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Road Pricing: Resources

TRB Resources

Report S2-C04-RW-1 - Improving Our Understanding of How Highway Congestion and Pricing Affect Travel Demand
The objective of this project was to develop mathematical descriptions of the full range of highway user behavioral responses to congestion, travel time reliability, and pricing. These descriptions were achieved by mining existing data sets. The report estimates a series of nine utility equations, progressively adding variables of interest. This research explores the effect on demand and route choice of demographic characteristics, car occupancy, value of travel time, value of travel time reliability, situational variability, and an observed toll aversion bias. The primary audience for this research is professionals who develop travel demand and traffic forecasts. Policy makers may also have an interest in the behavioral findings that could have policy implications.

TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 95: Chapter 14 - Road Value Pricing - Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes
As part of a larger TCRP publication entitled, "Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes Handbook," this chapter, completed in 2003, focuses on automobile-oriented pricing, including discussion of its impact on other travel modes. Dynamic pricing strategies, project case studies, and traveler response for urbanized areas at the facility, corridor, and area wide levels are discussed. Impacts on land use, air quality and revenue are also assessed.

International Perspectives on Road Pricing: Report of the Committee for the International Symposium on Road Pricing: Conference Proceedings 34
This website provides an overview of the International Symposium on Road Pricing in November 2003 in Key Biscayne, Florida. The conference was a collaborative effort among the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Florida Department of Transportation, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Federal Highway Administration. Fifteen countries were represented and international and U.S. applications of road pricing strategies in various governmental and socioeconomic settings were explored. The participants discussed the rationale and motivations for implementing pricing strategies, the use of pricing revenues, and project outcomes. Upon symposium discussions, presentations, and review of resource papers, an evaluation of the state of practice, future direction and opportunities are provided, and research and information needs are identified.

Curbing Gridlock: Peak Period Fees to Relieve Traffic Congestion
This 1994 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Special Report 242 focuses on congestion reduction and examines the public perception of congestion pricing. Although road users pay fuel taxes to support the costs of building and maintaining roads, most users view roads as free. In this report, congestion issues are outlined, and economic theory and analytical modeling are used to illustrate impacts of variable pricing. Preliminary results of federal policy, such as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), are also described and viewed as a potential means of gaining public acceptance for wider application of pricing experiments at the local level. The full report can be purchased on the TRB website.

Transportation Research Board (TRB) Congestion Pricing Committee
This website reports on the activities, including those organized by TRB, in the field of congestion pricing. Committee and subcommittee information, presentations, news, and research are also available on this site.

NCHRP Synthesis 377: Compilation of Public Opinion Data on Tolls and Road Pricing
Completed in 2008 for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), this report synthesizes and analyzes public opinion on tolling and road pricing across the United States and internationally. It compiles existing data from completed public opinion research and presents an interpretive framework for understanding situational context in outcomes from various public opinion polls. The study also provides a systematic review of public opinion with respect to tolls and road pricing. This resource is intended for public and elected officials making decisions about infrastructure policy and projects and officials in the process of considering, planning, implementing, and operating tolled facilities.

NCHRP Synthesis 364: Estimating Toll Road Demand and Revenue
This 2006 synthesis prepared for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), reports on the state of the practice for forecasting demand and revenues for toll roads in the United States. The synthesis focuses on models used to forecast travel demand and considers application of these models to project revenues as a function of demand estimates. Goals of this study included: developing a profile of the current state of the practice in toll road demand forecasting; identifying technical modeling issues that affect the accuracy, effectiveness, and reliability of the forecasts; and making recommendations for research to improve the state of practice. This resource is intended for state departments of transportation (DOT), metropolitan planning organizations, tolling authorities and operators, potential investors, bond rating agencies, and consultants who prepare models and forecasts on behalf of DOTs and other toll facility owners.

NCHRP Web-Only Document 161: System Trials to Demonstrate Mileage-Based Road Use Charges
Transitioning from fuel taxes to VMT fees would be a complex undertaking, with many technical, institutional, and political uncertainties to be resolved. To prepare for such a transition, it could be helpful to conduct an extensive set of system trials. The goal in this study was to explore options for scoping and organizing such trials. The research team solicited the thoughts and perspectives of representative stakeholders and subject matter experts through an extensive set of guided interviews followed by a one-day workshop. Based on participant responses and supporting research, the report outlines several approaches for funding, organizing, structuring, managing, and conducting a set of VMT-fee system trials. The trials could be complemented by parallel efforts in the areas of planning and policy guidance, analytic studies, technical research and development, and public education and outreach.

NCHRP Web-Only Document 143: Implementable Strategies for Shifting to Direct Usage-Based Charges for Transportation Funding
There is interest in determining whether it might be possible to implement a system of VMT fees rapidly, commencing by 2015. The goal in this study was to identify a range of options that might support the near-term implementation of a national system of VMT fees and evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses. Based on the research, three options appear to offer the greatest promise: metering mileage based on fuel-consumption, metering mileage based on a device combining cellular service and a connection to the onboard diagnostics port, and metering mileage based on a device featuring a GPS receiver. While each of these approaches has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, there are also significant uncertainties that make it difficult to determine the optimal configuration at this juncture. A set of activities - encompassing planning, analysis, technical research and development, expanded real-world trials, and education and outreach - could resolve the uncertainties and set the stage for implementing VMT fees beginning in 2015.

TRB Special Report 285: The Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding
TRB formed the Committee for the Study of the Long-Term Viability of Fuel Taxes for Transportation Finance to respond to concerns of funding arrangement, like motor fuel taxes, which may become a less reliable revenue source for transportation programs in the future. This 2006 study was sponsored by the state transportation departments through NCHRP, FHWA, and TRB. With the goals of assessing recent trends impacting the future of traditional transportation finance, identifying finance alternatives and the criteria by which they should be evaluated, suggested ways for how barriers to acceptance of new approaches could be overcome are also provided. The Committee's recommendations propose immediate changes to strengthen the existing highway and transit finance system and actions to prepare for more fundamental reform in the long term.

TRB Special Report 299: Discerning the Pathway to Implementation of a National Mileage-Based Charging System
The Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board commissioned this paper to: 1) develop and propose concepts for research and demonstration programs to test the technical and political feasibility of road use metering and mileage charging; 2) develop and expand upon the recommendations of TRB Special Report 285: The Fuel Tax and Alternatives for Transportation Funding that examined a structure to support the conduct of trials or pilot projects by individual states with federal leadership and funding aid; and 3) develop cost estimates for the demonstrations and related research to design and implement the trials. Part One of the report facilitates understanding among policymakers and researchers of the decision making necessary for constructing an acceptable mileage charging system as well as reviews work to date. Part Two proposes additional research to fill in knowledge gaps and obtain the data and information necessary for policymakers and researchers to reach a knowledge level for the opportunity at hand sufficient to enable legislative action.

NCHRP 08-73: Road Pricing, Public Perceptions and Program Development (Report 686)
This report describes road pricing concepts and discusses its potential effectiveness and applicability. It also provides guidelines for communicating strategies and engaging affected parties, and guidelines for project planning and integrating pricing into regional and state planning processes. The report is structured to aid both readers familiar and unfamiliar with road pricing, allowing both a brief overview of the concepts as well as in depth information on the latest applications, impacts, operations, costs, and policy and acceptability considerations. Volume 1 provides a review of the six concepts and planning pointers sufficient for planners and decision makers to evaluate the potential of the concepts and understand the best engagement and communication strategies. Volume 2 provides interview findings, literature reviews and references to resource materials on planning, engagement, and communications related to road pricing strategies.

NCHRP 19-08: Costs of Alternative Revenue-Generation Systems (Report 689)
The current system for generating the revenues that support federal-aid and state highways is based largely on federal and state fuel taxes. The objective of this research was to develop a methodology that can be used to analyze and compare the administrative, collection, and compliance (enforcement) costs of systems for highway revenue generation and to apply that the methodology to a selected set of usage-based revenue systems: cordon pricing, tolling, VMT fees, motor fuel taxes, and parking. Costs among revenue systems were normalized (for the three with comprehensive data available - motor fuels taxes, tolling, and VMT fees) and compared along several metrics: $ per lane mile, $ per centerline mile, $ per 1,000 VMT, $ per vehicle, $ per transaction, and % of total revenue. One primary conclusion is that the existing fuel tax system is the most costs effective among those examined and has the lowest operating costs for all unit measurements. The report also examines technologies required to implement alternative revenue generation systems as well as the results of a sensitivity analysis.