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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

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

Session 5: Technology to Enable and Complement Congestion Pricing - Transcript

Moderator:

Jennifer Symoun

Presenters:

 

Jennifer Symoun

Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to 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 Technology to Enable and Complement 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 four presenters, Jack Opiola of D'Artagnan Consulting, Nick Thompson from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Morgan Balogh from the Washington State Department of Transportation, who will be filling in for Mark Leth who we originally had scheduled to present, and Bob Sheehan from the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations.

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 Jack Opiola of D'Artagnan Consulting.

Jack Opiola

Thank you. I will be looking at the subject from an international perspective to set the stage. I will cover research and concepts in road user charging, present worldwide trends, and outline the technologies and the systems. There are two primaries available, shown on the screen. The subject of the conference today and the reference is on the bottom. The first primer gives you the functional processes and technologies that are applied and the second one gives you the complements to those on how technologies and examples are done in order to help congestion pricing. I will show you travel behavior recorded in Southern California. This is congestion in Southern California in the LA area and the average gas prices. You'll notice the yellow bar represents gas prices about $3.25. When gas prices went above $3.25, you get a behavioral response from drivers. You see this in the three major spikes showing.

The response was that drivers basically limited their use of the roads because of the high gas prices. In effect, without using gas prices as a surrogate, you end up with a suppression of traffic or a suppression of demand. It is one way to look at it. Whenever you are looking at one of these systems where you are actually addressing the area of revenue collection, you have to talk about it in three major types. One subsystem has to do with the vehicle and the motorists, another is the subsystem is used to collect revenues, and finally the third is the back office systems. When we break this down, as done in the primer, step one is informing the drivers that they are in the zone. This is done in a myriad of ways. The second primer on the information and complementary ways does a great job of addressing this. Even after you have informed the drivers, you have to go through a process where the vehicle is detected, and it is classified. The declaration may be the presentation by the driver saying he is on the road in a direct fashion or it is the transponder or tag talking to the gantry or if it is a GPS or other technology it is declaring the vehicle itself as access to the road or facility. Then you would have the collection process and the end of the transaction. If for any reason the transaction doesn't work properly, you will typically go through an enforcement process where you are capturing data on the transit. You would either try to collect the money later or go through a full enforcement process for a possible violation. All of this is done in the back office system.

Informing the driver is one of the most important steps. Typically, where We'll go into the highway manual, there will be signs at the start of every toll road. If the driver is coming into the zone, they should be alerted that there will be a charge for that section of the network or that link if they are in a HOT lane. There are a number of ways of doing that with overhead informational signs and travel information on their navigation system or directly to their telephone if it is GPS linked. Next is the collection subsystem and components. There are means of traffic control and the vehicle detection classification, and sometimes those are combined. The same system is doing both. Some sort of backup, which is video, and goes hand-in-hand with enforcement. Data storage is on the side of the roadway in this subsystem as well. You see the hardware components and the major groupings in the back office, including the computer system, the image processing center, link for the payments, the billing and accounting system if you are increasing your users, a call center in case they have questions on their account and the enforcement subsystem.

Looking at this in a functional viewpoint, they generally break down to user services, the charging services, compliance and enforcement, and of course the operations. What I am showing is a chart that is much too busy to go through each individual box. What I have tried to do is convey the importance of each system and subsystem and how they work together. In many cases, this will be done in separate areas of the back office. The functions are somewhat universal.

Where do you start? That is the biggest question people have. I am showing a diagram that links a process methodology. This shows how to look at congestion charging or pricing in order to sort out what you want in your system. What is going to be the basis of the charge? There are two major divisions: event based or rate based. Most systems today are event based. The event could be that you are in the area or crossing into the area during the zones of operation. A system in Singapore is much of the same thing. It is event based, based on the point you entered the city. Stockholm is cordoned based and this is when you cross the cordon into the city. From there you start to look at the type of rate. Underneath the rates, most that have been looked at have been distanced based charging systems. There have been variations of that like the elapsed time in the zone or the amount of engine runtime that has been experienced when the vehicle has been started as a replacement for the gas tax.

When you start to look at how you turn around and detect the charge. You can do a user declaration or systems declaration. That is going to be consistent on both systems: event or rate based. For example, in London the reason the system has been so successful, it is a declaration system. Many people confuse that as being system detection and it is not. It is a declaration. If I come in, I get a permit or access via calling and letting know I will be in that date and time. I then turn around and pay my money. Even if I never go in, they have taken my charge. The video system is just there to confirm you were there. When I call I give them my license plate number, they check it on the video, and they know that I am a paid customer as opposed to unpaid. When you start moving down to the methodologies that determine or determine how you are doing it, either with the system or through declaration, it starts branching out. You can have it where the user is responsible or you have some sort of assist. Assist may be your cell phone that when approaching a zone, using the GPS the phone reminds me so I can then call in. Or, I can have an application that says if I want to get a license for coming in that day I can turn around and have the phone do it with a pre-recorded message or SMS. That is where we get into the assisted declaration. If it is automatic it means as soon as the system has seen it, I am using a tag, it will read the tag and it knows I can come in. All of those are different methods that can be used. Of course, they give you different solutions. The key is not the details of the slide. It is thinking through on what you ought to be doing is thinking through how you want to run the system and then looking to the technology to support it.

There is a host of technologies that can support you. I have listed them here. You can do it as simple as it paper-based system or a video system where it reads the license plate. I have separated out radio frequencies and DSRC. I see passive tags that give an effect of automated barcodes as RFID. If the tag has a processor and usually a battery, it falls into the dedicated short range communications. Sitting above that is satellite positioning system, GPS as we refer to it or GNSS as the Europeans refer to it. The last category is a cell phone. This used to be somewhat restrictive, but ever since the advent of smartphones in 2007, this area has blossomed. It has almost taken over all of the work that has been done by GPS.

I will give you some pictures. I was going to step you through pictures showing different technologies used for congestion pricing, but it does not seem to be working. This is the comparison of the technologies. Essentially, if you are going to do a simple system like an entry, unitary charge or flat rate, probably all of the technologies can be used. Cost-effectively, looking at something like a paper-based system or a video system read the license plate that may be far more cost effective to than paying for expensive of RFID, GPS, or smartphone system. If you are charging by variable rates on multiple routes with multiple zones, you start pushing the technology on the high-end. You can also use GPS, but when you are pushing your system you are going to want to look at for technology that is more robust. GPS comes to mind but also smartphones. We have seen and advent of smartphones in places likes Oregon where they are using the GPS and the technology of a smart phone to do the weight distance for the trucks in the state. It has been successful and has a great acceptance rate by the users. That ends my presentation. Thank you.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you, Jack. I'm sorry about the slide not working. I will take moment to allow people to type in questions. I am not seeing anything at this time. First question: with the future trending more towards mobile devices and e-wallets, how will this change the collection systems and the back office?

Jack Opiola

The back office system will not change in functionality, but in regards to size and function. We will probably see commercial partnerships where the people that are handling the smartphones, mobile network operators, may be partners with you. They may actually set up an account with your service contract and that does a huge amount to lower your cost in the back office system.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. A question about the slide before this, what does the O indicate?

Jack Opiola

The O means marginal. I should have given you a legend on that. In other words the technology has been used and could be stretched to used, but it is dubious at best using it in that situation.

Jennifer Symoun

Why were no odometer based systems included for mileage-based charging?

Jack Opiola

Good question, it was probably an oversight on my part. They have been used in the world. There is a light road user charging system done in New Zealand. New Zealand doesn't have a fuel tax on diesel. Diesel cars have been recording their odometer readings and the charge for the distance they drive has been off their odometers. There is a good element that can be done using their odometers. It is probably a new area here in the states. It is being looked at in some of the states as they are investigating vehicle miles traveled or a distance charge. I think there is one major issue that has to be addressed and it is probably the fact that since I use the odometer as they charging meter now is having it calibrated and certified. Odometers today are used for giving an indication of the wear and tear on the car in the laws in the United States and not as a charging device. As we move into this area it's probably going to be new legislation and looks at how to get odometers to be more accurate and how to get odometers to turn around and be certified if they are going to be used as a charging system.

Jennifer Symoun

The next question, you mentioned successful examples, Oregon, London, Stockholm and Singapore. Do you have others?

Jack Opiola

You certainly have a truck tolling systems that include Switzerland, Germany, Slovakia, and a number of systems that are not called congestion charging but access control. There are about 14 cities using access control in Italy. There are a number of places that have looked at it and are sitting on the fence but have not moved to a congestion charging system.

Jennifer Symoun

Has Bluetooth with registered Mac addresses been done?

Jack Opiola

It has been tested, but I don't know of anyone that is actively using it. I have not seen the test results, to determine if they were good.

Jennifer Symoun

What about VMT collection for trucks?

Jack Opiola

VMT for trucks have been a combination of both distance and weight. You do have active systems. The first active system was in Switzerland for all the roads. They end up using what is called the tachograph which is a safety device put on the truck, but they back it up with a GPS device so they can measure the accuracy of the measurement of distance that is coming off of that vehicle to see if there is any falsification of the records. You also have a system that is active in Germany that many people know about. You have a new GPS system started in Slovakia. So, there are several around. There is another system but not a charging system that is used in Australia called the IAP or Intelligent Access System. This system has vehicle owners that want to carry greater than 48 ton, they are allowed to carry up to 64 tons, have to have the GPS device, and they are restricted to the portion of the network. The device is a means to make sure they stay on those links in the network that can support them. Otherwise they get fined. I keep forgetting about New Zealand which had road using charging, a paper-based system, still done on the weight and distance and has been running since 1977.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. I think we will move onto the next presentation. If anyone has additional questions for Jack please type them in and if we don't have time at the end, we will get written responses to everyone. Our next presentation will be given by Nick Thompson from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Nick Thompson

Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. I will talk about the technology that we have from Minnesota's Management Lane system which has been in place in 2005. I will look into our implementation and what we need to be successful, including the framework for what we have had in place and what we have learned since then about what we need from a technology standpoint. I will also cover how it has evolved as we expanded from our first original corridor to the second corridor in the past couple of years.

In 2005 we convert 11 miles of HOV into HOT lanes on Interstate 394 which serves our downtown district. It had a 3 mile section of reversible road and technology related management. The reversible road was an underperforming carpool lane so we decided to add technology to allow drivers to pay a toll to use that HOV lane. It was the first time we had tolling in our state. We are not a state that had much of tolling. We have a strong history of technology related to traffic management systems which help, but the technologies around tolling were new to us.

In 2009 we expanded this to 35W. We call our system the MnPASS System for HOT lanes. In 2009 we expanded under the Urban Partnership Grant to the second corridor. This was a little different than the I394 project as we are constructing new lanes and had a 2.5 mile section of shoulder being converted to a part-time HOT lane using technology. This was quite new to us and new to a lot of people. It has worked very well but I will talk about the technology needed for that. On top of that we are adding an active traffic management on all lanes within the 35W corridor. We did that in phases in 2009 and some 2010. Because we were new to tolling, we partnered with the private sector to help develop and operate the system.

If you look at the map on the screen you see the 394 system running east-west on the left side. The 35W section that we built serves the downtown section. The green is existing carpool which we converted, the blue section is a section we built that opened last fall that was brand-new, and the orange is downtown on 35W where we converted a shoulder. There is a lot of complexity about the 35W in that we were building facilities at the same time we were adding technology. There was a challenge that we encountered that the day the roadway was completed, the technology had to work. There are some integration challenges which can help you guide what kind of technologies you use and how you deploy technology not just the technologies that you use on your system. We had a successful launch and operation.

The technology innovations that we see in 2005 and on 35W were basically tolling one lane in a multilane freeway that was immediately adjacent to lanes that were not tolled. All of technology challenges related to ensure that those that should be tolled are tolled and those in adjacent lanes which are not supposed to be tolled are not. We have overcome that. The lanes vary from 11 to 14 feet wide, so it is a narrow zone of tolling. We had full dynamic pricing on multiple consecutive roadway segments. We had overlapping zones and the price could change every three minutes at each entry point. It was fully dynamic based on conditions in the lane. There are some pioneering of technology applications to assist with enforcement and I will get into that more. Basically our transponders are dedicated short range and you read and write data to the transponders. The data can be read from the transponder within enforcement readers located in enforcement vehicles. On 35W, we combined tolling in a corridor that had extensive active traffic management systems. This was an integrated system that was new.

The MnPASS system is a new layer on to an existing system. In the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the entire freeway system is instrumented with traffic management systems. This is a fiber optic communication network, cameras, message signs, ramp metering, and sensors on every lane every half mile all managed through a regional transportation management center. This was all in place as we introduced tolling. We needed to overlay a tolling technology layer over the traffic and management system layer, utilizing efficiencies between the two is much as possible. At the same time, we had to have them operate distinct from each other, in parallel. Because they were operated from two different centers and management groups, they had to work together but in parallel. The foundation of the knowledge of traffic management was highly useful for us to successfully launch the technology related to tolling. The systems which were already in place were some of the same information systems needed for tolling and we were able to utilize the in-place system quite a bit to minimize costs.

If you look at existing management systems and new technology, we need to bring up a tolling on top of that. We had a communication network, traffic sensors, signs, cameras, gates, traffic management center, and incident management system. The new technology includes the tolling system, transponders and signs related to the dynamic pricing so users know what they pay when they enter. Also, the system includes toll readers and additional transponders for redundancy. We had to have the back-office system to process transactions and to handle customer service by the phone web and handle the overall monitoring of the system. Lastly we had to add enforcement. We had enforcement in place on the highways for basic enforcement, but we had to add a layer to manage just the tolling to make sure the people using the systems are valid users.

The design we have we started on 394. Basically we had a various entry points delineated by striping and overhead message signs where the driver drives in a lane next to the price points. They see a sign indicating there is a price or access ahead. Prior to entry, they see the pricing either for one or two zones depending on where they entered. Downstream from that sign they have a toll reader that reads the transponder. The technology had to work in such a way that the price they saw on the sign which is upstream from the toll reader was what they were charged with a transponder was read. There had to be a lot of integration between the sign infrastructure and toll reader which can be up to 2 miles apart in some cases. A lot of logic had to go into pricing to be sure people were charged correctly.

We have a variety of pricing and the whole goal of pricing is to vary the pricing to manage the speed of the priced lane. As the lane fills with cars or the speed begins to decrease, the price goes up. It is a supply and demand concept. Twenty five cents is the minimum price and eight dollars is the maximum. Each zone can have its own price but the cumulative of the two zones would be eight dollars. We only use the information gathered from the lane itself to set the price. If the lane is operating just fine, but adjacent free lanes are congested that does not affect the price. It is about what is going on in real time. This is the way Minnesota has done it. Other places have different variations on how they set the price, sometimes based on the lane or the value related to congestion. The sensors are in the lane every half mile. In Minnesota we generally use loop sensors. We have done some non-intrusive detection also. The prices can change every three minutes based on conditions. We use some historical rates of change such as how fast the conditions are changing and the current conditions to calculate the price. It is based on the worst case. We know where people will enter but we don't know where they will exit. We base the price on the worst point in the system. In Minnesota we do not price 24/7. When the system is not priced, the lane is available to any user with or without transponders. The displayed price has to be linked to what they paid.

This is a tricky system in that you can be in the price lane and not have a transponder and be valid. If you have more than one person in your vehicle you do not need a transponder. The toll system cannot pick up whether your car is legally there. Transit can also be there. We knew there would be a certain level of violators. We set a goal of violation rate of less than 10%. We had a high violation rate when it was just carpooling. We made a legal way for violators to now pay to use it and they become customers. To make sure they become compliant, we have enforcement every day looking for violators. We provided enforcement and the technology which I will talk about to make sure they can tell what people have paid a toll. There are a few things we didn't do or couldn't do. We have no way to do video enforcement at this point. We also tried systems like a beacon that flashes as the vehicles pass the toll reader. It has not been a value to our enforcement officers so we stopped that piece. We have mobile enforcement readers. This is a picture of a state trooper which is part of our mobile enforcement team. They are outfitted with toll reading technology that is identical to the system in place over the lane. They can query a car that passes. The office can tap the screen of a PDA and the system tries to read the transponder of the vehicle. Because these are read-write tags, they provide feedback to the officer such as when was the last time the person paid their toll. If they haven't paid in the last couple of minutes, then the car is in violation and the trooper can issue a ticket. The system has been extremely effective. It was a key part of our technology and enforcement strategy.

Our toll collection we use prepaid MnPASS account with credit card only. We do not take cash or checks. People have to have a balance on their account to use the system. As they are tolled, they incur a charge which is deducted from their balance. Our transponders must have the ability to turn off for carpooling. When you take them out of the clip mounted to the windshield, it turns it off. This gets around the enforcement challenge that allows users to sometimes have a carpool on some days and then use the lane by themselves on other days. We are not allowed to use any license plate readers for toll collection, as per our state law. On the right is a picture of the antenna used over the lane for reading transponders.

The back-office operations were a challenge. The back-office for our toll collection is located in a center that is separate from the traffic management center. Because we are sharing data, we had to have good methods for communications. The transaction processing manages a cashless system. Through system monitoring and testing, the system stores the data and interacts with the data with the two centers. The back-office also services customers so they can pay online, over the phone, or walk in and get a transponder. Many redundancies needed to be in place to have a reliable system, such as redundant power sources. We knew when we built the first system that the back-office would be something to expand. We built with expansion in mind.

As we move to the 35W corridor we try to keep the same technology where it makes sense and to make modifications and improvements where we learned for the first system. We had in place communication networks and by fiber optics. We were building and replacing some of this system with new construction. Basically, we were using the same sensors and information systems to manage the systems. Were able to use the same technology for tolling so whichever corridor a customer is on, their transponder will work. We used the same tolling strategies, same pricing. We used pricing by zone with the same rates. We used the same algorithms and same enforcement technology, just more of it. We used the same back-office. What was new to the corridor was that we added an active traffic management system, priced dynamic shoulder lanes, and we integrated ATM and pricing time signs.

Here are pictures from the signage on 35W. The two rate sign on the left indicating prices from that point forward. Below that is an active traffic management for the lane. We coordinated symbols, both the diamond and the MnPASS. When off-peak and not pricing we change the price messages to text like open or free and we remove the diamond. The signs over each lane on the right can be display variable both speeds advisories, "X's," and arrows or anything to manage that corridor. It is integrating not just price lanes, all lanes.

This is on all travel information systems. It shows you the pricing and the travel time messages; there is a lot of information. You also can see a very tight corridor for managing each lane. That is why we went to the active traffic management system because we were squeezing in a priced lane. It made tolling technology more challenging because there is a lot of room for errors.

Our price dynamic was basically taking a 2.5 mile of freeway of 35W which is the busiest section in the entire state. There is need for capacity but no room for capacity. We took four lanes and two ten foot shoulders and remade them into five lanes with narrow shoulders and an active traffic management system. We only needed the fifth lane during the AM and PM peak periods. Off-peak, the shoulder closes and becomes a shoulder. For breakdowns, enforcement, wintertime snow storage when needed to get snow out, the shoulder can be closed. We are able to use the same footprint the road has, but add the technology overhead to manage this to raise a very low cost system and use technology to get people reliable choices for pricing. Also, the same structure to manage the signs is one of the key elements of the technology. With this much technology overhead in the field and the harsh conditions of winters and salt and weather, we had over 170 signs on the corridor plus the pricing signs. There will be technology failures. Traditionally you would close the lane to fix the sign. We felt that was not an option. We designed and integrated structure with the technologies integrated with the structure. All maintenance of the signs can be done without closing the lanes because everything is tied off. All technology can be worked on from within the sign structure bridge. It was an incredibly efficient way to keep high-tech system in harsh conditions working in a way and still not impact traffic to do maintenance. This picture also shows the condition in advance of the price dynamic shoulder lane in a closed condition. We have to alert drivers when the lane is open we wanted to look like a lane and people to drive straight. But when it is closed want to make sure they are not driving into the shoulder thinking it is a lane. There are a lot of redundant messages. In this case we tell them over one half mile in advance it is closed down stream and they must merge. Also, you see a red X and is repeated every half mile that we to reinforce the drivers that the shoulder is closed and not open for price use during that time. Here is a picture with it open. There is a green arrow and they would have seen a price to use the lane. You also see lighting in the pavement. We use LEDs to make white skip markings when the lane is open, and can change it to a solid yellow line when the lane is closed. This has been in effective mechanism and an example of our additional safety mechanism to coincide and coordinate the messages to indicate drivers when they can and cannot use the shoulder lane which is adjacent to general traffic. With that, the last picture shows the yellow lights on in this case where the lane is closed.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. We have quite a few questions and we will not get through all of them, but we will see what we can get through. For 35W, to what extent has group throughput increased and crashes reduced?

Nick Thompson

We have an extensive evaluation under way. We don't have real good data at this point. The first evaluation will be published later this summer. It will have good congestion, crash, and throughput data. We know congestion is down quite a bit, but not only did we add these tolling and active management traffic systems we did major reconstruction the added capacity. There is a lot of capacity that is built-in that clearly has had an impact. The quantified numbers will be released later this year.

Jennifer Symoun

Did you compare the lane usage between HOT and HOV lanes? If yes, what was the reason?

Nick Thompson

Yes, we did strong comparisons and monitoring of the systems. Basically we started the systems as HOV and they did not work as well as we wanted. That is where we added the tolling on top to get more utilization of the lanes.

Jennifer Symoun

How do you prevent motorists from getting in the HOT lane a few hundred feet and then get off?

Nick Thompson

The only way you can do that is through enforcement in the field. We know it is occurring. The only time they would do that usually is to pass a vehicle in front of them that is going slow. It is not very common, but it does occur. We accept some level of violation, and we know we cannot have perfect compliance.

Jennifer Symoun

For MnPASS, how has travel time reliability improved?

Nick Thompson

Basically it is completely reliable system if you are a MnPASS user. Over 98% of the time, the MnPASS lane operates at 50 miles per hour or greater. The times that it does not operate at that usually related to weather, such as poor weather where people do not feel safe traveling at those speeds. Even in the poor weather conditions they are operating at a speed much higher than adjacent traffic. We measure that and report on a quarterly basis. It has been very reliable.

Jennifer Symoun

Why were the beacons not useful to enforcement?

Nick Thompson

It turned out that the in-vehicle readers were most useful, but also it was a very complicated system. They had to sit downstream of the beacons and look in the rearview mirror to monitor the beacons and also monitor the vehicles driving by. They just found that they did not need it to do enforcement and it was complicated. Enforcement demanded that we had the beacons at the beginning, but they realized they were not a value or needed after they started using them. So we did not install them on the second corridor.

Jennifer Symoun

Did you include HOT lane specific incident management?

Nick Thompson

We have incident management rules already on the corridors. We had to add a layer of rules such as when we would allow general traffic into the HOT lane in certain incidences. Also, we had to think about if the toll lane was blocked and people were charged money, how would we refund the tolling and stop the incident. It was more just adding procedures to our existing systems for emergency response and changeable message signs.

Jennifer Symoun

Why does Minnesota not allow license plate readers?

Nick Thompson

This is basically a political question at this point. There is a strong aversion to any video enforcement technology. It started with red light running cameras as being the test case. We have not been able to get authority to do that. Eventually, I think maybe we will with tolling at some point in the future. We demonstrated that we can do tolling and enforcement without it. We have not talked about that issue because we don't feel a need at this point.

Jennifer Symoun

We have many more questions that we did not get to, and I will send those to Nick to get written responses. Now we will have Morgan Balogh with the Washington State Department of Transportation. For those of you who were not on the beginning of the call, Morgan is filling in for Mark Leth who we originally had scheduled to present.

Morgan Balogh

Thank you. I was asked to go through initiatives and projects we have done or have underway. They complement our state better as we move into congestion pricing. For pricing, the key is to have good and reliable data and to be able to communicate and have paths of communication to the traveler. We work hard and Washington State to collect data for operations and disseminate the data to the traveling public so they can make better travel decisions. You need real-time data that is accurate and builds the confidence of the public as they travel.

Like many of you, we have been in the freeway management business for a very long time. We have many transportation systems that we operate and we continue to improve. Many of these systems complement congestion pricing and help us get there. We have done reversible roadway management for about 40 years. Now we are working to automate that so from the traffic management center we can reverse those roadways without having people in the field. We have variable message signs for many years. We are approaching about 400 variable message signs and we have done variable speed limit in the mountain passes and in the metropolitan areas for quite a while. Having solid and reliable speed limits has helped move forward. We have seven traffic management centers in the state, many of which are co-located with the local police or agencies. The biggest one we have is in Seattle. We operate more virtually in Seattle, so we are not co-located, but we do interoperate and work closely with our partners. We have 400 traffic cameras over a fiber-optic network. The key for reliable data is that we have been ramp metering for a long time. In the late 60s is when we put the first ramp meter in. The data required for ramp metering it has been extensive and has helped us move forward with our future initiatives.

As far as traffic management center are concerned, we work closely with our counterparts at the state patrol. We coordinate communications not only with the media, but we share our fiber-optic network with the local agencies to provide video and other management over the network. We do tunnel operations and added active traffic management systems and I will go into more detail later. Finally, we work with integrated corridor management. We work hard to get the information out to the public.

A lot of what we do goes back to about five years ago when our state was developing a strategic plan to fight congestion. At the time they realized how critical it was to have high-quality traffic data and to build upon the high-quality traffic data. We put together strategic plan based on three principles. The first is operating roadways efficiently, which is a traffic management function. Second was by doing demand management, and then not building new highways but adding capacity strategically at these locations. The concepts are all based on reliable data. You need real-time traveler information and to be able to build a communications network you can add new technologies on. The network is built as a plug-and-play to try out new things. We have the connections to add new equipment and build upon that. Also, this helps to track HOV usage to validate the models we have and to fit within those models. Also, we do performance measures for capacity improvement. This allows us to look at the information to find out what the problem is now and prioritize those problems and look at small funding that we have available for capacity. Then, we can do the benefit-cost analysis and follow-through after the project is built to talk about how successful it is.

We have a toll lane and it is much like Nick talked about. We have been running that for about five years. We have about 14 miles of the toll lane. We have seen some successes out there. We have seen that we designed the algorithm basically for efficiency. Not to overwhelm the HOV lane and break it down but to try to improve the efficiency of both lanes, the general purpose and HOV lanes. We have seen successes. We have seen GP lane speeds increase by 11% and volumes in the GP lanes increase by 2 or 3%. Not a big gain, but certainly everything is helpful. We have seen HOT lane drivers save up to eight minutes during rush hour and volume increases of 12% in that HOT lane. This was a HOT lane that wasn't at capacity. There were opportunities to move people into it and improve the overall efficiency of the highway. HOT lane use has doubled here during the second year of operations. It started out slow but more people have been buying into it. We have seen revenues cover our operations and maintenance. I think this was a very successful way for us to get into congestion pricing.

We have what we call smarter highways. It is what nationally they are calling active and demand traffic management. We are one of the first people along with Minnesota to build a system in the United States. When we put it together, we looked at building upon the systems that we have in place, not anything new, but building upon it. We are looking at installing overhead sign gantries and we are looking at opening shoulders as there are gains if you can do that. This picture is a picture of the system running. We targeted reducing collision. Collisions are responsible for about 25% of all congestion. We have seen collisions responsible for more than that in the Seattle area. We want to reduce collisions and if we reduce collisions, you should increase the efficiency. What they have seen in Europe, we don't have any good numbers out yet on accident data, but they have seen in Europe a 15% reduction in overall collisions and 30% reduction in injury related collisions. We are hoping to get close to that with the system we deploy and of course providing better information using the tools such as variable speed limits, lane control, and real-time travel information.

We put signs about every have half mile in the system. The first signs you see are usually indicating that there is a slowdown ahead. Either coalition where the speeds start to drop or there is slow traffic and congestion ahead. Then we'll tell the driver that it is time to move out of the lanes. We will put that over the lanes that are closed to tell people what is ahead. We try to get people to follow our signs by telling them the why. We have found in Seattle if you tell them a speed limit, they don't tend to listen. If you tell them why the speed limit is lowered, they tend to listen more.

Like in Minnesota we use an X red indicating lanes being close. After it is done, we reset everything. Everything is back to normal and speeds returned to 60 mph. We put this on three locations. The first location was in August of 2010 on I5 northbound into Seattle. This was done through mitigation for a high impact project we are doing. Building a big tunnel under Seattle and we are tearing up pieces of the road to help to improve and mitigate overall travel in the Seattle area. We built this active traffic management process. We were part of the Urban Partnership Agreement grant, and with that money we were able to build active traffic management center on two cross lake corridors: the SR520 corridor where we are going to be replacing a bridge in a couple of years and on the Interstate 90 corridor into Seattle.

Before we go forward with active traffic management, we started to look at our problems. This isn't a solution looking for a problem, but a problem and looking for solutions. We studied it and we came up with most of our highways in the metropolitan can benefit from some type of approach or application of active traffic management. The Urban Partnership, we are part of that. We got about $154 million of federal money to look at tolling technology. As I mentioned, we are going to be redoing the SR520 Bridge, and there will be tolling on that. The neat thing is that we will begin tolling before the bridge is done. We have done tolling in the past and this is nothing new. People generally accept this. We are now tolling to gather money to build a bridge. We decided we were not going to have any toll facilities where people stop to pay money; it is going to be electronic. We are not going to build access to tolling facilities. It will be done on the mainline at travel speeds. We are using license plate readers. We will be using transponders and a billing process, but if you don't have a transponder, we will read your license plate and bill you for the toll with a small administrative fee. We looked at transit services and telecommuting services. We have done travel signing for a long time. In the past we have used variable message signs, when not being used for other purposes, to broadcast travel time information. We have gone to specifically targeting travel times and have sort of a hybrid guide and directional sign. In the Seattle area, it may be 10 miles to your destination. If you tell people 10 miles, it is not relevant as this can take 20 minutes. The travel time is often a better way of conveying that information. If you are doing congestion pricing, getting that travel time information out is going to be valuable in letting people decide if they should pay that price. Should I go on the congestion is price facility or stay off of it?

We were part of the original integrated corridor project sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration. We did not make the final cut, but we are moving forward with it and congestion mitigation money we have been doing work on the south end of Seattle where we have been integrating our systems with the city and with our rail and transit agency. We are working together to the point where we can almost change traffic signals that the city operates. It has been an amazing project. It is very good that we have been able to continue that. When you look at congestion pricing, the future isn't going to be collecting data on the freeway. You have the city streets off the freeway and it will need to be able to collect the data on the city streets. What type of congestion is occurring on the city streets and how it affects pricing? Some of the people have problems moving forward with congestion pricing because of concern as to what will happen on the city streets. You need the data on the city streets and I see a way as doing that.

Our corridor, in the Seattle area has been successful because it is geographically constrained. We have bodies of water on both sides of the corridor. We have stadiums that have major events. None of our teams tend to do very well, but we do have major events and we have a large construction project. Our 511 system, we had that for a number of years. Our web page, we get about 1 million hits per day. More than 2 million hits when there is a snow event or something going on. We do blogs, YouTube and Flickr. We put interesting photos on Flickr. We have 16,000 Twitter followers. We push e-mails to 4,000 people a month and we have a Facebook page. This social media helps us to build trust with the public and gets them to know who you are. As you move forward on congestion pricing, that is critical. Travel times are not only on our signs but on our web pages. The travel times help us to communicate what is happening on the roadway. If they are accurate, they help the public to understand we are doing our job and try to help them get to work or home from work or were they need to go.

This is an example of what we do at the Canadian border, we do border wait times. We broadcast what is on the variable message sign so people can see what is on the sign. Again, we do historical travel times. You can historically see how long it would take you to get to the border and adjust your trip. We encourage that kind of behavior to plan ahead. Construction and incident information is out on the web and all of these different ways of getting it out there and getting it to private companies to disseminate and to people in the media. The web is an important tool in getting congestion pricing.

The Gray Notebook, we have done performance measurements for a long time. The key to this notebook is being accountable to the taxpayer. We list projects that we are working on and how they are being delivered and the cost for budget summaries. We do transportation performance. We post this on the internet and we do it quarterly. Our governor has a performance measure process that she follows. Everything we do in the notebook these this GMAP, which is the governors accountability road map. We work closely with that.

This is an example of what we might put in the notebook. This is where we look at our major commute corridor and we have looked at them over the last four years. This summarizing what has changed over four years. Whether travel times have gone up or down and how much they have gone up. It is a way to communicate what is going on and to communicate trends. In general, that is a quick and speedy tour through our projects and initiatives that I think helped position us to get into congestion pricing.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. We have quite a number of questions. Let's see how many we can get through. Are you using the Smarter Highway to manage speed coming into the center as they are doing in Germany?

Morgan Balogh

The way we do the speed limit reduction is we monitor the speed limit. We have an extensive data collection system with loops and microwave type systems to gather speeds. We correlate that to a speed limit and post that prior to the slowdown. We only slow traffic down when the speeds are slow. We feel that has built a trust and we don't slow traffic down unless it needs to slow down. People have learned if you don't acknowledge the change in speed, you have to slow down. It is nothing that isn't actually occurring, it is just telling them ahead of time what to expect ahead. We find it has been successful.

Jennifer Symoun

Concerning HOT lanes, have you encountered issues with toll revenue liability?

Morgan Balogh

In terms of toll revenue liability, our law says that any tolls which we collect need to be used on the facilities to improve or pay bonds off on those facilities. I'm not sure that there is too much in the way of liability.

Jennifer Symoun

Is there any potential application of these systems in the future Columbia River Crossing in Vancouver, Washington?

Morgan Balogh

Yes. I am not involved in those. They are looking at how to build that bridge from Vancouver across to Columbia into Portland and how to fund it. Our state has pretty much moved forward to try to get out of the toll booth business. We haven't, but that is the direction we want to go. Not being involved in the project, I would imagine that this might be an approach. It is between two states and they need to coordinate how the states are going to manage that.

Jennifer Symoun

How are investments related to safety prioritized? What data is available on the safety incidents? Has that guided the placement of investments?

Morgan Balogh

The active traffic management project is a safety project. By reducing collisions and making the roads safer, it becomes an efficiency project. We gather collision information and we improve safety. Safety and efficiency goes hand-in-hand. It is something we look at as we prioritize these projects.

Jennifer Symoun

Can you describe the enforcement for your HOT lanes and variable speed limits?

Morgan Balogh

Much like the enforcement of what Nick described. We use some of the HOT lane revenue to fund the additional enforcement. They have readers to correlate whether someone is driving by with a transponder or that doesn't have a transponder. On the speed limit, as I mentioned, the speed limit enforcement is a reliability issue. The speeds drop when there is congestion. Our state patrol doesn't normally do speed enforcement when there is congestion because they themselves become an incident to people. If they have someone pulled over on the side of the road, people slow down and they become part of the problem. It is not that they don't do it. The state patrol really likes the variable speed limits. If someone is exceeding the speed or there is a collision due to exceeding the speed limit, it certainly helps them enforce the ticket and get the ticket through with the judges. If there are speeding and causing accidents that is worse than if we did not have the speed limit. The state patrol is very supportive of our projects.

Jennifer Symoun

Do you integrate the information systems with parking availability?

Morgan Balogh

We are looking for that with the City of Seattle as part of the tunnel project. The City of Seattle mainly does the parking availability signing. We more direct people to interchanges. If there is a major event and those parking facilities are filling up we might tell them on a variable message signs to use a different access to get to the event. We coordinate it but we haven't posted parking availability. The City signs off the freeway are more active in posting parking availability.

Jennifer Symoun

I will ask one last question. In my opinion, The Grey Notebook is the gold standard in system performance reporting in the US. What would you like to be doing for The Grey Notebook that you're not currently doing?

Morgan Balogh

That is a tough question. I think when it comes to performance measures, getting that program to be funded as it needs to be funded. It is very important for us to do it and to grow the program. I think we just need to get more into it. I think we do a good job but I think something can be done better to fund that.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. I will turn it to our last presenter. Our final presenter is Bob Sheehan from the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations.

Bob Sheehan

Good afternoon, my name is Bob Sheehan with the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations Integrated Corridor Team. I support active traffic management as well. I will present a quick overview on the ETC Rule and hopefully we have time for questions. The rulemaking was issued in September 2007 which included questions related to need and timing of standards. This is in response to the requirement to issue on rule requirement standards or specs for ATC. It was published in October 2009. There are several comments that came into the Federal Highway. Essentially they agreed with the Federal Highway position that it was premature to specify a technical front end standard for ATC. Several folks commented that any effort to develop standards on the lane level should support existing technologies and the interoperable lane level solution is easily to achieve using multiprotocol readers. This was demonstrated with examples in North Carolina. There was an understanding that the cost for existing equipment should be considered and it needs to have some form of long period of time before you obtain ultimate interoperability. The back-office is a major aspect of interoperability. The toll tag is only one part. Through a cost estimate, it came out of an estimate in Georgia, there is a considerable difference in price between the DSRC tags and the RFID tags. It is a challenge for the systems to convert over to one type of technology. General response was that it was too soon and DSRC should be considered when it's ready.

The key thing with the rule: it only applies to three tolling programs. These programs are the Interstate Construction Pilot, the Express Lanes Demonstration, and the Value Pricing Pilot Program. It is not applicable to HOV-HOT conversions, 23 US code 129, or Interstate Reconstruction Pilots. In our approach to implement the rule, we essentially required toll agencies to receive Federal Highway concurrent in the ETC method selected for the toll facility. The agency must demonstrate how it addresses interoperability for intended users including looking five years into the future. This approach will help achieve interoperability.

ETC is defined as the ability for vehicle operators to pay tolls automatically without slowing down from highway speeds. There are comments coming in questioning that definition. Half of the responders stated the collection centers should be pursued as part of what is known now as the Collective Vehicle research, formerly as IntelliDrive. They indicated the system should use standard interfaces defined for DSRC and should function within the operational rules of the Connected Vehicle effort to provide integrated, technical, and policy to provide national interoperability beyond the confines of specific tolling applications. Several of the responses to the rulemaking say that since the government and industry are working cooperatively with the IEEE technical committee to define the standards, they encourage the efforts to continue, but note the cost differences in procurement and this would be a challenge in converting to a DSRC system. In addition, comments suggested adopting a DSRC based standard would demonstrate support for DSRC development efforts underway with RITA and the Connected Vehicle.

A couple of recent activities in the areas of interoperability, I believe some people are aware. There are tests of interoperability between the EZPass inter-agency group and Florida. In recent discussions, the intent is to have something happen within the year's end and to have the systems be interoperable. So the users can go to the other facilities to use their transponder and have the transaction processed. In addition the Alliance For Interoperability is moving forward to a tolling interoperability hub. There are a few objectives with that program. They are looking for three proposers to administrate a hub, provide an opportunity to select a toll for this type of system, and determine issues which may turn into operating problems. This is a good opportunity to look at this type of solution. The use of a tag will still be needed. It came up the first presentation how it relates to other types of pricing, such as a mileage based fee. There will be challenges related to the interoperability and the solution and other applications.

One overall goal of the interoperability pilot and our Federal Highway rule is the intent is not to impose additional business rules on states and for them to be members of various agencies. That is essentially the ETC rule. There is movement for this interoperability standard. There are examples in California. They have a challenge for the LA CRD project where they are trying to do switchable transponders. They're trying to get them not only for their state, but for bordering states for the standard.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. I think we have a few questions in here for you Bob. The terms being used are confusing, 915 MHz and 5.9 GHz are both DSRC RFID systems just at different frequencies and with different capabilities.

Bob Sheehan

Yes. I believe 5.9 GHz is used interchangeably with DSRC and 915 is used with RFID and past toll system. As the person stated, they have different capabilities and I think that is key. That is why people are focusing on DSRC, there are additional capabilities using that frequency. There is a cost difference, however.

Jennifer Symoun

Won't the issue of toll tag interoperability disappear soon as we move to mobile devices with applications?

Bob Sheehan

I think Jack presented this at the beginning, but I don't think the biggest challenge is the toll lane, it the back-office. There is some form of interoperability issue in general to get the system to work. I acknowledge the question, but I do think there will be challenges in the back-office.

Jennifer Symoun

I will ask you first Bob, but then the other presenters can jump in. Has FHWA or any of the DOTs considered interoperability between toll roads and transit passes?

Bob Sheehan

I believe there has been, but I cannot recall specific ones. I do recall research on this, though.

Jack Opiola

One example of success in the world is probably Singapore. From the beginning they had a toll tag which allowed you to put your transit card into and debit from your toll tag. It was essentially the technology that was using bank debit cards. They partnered with banks. The same card you could buy merchandise with you could insert into the onboard unit. Now they have expanded that to ensure that it is seamless across all modes of transport in Singapore. It is something that needs to be looked at in the United States. Some of us will probably start going away as we move to applications off of our phones and our new phone systems have what is called near-field communications where I can use the same cell phone swiping it over the readers on a bus or on a transit system. That looks like a means that will converge the two technologies going forward.

Nick Thompson

We did not look at it in Minnesota. We did look at marketing the two systems where you can get toll tags and transit passes in packages, but they were not technically integrated.

Jennifer Symoun

This may be the last question we can get to. This is for all of the presenters. What do you believe is the impact of the programs is on jobs and is there a public policy motivation to implement these more broadly?

Nick Thompson

In Minnesota, the job impact would be related to constructing it. That is the only thing we track here.

Jack Opiola

I have seen steady work we have done in Southern California where the actual reducing of congestion has an impact on the number of jobs and the local gross domestic product. I don't recall the percentages offhand, but they were fairly dramatic. By reducing congestion by about a 10%, you can turn around and increase the local gross domestic product in jobs. It works the other way. With congestion, you are killing off jobs in the local markets. I think that is the more dire consequences of continued congestion in urban centers.

Bob Sheehan

There is a movement to look at that. We see some lessons from for active traffic management, especially in Europe. We are trying to establish the disconnect between economic growth and congestion. We are looking into that now. Hopefully we will have some products available and lessons learned this year.

Morgan Balogh

In Seattle we have seen businesses and major employers expressed concerns about congestion and the cost it has on them doing business.

Jennifer Symoun

We are out of time. I want to ask one more question. Bob, this is for you. It is about the two bullets on the slide about the FHWA ETC rule. The comment says that they seemed contradictory. Can you clarify?

Bob Sheehan

I am looking at it. I think this applies to the top bullet. In full disclosure, I am not familiar with those two to know the difference. Perhaps Alex can send an e-mail separately and I can see which he is talking about.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. That is all the time we have. There are several questions we have not discussed. I will send them to the presenters for brief written responses. I will get them out to everyone with the information once the webinar is posted. Thank you everyone for attending. The next webinar is on July 28. This slide will show how to register. The webinar will be about dynamic ride sharing and congestions pricing. You can visit the address on the slide to register for the upcoming webinar and find out information on all other upcoming webinar. With that, I want to thank everyone and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!