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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

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

Session 6: Dynamic Ridesharing and Congestion Pricing - Transcript

Moderator:

Jennifer Symoun

Presenters:

 

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you, good afternoon or good morning to those of you in the West and welcome to Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing webinar series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will be moderating today's webinar which will focus on dynamic ridesharing and congestion pricing. Please be advised today's webinar is being recorded. Before go any further, you do need to mute your computer speakers or you will be hearing the audio over the computer as well. Today will have five presenters, Myron Swisher of SAIC, Marc Oliphant of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington, Mark Burris of Texas A&M University, Shamus Misek of Washington State DOT and Brant Arthur of the Climate Protection Campaign. Today's webinar will last 90 minutes. We will take questions following each presentation and then take questions at the end of time allowed. If during the presentation you think of a question please type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to everyone and indicate which presenter your question is for. The presenters will not be the answering questions during the presentations, but will start off the questions and answers section with the questions typed into the chat box. If we are unable to get through the questions in the time allotted we will get written responses from the presenters and send them out. The PowerPoint presentation today is available from the file download box in the lower right-hand side of your screen. The session is being recorded, the recording presentations and a transcript will be posted to the pricing website within the next two weeks and I will send out a notice when they are available. We will get started now. Our first presenter will be Myron Swisher of SAIC. If you give me a moment, I will bring up your presentation.

Myron Swisher

Very good, hello all and thank you for participating we really appreciate it, on behalf of Federal Highway Administration, we are happy to be talking about this exciting subject today. I am just going to give a couple of brief slides of introduction. We won't take questions after my brief piece then we will go right into Marc Oliphant.

Back in the 20th century, ride sharing has its roots. The traditional TDM strategies of the 70s and 80s include carpooling with most of these in the country had rideshare matching programs, and some still do. Some had HOV lanes, and these were good strategies for their time. They achieved their purpose. But the difficulty of creating and maintaining a carpool made it a limited success and of course, when matched with HOV lanes were a successful strategy, it saved time, and saved money. In the 90s, the concept of slugging began to appear and perhaps earlier. This was an unofficial thing, the agencies actually shied away from it for a number of reasons. But, as an example, in Virginia people would queue at the Pentagon to get rides home and everyone knew where to stand if they were going to a particular location. The drivers learned where to pick them up. Primarily, it occurred where there are 3+ HOV lane designations because it is that much more difficult to create, and maintain that carpool. So this was a flexible use; you could use it or not use it.

Dynamic ridesharing, which we are speaking about today, really has begun to take off in large part due to the technology available as well as the proliferation of social networking where people are comfortable finding one another through smart phones and so forth to make these ride matches. Now, it is fully on demand and in real time. The driver can pick up riders anywhere along the route that he or she is taking. And the driver can utilize traveler information to make that decision as to whether to pick up riders or not. Traveler information with regard to traffic conditions that he or she will be facing on that commute. The writer can connect with that driver through smart phone connection and GPS location.

We have our commuter today, Jane. On Monday morning, she is making her regular trip to work. She is at home, she checks her laptop and the 23x is on time. So, she hops in the car and goes to the park and ride at 7:15. The bus takes her on the HOT lane right to her office. Everything worked well that day. The second day, Tuesday, she needs her car for an appointment to visit a client. So, she is going to drive today and is running early so she does not anticipate the toll on the HOT lane is going to be expensive particularly. She in fact, gets on the HOT lane and she only has to pay two dollars today to take that HOT lane. However, when she gets to the parking garage she has to pay six dollars because she is flying solo today then she hops on the shuttle and heads to the office. On the third day, she actually has vacation starting at 2 o'clock. She again needs her car and can't carpool. She can't carpool with a standard carpool because she wouldn't be able to take people home. She is on her computer at the house, she is running late about eight o'clock. She is deciding that she is going to carpool because she knows this late the toll on the HOT lane is going to be considerably more expensive.

At the same time, she finds her new friends Charlie and Kathy are at the Buckstar coffee shop, and they're looking at their laptop and their bus is running late so they need to get a carpool. They check their smart phone, and find out that Jane is coming along, and signals up to the satellite through a rideshare service to find out that Jane is coming along through the service. Each of them pays $1.50 to Jane electronically. She picks them up and they get on the HOT lane. It would have been $4.50 but since they have three people they are free today. Now, they are halfway there and they check their smart phones to see if there is any parking left. Yes, there is plenty of parking left at the garage and a shuttle running every two minutes from that garage. They get to the garage and it is only two dollars for parking because they are in HOV free. They hop on the shuttle bus and go right to work. That is a scenario showing how dynamic ridesharing can fit within an array of congestion pricing and other TDM strategies for a complete trip. A lot of it is technology driven, and that technology is what has enabled dynamic ridesharing to occur. With that, Jennifer you can take it away.

Jennifer Symoun

Sure, thank you. As Myron mentioned we are not going to take questions at this point. Please you'll free to type them in. I will now turn it over to Marc Oliphant from the Department of the Navy. If you think of questions for Marc, type them in.

Marc Oliphant

Thank you, Jennifer. Hi, everyone. Thanks to the Federal Highway Administration for this opportunity. You may be wondering why someone from the Navy is talking about this, and I have had the good fortune to work with some people at the Highway Administration Office of Operations and Innovative Program Delivery on dynamic ridesharing research over the past couple of years. So, they have asked me to give a brief summary of what the government interest is in this subject and what we can do about it. So, can we go to the next slide please?

So, what makes this so important to the government? The government has goals related to livability, to traffic movement, to helping people get from and to and living their lives. This can really be a useful tool in dealing with congestion, air pollution, and money savings. It is a great way to use the current infrastructure more effectively. Also, this has great potential to reach out to some groups that we have a hard time reaching out to and again, can provide money-savings. Think about some of these dial a ride programs that are very important and very necessary and provide a socially important role, but can be expensive as well. That is one major application of this, is using these things to help people get around and do so more efficiently. Let's go to the third slide, please.

You will notice throughout, this is decorated with various pictures that have been taken of either the infrastructure or the organic dynamic ridesharing lines which are variously called slugging or casual carpooling across the country. So we will talk a little bit about efficiency in the current infrastructure, especially right now, with the fiscal climate we know we are running into a time when there is not a lot of money for capital projects and often times that money comes from private ventures and things like that.

Anything that will use current infrastructure in a better way, is really of interest to the government or go as you look at the second bullet, the great thing about dynamic ridesharing is its focus on the person throughput versus vehicle throughput. Vehicle throughput you easily run up against these limits or go there are only so many vehicles that can travel across a lane within an hour. But, if you break down the question and think what are we really trying to do? We are really trying to move people. There are so many empty seats within those vehicles. Then, all of a sudden, you have this tremendous resource. We are trying to figure out a way to tap that. We will go to the next slide and I will start telling you about some of the ways that the government can support this.

Are our various funding programs, CMAQ is one of them actually one of the presentations today uses CMAQ funding, and that is widely available and could be used within dynamic ridesharing applications.

Often times if you can come up with some local funding that is a big incentive to getting federal funding be often these things are matching. I'm not going to get into any specifics right now but I will tell you about some that have been funded specifically. We will go to the next one.

Okay, so a few things that have been funded currently. One grant program that has a lot of promise is the value pricing pilot program, this is funded annually. This year it has not been awarded yet. Anytime now, we are awaiting the decision from the secretary's office. Last year a dynamic ridesharing pilot did get funded through Santa Barbara that I think is really taking off this fall. It is going to be running over the next year and a half. In 2013, they are going to have some data, at least for the whole pilot. This year, very good news is that we did some specific advertising in this sector out of the 30 or 31 total value pricing pilot program applications. Four of them had something to do with dynamic ridesharing. This was very promising, and hopefully some of those will be funded. In the past year, internally within the Federal Highway Administration they have a program called the Exploratory Advanced Research Program that does exactly that. It does this exploratory research about interesting concept, and so that funded a group of TDM experts including Mark Burris who is on this webinar today. To go and visit the organic dynamic ridesharing lines, in DC, Houston, and San Francisco and members of the group road with strangers and we interviewed people. We took pictures, and tried to chronicle what is going on there, so we can better understand how these things work in the hopes of replicating them later on. And, in the future with this exploratory advanced research, they are going to be funding some focus groups with people who use this organic dynamic ridesharing, and also the point of the program is to eventually fund university-based research or other specific research into these topic areas. Please, can we go to the final slide now? This one is particularly exciting to me.

Just this year, a program called Small Business Innovations Research, was funded about dynamic ridesharing. I think it was in April, it's a company out of San Diego called Acxiom XL. They are going to be spending six months; it is not a big money project. I think somewhere in the realm of $100-$150,000, specifically investigating something that are going to be helpful as we talk about congestion pricing and HOT lanes and things like that. Ways to integrate some of this dynamic ridesharing software into a vehicle computer and also ways to keep track of the many people are in that vehicle. Currently, there is no good way to do that. You park a state trooper on the side of the highway, and he or she tries to count as they go by. People have looked into ways to do this with infrared cameras and things like that. What we are looking at, is either investigating both, a little bit. Is either a hardware-based way to do that, which would be something like seat sensors or a software-based way to report to your  toll gantry how many people are in your vehicle which would be through whatever software or smart phone application, gets used for these people to connect. There are some exciting things going on there. It should be ramping up by the end of October. We are looking ahead to all of this, and I am continuously in touch with the people at the Highway Administration to keep finding ways to investigate this, because it has a tremendous amount of possibility. Thanks, I look forward to answering questions later.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, thank you. I have two questions typed in. We have one sent to the presenters. How are safety concerns being addressed?

Marc Oliphant

One of our presenters later is going to talk about that. It is, unfortunately, the legal aspects of this are very sticky. Anytime you put this idea in front of a lawyer, he or she really gets nervous, and it is too bad. These organic ones are operating right now, and are very safe. There have been one or two little incidents here or there, but when you talk about 30 years and thousands of people doing this every day, it is incredibly safe. Anytime we talk about an organized system, we get hung up on the safety issue. But, I think, we just have to move beyond that. The current ride matching systems that a lot of your councils of governments offer and things like that, only suggest people with whom you might possibly carpool and we have got to get behind that same concept here. So, if you are using an application, it's always up to you to make the final decision. These are only suggestions. I don't think it is a big issue, but people get hung up on it. We are still looking for ways to reassure.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. Which agency is overseeing the SEI are project in San Diego?

Marc Oliphant

That is a great question, and I don't know offhand.

Jennifer Symoun

Do any of our other presenters happen to know?

Marc Oliphant

I think someone from that company is participating, as a listener. If they want to type it in, that would be great.

Jennifer Symoun

Sure, thank you. Okay. A few people might be typing things, but I have not seen any other questions come up right now. Here is one, are there legal issues with the financial transactions between drivers and passengers? What are the implications for taxes?

Marc Oliphant

So, that is a little bit sticky, because for example currently a van pool, but not a carpool, is eligible for these pre-tax subsidies and things like that. Essentially if you keep the reimbursement, if you keep it at or below the IRS annual rate like $.50 per mile, you are clean, I think, theoretically. We all worry at what point does this turn into an illegal taxi service or something like that? We are talking about a small scale. Most of the companies that are doing this via smart phones and things they already have that part figured out. They keep reimbursements under that level to stay safe.

Jennifer Symoun

Do we have any technology to verify how many people are in the car without violating any privacy?

Marc Oliphant

That is what this SBIR program is working on, the privacy issue, well, there are some questions there. If we just know it is three warm bodies, that does not seem to be violating privacy rights but if we are reporting the status by use of the smartphone application, or something like that, the program does know who they are, and so forth. I have heard these tales about toll records being subpoenaed in divorce proceedings, or whatever. I suppose, theoretically something like that could happen, but we live in a very technologically advanced world where everything from your Visa card to everything else can be tracked. I think, I don't think that is prohibitive at all. But I can potentially see people getting nervous about that. I don't think it needs to be a worry. Oh there we go Rita, someone answered, thank you Ray.

Jennifer Symoun

There is another question, we'll take that and then move on. Why do they use transit idea funding for carpool occupancy checking?

Marc Oliphant

I do not know. I will leave it at that.

Jennifer Symoun

Okay, thank you. If anyone else happens to know, feel free to type it in. Well thank you Marc we're now going to move on to our next presentation, if anybody does think of more questions for Marc to a free to type them in and we will address them at the end if we have time or get written responses. Our next presenter will be Mark Burris of Texas A&M University.

Mark Burris

Good afternoon everyone and thanks for the introduction. I will now present some casual carpooling or some old-school with pretty limited technology dynamic ridesharing, I think it is a good introduction to how these things work right now, and Marc Oliphant hinted at some of this, and I will go into details on the Houston example. In Houston, Texas the slugging occurs at three locations. Two of them are on Katy freeway which is I-10 and one of them is on Northwest freeway which is US 290. These are the two freeways in Houston that also have HOT lanes where people during certain parts of the day can pay their way onto an HOV lane if they don't have enough carpool occupants to get on the lane for free. Most of this slugging occurs between 6 and 9 AM, so, the morning peak. It is concentrated during HOV 3+ periods. I have a slide in a couple slides here that explains exactly what I mean by HOV 3+ periods. There are times when the requirements for traveling in the lane are 2+ and there's other times when it's 3+. The number of people slugging changes with the change in the number of occupants required. For example, a driver pulls up, if it is during the 2+ period, generally one other person gets in the car, and the 2 people drive off down the HOV lane.

If it's during the 3+ period than two passengers will get in the car, so there will be enough for 3 people in the vehicle to use the HOV lane for free. Coming home, most of the slugs are the people that casual carpool, use transit. A small percent come back using slugging again from a downtown location.

To orient you a little bit, downtown Houston is in the middle of the screen. Two freeways, heading in, the Katy Freeway and the US 290, have the three park and ride where slugging occurs. On the Northwest Freeway, the HOV lane on both of these, the HOV lane, the single occupancy vehicles are never allowed, buses are always free. The lane opens at 5 AM and from then until 6:45, the early part of the peak you can travel in HOV 2+ for free. During the peak of the peak, from 6:45 to 8, HOV 3+ is free, HOV 2+ pay a two dollar toll. Then after the peak of the peak is over, the HOV 2+ is free. There are different occupancy requirements for different times of the day.

So, as part of the scan that Marc Oliphant mentioned, a group of us went to the different slugging sites around the country, this is a picture of the Northwest Station park and ride lot. I am on one side of the road that has a few hundred spaces behind me that you don't see in the picture. What you do see in the picture is the other side of this park and ride lot with another few hundred spaces. I forget how many spaces exactly. Plus, what you see in the picture is the transit facility where the bus stops and also where the slugging occurs.

Here again, is a picture of the transit facility. The bus pulls up on one side of this facility, on the other side you will see a handful of people standing around and a sign that says passenger pickup, and passenger drop-off. That is the incognito way of saying there is the slugging line. Those 3 people are waiting for a driver to pull up and take them downtown using the HOV lane.

On Katy Freeway, it gets more complicated. Basically, before 2009 it was very similar to what I just discussed on US 290 where the peak of the peak, you had to be HOV 3+ to travel for free. The shoulders of the peak, the HOV 2+ were enough. Beginning in 2003 and finishing in 2009, Katy Freeway went under reconstruction. Opening in 2009 were Katy managed lanes, four managed lanes, two in each direction down the median of the Katy Freeway. The rules on who could use those lanes, changed when the new ones opened. Now, single occupancy vehicles were allowed on the managed lanes where they had never been before. But, they must pay a toll at all times. HOV 3+ travel for free in the peak, and HOV 2+ travel for free in the peak but HOV's pay in the off-peak. Buses are always free.

The rules changed a bit and we will see how that impact casual carpooling on that facility. Here is a good portion of the slugs in this lineup are us waiting at Katy Freeway for our drive. There's Phil who just asked the question getting in the car, and heading downtown as a slug. We did not meet any of them that day but we had to leave fairly early in the afternoon. Some people will wait here for where the bus stops on a downtown street and wait for a vehicle to pull up. That vehicle might have a sign in the window, and the sign might say 214, which is the bus route heading back to Northwest Station. That car might pull up and see if anyone is willing to jump in and go back to the Northwest Station Park and Ride lot. As I mentioned, most people take transit back, and don't bother with the slug lines back.

As part of my work looking at the HOT lanes on US 290 and I-10, we surveyed slugs quite a while ago, back in 2003. Just highlight a couple of the interesting things, there is a paper, now I have forgotten the name of the publication, but the publication put out at the University of South Florida. I have a paper in there around 2005 that has more details on this. Phil is going to help me with that. Most folks are commuters. It was almost evenly split 50-50, males and females. These are people with vehicles. They are driving their vehicles to these park and ride lots, leaving their vehicles there, and choosing to carpool with others. They are choosing to carpool with total strangers, in these cases. We also asked of them about their frequency of casual carpooling and if they have been doing it enough where they start to get to know the other people. It turned out a pretty high percentage had never traveled with whoever they were traveling with that day, before. Two thirds had never traveled with them before. A lot of these casual carpoolers do it quite frequently, as you can see just over half casual carpool every day. Two thirds of them also took the bus home.

The final slide looks at the raw numbers of slugs. For me, I thought this was the way slugging was. Just a couple hundred people doing this in Houston, I knew it existed in San Francisco and DC but I did not understand the extent. This is our small numbers here in Houston. One thing to bring to your attention, the 2003 count is well before Katy Freeway was reconstructed with managed lanes. You can see on Katy Freeway and that the Kingsland and Addicks Station when the managed lanes open you started to allow single occupancy vehicles you see a large drop in the number of casual carpoolers happening on Katy Freeway. Managed lanes are fully open and running and the numbers are going down quite a bit. I need to get out there again this year and see if there is very many folks left at all, casual carpooling out on the Katy Freeway because now single occupancy vehicles can use the HOV lane for toll. You'll notice Northwest Freeway the numbers stayed pretty consistent, a little over 200 each time we counted.

Going up to DC, as I mentioned this is a significant portion of the HOV lane. Nobody had exact numbers for us but 10,000 plus people commute to work this way every day in the DC area. It was quite shocking for me, being used to the Houston example. I was amazed at how many people do this on a daily basis. That's it for my formal presentation. I can try to take some questions.

Jennifer Symoun

Alright, thank you. We have a number of questions coming in. We will try to get through them in the next five minutes or so. Why is there such a dramatic difference in the AM and PM use in Houston?

Mark Burris

Part of the difference in the AM and PM use is the Northwest Freeway isn't quite as congested in the PM so HOV 3+ is not required going back on the Northwest Freeway in the afternoon. You can get on their as an HOV two, for free. That seems to be a very common trend where slugging has sprouted up around the country, the need for three people in the vehicle. You don't need three people in the vehicle in the afternoon on Northwest Freeway, so I think that is part of the reason for the drop off. Otherwise, I'm not sure why it is so different on the Katy.

Jennifer Symoun

Has there been much research into or has there been any research into how much physical space is required for cars and passengers to do right matching?

Mark Burris

Not research. Marc Oliphant may be able to help me on this. There were some folks trying to expand the Washington DC slug system and try to expand to different areas further out. They needed a certain amount of space, a certain number of people who wanted to drive, certain number of people wanted to park and be passengers, to get those things up and running. I forget what sort of numbers you needed before there was that critical mass to make it operational.

Jennifer Symoun

Marc, do you remember any numbers?

Marc Oliphant

Are we talking physical space, for parking or just for the actual maps? That would be the difference there?

Mark Burris

I was assuming they meant how many parking spaces you would need, how much.

Marc Oliphant

Okay, I know we have had some shifts. We had one in DC that had 1000 spaces and they had two close 750 of them so they in turn opened some new spaces at a church. It was maybe 300 or 400, and that did not have the sufficient critical mass to get slugging to occur there.

Jennifer Symoun

Ok we'll go on to the next question. HOV 2+ through quick ride pays two dollars, how much higher toll will a single occupancy vehicle pay?

Mark Burris

With the new Katy managed lanes, if they travel the whole way during the peak of the peak, it is four dollars. That drops to two dollars in the shoulder and one dollar in off-peak.

Jennifer Symoun

As a follow-up question, what is the cost of bus fare?

Mark Burris

If you don't have an annual pass or monthly pass, it is $3.75 each way.

Jennifer Symoun

What is the rationale for having the HOV is pay during the off-peak but not the peak?

Mark Burris

Good question. I probably can't answer that one. I don't understand why they did that either. I think it was a revenue issue, why would we give away space during the off-peak.

Jennifer Symoun

This is kind of similar to the question we just asked, but I will see if there is anything else you want to add as far as what type of operating conditions or facility attributes for slugging to be successful?

Mark Burris

The commonalities we found are in congested conditions, with a HOV lane there that is uncongested so the freeway has congested conditions and there's an uncongested HOV lane, along with parking spaces and the need for the HOV lane requiring 3+ occupants. I don't think it is a hard and fast rule, that you need 3+ occupants, but anywhere a slugging has occurred to date needed 3+ occupants. It may be successful somewhere sometime in the future with only needing two occupants in the vehicle, but not to date.

Jennifer Symoun

In the slug counts, is that the rider total or all participant totals?

Mark Burris

That is the rider total. In the nomenclature, slugs are the riders, and body snatchers are the drivers. We counted the slugs. Well we counted both, but what I have presented here, are just the riders. You can basically divide to count the drivers.

Jennifer Symoun

I will ask one more question, do you require the drivers to sign any agreements or register prior to being able to pick up slugs? This would be things such as having insurance, or obeying speed limits or having safety inspections. Have you had any events such as the shooting in DC which was the result of a slugging argument with the driver?

Mark Burris

No, there's no agreement, there is nothing. There is not even the high-technology of trying to match a ride using your PDA, or your phone. There is absolutely nothing along those lines. It has worked pretty well. The DC example is a good one. We talk to people, and occasionally the slugs will find someone who drives too fast, or too slow. They will post this on message boards, and warn other people and tell other people waiting in the slug line, don't to get into that red truck. One of the funnier examples, there was an older woman who would come by and pick up slugs in DC then she would proceed to use the general-purpose lanes. Then of course, the slugs don't want to be in the general-purpose lanes, the whole point is to go on the HOV lane and avoid traffic but she wanted to go on the general purpose lane because it let her have more time to chat with people in the vehicle. She was just looking for someone to talk with. Word spread not to get into that woman's car. It is very organic though, it's not organized, there is nothing signed.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. We're going to move on to the next presentation now I think we had a few questions that we didn't get to and if we have time we'll go back to them, I am trying to focus more on the questions that relate specifically to dynamic ride sharing since that is the topic of this webinar. Thank you, Mark. We're actually going to move on to our next presentation given by Shamus Misek of the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Shamus Misek

Good morning or afternoon to everybody, I want to thank FHWA for the opportunity to share our recent experience with dynamic ridesharing. I'll give you a little blurb about who I am. Currently I am the rideshare program manager at Washington. Prior to coming to the great Northwest I was primarily working in the Chicagoland area, my most recent position was at the urban transportation Center at the University of Illinois as their manager of research transportation programs.

An overview of our pilot project, the 2009 state legislature put in the transportation budget a hundred thousand dollars for a pilot. The goal was to develop a project along the SR 520 corridor line basically going over the 520 bridge that has been under reconstruction. It'd allows tolling without prearrangement, allows for transfer of credits between participants, and there were also some specific requirements that were unique to the project compared to other projects that the legislature imposed on us. That was a membership system as well as prescreening to ensure participants safety.

There was substantial interest in developing this project. We had five vendors or vendor teams that submitted applications. Three of the five were called back for final presentations and one was selected as our vendor. The project objective and purpose was design and implement a limited scale carpool pilot, an accelerated schedule, examine its effectiveness in reducing vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled, evaluate the costs and benefits, and the target audience was SOVs that are commuting on SR 520. My project team developed the following goals for WSDOT design one that was achievable in the timeframe. To test the viability and feasibility without or with pulling, ensure the safety and security of project participants, reduce VMTs and the vehicle trips, report on the results and lessons learned, and recommend future implementation possibilities to the Legislature.

We saw some challenges associated with this, because of the intent in ensuring the safety of the participants. Minimizing the State's potential exposure to liability and risk, some of the things we talked about before were some of the legal issues, and of course the State was involved in saying we want to reduce liability to our State and recruiting a significant number of participants, and approving 250 drivers and 750 riders.

The technology that was to be used was mobile phone applications, and iPhone that would be employed by the drivers. They would use GPS enabled mobile smartphones to verify each ride, captured trip, travel time, location and distance data. There were micropayments between rider and driver based on miles traveled. Technology provided for verifiable and auditable trip trail and monitoring and tracking SOV trip reductions.

Pickup and drop-off locations were also identifiable. Security features that were already built-in to the vendor's application was an auto PIN for the rider to show the driver that he or she was who they were supposed to be riding in this vehicle.

A description of the driver's vehicle also, and an icon on the screen, the phone screen, showing the person has already passed the preapproval requirements. There is also a trip rating, driver rating and rider rating system so people can see how this previous driver or rider was rated so in the future, they can decide to go with this person or not.

To review what was going on, there were a number of concurrent activities happening on state roads through on State Route 520. We thought it was essential that we examine and evaluate their impact on this project. We want the vendor, to isolate and identify the impact each of these had on the pilot success and their failure. The tolling on the bridge, good to go tolling marketing, smarter highways, rideshare online our ride matching system was being upgraded King County Metro was putting in a hands transit service. It was a good service already, was hands service because reconstruction was taking place. Van pool promotions were being offered, and employer-based trip reduction programs were being expanded.

From the onset there was some concern from the vendor, potential vendors, evaluation advisory committee teams that was about the prescreening criteria. They felt that would limit the potential poll of driver candidates, make it difficult to attract the 250 that we wanted to have, deter some individuals from applying to participate in the program as well as turning away some people.

Screening criteria requirements for driver candidates had provided an abstract that could be reviewed for certain criteria. $300,000 per accident minimum liability insurance coverage they had to have. They had to provide a social security number as well as a rider that was needed so they could do a criminal background check on both parties. The driver also had to certify that he or she to the best of their knowledge follow the prescribed vehicle manufacturer maintenance schedule.

All of this was because our Risk Management office under the advisement of our Attorney General's Office wanted this to be in because of the revisal language that was in the bill, and to minimize the state liability and exposure.

The key timelines and activities, in October 2010 the contract was executed. The initial focus of that time was to bring the vendor and some of our stakeholders and partners employers, TMA's along the whole corridor, and also planning for launch in January of 2011. In November, they did data testing, and benchmark stages. They were introducing real-time ridesharing to 10 individuals, just to see how it would work and what kind of bugs were in the system. In December, that stage was completed. Branding came out as GO520 and a website, go520.org was established. January was the formal launch and media campaign for the project. In February processors converted initial sign-up to approved pilot users. There was also from February to March, additional recruitment efforts at major employers, at tolling events, there were ads placed in the Google, Facebook.

Then, in April we expanded recruitment in the driver application was available now on Windows phone seven. It was also the attempt to try to get critical mass level on to early corridor routes. In May, evaluation activities took place exit surveys, focus groups, project wind down/closeout, and transition from WSDOT funded projects to AVEGO funded project. Here's what people will be interested in. Of the residents and participants approved, 962 signed up to participate in the project. Of that number 842 commute on a regular basis over the 520 corridor.

Thirty five percent of those people were Microsoft employees. There were 879 people that did provide their social security number. When all was said and done, there were 89 riders, and nine drivers which were fully approved. The vendor did attempt to do a couple of things to try and see which strategies were more effective to get people through the approval process.

Some were just paper only, some were a combination of paper and electronic. Sometimes they ask for everything upfront, we need your social security number, we need a drivers license review. Or, as each thing came in that was required, information was processed and then another request came out we need this information. There were a number of people during the approval process that dropped out. I think that's significant. About 15% of the riders, and drivers did not want to provide their social security number. About 20% dropped out because they were no longer interested or the project did not fit their needs. About 13% were unwilling to be subject to a criminal background check. Consequently, due to the low level of approved drivers, even though we had an adequate number of riders approved, the pilot never became operational.

What potential participants said positive about the program. They said the biggest reason for doing it signing up to do it, was because they saw it as a way to save time. Next, was to save money, either not driving on their own or with the impending tolls on SR 520. The concept of real-time ridesharing was favorable. The negative, 49% didn't want to give their Social Security number especially to a third-party that they did not know anything about.

I am currently working on the final reports to legislature with some of the findings I can't really say yet. In my estimation, the potential benefits and opportunities out there are definitely an additional tool in the TDM tool box, and can work in conjunction with or as a compliment to transit. A person can take one leg of the trip via RTR, or by transit and then if you have to work late, if they missed the bus, there is no more service, they missed their vanpool, and this could be an option. It encourages them to use transit.

Alternative to riding alone to a park-and-ride or rail station, this can be a viable option since it frees up parking spaces. We have a number of park and rides in our state where they are at capacity. There was no room to build, land constraints and no money to build. But we can maximize that lot by having less people driving to it and carrying more people to it might be a way to go. As someone said earlier, it can lead to more efficient use of some of our current infrastructure. Governments are all moving forward. When we add what financial investments are coming from the state comes with concerns, issues with liability and risk, and there is more requirements and safeguards that might be imposed. As someone said earlier, in this organized system, aspects get sticky and squishy and our attorney general got involved in looking at things and the lawyers are going to say we need these checks and balances. We don't want to risk having the exposure.

We even have some employers during the same time talk about that. They have some other communing options programs. They are required to have checks and balances in place because they are providing financial resources. Obstacles -- when you receive state money, you have to play by the state rules. State laws sometimes impose restrictions or specific requirements and there may be some existing laws that may be cumbersome that you have to abide by. In the state of Washington, for vanpools are a transit agency can get a DOL abstract on a person and they can ask for it directly. Even though this is a rideshare arrangements in a carpool that can't happen, it especially can't happen going to a third-party especially. Put another level of administrative guck to get people through. One of the biggest things is to publicize and market it as another option, on websites and newsletters with our partners and media doing interviews. There are more tools out there, here's another one for people to select from. One of the biggest things is bringing the vendors to the table with already established partners. It fosters relationships with the TMA's with our employers, the transit agencies, the MPO's, and the state being involved it tends to have a good reputation with government, and gives it a heightened level of credibility. I will take any questions you have.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you. Myron, can I ask you to facilitate the Q&A session. My computer seems to have frozen up and I can't get to anything right now.

Myron Swisher

Sure can.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you.

Myron Swisher

No problem, I am operating on a laptop today, so I am a little bit slow, but I will be able to do so.

Doesn't getting the riders and drivers by a drivers check, criminal checks etc. actually increase the liability or risk to the agency rather than leaving it to the individual to decide. For instance, like slugging I have the choice not to ride with somebody instantly as they drive up.

Shamus Misek

We never really found that out, but as I said when our risk management people got involved and the attorneys general office - they felt we had put certain the safeguards in, because we were funding this type of project. It would not cover everything and say the person is 100% clean, but it was some level that we did imposed, to try to weed out some. We had 9 out of 114 people fail the criminal background check. That was for assault, some sexual offenses and did that help us? Since we never started the project, we don't know. But we did prevent some of those people from participating. That was for protection sake only.

Myron Swisher

The next is a related question. If a driver is known to regularly carry what are effectively hitchhikers and if that person has an accident causing injuries is there any evidence that their private car insurance will cover the associated claims?

Shamus Misek

I really don't know on that one.

Myron Swisher

Do any of the others speakers have any ideas on that?

Marc Oliphant

Traditional carpooling is covered under regular insurance because if you get any compensation it is not a payment that is a reimbursement. It is no different from a regular carpool. In a regular carpool, you are fully covered.

Shamus Misek

A regular carpool, but we are talking about a hitchhiker, that's another one that the attorneys reflected out they actually picked someone up down the road.

Marc Oliphant

A hitchhiker is an invited guest, anyone that you carry in your car is your own guest, or if you let someone else drive your car you are covered under those situations. Whether the person is a hitchhiker or a stranger that you invited into the car or your brother-in-law, they are covered because they are in your vehicle and you have given them to permission to be there.

Myron Swisher

One of our experts online replied it really depends on the state, the carpool regulations are governed by state statutes, so it would certainly differ by state. Moving on, nine people provided permission to check and had backgrounds that disqualified them?

Shamus Misek

No. There were more than that but of the people that went through the whole process, nine did not make it through a through because of that 9 out of 114 failed the background check.

Myron Swisher

Then, who knows how many others refuse the background check that would've flunked.

Shamus Misek

There was a warm and fuzzy sign up thing, here's what we're planning to do, when you think about it, you should sign up and then they heard more about what was involved. Then, the requirement came out.

Myron Swisher

The next question will following up to that question. It sounds as if the checking process does not deter those people from applying, those that got washed out in the background check. Is that a good conclusion?

Shamus Misek

I think some got washed out before they even signed up. Once they found out what the requirements were, they just left. Those that had a bad driving record, "well I can't make this I'm not going to go any further. "

Myron Swisher

I think this is the last question, what are Washington DOT's next steps, if any?

Shamus Misek

Well I don't know right now. I am reading the final report that will be sent to the legislature and from there they'll see the report and we'll probably have a discussion about it and we will take it from there. Right now, the vendor does have a program that started and another phase of it, on their own that is not funded with state dollars. Because of the partnerships I said that were already established, some employers still want to see this happen at their sites where they work with the vendor directly.

Myron Swisher

Okay. I think we have completed the questioning, if we can move on to the next speaker. Thank you.

Jennifer Symoun

I will have to ask you to bring up Brant's presentation. Unfortunately, I am afraid my computer is completely locked out and I am afraid if I shut down and restart I will kick everyone out of the audio that's online. To do that you should see in the right corner a minimize button if you just click on that, it will bring up Brant's presentation.

Brant Arthur

I'm Brant Arthur would be climate protection campaign, we are a nonprofit in Santa Rosa California and we are partnered with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. You can see we are using the term real-time ridesharing, this is not our final branding but it is something. We are using real-time because it is a little more self explanatory then dynamic ridesharing, but they are interchangeable. We are about a year behind where Seattle is but hopefully we can use that to learn from their lessons. This is actually a three county program so there are three counties is working together but I am primarily going to be talking about Sonoma counties and that is where we are based and that is what I am focusing on.

There is a map of Sonoma Marin and entire coast; once again we are in the San Francisco Bay area. Here the different organizations involved, the Metropolitan transportation commission was the one who initiated this. As Mark said, we are using CMAQ funding.

They provided $41 million of CMAQ funding of innovative climate grants, and this is $1.5 million dollar grant from that with a matching on top of that. These are all for reducing greenhouse gases from transportation. It's really interesting The Sonoma County Transportation Authority is also our original climate protection authority in Sonoma County. They sit under the same board it was a great body to be taking this up.

I also want to talk about myself being a nonprofit representative; it is an example of collaboration between governments and the nonprofit sector.

My apologies, these slides did not translate onto the web perfectly, but we will carry on. I just want to talk about our approach. This webinar is about pricing, the climate protection campaign, we see pricing as one of the most effective methods for change. This is why we looked into real-time ridesharing because of how quickly it could reduce greenhouse gases from transportation. As an organization really, that seeks to align with California as a leader in climate protection, we want to be a lined on the state to the regional to the local level. An example of that to have Sonoma County all nine cities have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gases and we are the first areas in the nation to do that. Money is really important and that alignment is really important. Money leads us around like an invisible ring in our nose, it pulls us around. It is also key to us to light up the policy, the regulations, and incentives and once you get those lined up people will do the right thing. Again, that has been an opportunity in this pilot. We are in month five of the 24 months right now, bringing together these different organizations. Some of our important approaches, in this pilot specifically, when we talk about congestion pricing we are often talking about lane pricing and I think this is maybe similar because we are talking about seat pricing. It is a potential market place of empty seats that are going around and putting those into a market. We are also really focused on affinity groups to have a successful launch. There is many different ways to try to build the backbone of usership but I think we see there needs to be created at the beginning to make this useful. To make this marketplace functioning. Using affinity groups that are already established, large employers, colleges, universities, those sorts of things, it is both a market place in the social network. That is going to be our approach. A quick word on our timeline, right now we have put out software RFP. I was struck looking at Shamus's presentation to see how things are in the timeline a year down the road. September, or October we are hoping to sign contracts with the vendor and do some additional testing, some beta testing in November and then onto the pilot in January/February and we are hoping to have a full year of implementation with the idea that what is needed is an approach that is more iterative design. Where we are getting feedback and incorporating that feedback into the program.

Part of that is spending time implementing it. As you saw on our timeline we are still to get there, but one thing we have been working on is market research. In April we did a survey of 1000 participants. Over 50% said they would definitely likely try it or with incentives that they would try it. Another 8% said they would try it if gas went up to five dollars per gallon. Using this to predict, what kind of people would be most likely to try this. It did not indicate whether people had a smartphone or not, did not seem to indicate but age certainly did. Use on the low end, over 78% in the 18 to 24 age range were willing to try it whereas on the other end of the scale, less than 40% of 56 and older were willing to try it.

For income, similarly, people earning less than $25,000 may be students, to when you look that people earning $100,000 more than that only 33% were interested in trying it. And distance too, people with long commutes were a lot more interested than people with short commutes. This was pretty high, I think, Shamus may speak this as well, you want to have a large group of people who always have some and tend to use it and then getting down to the people that actually will. We are encouraged that we actually have people with intent to use it. Two things that are not on here, it was interesting looking at the people who are greatly affected by if gas went up to 5 dollars a gallon. That was people with local commutes, and younger participants and low income. When we talk about pricing, it is clear that if you are saying real-time ridesharing, dynamic ridesharing can be a market place, then surely that pricing and ability for people to save money on their commute is a big incentive for people doing something different than a single occupancy vehicle.

We also did several focus groups. We did four focus groups for this. We did two with college students and two with commuters. One thing we asked about was price. What is the fair price for your commute? And we said what would be the most expensive, what would be too expensive, and what would be so cheap you would question its value. Then what is a fair price? We saw a pretty wide spread of what people thought a fair price would be. There was consensus from the focus group participants that they did not want to negotiate the price themselves. They preferred it to be part of the system that would calculate it or something that would take that responsibility off of their hands. We were also concerned about technology. This is something that has been talked about, using smartphones and using modern technology that is possible. We are concerned, are in a people going to use this? It was interesting; commuters really had no problem with smartphones. While students did have some concerns about cost, the lifestyle changes of getting e-mail everywhere. And schedule was also an interesting point. Commuters seem to have a lot more family concerns where students did not but were less predictable in their schedule. I will finish by talking a little bit about our RFP again. Some of the important features that we are looking for are a real focus on iterated design, so that we are having the doors open for a large period, and being able to make those changes. Also, it needs to really focus on outreach. It is important to have software that works but the obstacle that we really think exists is getting that usership to the degree where you turn on your phone and you try it out, and you actually get some matches. Only afterwards is the ability for the system to charge riders. I think that is something we talked about, but it is unique when you talk about ride matching systems. Hopefully, it creates a marketplace that gives us some legs after the pilot ends. There are more details about that I can talk about if you want. Including transit measures, the intro we all had, showed how somebody might take transit and also to real-time ridesharing. Certainly in the application being able to mix transit matches with real-time ridesharing matches I think includes that. There was a great study that city car share did in San Francisco several years ago that showed that when people moved to car sharing which is a different animal but when they did that they really diversified their transportation options. And I think it has also been talked about in this webinar today, how real-time ridesharing is not the tool for everything but is a tool. We want to encourage people doing that. Those are our dates, right now for the RFP and you do want more info you can go to SCTF website. Now, if anybody has any questions, there are a lot of interesting people on this phone call, and I would love to talk with any of you to answer more questions off-line afterwards. So, thanks.

Jennifer Symoun

Thank you very much, Brant. We'll take some time for questions. Myron I'm going to have to turn back to you for the questions again.

Myron Swisher

Looks like there are some people typing, maybe, some questions will pop up and we still have a few minutes. Why you are asking those questions, I am going to open it up for a bit of round table discussion about all our discussions, while the other questions are coming in. It is sounding to me like right now there are a number of obstacles to overcome. Can any of you give me a positive spin on that and give me some encouragement that this whole system is moving forward in a particularly in the fully dynamic rideshare area?

Brant Arthur

I will say something quickly, this is Brant. When we look back at people who tried dynamic ride sharing, one of the key problems or the first one to crop up has been technology and it hasn't made it easy enough for people to use and it hasn't been something they can use in the field. We feel that at least we are at the point where the technology is good enough. Then you can start focusing on the next issue. Shamus talked about liability and some of the other things that were talked about and getting enough critical support. I am feeling this is more possible than it has ever been before.

Shamus Misek

I think also, it is more possible to go as there are more players in the field. There are a lot more companies popping up, especially in Washington state right now. They are if approaching employers, people who are going to the newspaper and telling them about their product. There was a lot of publicity and knowledge. A lot might happen out there on its own. Hopefully we can foster that by saying, this is another tool to use. It is not the answer, but it is one answer to help you select a different way as opposed to going solo.

Myron Swisher

From the government perspective, be it federal or state, do you feel that contracting through a private company can help alleviate a lot of those liability or at least pushed to the side a lot of the liability issue?

Brant Arthur

I would just say that for us in Sonoma County and for our team in Maron we are not looking to operate this. It is like we are putting our budget and our time, now to try to get a system in this case will be operated privately, to that critical mass level. There are allowances in our RFP that it might become a regional ridesharing system, but certainly being the operator is not our focus. There may be some connections to reducing liability.

Myron Swisher

We do have a few questions popping up now. Why go with charging? How about incentives to the drivers?

Brant Arthur

Our idea with incentives is that you have people already intend to take action, ridesharing pilots, here is an incentive to make it more likely that they will turn that intention into an action. But at the same time there are a number of reasons why having it as a marketplace is good, it there does seem to be more in our focus groups. There was a really positive response to charging. If you knew that you were paying somebody, there would be more responsibility in the relationship between driver and rider.

Myron Swisher

One suggestion from an online viewer is like free or lower priced parking may be an incentive to the drivers as a suggestion. Another question came in, actually one directed at Shamus. How big were the incentives going to be for people to join in on a trip by trip basis if any, and further for Brant what it's intended in your projects for incentives?

Shamus Misek

Well, for ours it had to be earned incentives. The drivers were going to earn $15 or $30 in a gas card each month depending on how many people they actually carried that month. The riders got free ride credits from the vendor that was only good on that system. They could not cash it out for anything else, but for future trips. There was some exchange between driver and rider and it was taken off the IRS mileage rate basically. So, if someone wrote $.55, you had another person riding with that person it would be half of that. If you had two people, it would be half of that. That would be what the rider would use from the bank he or she had for traveling.

Brant Arthur

The focus group we did in Sonoma indicated that people really wanted something that would be useful and would produce. We have not figured out what the values would be, as far as gas cards. Was a grant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions I don't know if incentivizing with petroleum is where we want to go? Another one occurred to me is doing wireless or gift cards where people could use those gift cards to either pay their bill, or to help buy a phone that is something it encourages a behavior we want which is making the transition to the technology that enables the pilot we're trying to launch.

Myron Swisher

Here's a really deep question if anyone wants to try. If you start with an assumption that all carbons should be taxed, why won't we want to just split the carbon tax between three riders? The ridesharers also cause equal congestion impacts as an SOV. Should the rideshare car be charged for this externality?

Brant Arthur

This is getting into the realm of the true cost of driving. It is speculative; I think it would be interesting to look at other revenue sources that make this worthwhile for all involved maybe there is other ways to do incentives. Certainly when you look at the cost of expanding a freeway by another lane you're talking hundreds of millions of dollars, if you can demonstrate another route where you can use the existing capacity to meet the same number of riders, the same number of trips, I think that is really interesting. I don't have any detailed responses to have that might work financially, but it has potential.

Myron Swisher

We have about four minutes left. Just a couple more questions and then we can wrap up. How are those with dynamic ridesharing smart phone programs in place working to get a viable number of drivers in the system to make it attractive for those seeking rides?

Shamus Misek

On our situation, unfortunately I think what happened is people did not see or the driver candidates did not see it as, with the hoops they had to go through, it was not worth their while for the benefit they have seen in it. In this situation where we have a lot of requirements to make it through the approval process, it was a detriment. That did not help get your drivers, if you can get away from those type of things and if that if possible if the government does not get involved in funding a directly, it might do it on its own if the vendors are out there. They might have enough things where they can offer incentives or subsidies. A lot of states are in deep financial budget restraints, using grants to buy gift cards and things of that nature while sources are being cut. That is not being viewed favorably by the public. It's a very slippery slope.

Myron Swisher

Is it possible the best way forward for governments is to incentivize carpooling by a managed lane policies and let dynamic ridesharing continue to grow organically?

Mark Burris

This is Mark Burris, but I don't have the background of the dynamic technologies involved but on our scan tour we saw an incredibly impressive system in San Francisco and DC that required no technology, no government intervention at all, so from my perspective yes. A proper managed lane policy in place, will incentives folks to figure a way to share their cars. It does not necessarily mean technology, I suspect there is some way technology may improve the system but, it is going to be hard to beat the system they've got working right now in Washington DC, where 10,000+ people uses every day, incredibly efficient use of the freeway facilities without the need of any technology. Except a good website, that helps potential riders and drivers see where these park and ride lots are.

Myron Swisher

Okay, our final question then I will hand it back to Jennifer to close us out. Since much of slugging is from a transit stop, do we have a good idea what the benefits are to bestow? Is it only saving fare a non-passholder, or are they saving time and/or walking distance? I would add is there any evidence that the concern of transit agencies that poaching ridership is occurring?

Mark Burris

I will talk specifically from the Houston example. You are standing beside a bus stop there and competing head-to-head with a bus. These are express coaches, the luxury coaches headed straight down town. Even with that, it may be difficult for them to compete with slugging. The guy from Houston metro, the transit agency that was showing us around the slug lot, he has a free pass from Houston metro, he can use the bus for free. He still chooses to slug because the slug driver generally drops him off closer to his workplace which happens to be the transit agency. Where the transit bus had straight downtown on these HOV lanes but then makes several stops before it gets to his agency. So, even head to head with the transit buses, the slug lines can win.

So yeah, the transit agency is losing business and they know it. It depends on the outlook of the folks in charge there. In recent history, the folks at Metro in charge look at this as one more way to reduce congestion, one more way to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles, and as long as they have the parking spaces at the park-and-ride lot, they have been supporting the slug lines. I don't know what will happen once they run out of spaces in the park and ride lot, they might have a different point of view at that point.

Brant Arthur

I will also speak, parallel to one of the other counties that is part of our team who has BART which is the local heavy rail, one of their real constraints if they don't have enough parking for peak hours for people who are taking BART into San Francisco. To get more people to the BART stations would increase the amount that could ride transit.

Myron Swisher

That was an excellent discussion, Jennifer I think we are out of time and to keep us on time, if you could close us out.

Jennifer Symoun

Sure, thank you to all five of our presenters and thank you for everyone in attendance today. Thank you for your patience during the technical difficulties due the end there. The next webinar will be on August 25 and will be about Pay as You Drive Insurance. Please visit the web address shown on the slide to register for this webinar and view the schedule of other upcoming webinars. If you did not register in advance today, and want to learn about future webinars please send me an e-mail with your contact information to SymounJ@SAIC.com and I will make sure you get the future information about the webinar series. So thank you everybody and enjoy the rest of our day.

Myron Swisher

Can you also mention the date change in November?

Jennifer Symoun

Yes, if you look at the congestion pricing website, we do have a webinar in November scheduled for a November 17th which tentatively it is being rescheduled for November 10th. We will get an update to the website once we have that date definitely confirmed. We want to put a notice out there to hold the date of November 10 for the November webinar. If you look at the website you will see the other upcoming webinars and topics. Thank you everybody, have a good day.

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