Take the "dynamic pricing" model of shifting prices in response to demand (think Uber's surge pricing), add it to the new express lanes on Interstate 66, and the result earlier this week was a $40 toll to travel a 10-mile stretch into downtown Washington, DC. The price changes every six minutes, and officials say the eye-watering $40 toll was only charged during one of those periods, reports the New York Times, which notes that a return bus ticket from DC to New York City would have been cheaper than taking the toll road from Virginia Tuesday morning. Authorities, however, say the toll is doing its job by encouraging people to take other routes and keeping traffic flowing smoothly.
The toll is in effect during weekday rush hours in the morning and evening—and carpoolers are exempt, meaning only single-occupant vehicles are charged. Before it was introduced Monday, solo drivers were banned from using that stretch of I-66 during rush hours, the Washington Post reports. Motorists, however—who have been denouncing the toll under the hashtag #highwayrobbery—complain that state officials initially suggested the toll would be around $7. The price is expected to stabilize as traffic patterns adjust, though it still topped $25 early Thursday. Virginia's transportation secretary says that with the new toll lanes, funding greater enforcement to catch carpool-lane cheaters will not be a problem, WTOP reports.