Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

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Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby russblau » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:00 pm

Anyone who has spent any time reviewing URs around the Beltway knows that Waze has a big problem with the 495 Express Lanes. Every day, multiple users complain about "incorrect" directions because they were routed on the Express Lanes but (a) didn't have an EZ-Pass, (b) didn't want to pay the toll, or (c) didn't pay attention to the directions until after they were already on the main Beltway lanes, and then couldn't understand why Waze was telling them to exit left to I-66 (or whatever) when the exit is clearly on the right.

After watching this happen for the last several months, my proposal is that we eliminate these issues by changing the Express Lanes (and, when they open next year, the I-95 Express Lanes as well) to Parking Lot Roads, similar to the way dedicated HOV lanes are treated. If we do this, Waze will never offer any user a route that uses the Express Lanes. Those users who want to use the Express Lanes will still be able to do so, of course, and in most cases, when they enter, Waze should snap to the parking lot segment and then recalculate their route from that point. I say "should" because, with the close proximity between the main and Express lanes, there are bound to be some GPS errors in this process, so we will probably still have some user complaints. But those issues are more likely to affect those users who deliberately chose to take the Express Lanes, so they ought to be less surprised by them than are clueless users who are just going where Waze tells them to.

Admittedly, this will inconvenience the minority of Waze users who do patronize the Express Lanes, but this inconvenience would be offset by a better experience for the majority.

I'll leave this thread open for a week or so before doing anything, to see if there is a consensus to make this change.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby CBenson » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:53 pm

My view is that this would be a fairly significant inconvenience to Waze users that do use the Express Lanes. To be effective at choosing the fastest route, waze has to have the fastest route as an available option.

If I understand correctly, at this point you should not be routed on the Express Lanes if you have avoid toll roads selected. I'm not sure I want to accommodate those who (a) don't want to pay the toll, but haven't seleceted "Avoid Toll Roads" or (b) aren't paying attention to the directions given them at the expense of users who wish to have the option of taking the faster Express Lanes at least presented to them. The EZ-Pass only limitation is an issue.

I guess the question becomes, how successfully is waze at giving accurate ETAs that distinguish between using the Express Lanes and not using them. Not commuting over there, I don't know. I can say that waze gives me extremely different routes with "Avoid Tolls Roads" selected or not when routing from Annapolis to the Shenandoah Valley, but presumably that is due to the Dulles Toll Road and Greenway not the Express lanes.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby russblau » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:30 pm

I don't have an EZ-Pass and the Express Lanes generally are at a right angle to my commuting route, so I can't comment on how accurate Waze's routes are. I can say that Waze uses them in routing (obviously, or we wouldn't have so many URs complaining about this). If I turn off "Avoid toll roads," I get suggested routes that include the Express Lanes, but since I don't use them, I can't say whether the ETAs are any more or less accurate than on other suggested routes.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby syborg_sasquatch » Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:09 pm

russblau wrote:Those users who want to use the Express Lanes will still be able to do so, of course, and in most cases, when they enter, Waze should snap to the parking lot segment and then recalculate their route from that point. I say "should" because, with the close proximity between the main and Express lanes, there are bound to be some GPS errors in this process, so we will probably still have some user complaints.

In my experience, I have found that the tolerance for GPS "errors" increases when a route is active in the app. If I am on I-270 and for some reason choose the local lanes instead of the express lanes with an active route, many times I will not snap to the lanes I am in for quite some distance. If I stop the route navigation, I usually snap to the appropriate lane and then I would restart my route. I recall having this happening with the I-495 Express lanes when I was new to the app and didn't think to turn off tolls. So for those entering the Express Lanes from either ends, the app may not snap to the Express Lanes until there is a large enough gap between them and the regular lanes. Maybe this is not a big deal so long as the car icon will snap over before the first exit ramp.

I appreciate how much of a pain it is to deal with all the URs currently being generated but I agree with CBenson that this change could significantly impact Exp Lane users. For instance, the Express Lanes have a couple on-ramps that the non-express lanes do not have. If we convert the Express Lanes to PLot segments, users willing to use the Exp Lanes will not be routed to them.

And if there is a significant backup on the Exp Lanes (say, due to an accident), the user would not be able to tell until they were in the lanes and their icon snapped over or unless they scanned ahead on the map (probably while trying to drive).

Personally, I like being able to compare routing times between the Exp and Non-Express lanes by toggling the toll setting. I only use the Exp Lanes if I feel the time savings are worth the cost. And there have been times it has saved me ~15 minutes from I-66 to its northern terminus which made it worth the ~$1.75.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby sprinx » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:27 am

I think there should at least be a warning pop-up (with option to disable future warnings) that an EZ-pass is required for a toll road.

I don't mind paying an extra buck or two for convenience, but I just paid a $25 fee due to Waze routing me through I-495 at 10 am on a Sunday morning (i.e. absolutely no traffic on the main Interstate). I realized after a few miles what had happened, but there was no escape.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby Mike-1323 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:39 pm

Sprinx wrote:I think there should at least be a warning pop-up (with option to disable future warnings) that an EZ-pass is required for a toll road.

I don't mind paying an extra buck or two for convenience, but I just paid a $25 fee due to Waze routing me through I-495 at 10 am on a Sunday morning (i.e. absolutely no traffic on the main Interstate). I realized after a few miles what had happened, but there was no escape.


The great big signs overhead that clearly and repeatedly state "ALL USERS E-ZPASS REQUIRED" aren't sufficient?

However, they are marked as toll roads so if you have the "avoid toll roads" option checked you should not be routed onto the express lanes.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby arlenm2012 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:54 pm

syborg_sasquatch wrote:
russblau wrote:Those users who want to use the Express Lanes will still be able to do so, of course, and in most cases, when they enter, Waze should snap to the parking lot segment and then recalculate their route from that point. I say "should" because, with the close proximity between the main and Express lanes, there are bound to be some GPS errors in this process, so we will probably still have some user complaints.

In my experience, I have found that the tolerance for GPS "errors" increases when a route is active in the app. If I am on I-270 and for some reason choose the local lanes instead of the express lanes with an active route, many times I will not snap to the lanes I am in for quite some distance. If I stop the route navigation, I usually snap to the appropriate lane and then I would restart my route. I recall having this happening with the I-495 Express lanes when I was new to the app and didn't think to turn off tolls. So for those entering the Express Lanes from either ends, the app may not snap to the Express Lanes until there is a large enough gap between them and the regular lanes. Maybe this is not a big deal so long as the car icon will snap over before the first exit ramp.

I appreciate how much of a pain it is to deal with all the URs currently being generated but I agree with CBenson that this change could significantly impact Exp Lane users. For instance, the Express Lanes have a couple on-ramps that the non-express lanes do not have. If we convert the Express Lanes to PLot segments, users willing to use the Exp Lanes will not be routed to them.

And if there is a significant backup on the Exp Lanes (say, due to an accident), the user would not be able to tell until they were in the lanes and their icon snapped over or unless they scanned ahead on the map (probably while trying to drive).

Personally, I like being able to compare routing times between the Exp and Non-Express lanes by toggling the toll setting. I only use the Exp Lanes if I feel the time savings are worth the cost. And there have been times it has saved me ~15 minutes from I-66 to its northern terminus which made it worth the ~$1.75.

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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby arlenm2012 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:59 pm

sprinx wrote:I think there should at least be a warning pop-up (with option to disable future warnings) that an EZ-pass is required for a toll road.

I don't mind paying an extra buck or two for convenience, but I just paid a $25 fee due to Waze routing me through I-495 at 10 am on a Sunday morning (i.e. absolutely no traffic on the main Interstate). I realized after a few miles what had happened, but there was no escape.

Bottom line is realizing that until the software is changed to have some other type of notification, just disable tolls. The express lanes are 99% always going to be faster so you can chose that route if you want to.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby reborndata » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:38 pm

A little late to the game, but I want to add a vote for the initial proposal. I am a daily commuter form Springfield to Reston, and use Waze primarily to help me understand which of several possible routes to take based on time. The preference Waze has for the HOT lanes (because they are always faster) has nearly destroyed the utility of the app for my use case:

1. I'm OK paying *reasonable* tolls (not the $6-12 each way the HOT lanes are during rush hour), and often use the Dulles toll road in combination with the normal beltway lanes. Disabling tolls entirely will cause Waze not to use one of my good options.
2. When I'm going north and do not want to use the HOT lanes, I have go go through major caliesthenics to get Waze to recognize that I'm not currently in the HOT lanes- pick the single (bad) alternative route that is the normal beltway lanes and then wait to change it until Waze is sure I'm on it (but only after I'm north of Gallows because otherwise it will route me back onto the HOT lanes and not recognize that I didn't take the exit)

I recognize that there are software changes needed. According to this:

https://wiki.waze.com/wiki/Carpool,_HOV,_Transit_lanes

The recommendation is that such lanes should be classified as "parking lot roads", as this will give the "least surprising" behavior.

I'm in favor of doing this for the 495 express lanes because:

(a) people who are not from the area and driving through may not have the requisite EZ-pass and shouldn't be routed on to them
(b) the HOT lanes are almost always the same speed / time; regular commuters / drivers in the area are well aware they are the fastest route and don't need Waze to suggest them
(c) if classified as a parking lot road your time should be updated correctly if you choose to drive on them.
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Re: Proposal: Make I-495 Express Lanes non-routable

Postby n8nagel » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:55 pm

I understand the issue, e.g. I may be willing to pay the toll for the Dulles Toll Road, but not necessarily the high fees for the Greenway or the I-495 HOT lanes. Unfortunately I don't have a useful suggestion in this regard.

I would like to see it be easier to toggle on/off the "avoid toll roads" function in Waze, as e.g. if I have three people in the car taking the HOT lanes is no penalty at all, but if I'm by myself, I would like to avoid them if at all possible.
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