated: July 20, 2020 10:29 AM
Created: July 20, 2020 10:23 AM
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a myriad of changes over the past several months, with day-to-day operations still different for many people compared to earlier this year. Among the many changes during the pandemic is traffic congestion in Minnesota and the use of MnPASS lanes.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) says the pandemic's effects on MnPASS operations have been "significant."
The average number of daily and monthly trips in MnPASS lanes has dropped by 86% with average daily and monthly toll revenue down 97%. Pre-pandemic levels were at an average of 12,340 daily trips in MnPASS lanes with an average daily toll revenue of $20,614.20. Now, MnDOT reports an average of 1,722 trips per day with average daily revenue at $704.23.
State law says toll revenue generated from MnPASS must be used for the corridor from which it was generated, and specifically for the construction, operations and maintenance of the MnPASS lane, according to the state website.
While traffic levels have slowly risen as more businesses reopen, drivers still appear to be taking advantage of the fewer number of vehicles on roads and avoiding MnPASS lanes.
MnDOT also reported an average monthly decline of about 91% in new accounts being opened.
However, people don't appear to be rushing to close their accounts, either. MnDOT reports the average monthly change in accounts closed has actually dropped by six (to 86) since the pandemic began, although that's still more than double the average number of accounts opening per month (42) amid the pandemic.
MnPASS lanes are in effect from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays but transit, motorcycles and vehicles with two or more occupants can use them for free. Solo motorists must pay a fee to drive in the lanes during those peak travel times.
MnPASS lanes have been in operation since 2005 on Interstate 394, 2009 on I-35W and 2015 on I-35E.
You can find more information on MnPASS here.
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