It’s a bit of a customer service cliche to say that your time is valuable. It’s instructive when people reveal just how valuable it is, and the new tolls are 520 are an excellent case study.
If the traffic maps are any indication, quite a few drivers are looking at a situation like the one at right (generated by this) and choosing to take I-90. It is a bit cheaper, but anyone that makes this decision is valuing their time at $2.38 an hour.
Of course, the value of one’s time varies from day to day, and many people are making their decision without the tradeoffs displayed quite so clearly. However, lost in complaining about the tolls and their supposed inequity is the simple fact is that travelers have a new transportation choice. If they’re in a hurry (like most freight presumably is), there’s now a fast way across the lake. If they’re not in a hurry, they can still be thrifty.
For transit users (on 520) this is an unqualified win, and it would be an even broader transit win if I-90 were tolled too.