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Road Pricing: Resources

USDOT Resources: Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing 2011 FHWA Webinar Series

Patrick DeCorla-Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, FHWA
Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
Kenneth Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation
John Doan, SRF Consulting

Office of Innovative Program Delivery
Federal Highway Administration

Third Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.

Session 3: Institutional Issues in Congestion Pricing - Transcript

Moderator:

  • Jennifer Symoun

Presenters:

  • Donald Samdahl, Fehr & Peers
  • Patrick Vu, P.E.
  • Stephanie Wiggins
  • Jeff Weidner
  • Patrick DeCorla-Souza

 

Jennifer Symoun

Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the second webinar in the Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing webinar series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's webinar, which will focus on Institutional Issues in Congestion Pricing. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.

Today we'll have a long list of excellent presenters. We'll start off with a brief presentation given by Don Samdahl of Fehr & Peers, and then move on to Patrick Vu of the Georgia State Road and Toll Authority, then Stephanie Wiggins of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, then a joint presentation by Jeff Weidner and Jim Udvardy of the Florida Department of Transportation, and then we'll wrap it up with a brief presentation by Patrick Decorla-Souza of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Innovative Program Delivery.

Today's webinar will last 90 minutes. We'll take questions following each presentation and then take questions at the end if time allows. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we are unable to get through all of the questions in the time allotted we will get written responses from the presenters and send them out with the follow up information.

The PowerPoint presentations used today are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. I would also like to remind you that this session is being recorded. The recording, presentations, and a transcript will be posted to the Tolling and Pricing web site within the next few weeks and I will send out a notice when they are available.

We'll now go ahead and get started. Our first presenter will be Don Samdahl of Fehr & Peers. We will not be taking questions after his presentation.

Don Samdahl

Thank you, Jennifer. Good morning. This webinar called Congestion Pricing Institutional Issues is part of a webinar series adjusting the challenges of congestion pricing and how they can be overcome. At the end of the webinar today Jennifer Symoun will give you an update on upcoming webinars in the series.

Successful congestion pricing projects blend several features together. I think many of you on the call are aware of several these including the location of the project, how different modes of transportation are handled, a number of technology issues, funding, and partnerships that need to be forged. Many of these topics are addressed in other portions of the webinar series. Today we are going to be talking about an extremely important but often understated role of institutional relationships and how they can help make a congestion pricing program successful. The types of topics that our presenters will be talking about today include various intra-agency issues including roles and responsibilities, and how to manage resources within an agency. Then there are the inter-agency issues, particularly how a project is jointly managed, potentially revenue-sharing agreements, and other topics of that type. Of course the legislative authority to implement a congestion pricing program is extremely important and we will see a couple of examples of that in our examples by our presenters today. Finally, the implementation of a pricing project is extremely important to success in terms of its project delivery and daily operations. So we are going to hear these different perspectives on what made the various program examples that you're going to be hearing today successful. Some of these projects are operational and some are still in the planning and design phase. We are looking forward to hearing those various examples. So you will first hear from Atlanta, followed by Los Angeles, Miami, and then finally the federal perspective on institutional issues from Patrick Decorla-Souza. With that, Jennifer I think you can move on to our first presentation.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you Don. Our next presenter will be Patrick Vu of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority.

Patrick Vu

Today I want to cover some lessons learned from Atlanta's perspective. To give you a little background on I-85 congestion reduction project that we proposed in the Atlanta region and with that backdrop I will kind of go through what everything means. Interagency relationships were very key to the project. To start with, I want to give everybody a context of our project. We are one of the lucky regions that did receive a USDOT congestion reduction demonstration grant to the tune of $110 million in 2008. With that, there are two major components to it. The first is the pricing component which on I-85 which is a 16 mile long HOV corridor. This is about $60 million and includes about everything from outreach and design to construction. Currently, two is the existing level of occupancy that is needed and we are trying to convert it to where three or more are toll free while single and double have to pay the toll. The other major important key was the transit grant as well to the tune of under $122 million. That goes to the corridor, park-and-ride, as well as new express coach buses and so forth. Also, because of a funding mechanism it was spread to the region as well. It was a collaborative effort from the very beginning and terms of a lot of agencies that worked with us, the local MPO, the DOT, Georgia Tech, the county, and Federal Highways.

With that backdrop, the biggest thing we learned was how do we get the money and how do you get so far. One of the biggest things is that the region in general found a common ground. What was important was that everyone from the leadership downwards recognizes it is about transportation choice. Either we are all in it together, if we do not come together, we get nothing. For us, that was always one of the things that worked well. When we lost sight of what our goals and interest were, we all took a step back and said it was about choice and the combination of transit, technology and so forth. Like I said, we were fortunate enough to get recipient of the grant. It was not just the grant; it was what the program represented. The program represented new money. If one of us, one of our agencies wrote a proposal for it would be seen as you guys are looking at it for your gains and so forth. Because it came from a Federal level it was new opportunities, new money. It got everyone to say if we do not do this then we don't get anything out of it. The other thing that was very important as well that we found out was that it was a dual commitment. We actually to get into the game and had to commit to build something. Beyond just building it was also the time schedule. If you want to build something within two years, you want results quick. That will work well with our elected officials as they want to see results they don't want to make a decision and not see the fruits of those decisions. Wanting those results implemented quickly was also a key point for our deployment so far.

Next are the roles and responsibilities. For us, the biggest thing was who is in charge? One of the things, if they are trying to implement this, is to need to figure out who is going to take the lead and who needs to be part of the conversation because they are either regulators or they have interest in the project itself. One of the key things also is to have project champions at all levels. You can have project champions at the elected official level, but you need to have them also at the staff level. One of the things we found very beneficial for us was creating teams. We created very topical teams, teams focused on policy and would grab everybody from the MPO, the DOT, the Tolling Authority, etc. and those folks that had to deal policy issues came together and met on a regular basis to work out issues. Same thing with finance, environmental, civil, it was kind of an open call. It was led by a project champion but it allowed everybody to vent and to be listened to.

Some lessons learned and terms of interagency relationships. You do need to have leaders to take charge. These people need to submit things or to set up meetings and so forth. It was also important to understand that you are leaving but you also need to have people being engaged so we engage all of our outreach partners together early on, at the very beginning of the. Like I said, one of the key things also is to have a strong support from elected officials in our case it was the governor at the time. One of the things we also learned was education for the agency leaders and also down to the staff on pricing. There were a couple of us that were very strong, but it is a train the trainer. You try to train other people so that they can in turn turnaround and inform others and educate other people. We did briefings, workshops, retreats for elected officials, expert panels. It was good that we were able to get people that had implemented before had come in and tell everybody this is what has been done and been learned from elsewhere. Again, it is about listening to folks; a lot of people want to vent. We can always agree to listen. We can all listen, but we don't have to always agree. It is important that at least we agree on listening. One of the key things also is coordination of project messaging. Staying on message is important. All of our public information people from different agencies sat down early so if a newspaper or TV reporter tried to pin one agency against another, everybody had the same message and it was regular. It was regular, every other day these public information officers would contact each other and say did you hear about this or somebody is trying to make a story on this. It was go to know where other agencies are coming from and staying on message about the project. Another lesson learned that we stumbled upon is that the same people that wrote the grant are still actively involved with it through the publication of the project. It was not a matter of compartmentalizing where a team did the design, and another handled implementation. It was a handful of folks from beginning to the end stay with the project. That also lends itself to a quick implementation because you do not lose any knowledge which was gained through the project. There is also a trust building factor to it.

In terms of project delivery, there were some lessons learned on the accelerated time schedule. This caused us to do things differently than we are used to. We were used to the design-build-build process. When talking about technology and procurement, there is a lot of risk involved. Technology, procurement, those words do not mix well together in terms of getting something done on schedule. So one of things we learned were borrowing different procurement techniques from elsewhere. For example, we partnered up with all the vendors as part of the process and we actually reviewed the proposal before they had the final submission for their solution. So that way they were able to ask us questions and see what we wanted and we were able to provide feedback so that they met our requirements. Other the things we looked at were open protocol standards, multi-award contracts, so we get the best bang for the buck in the interest of the state. Another thing you have to worry about was permitting. One of things we had to worry about was making sure projects were in the TIP, things were updated quickly, and air quality permitting and that was an issue. One of the things we learned was to make sure that you identify who's doing the air quality modeling because it may be used for different purposes, not only for the NEPA documentation but it could be used for traffic control measures, TIP process and the whatnot. In our case, we had a NEPA environmental assessment done where we got a notice on impacts and it needs is very much a local decision on what kind of documentation there is. But for us the EA had a public outreach and public education component of matter what.

Just quickly in terms of financial issues, one of the big things that we talked about is that it is all about the money. Especially this constrained budget times we see tolling as a piggy bank or an opportunity to enhance revenue. One of the big things we had to do was manage expectation. There were so many players involved in support; we had to keep track and all of funds. Not only is this the funds coming in, but also funds coming out. Someone had to be the budget keeper for all the agencies so that we all agree upon the same spreadsheet and this is where the money went, this is the timing of the spending and so forth. Very much complex funds that need to occur. Also for consideration is the toll revenue policy, things that need to be worked out just from a fundamental prospect is that you need to have a good handle of what you expect the revenues to be. If there is a shortfall, what are you going to do? Who is going to pay out of their pocket and until money is in the black. Will there ever be money in the black? What are the long term costs? Does it include customer service, law-enforcement, does that include roadway improvements, pavement repairs, equipment and, technology change out and so forth? Are there existing formula funds or things that depend on the roadway originally? For us formula funds for FTA money is collected through the HOV lanes as part of the credit. As that would be same? Are there issues with that? Is this regional policy going to be regional or corridor, or larger? You may have statues regionally that MPOs may have adopted policy wise. These are things to consider. The last slide here is a diagram that we use. This is a bucket fund or flow of funds. We start off with gross revenues at the top. First, you have to pay back debts. Then you have to pay back operations and then reserve accounts, continued use of technology change outs and pavements. If the project was running in the red, do agencies that put money in originally get their money back? Are there any other reimbursements? Given the trickle effect, is there any money left at the next level? Again one of the questions that we pose is that if there is not any excess revenue, who pays for the shortfall? That is what I wanted to cover in terms of what we've done so far. We are hoping to deploy in the next several months so we're very excited to see this come to fruition.

Jennifer Symoun

We're going to take about five minutes for questions now. The first question is: what was the public reaction to the project and have you gained support?

Patrick Vu

The public outcry was truthful. We were going from HOV-2 to a HOT-3 where three or more do not pay a toll. You have a lot of those HOV-2 carpoolers today that make up the bulk of the roadway users and HOV lane today mad at us because it is a perceived take away. One of the things that we had to do was actually educate people to tell them that you may have some utility and be able to carpool today, but in the next few years as the economy picks back up and the region grows again you as HOV-2 carpoolers will be stuck in traffic just like everybody else. So here is an opportunity for us to be proactive and provide a reliable travel time to people. We try to stay on message with that and do a very concerted effort to reach out to those carpoolers.

Jennifer Symoun

On a similar topic of talking about getting public supporters, the next question is: how is your relationship with the media and how do you handle getting them onboard.

Patrick Vu

I think it is a love-hate relationship. There are some media people that we educate, and as much as we provide information, they or their editors always try to make a spin. It is a constant battle in terms of educating the media. A lot of turnover with TV news reporters, newspaper reporters, and we try to do is provide media briefings regularly. Also outreach to them on a regular basis. I do not think it is any different from anywhere else. I think it is just a matter on educating them.

Jennifer Symoun

Going back for clarification, is it free for HOV-2?

Patrick Vu

Going forward it will not be free for HOV-2. HOV-2 and single occupancy vehicles will have to pay the same toll to use HOT lanes.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, does the Atlanta annual revenue money go to the operation and maintenance of the HOT or all faculties?

Patrick Vu

In terms of operations, it is very much what we're looking at is just being able to fund our operations for the 85 express lanes. We are not sure until we open what the reality is in terms of the use of the lane. We're hoping to break even. It is to pay for customer service, law-enforcement, technology, customer service and maintenance on I-85.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, have you planned on encouraging slugging or casual carpooling?

Patrick Vu

That is something we are monitoring, but we do not have it as part of our program. Our park-and-rides have the ability to have casual carpooling but we are not actively encouraging that is part of our project.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay. Let's see, what happens when HOT lane ends and becomes a HOV lane towards the downtown area?

Patrick Vu

We have done micro-simulations to have enough weave zones for folks to be able to exit the lane when it comes to the end and 85 reaches downtown. It is also a place where traffic drops down so there is a place for people to realize that the end of the HOT lane is coming up and they can move accordingly.

Jennifer Symoun

How do the HOT-3 users declare themselves?

Patrick Vu

Everyone who will be using the express lanes will have to register with us and that will be synonymous with having a transponder. So anyone who uses the express line in the beginning will have to get a transponder with us. They will have to set up an account with the authority and during this process they will set their transponder mode to either toll exempt or toll pay. Also, if they want to change this on the fly, they can do it as little as fifteen minutes ahead of time on the web or on the phone. We have it set up so they can set it for times of the day or days of the week as well.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay we have to move on to our next presenter. We were able to address all the questions. If we are not able to get them at the end, we will be sending them to the presenters to get written responses that will be sent out to everybody. So, thank you Patrick. We are now going to move onto Stephanie Wiggins of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Stephanie Wiggins

Thank you Jennifer. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Stephanie Wiggins. I should say that in moving forward with applying congestion pricing in Los Angeles County, it truly is a partnership with our State Department of Transportation, which is Caltrans. Metro and Caltrans are project partners. We have identified two corridors for a demonstration program. Both of those corridors lead into our downtown core, the East-West corridor which is at the top of the graph is Interstate 10, about a 14 mile segment east to west and it has a carpool lane in each direction. We are converting that carpool lane to a HOT lane as well as through re-striping of the existing carpool lane buffer to we add a second HOT lane for about 9 miles in each distraction. That currently is a HOV-3 and that will be a HOT-3 operation during deployment and then it moves to HOT-2 operation during off-peak hours. The second corridor is the north to south corridor is the 110 Freeway, it is about 11 miles in length. We are fortunate that today that corridor for about eight of those 11 miles have carpool lanes in both directions so we will be converting both of the lanes to HOT lanes. For that corridor, the occupancy requirement is different; it is a HOT-2 requirement and that will remain throughout the demonstration.

One of the unique challenges with our project is that we are to have very well use carpool lanes today so we are really looking at a multimodal integrated approach to try to create capacity and increase traffic flow on both of these lanes. What that means individually for the program is that we have identified up to 15 separate projects as part of our Express Lane program. Just like Patrick in Atlanta, we too are one of six nationwide demonstration projects and are tolling is beginning next fall. We're going to start with the north-south corridor followed by the east-west corridor a couple of months after.

Again our goals are really to move more people not more vehicles. With a population of 10 million and growing in LA County, we cannot afford to build our way out of the amount of traffic on the freeways today. So we're really focused on trying to increase the throughput on our HOT lanes and to look at also increasing mode shift. Also, when you deal with pricing or tolling, you must deal with equity issues. We will be the first in the state to implement a toll credit program for qualifying residents. When you talk about changing the way use an existing facility, an extensive outreach component is necessary and we embarked on that effort as well. With this opportunity we are deploying it is a one-year demonstration program. There will be a valuation both pre-deployment and post-appointment on the performance of the project and that is really important for our public acceptance.

Moving onto lessons learned, one of the challenges I think both Metro and Caltrans have come to realize is that a significant coordination effort. This is substantially more coordination than we are used to and the slide is just meant to illustrate just some of the project partners we have to work with to deliver this project to ensure it is going to be a success. Typically of course at the federal level we have our funding partners also provide project oversight and program oversight, which is standard. We have added local and municipality partners in order to improve mobility on both the corridors. Interoperability is really key area in California, particularly because the State DOT in California does not operate the toll system. It is made of individual agencies so ensuring to our customers that the system we deployed as interoperable as very key. From a regulatory perspective, working with our California Highway Patrol is critical to our success and applying congestion pricing. I would imagine it would be critical for your success dealing with your state and local law enforcement. For California, we are one of the states that really still do not have design-build as a standard delivery approach or method. We had to get special authority for both Caltrans and Metro from the California Transportation Commission to move forward with design-build. And of course dealing with third parties, utilities, we had to deal with our county on some issues as well as NEPA is very critical and important. For our program, Caltrans served as a lead agency for any NEPA.

This slide is about overcoming some of those intra-agency hurdles. I mentioned our key effort is the coordination effort. One of our takeaways that we would share with you and this is both from Metro's and our project partner Caltrans' perspective is that it is really important to identify subject matter experts early in the process. One of the things we did, even among all those various partner agencies, was we definitely had buy-in at the top level, but we could have probably used some more buy-in at the middle-management level, such as the reviewers and approvers at the particular agencies. An example of this was that the project partners quickly identified design exceptions would be needed on the freeway. We had general consensus at the top level that it would be a matter we needed to pursue. We really did not bring in the design exception reviewers until much later in the process and because of that type of delay it really did not facilitate an early understanding or really what the designers need in order to provide timely approval. So that was a lesson learned for us in terms of subject matter experts.

The other important thing in terms of identifying subject matter experts, particularly with Federal Highway opportunity with our grant is as Patrick mentioned with Georgia, the same applies to Los Angeles and we have a strict deadline to go live with revenue operations. That really changes our approach and how we coordinate and work with all of our partner agencies. So when you have an aggressive schedule, a strict deadline, really making sure that you have buy-in early on at key levels within the partner agencies is going to be very crucial. The other important element for our project is for the first time for Metro and Caltrans, we are deploying a design-build-maintain delivery approach so that is new for all of us. To help us with that we established an executive committee of project partners to address time sensitive issues. This really helps cut through red tape. One of the other lessons learned, instead of waiting traditionally at the end or the conclusion of a project to hold a lessons learned workshop, working with our project partner Caltrans, we held a lessons learned workshop at the completion of our pre-construction activities. We felt that it was important to hold that workshop at that time because we had experience some delays in our scheduled and some cost increases and we wanted to work out the details as partners prior to moving into the next stage of project development. That has proven to be very helpful to both of the agencies and so we would encourage you to look at best practices but do not be afraid to create your own practice. And if it is deemed appropriate to hold a lessons learned workshop prior to the end of the project we encourage you to do so. The other element, the tool that we have used that has helped us tremendously in our coordination efforts is Caltrans is known nationwide for their partnering sessions. We have also included formal partnering sessions with our contractor, third-party agencies and this which really helps build team cohesiveness. It also helps elevate issues that the team needs to address early.

In terms of project management, I cannot stress enough that from an internal perspective it has been really important to have our CEO serve as our project champion. As I mentioned externally we have to coordinate with more than 20 agencies, but internally we have to coordinate with more than six different departments and so our CEO holds biweekly updates at his staff meeting with all department heads to ensure we have an integrated approach to deliver the program that has proven to be successful. Really elevates the importance of the program to all the various department heads. Also to that end, we have an integrated project status reporting. It really helps keep all the moving parts together. Like I mentioned, operations, transit capital element to our program such as building new stations, extending park-and-ride lots, as well as implementing congested pricing on parking meters. There are a lot of different moving parts that we have to keep together and so providing integrated project reports really helps keep all those elements together. Then a lesson learned for us was really to ensure that there are adequate staffing resources. Congestion pricing can really taken agency by storm. You may think you can slowly build up staffing and I'm here to tell you that you have to have your staffing plan really robust at the very beginning. That has to be communicated to your partner agencies as well where appropriate.

My third element, in terms of lessons learned, would be on addressing legislative hurdles. I'm here to say that we have not overcome all of our hurdles but I think we've done a lot given that the magnitude of what we're trying to accomplish. Having a political champion is a must. We are no stranger to that, we are fortunate enough to have our mayor of Los Angeles as well as our whole board united for the support of congestion pricing. We also have the governor's support as well as the Secretary of Transportation. What has been important at the state level to receive our tolling authority is really the use of revenues. It was really important California that the net revenue be reinvested in the corridor where they are generated. That was really important not just at the state level but also the local level. Also for the revenue to be reinvested in transit has been a really important component to public acceptance. Addressing equity issues early in the planning process, I cannot stress that enough. You've heard it from other academics, but we are the first in the state to actually be required to do that as part of our authority. We have completed the assessment and we're going to be offering a toll credit for qualifying low-income commuters. Then another component has been the performance measurements. Part of our successes than that we are deploying it as a pilot project. What is unique is that we are applying this in very congested corridors which really has not been done before. We are not able to change occupancy requirements for the deployment and so it has been important for the public to understand that there are performance measurements, that there will be data collection efforts, and we are required by state law to report back out to the legislature and the public on the performance of the program. But enough cannot be said about the substantial federal grant commitment that we received. It did a lot to open doors to legislative offices that may have initially been close to the topic of even looking at pricing as a tool. So that has been an incredible carrot if you will for allowing us to handle some of these legislative hurdles. Just in closing and my last 30 seconds, I will wrap up where we are with the schedule. We have awarded a design-build-maintain contract. We have the contractors on board and we anticipate beginning construction this summer and starting our marketing efforts. We plan to open our lanes to traffic next fall of 2012. With that I will turn back over to Jennifer.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you Stephanie. We will now take a few minutes for questions. Does the LA area program have any interaction with the California DMV for enforcement or toll collection?

Stephanie Wiggins

Yes, we will be entering an agreement with the DMV for collection of outstanding fines.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay. How are you going to measure success in one year?

Stephanie Wiggins

Working with Federal Highways, they have a consultant to work with us on gathering the pre-deployment data collection as well as post-deployment data collection. We have a really comprehensive plan to do that. At a high level, we are going to be measuring the improvement in traffic speeds in the corridor, both in the general purpose lanes as well as the express lanes themselves. We are going to be measuring the throughput, and we were going to measure whether or not we saw an increase in ridership. What has been important at the state and local level is that we measure what happens on the arterials. The concern is that we are going to push traffic from the freeway onto the side arterial so we'll be measuring that activity. Obviously from an equity perspective, we will be measuring what type of access was given to low-income commuters. In general, working with Federal Highways helps provide an extensive performance metric data collection effort which will be made public at the end of the demonstration period.

Jennifer Symoun

Did Metro need to secure state legislative authority to develop the HOT lanes program?

Stephanie Wiggins

Yes, we did. It was a requirement of our grant and we had six months to do so after receiving the grant in October of 2008.

Jennifer Symoun

Are you using another corridor as a control to compare impacts on travel? For example how much is due to travel as opposed to the economy and rising gas prices?

Stephanie Wiggins

Yes. It has been a challenge to find a corridor best suited for that given everything that happens in LA County, but that is the premise of the data collection. We will have a control corridor identified.

Jennifer Symoun

How were low income non-revenue vehicles established? Was it through legislation? Is there a cap on the number of vehicles allowed in the lane?

Stephanie Wiggins

There is no cap on the number of vehicles in the lane, but could you repeat the first part of the question?

Jennifer Symoun

How are low income non-revenue vehicles established?

Stephanie Wiggins

There are no low income non-revenue vehicles. Essentially our tolling legislation requires us to conduct an assessment to low income commuters and provided mitigations. The legislation defined what is low-income. It defined low income as residents and enrolled in certain entitlement programs to qualify as low income. When we conducted our assessment, we increased that threshold to the average household size of three, annual income of $35,000. It is about twice the federal poverty threshold. Our toll credit program is just that when they open their account, instead of having to put down $40 they'll have to put down $15 and we will provide a $25 subsidy and toll credits for them. So that is the essence of our credit program.

To clarify in terms of a cap, essentially we have to keep the lanes moving at an average speed of 45 miles per hour. If the demand for the express lanes gets to the point where those travel speeds drop below 45 miles per hour, we will actually shut down the lanes for tolling and they'll be HOV only until the speeds rise above 45 miles per hour.

Jennifer Symoun

And to follow up with that question, so the low income vehicles are not toll-free then?

Stephanie Wiggins

No, they are not.

Jennifer Symoun

What are the primary legislative hurdles that you faced and what are the remaining hurdles?

Stephanie Wiggins

The primary hurdle we faced was time. We only had six months and it was a short time to get the legislative people educated on a concept that they were not familiar with so that was probably the major hurdle. The ones that remain at the congressional level, they are still concerned about equity and feeling better project creates a two-tiered system and then there are concerns about double taxation. The feeling is that the people have already paid for access to the lanes and we are making them pay twice.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay thank you. We are going to have to move on to the next presentation and will try to get the unanswered questions addressed at a later point. We are now going to move on to a presentation given jointly by Jeff Weidner and Jim Udvardy of the Florida Department of Transportation

Jeff Weidner

Good afternoon, my name is Jeff Weidner and I'm at District 4 of the Florida DOT. I have with me Jim Udvardy, the director of our Commuter and Carpool Program. We are going to split the presentation and share our experience. My presentation first will be a little bit of background and going to talk about the institutional issues, our tolling statute, and multimodal operating and maintenance. Then Jim is going to talk about lessons learned, what we did right, and what we still need to improve. Jumping right into the background, it is a 21 mile project from Fort Lauderdale to downtown Miami. We did not receive full funding. We were only able to fund about half of the project from the Golden Glades interchange to downtown Miami and that was phase 1 that opened in both directions in December 2009. The second phase from the Golden Glades to Fort Lauderdale will be going into construction in about a month. This is a conversion of two HOV lanes to the new express lanes. Like the Los Angeles proposal, we restriped to add another lane and had to get our variances from FHWA. We went from HOV-2 to HOV-3+. We have an extensive bus rapid-transit program and we actually were trying to doing this quickly with very little construction disruption.

Just to share with you some of the institutional issues on how we were able to do this. We have here a picture of the corridor before, if you can look and see the lanes were already packed. The HOV lanes in transit had no benefit, they were bogged it down as much as the rest of the vehicles were. If you look at this picture, the opposite direction HOV lane was actually empty. The proposed improvement was a $2 billion double deck highway improvement. We will probably never get there so when the grant proposal came on board or came along, it was politically positive in the Miami-Dade area. It was one of the most rewarding projects to work on. We went from concept to construction in about two years. Broward County is the community somewhat to the north, and they were not so positive on the project. It was the transit carpool element where we were able to get their support.

We had to have a separate statute and we do have a turnpike corridor where their tolling statute allows tolls to be collected for construction purposes in addition to operating and maintenance. Here we were only allowed to collect tolls to operate and maintain the corridor so was very important up front to make sure we institutionalized what is going to be in that budget and there were four elements in the budget. We identified every item that we would need to operate these two lines and that included anything from engineering support, additional hours, but here we had our commuter services program. This program operates, we have a phone bank and website, we have two more employees funded through the program and that is for registering the carpools, answering questions for construction etc. Extensive incident management program where we have to tow trucks roaming the corridor for when a car breaks down, we have to get out of the corridor. Also, we have additional highway patrol, etc. You need to institutionalize the operating and maintenance budget so therefore you can defend it. Also you must account for the operating budget including, variable message signs, cameras, detectors, etc. Then moving onto our recurring annual budget, I think if you look at item number two, we do not have a physical barriers per se, we are using flexible delineators and we're replacing the entire system once a year. Then at the bottom you will see our proposed transit budget elements and the line items for the budget, Miami-Dade transit and Broward County transit are both providing the services and the lanes.

This slide shows the end percentages of the budget. We have here in the beginning the projects were coming on halfway in the fiscal year and we settle down and everything is operating in 1213 and we're doing about 39% to 38% of the O&M is dedicated to the transit budget. I think that is very important up front to memorialize that in the operating and maintenance expenses. Finally a challenge is the multiple jurisdictions. There were two counties, two MPOs, three transit agencies, and two DOT districts involved. They're two different levels of congestion. In Miami-Dade, the project was really welcome because the congestion was so severe, and in Broward the congestion is not as severe and there was a lot more opposition from the elected officials. However we got through because of addressing the equity issue through transit. We had interoperability issues with the transit systems, they do not use the same cars, they have the same fairs and that was an issue. The Broward County buses would be driving into Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade deep into Broward County and they're communication devices did not work that far. Actually they had contractual issues with their towing. If a Broward bus broke down in Miami-Dade they were contractual issues with towing out of Miami-Dade and working together through the process and prior to, they actually developed protocol on removing a bus if there was an accident. One issue or a lesson learned is we probably should have required a vehicle branding prior to. These are two buses in the image below, the one on the left is the Broward County and the one on the right is the Miami-Dade. I think we would've liked to see some branding for the 95 Express. The agencies pushed back and wanted to maintain their own identities. You can see the blue bus is the Broward County brand and the green and white and blue is the Miami-Dade County brand. But with that we're going to move on to Jim Udvardy and he will talk about some other critical issues.

Jim Udvardy

One of the critical things in developing the toll road for our toll-free customers was to establish or define what is a 3+ carpool and so forth. We developed a State of Florida administrative code to define who could use those lanes toll-free. These included 3+ carpool, hybrid vehicles, South Florida vanpool program which is a dedicated program promoting vanpools in South Florida, over the road motor coaches, the transit buses both from Miami-Dade and Broward County transit, and then public-school buses. Especially it was important to go ahead and define what elements were identified in creating a 3+ carpool. A 3+ carpool in South Florida was identified as a commuter related carpool which means they are identified as somebody committing to from or work or school. People are allowed to go ahead and sign up online and there is a criteria of what establishes a legitimate carpool, such as they have to live in close proximity of their carpool partners. We wanted to reduce any type of abuse of the toll-free system. You can see on the slide that we provide everybody of a carpool or hybrid a sticker that they place on the front windshield of their vehicle so they can identify them as the 3+ carpool or a hybrid vehicle.

It is important in actually making the rules so specific and trying to limit any gray areas. Prior to the opening of the lanes, we had numerous calls come in from taxi agencies or people that wanted to go ahead and drive their children to and from school. Even after the lanes opened we were challenged by an individual who was transporting him and his wife and their seven year old child that was going to daycare center and they said should have been eligible to use the 3+ carpool lane. It went all the way up to the State of Florida Courts. It was upheld with our rule and we continue to run it as a 3+ commuter carpool in the managed lanes.

One of the unique things we had to develop was because we do not have a dedicated lane for toll-free usage, so we had to identify how do we go ahead and distinguish toll-free users and not have them pay? The process is that they register their vehicle online, they do go ahead and get a sticker, and we go ahead and work with the tolling agency, Sun Path in Florida, and we provide them of all registrants that are eligible to use the lanes. If you are registered, you will go under a gantry and you will show that you are non-payer, you will come up in the Sun Path system and then it will identify that you are qualified to use the lane. It will not issue a toll violation. Another thing that we thought was extremely important was to have a renewal process so we do go ahead and clean the database, people do have to register every six months to make sure that we are properly managing the lanes and who can use the lanes of the toll-free customer.

One of the lessons learned and things that we still need to improve its enforcement. We did add an additional lane which made a smaller shoulder for the 95 Express Lanes. So currently where HOV exist in South Florida, Florida Highway Patrol is able to be on the shoulder and monitor the lanes. They cannot do that in a 95 Express Lanes just from a safety perspective and there really is no monitoring space. We still have to continue to pursue efforts on how we monitor the lanes because if they actually go ahead and find a violator, there would be no space to pull them over until they were out of the 95 Express lanes. Because the corridor is 6.2 miles, it could be quite the distance. With that, I will turn it over to Jennifer for questions

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, thank you. What interactions that did the Florida DOT have with Florida Turnpike?

Jeff Weidner

Florida Turnpike, we actually refer to them as District 8, they are part of Florida DOT. They are part of us so institutionalized we have always been one agency. The Turnpike is part of the Department of Transportation so we are required to work together.

Jennifer Symoun

Does the HOT program make use of any private sector partnerships for operations?

Jeff Weidner

No. We received federal funding. We got about 25% of our request and got about 100% of our FTA request. The toll revenues are being turned back to pay for the operations at DCT and Miami-Dade transit, but there are no private dollars in this project.

Jennifer Symoun

How has the sticker HOV3+ designation worked? What if a driver wants to be non-HOV on a particular day?

Jeff Weidner

It is very unusual. Jim, would you like to explain it?

Jim Udvardy

What happens is if you are not a 3+ carpool and you are using it on times when you do not have the other carpoolers in a vehicle with you, do have a transponder from Sun Path that is the tolling for the lane. We do provide, free of cost, a shield or bag where you would have to actually shield your transponder when you're using it as a toll-free user, and if you're using it as a paid customer you would just put the transponder up.

Jeff Weidner

We do not have a traditional on-off switch. This shield will protect you when you are legitimate carpool. When you're not carpooling you are supposed to be using your pass and paying a toll.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. Did you have any significant pushback from any agencies on the HOV registration requirements?

Jeff Weidner

Agencies, I do not think so. We got very little pushback from the HOV-2+ people. Even through the beginning of the project, I'm not sure why, but they had her we had a very successful program particularly in that link going into Miami-Dade County. We had a lot of enforcement, the violations were less than 10%, but the lanes were bumper-to-bumper about 10 miles an hour over those 11 miles. So perhaps they were welcoming the improvement. I think what is really important to understand is that we just did not convert, we added a lane through restriping to get that extra lane in there without spending $2 billion. The added lane and capacity and general purpose lanes are operating at 30 miles better than before, and the HOT lanes are working very well at 35 to 40 miles per hour better than before so everybody is gaining. I think our monitoring has shown that we have pushed some of the HOV-2s to the general purpose lanes, but we are getting just a lot of positive feedback. I think adding that lane was what benefited them the most.

Jennifer Symoun

Have you tried camera-based monitoring to pursue violators?

Jeff Weidner

No but we are actively following, I think there is a San Diego project or demonstration project going out that. I do not think we have issued one violation ticket for the HOT-3 violators. What has to happen is that the officer needs to detect that the violator under the gantry and look for the decal and count the persons in the vehicle. We thought maybe with some motorcycle deployment it might work, but frankly it is not and we are seeking new ways to enforce the HOT-3.

Jim Udvardy

That is why it was extreme important when developing the 3+ carpool rule, that there was specific information of what qualified. It cannot be just anybody in South Florida that wanted to go and be in a 3+ carpool. You need to have certain elements to be in a 3+ carpool.

Jennifer Symoun

You mentioned stickers, what is the difference between the yellow and orange stickers?

Jeff Weidner

One is for hybrid and one was for 3+ carpools. If you see one sticker, you can understand that they're a hybrid vehicle and not a 3+ carpool which is the other sticker.

Jim Udvardy

But then we need the officer to determine if that is a legitimate hybrid that is allowed under the FHWA standards. Enforcement is difficult and I'm looking forward to sharing with the Los Angeles and Atlanta in what successes they may have.

Jeff Weidner

The state of Florida does require that you have a HOV sticker which qualifies you so even before you can go ahead and sign up for the 95 Express Lanes, if you do not have that HOV sticker and that number, we will not sign you up as a hybrid vehicle.

Jennifer Symoun

We are going to move on to our final presentation. We should still level of a time at the end to go back to some of the questions we have not yet addressed. I am now was turned over to Patrick Decorla-Souza of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Innovative Program Delivery

Patrick Decorla-Souza

Thank you Jennifer. What I am going to do is give you a few perspectives on federal requirements. What we have seen in the projects presented so far are projects that came in just because the Urban Partnership Program provided the funding. These projects did not come out of the long-range planning process. They had to actually go back and do the conformity analysis and get the project in the long-range plan and transportation improvement program and go through the National Environmental Policy Act review. Ideally of course, we would like to see projects come out of the long-range plan and several metropolitan areas are going that route, primary among them is Seattle, the Bay Area, San Diego have all begun developing plans that include these tolling projects. To encourage other areas to think about this far in advanced, we are going to have workshops in September to provide ways and technical assistance on how metropolitan areas can and incorporate pricing into their long-range plan. Stay tuned on that.

One thing that you might have noticed, all of these projects that were presented had lots of money from the Urban Partnership Program or the Congestion Reduction Demonstration Program and they were able to make transit an integral part of their proposal. So the question arises, what do you do if you do not have such money? For those who may not know it, the Urban Partnership Program and the CRD program were one year programs. In other words they will not happen again, there will not be such money that US DOT can distribute and allocate to projects to encourage this type of transit integration. So what are other projects going to do to get the kind of funding that they might need to make transit a part of their pricing projects? We heard that transit is a key to addressing the equity issue; you have heard that it is the key to addressing public acceptance issues. So how do you have transit if you do not have a federal grant with lots of money? Let me show you what others have been doing. The three projects which I have listed here such as the I-394 in Minnesota, converted HOV lanes to HOT lanes, the legislation actually requires that half of the excess revenue be spent on transit. Unfortunately, in this case, while it is good news that the legislature is aggressive, what we find is that there is not a lot of extra revenue. In fact, there is none. The revenue is actually going to pay back either the operating cost of the lane itself or capital improvements that have been made. So the point is that if you have HOV-2 or HOT-2, you do not have a lot of funding and they are probably not a good source of funding for transit.

What about new HOT lanes? They're under construction on the capital beltway in Northern Virginia and instead of HOV-2, they will be HOT-3 so you would help therefore there should be a little more revenue that could be used to pay for new and improved transit service. However, on the other side of the coin as Jeff pointed out, these projects are very expensive. It would've been $2 billion in Miami to build the lanes that would have essentially functioned the same way as what they ultimately build and the capital beltway is going to cost $2 billion. Most of the revenues are going to pay back the construction cost and even those revenues are not going to be sufficient and that has to be some tax subsidies. So there is no revenue that can be used to make that project truly multimodal all of course unless other revenues come from local governments or the State. Finally, we have in Atlanta, just like I-85 that Patrick Vu pointed out, there is another corridor in the northwest that is currently looking to develop a new expressway and it is not only HOV-3 that will have to pay, but everyone will have to pay except for buses and vanpools. Even in this case if you charge everybody, what they are finding is that the toll revenues still cannot pay for the project and tax revenues have to be used. Therefore, there is no revenue left over to pay for any kind of new transit. So, if you do not have money in this day and age when other transit agencies are cutting back on service because they do not have adequate revenue. So if that is the case, how do we make these projects multimodal so they can be acceptable and equitable?

We have heard that one way is to try and use of the existing capacity more efficiently by restriping and that is what they did in Florida. They created that new capacity and were able to therefore generate sufficient revenue. Almost half of this revenue, about 40%, goes to support transit. You can do that if you have a HOV-3 policy and have plenty of capacity without a lot of extra cost. There is another project that is going to begin tolling, the SR 520 project in Seattle, it is going to toll all lanes and therefore generate more revenue. HOV-3 will not be free. It will generate a lot of revenue however the only transit improvements that are being funded are through other tax dollars or an Urban Partnership Grant. The net revenues are going to be used to build a replacement bridge. However, what this does suggest is you can make projects multimodal and get the extra revenue if you're a little more aggressive and your tolling policies. If you are able to, as in Florida make the lanes HOT-3 or convert existing lanes into revenue producing lanes. By generating this extra revenue, you can use it for transit.

Of course the big issue is that there might be willingness to spend money on transit on the part of metropolitan areas, but they do need to get legislation as we saw that allows them to do that. Of course, the most important thing is there has to be sufficient revenue being generated. It is going to be key you configure your project so that you are able to generate the money you would need without an Urban Partnership Grant.

So I just want to point out a few more things on the federal institutional side. You do need to get tolling authority. In general, interstates cannot be tolled and most of your major corridors are interstates. There are a couple of pilot programs that allow interstate tolling, but for demand management such as congestion pricing, there are a few projects that have been created. The first on is the Section 166, HOT lanes under which projects you heard of today have gotten there tolling authority. There is an unlimited ability to provide tolling authority for these projects. However, HOVs have to be free. If you want to charge a HOV, as in Atlanta for example on the northwest corridor, the Express Lane demonstration program is available to you, but there are only 15 projects that are allowed nationwide. If you want to toll a general purpose lane as they are doing and SR 520 in Seattle and also of course in Miami on the new lane they created by restriping, you have to get authority from the Value Pricing Pilot Program because that is the only program that will allow you to toll an existing general purpose lane. There are 15 slots, that means 15 agencies or public authorities nationwide are allowed to do that so there is a limited ability to do that route.

I would just like to close by pointing out that the Federal Highway Administration has resources that will help you with moving on with your tolling programs. First we offer assistance in choosing the right program. We help you with developing agreements, we have analysis tools that help you estimate revenues for example, and research that has been done on things such as public acceptance and products that we have produced to help educate elected officials and other leaders on congestion pricing. We also have webinars such as this one. There is a whole series as we said earlier that we are going to have over the next several months on very is aspects of congestion pricing. Workshops, I mentioned the workshops for MPOs that we will have in September. These will be for workshops all over the country, and stay tuned on more information on that. We also have targeted workshops if you need special assistance in any metropolitan area, we can help organize a workshop in your area. Now, all of the research and the tools and information on tolling programs etc. are available on our website. There are two offices involved in doing this outreach. One is the Office of Operations, and I have shown that URL up there, and then Office of Innovative Program Delivery, and the URL is up there. So please do go to these websites and see what you can find on congestion pricing. Finally I just want to say that this webinar is a first step that we are taking and developing more information on institutional issues. There will be a white paper that will be developed and then a primer that will flow from this work. So that is it and I turn it over to Jennifer.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you, Patrick. We have a few questions that came in for you. The first question is, if tolling is done on private property what type of tolling authority is needed?

Patrick Decorla-Souza

If it is private property and no federal funds have ever been expended, if this is a new facility and there has not been federal funds ever expanded on that facility and if connections do not have to be built, for example that is a freeway from an arterial facility, then a federal tolling authority would not be required and you would not be subject to those requirements.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay. Another question is 15 slots in the federal program can lead to more than 15 projects, is that correct?

Patrick Decorla-Souza

That is correct, each public authority or agency can have an unlimited number of projects. So if you sign an agreement, let's say the California DOT can have any number of projects tolling all lanes or existing general purpose lanes under the Value Pricing Pilot Program.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, thank you. There is a question I am going to ask it to all the presenters. We will start off with Patrick Vu and that is what are the projected operating and capital costs compared to the projected tolls collected?

Patrick Vu

At the Atlanta region, it is hopefully to break even. Again, this whole project is about travel time reliabilities and it is not a financial money maker. By the time you start incorporating customer-service cost and other costs such as pursuing violations and enforcement, it is break even. In terms of breaking even for operations, if we had to pay back the funds for capital costs, I do not think it would be close to breaking even.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay and Stephanie next.

Stephanie Wiggins

Similar to Atlanta, our purpose is to relieve traffic congestion rather than raising finances. Our preliminary estimates show a gross of $18 to $20 million with operating costs of $6 to $8 million a year.

Jennifer Symoun

And Jeff and Jim?

Jeff Weidner

What we found out is that our estimates are pretty good, we were a little bit conservative and actually we are bringing in about 10% more on revenue than we anticipated. Still a little bit more than a year later we are filling in our operations budget with actual invoices. Some things have come in a little the less. We have found that the cost of the delineators is coming in a little bit more. We are in a 10% range with what we estimated. We had a $200 million project for highway. We got about $45 from the UPA agreement and about $30 from the state. We broke the project in half and we had to fill about a $50 million gap so we put that also as a payback into the revenue stream. We are operating in a negative. At a certain point, we will be building phase 2 as a negative, and we will not be crossing that imaginary profit line until 2031. There has been a change in our legislation where any additional funding can go to any roadway in the state but we never included, and this is a lesson learned, the cost of resurfacing the project so we do not anticipate that we will ever be making funds. It is bringing in about $12 million a year for that 11 mile segment but it costs about $11 million a year to run it. Then of course the capital payback is what is putting us into a deficit. We at the state level put in the subsidized and the local transit are not putting any funding in. We actually have to pay them to operate in the lanes.

Jennifer Symoun

Going back to Patrick Decorla-Sourza on the question about the slots available for the program, commonly slots are remaining to date?

Patrick Decorla-Souza

As I said for the HOV to HOT section 166, there are unlimited slots. If you just want to convert an HOV to a HOT lane or build a HOT lane, you do not have to worry about slots. If you want to not provide free service to HOVs that is not a HOT lane, that is an express lane and in that case there are a total of 15 projects that can be built nationwide. So far five have obtained slots. One project is in Florida and four in Texas leaving about 10 remaining. On the Value Pricing Pilot Program, there are about seven agencies that have been given tolling authority under this program. That doesn't mean that we have more agencies than that, but they are doing studies and really haven't utilized the tolling authority the Value Pricing Pilot Program provides. So unless those agencies use the tolling authority those slots would still be available in future. When the states complete their studies, the slots would still be available to other states or public authorities to use to toll an existing general purpose lane for example.

Jennifer Symoun

We are about out of time today. They are still a number of unanswered questions, and like I said I will give those to the presenters and get some written responses and get them back to you. I want to thank all of our presenters for all the great presentations today and thank you everybody in attendance and for the questions that were asked. The next webinar is going to be held on May 26 and will be about Addressing Congestion Pricing Equity Issues. The link to register is shown at the bottom of the slide on your screen. If you go to that website, you will see a table with upcoming webinars. Right now the May 26 webinar will be the only one listed and if you click on that link you'll get to the registration page. On that page you also find a list of tentative dates and topics for webinars throughout the remainder of 2011. We do have a webinar planned for each month. With that, thank you and we will be sending out all of the information in the next week or two. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the presenters. Thank you everyone and have a great rest of the day.

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