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
Tenth Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.
Kathy McCune, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Primus, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, Jay.Primus@sfmta.com
Rory Santana, Florida Department of Transportation, Rory.Santana@dot.state.fl.us
Patrick Vu, Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, email@example.com
Ken Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Kenneth.Buckeye@state.mn.us
Patty Rubstello, Washington State Department of Transportation, RubsteP@wsdot.wa.gov
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 an update on the Urban Partnership Agreement and Congestion Reduction Demonstration Projects. Please be advised that today's webinar 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 six presenters, one from each of the UPA/CRD locations: Kathy McCune of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, Jay Primus of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, Rory Santana of the Florida Department of Transportation, Patrick Vu of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, Ken Buckeye of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Patty Rubstello of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Today's webinar will last 90 minutes. However, due to the number of presentations and the amount of questions we are likely to get, we may extend the webinar beyond the planned end time to address as many questions as possible. If you are unable to stay on please note that we are recording this webinar and the recording will be available online within the next few weeks. We'll take questions following the six presentations. 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. The 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.
I want to take a brief moment to introduce the Urban Partnership Agreement and Congestion Reduction Demonstration program. The USDOT awarded the UPA/CRD projects close to $1 billion in federal funds to implement innovative strategies designed to relieve congestion. Due to the number of presentations we've asked each presenter to spend a very brief amount of time describing their project. To learn more about the urban partnership and congestion reduction demonstration projects, please visit the UPA/CRD web site. The address is on the slide on your screen and I will type it into the chat box.
We'll now go ahead and get started. Our first presenter will be Kathy McCune of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Thank you, Jennifer. The first slide tells you our tagline: "It's About Time." This is the line we will use in our upcoming marketing campaign. This was developed from a series of focus groups we held. It's meant to be a double entendre, because it's about time we brought express lanes to LA County and what we found from the focus groups is that they were concerned about time in terms of spending a lot of time on the freeway.
In terms of the program itself, we have a budget of $274 million; $210 million is the Federal grant we received, and the rest is our local match. We've allocated $186 million for transit investments for both capital and operational, and $120 million is for the tolling infrastructure and the freeway, arterial pedestrian improvements we need to do in order to implement the express lanes. We have another $18 million we gave to LA DOT for their program, which will provide demand-based parking pricing in downtown LA. This ExpressPark is similar to the program being implemented in San Francisco, which I believe is following my presentation.
For our program itself, we will be converting 25,000 existing HOV lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways into Metro express lanes. Both freeways terminate into downtown LA. We are not changing the existing HOV occupancy requirements or entry and exit locations; however, do have differing occupancy requirements on the freeways, which pose a bit of a challenge. On the 10 carpool occupancy requirement is 3+ during peak hours, but on the 110 the occupancy requirement is 2+, 24/7. Vehicles that meet the occupancy requirement will use the lanes toll free. Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) on the 110 during the peak periods and SOVs and 2+ carpools on the 10 will be toll-paying customers. All vehicles will be required to have a transponder. Metro will deploy a switchable transponder that will allow drivers to self-declare occupancy of the vehicle. For enforcement, there will be dedicated CHP officers in the lanes and technology on the freeways that will enable CHP to see the occupancy setting and detect vehicles without a transponder.
As for transit improvements, we are expanding transit service on the Silver Line by adding 59 new buses on the two freeways, which will allow us to increase the frequency of service during peak hours on evenings and weekends. Silver Line is the new BRT service that travels from the El Monte station, which at the east end of that pink line on the 10, down through downtown Los Angeles to the south part of the 110, which is the south end of the dotted pink line, to the Harbor Gateway transit center. The budget also includes funding for a new El Monte transit station at the east end of the 10 and security and lighting improvements at the stations along the 110. Of course, it introduces congestion pricing to LA County on two very congested corridors. The CBD shows you where downtown Los Angeles is in relation to our two freeways.
As far as actual milestones in 2011, we provided the Notice to Proceed to our DBOM contractor in January and we are using the design build operate and maintain method of project delivery. In May, our board approved a promotional deal of the Auto Club of Southern California, AAA, that would allow members to receive a 20% discount on their initial toll balance when they set up their accounts, which equates to $8. It will be available online and at AAA branch offices only. In June, we launched Phase 1 of our enhanced Silver Line BRT service, which will increase its frequency on the 110 from every 30 minutes to every 10 minutes during peak, and we will launch other improvements in June of next year.
Since June, when we launched enhanced service, our ridership has increased by 39%. Since the launch of the Silver Line in December 2010, we have increased ridership by 80%.
In July, we had a groundbreaking event for the start of construction of the express lanes on the 110, and in September, we started construction on the 10. Currently construction is sign foundations and median work, and sign structures and sign panels will be erected in January. In September, LA DOT gave their contractor Notice to Proceed for their ExpressPark project, and the project is being implemented in three phases. Phase 1 will use baseline data to refine base hourly rates to influence demand; Phase 2 will build on the demand balance from Phase 1 and will identify peak periods and establish hourly rates by the time of day; and Phase 3 will adjust the rates per block in selected areas in real-time, based on current demands.
In the last three months, we've been conducting market research and developing our branding look. The transponder in these slides shows the branding look and the palette of colors we will be using. This is a revised transponder that is being utilized in California. It has a switch that allows people to self-declare occupancy, and they change the switch setting based on vehicle occupancy. That is what the transponder will look like.
One of the results of our focus groups was the development of a rideshare loyalty program to provide monthly incentives in the form of gift cards to carpoolers and vanpoolers using the express lanes. We also have a transit rewards program for frequent transit users along the two corridors. When they use their registered card they can earn a $5 toll credit for every 16 trips they take during the peak hours.
Finally, as far as the milestones for this year, this week some of our project team members are in Maryland participating in the roadside toll collection system factory acceptance testing. It appears to be going very well and it seems like they are ahead of schedule, which is good news.
This gives you an indication of our schedule to date. We received a grant in 2008, and obviously this is 2011. We will finish final design by the end of this month, and sign panels will be going up in the new year. Since 2008, we have been conducting in excess of 250 public meetings and project briefings, and this year alone we will have completed over 60. We basically have them ongoing as we go through the project. As far as the timeline in 2012, we will open up the express lanes on the 110 in October and the 10 express lanes will open by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
As far as lessons learned to date, we listed six, but I'm only going to discuss four of the key lessons we have learned. The first is a political champion is a must, especially here in LA where this project has been very controversial. We have been fortunate to have more than one political champion. We have three on our board right now and we have others in the State legislature. These political champions have been key in terms of keeping the project on track and keeping the press and some of our State legislators from gaining any traction to derail the project. We've had State legislators every year threaten to enter some sort of legislation that would kill the project, so we have been fortunate to have the number of political champions we have had in order to keep this project going.
In terms of public outreach, we encourage people to engage the public early in the process and often throughout the project development, especially at key milestones. As you saw from the previous slide, we have been in the community a lot. We also formed corridor advisory groups comprised of business and community leaders that have been invaluable in being able to bounce ideas off them and get ideas from them in terms of how to implement the program better. Through these public meetings, we've had a number of project elements that have been revised based on their comments, and they appreciate the fact we are listening to them and that it has been a collaborative approach.
We also found the multimodal concept has increased public acceptance and we have provided something for everyone—SOVS, carpools, vanpools and transit riders. Everyone benefits from this program. Finally, State law required our tolling authority to conduct an assessment of impacts to low income communities. We were the first in the State to do so. The assessment concluded that while low income commuters are primarily transit users, they appreciate the opportunity to use the express lanes if they need to, and the significant investment in transit more than offset any potential impact. In addition, through our outreach and through our assessment, we are implementing an equity toll discount program where eligible households based on income can receive a one-time $25 discount on their prepaid toll balance, and we will also be waiving their $3 per month account maintenance fee.
In terms of what is to come beyond the express lanes, we are embarking with SCAG on a four-county HOT lane network (LA, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties) and a cordon pricing plan study for the city of LA. We are also in the process of performing a HOT lane feasibility study on the 405 Freeway that starts at the Orange County – Los Angeles County line and travels west and north to LAX. I wanted to mention that without the UPA/CRD program, these additional studies and programs would not be possible. We have been able to leverage the CRD to advance the congestion pricing concept in the region.
In terms of how to get more information on the program, we have our website and the transponder interest form on there, which we're utilizing to determine demand and find out how many people would be interested in having a transponder so that we can help manage demand when the program gets launched. Of course, you can follow us on Twitter and our Facebook page, and we are connected to our 511 system. If you call 511 in the LA County region, you will be able to get information on the express lanes. That concludes my presentation.
Thank you. Our next presenter will be Jay Primus of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority.
Thank you. I'm Jay Primus. I'm the SFpark manager. I'll give a presentation on what we've done for 2011, but before I do that I want to mention a couple things. SFpark.org: if you want to learn more after the presentation, you can go there.
In case you're not familiar with the project (I know it's a little different from the other projects), this is just a demonstration of a different way of managing parking and trying to bring together a package of best practices for parking management including two things. First, demand responsive pricing for parking: pricing parking that can vary by time of day and day of week and block to block. This is an illustration of what that can look like. This is an effort to find the lowest rate possible where we achieve the availability goal so that driver's experience is most of the time they can find a parking space close to their destination; they aren't circling around or double parking. On the right is a picture of our iPhone app. We also have Android and other platforms. We're the first city in the world to have real-time information for parking on the street and in garages. There is a simple color coding for availability.
As far as the scope of the pilots, UPA funded $25 million and covered 8 pilot areas or about 25% of the need or spaces in the neighborhoods you see here. That includes 15 of our 20 parking garages. What we are doing is a subtle but important shift in how cities look at parking. Rather than looking at parking as simply a way to balance budgets, we recognize parking as a powerful tool to achieve broader goals for the city and the transportation system.
The milestones for 2011 build on our work in 2010, which was focused mainly on getting the necessary equipment in the ground, and that includes parking meters that take credit cards, those are commonplace, but on the left, parking sensors. These are magnetometers that tell us whether or not a parking space is occupied. It's pretty humble: the size of a hockey puck, two batteries, and ultra low power mesh network. That sensor, communicating with us real-time, 24/7, with those two batteries, should last about 5 years.
This is some of the big stuff we have accomplished this year. This is something we put in place at the beginning of the year. We started to charge all city employees to park on the street as well as MTA employees. We hold MTA employees to a higher standard and are sure we charge them even in our own lots. If we're going to manage parking and ask citizens and customers to think about parking differently, we wanted to put our own house in order and hold ourselves to a higher standard. That was an important part of our credibility. We made sure that happened in February and March, before our launch in April, which was the formal marketing launch of the pilot project with lots of advertising. These are couple of the bus shelter ads. We had ads everywhere. The launch event was centered on the availability of real-time data. That is when we turned on the switch so people could have the iPhone app and an open data feed so any organization could use that data and help us make it available.
Before that, we lengthened our time line, emphasizing our use of price to achieve an availability target rather than time limits to achieve turnover. That is really underscoring our use of smart pricing to achieve our goals. All of that advertising was a great moment for the project and built upon 3 years of outreach where we met with every possible group in San Francisco to sit down and talk them through what we were doing and why.
Another part of what we did this year was making a lot of headway in the development of a data warehouse and business intelligence system. This is a complex IT project; we are collecting a tremendous amount of data for a great evaluation. The parking sensors alone generate a massive amount of data, so we needed a really heavy duty tool. Excel simply was going to cut it. This is critical for the operation and evaluation of the project.
The next step was doing demand-responsive pricing. We have done three rate adjustments this year. The first was in July and August and the next October, and this week we're doing our third. This is an illustration of one neighborhood, Fisherman's Wharf, and what it looks like on a Saturday or Sunday. We're doing rates Monday through Friday and on weekends and by time of day—generally speaking, 9 AM to 12 PM, 12 PM to 3 PM, and 3 PM to 6 PM. The rates change based on occupancy data. Dark blue on these maps mean that on the block, rates at that time go down by $0.50 an hour. The slightly lighter blue means rates go down by $0.25 an hour. The pale blue means no change, and the pink means rates increase by $0.25 an hour. That is the slow, gradual rate change we are doing every 6 weeks. You can see that on weekend mornings in Fisherman's Wharf, not a lot of people are there, but it picks up in the afternoon.
This is a summary of the rate changes and how we have done them. That is the data by metered hours and how rates have changed. They go down by $0.50 when occupancy is really low. Price isn't the only factor in parking demand; there is seasonality (Summer is different than Fall), fuel prices, unemployment, etc. We need to give this time to properly evaluate elasticity and how prices affect parking behavior. One proud note: after three rate changes, we haven't had a single complaint. We've had no problems technologically or politically. I think that is a reflection of a good job as far as outreach and sound communication, which we took really seriously. We are benefiting from that now. It has been a really smooth rollout.
Another piece we finished up this Fall was garage wayfinding: letting people know where the garages and lots are. One of the premises is that we're going to redistribute demand and shift demand off the street with lower prices in garages and lots that have space that people don't use. In the past, rates have been higher in the garages where we have lowered them, and now we need to let people know where those are. That is a key piece of the project that hit the streets.
Another proud thing for us was a 2 day parking conference that FHWA put on here in San Francisco where a lot of different parking and transportation managers came. It was a great opportunity to share what we have done. In about 3 weeks, we put this book together that summarizes what we have done and lessons learned. We are at the beginning, but we wanted to have an easy, digestible way to share that information. That PDF is our website (SFpark.org) in the resources section. You can download the book or you can buy a hard copy for about $50.
One other thing we just finished was an initial evaluation of how this has been affecting revenue. This was January to June, prior to any rate changes. This was looking at how new meters and longer time limits change parking behavior. It was consistent with expectations; letting people pay at the meter and having longer time limits mean that people pay. Great customer service is changing the ratio of meter and citation revenue. We want people to pay at the meter, and that will help prices be that much more effective. We are seeing that take place already, and next Spring and Summer we will do a rigorous evaluation with the DOT evaluation team of how demand-responsive rate changes have affected behavior and revenue.
Just yesterday, we launched a citywide pay-by-phone application so people can park at any meter citywide using a cell phone, which is another way of making it more convenient.
We need to continue development of the business intelligence tool. We are bringing in more and more of the data sets. Each one is complicated and has issues and we need to clean that up and takes sure it's ready for evaluation. We also need to continue to improve and document our business processes. This is new for us, and we are trying to build a solid foundation. Another piece of the project is variable message signs, project evaluation, and the rest of what you see here.
Just to wrap up with lessons learned: at the highest level, the focus on availability and not turnover has been critical. The more we've lived with that the more we think it is the simply, singular bottom-line measure. From there, we believe will flow all the other benefits. We will see. That has been a helpful, easy to communicate, focused goal. We are recognizing that we are shifting how people think about parking and that takes time. For 7 years, we've talked about turnover; now we're talking about availability. That has been an internal change, and doing it within the community as well has been critical. Lots of outreach and the branding have been helpful. The pricing approach has been a success. It has been truly transparent. All the rules and data for rate changes are online. People don't trust us, but when they see that, it starts to change that relationship. We have taken the politics out of pricing and we believe this is how we can achieve our goals. I mentioned earlier that this is a complex IT undertaking and everything involved in that. The policy piece is easier, but getting all the different technology to work together in the way we have has been tough. It has been a hard go of getting all the work done, and it took a lot of resources and effort.
This final slide is my contact information if we don't have time for questions today. Thank you.
Thank you, Jay. The next presenter will be Rory Santana of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Thank you. Let me give a quick overview of the 95 Express project. The scope involves maximizing the use of existing pavement and converting the single HOV Lane we had before to two HOT/express lanes utilizing congestion pricing. We eliminated an existing bottleneck at State Road 112 at the bottom of the screen. We implemented ramp metering and enhanced our enforcement ability with improved surveillance and operation monitoring. We have a designated operator for this facility 24/7.
As part of the program, we were able to fund bus rapid transit by buying new buses and having the funds to offset O&M costs. One unique element of the 95 Express program is that we had a system of pre- registering carpools, thus encouraging the formation of two new carpools with licensed drivers versus family pools or opportunity carpools. That was unique for the 95 Express. The 95 Express is being developed in two stages. Currently, the portion in yellow is the part we are already operating: Phase One. The part in orange is Phase Two and that is currently in the design and construction phase. There is a potential for Phase Three, and there's even talk going beyond that.
I won't go over the results of performance measures in too much detail. There is a lot of information on our website. That information will be available at the end of the presentation. That comes from transit, surveys and so forth. Some of the data today will be from our annual report for fiscal year 2011, which is due out next month. For fiscal year 2011, the average peak period speeds were basically the same as fiscal year 2010. We were able to maintain the capability where we took a facility that was operating at 15 to 20 mph through peak periods and provided one that now the general-purpose lanes average 40 to 50 mph and express lanes average in excess of 55 mph. More important to us as the project team than average speed is the peak period reliability. For fiscal year 2011, peak period reliability was still remaining high, above 45 mph southbound 99.6% of the time and northbound 91.6% of the time during the peak periods.
For fiscal year 2011, we had 19 million trips, or about 1.6 million trips per month. This was the biggest change we had over the previous fiscal year; this was a 21% increase over fiscal year 2010. We reached our 40 millionth trip just this past December. Revenue was up $15.1 million for fiscal year 2011, with $1.3 million collected per month. This is a 14.5% increase over fiscal year 2010. I'm not going to go through all the information on these slides, but you have it as a reference and you will have the website later on.
This next slide has some redundant information I just provided in reference to speed and reliability. I want to show it because it is illustrative of the consistency, which for us translates to reliability that we have maintained for fiscal year 2011. This is to show you the speeds for the express lanes and the general purpose lanes during the peak period and off peak period. They are very consistent, even with the 21% increase in volume.
Here are some numbers related to the actual tolls being charged. Ninety-five percent of our tolls are less than $2.75. The one that always grab potential are the higher tolls. In fiscal year 2011, we did reach the toll maximum in October. Throughout the fiscal year (our fiscal year ends in June 2011), we hit that rate seven times. Currently, we changed our maximum to $7. We did reach $7.10 in fiscal year 2011.
Fiscal year 2011 was a great year for transit. In January 2010, the new express bus rapid transit was introduced with no transfer needed. Beforehand, people had to get off midstream and get on a different bus. Operated by both Broward County and Miami-Dade County Transit, routes began from three different park and ride lots. Based on feedback, a fourth lot was introduced, and you can see how the boardings have increased throughout. Since across-county service started at the end of fiscal year 2011, daily boardings increased 53%. It has increased 145% since the project first opened in 2008. This is the period where we were not having an increase in bus ridership throughout the network, but the 95 Express routes were increasing rapidly. Right now most of the comments that come to my desk relate to the bus service: we want more bus service; we want more seats. Bus service is definitely important to this facility.
In October 2010, we distributed a survey to see what type of feedback we were going to get from the 95 Express lane users. Five thousand surveys were returned. A particular surprise was the 90% satisfaction with features such as the separators and signage. Some of the early complaints were of the signs and delineator, but 90% of the responders were happy with the features. Not surprising through, was that 72% of users felt 95 Express offers a more reliable trip, and 57% wanted it to expand beyond the current plans for Phase Two. That is beyond the one we are building. Forty-nine percent want express lanes expanded. The picture in the right-hand corner shows the entrance to the express lanes and illustrates the signage we have put out there and the striping that shows the delineators.
I have some lessons learned from what we have done right and what we could have done better. First off, and probably most important, is the interaction with the public. We have to emphasize reliability and not speed. If customers try to associate day-to-day tolls versus performance, it will not seem consistent. Our tolling algorithm is predictive. We tell users to look at their cost-benefit over multiple days, and to the most part, that has occurred, which I can tell from the complaints we have received. We used to get complaints asking why am I paying $3 and going the same speed as the general purpose lanes? Tomorrow, I pay $1.50 and go twice as fast. We had to go through training, education and working with the media and public to have them understand that they can't look at it on a day to day basis. It has worked out pretty well.
It's important to control expectations. You can't guarantee 55 mph speed every day. We have had input from people who want us to increase the rate so they have the facility operating at speeds above 55 mph 100% of the time. We have explained to them that takes away from the ability to take more vehicles.
Another issue we talked about with the media and public is that there are long-term and short-term goals. When we're told we don't really have a lot of carpools or there really aren't that many people on the transit buses, we point out this is a long-term program. This is to control the growth over the next few years and this are the shifts we will be encouraging. If we didn't have these tools now, we would use up the pavement and not have the mechanism for future growth.
A third item is when in doubt, more pavement, first and foremost for incident management. In fiscal year 2011, we ended up changing our operating policies and our guidelines and we will now close the facility for a more minor event than we did in fiscal year 2010. One reason is our concern for safety, and the other is operational issues. A simple vehicle parked on a narrow shoulder, besides being a safety issue, would also reduce the operation to the point where it takes a lot longer to recover. The other problem with not having the pavement or pull out area is enforcement. If people don't see enforcement, they don't think it exists. On the other hand, if we do have enforcement, it impacts the operation, and that is the one of the things people will call and complain about. There was an officer sitting there and people are slowing down. Make sure you can have some sort of enforcement where it's either electronic or visible without impacting traffic.
One thing we did right was we started from the beginning to make sure we can get as much granular information from the field as possible to monitor performance. It has worked out well because operation is not static. With increasing traffic volumes impacting our operation, we spent a lot of time analyzing performance. We took this data and automated the control and QA/QC as much as we could, but you have to keep the human element. You want to take a look at what you have got coming to you and ask what the data really means and are we using the right indicators.
Another lesson learned is when you're looking at the facility, consider the network. If you're looking at a possible network in the future, think about it as you go through each segment now. Right now, we're looking at multiple roadways. One of the topics that keep coming up is what do we connect to the 95 Express? It would have been ideal to know facilities are eventually going to connect or not connect to it.
Our main effort in Phase One is optimization. Each year, we think we have reached our maximum volumes and each year we seem to be wrong. This week we have 567,000 vehicles per day. With that, it's a little harder to stay stable and keep up your performance. We are constantly working on optimization and that is what we will do a good part of the next few months. The next part of the 95 Express is of course Phase Two and possibly a Phase Three expansion. In Phase Two, we're hoping to open in late 2014 or early 2015.
The map on this slide is oriented with the north to the right, Atlantic to the bottom. All of these colored roadways are managed lanes. Some are in the design process and some are in the construction process. I'm not going to go through them because there are so many, but this information is available online. For this managed lane network, one thing we were lucky to have occur is that we got some VPP funding for a regional concept for transportation operations study. Hopefully with the study, which we're about to start, we want to provide guidance and direction and lessons learned for all involved in the effort of implementing this managed lanes network. On the Statewide level, there's a similar plan to develop guidelines for standard corridor selection implementation for other areas in the State, as well as our own. That is basically where we are with 95 Express in the Southeast Florida region.
Thank you, Rory. Our next presenter will be Patrick Vu of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority.
Good afternoon. Let's dive into our Interstate 85 express lanes and the CRD program we have in Georgia. The big goal of the project in Atlanta is to provide reliable travel time and commuter choices through a combination of express lanes and transit improvements. In terms of the I-85 express lanes, it is a 50-mile long corridor that was an existing HOV 2+ corridor, and we converted it to a HOT 3+ corridor. We are 11weeks into our demonstration. We opened on September 30, 2011 at midnight. We also have a lot of regional transit improvements, but specifically on the corridor, we had three park and rides that we created and bus services along the way. In totality, it was a $182 million program, and $110 million was provided by the USDOT; $60 million went to tolling, including the tolling system, public outreach, and enforcement, and $122 million went to transit improvements.
In terms of the express lanes corridor, it was an existing, one lane in each direction, non barrier separated HOV lane. We have kept the same pavement and cross-sections and so forth. It is divided line separated, which means there are areas where someone can get in and get out. It's dynamically priced to maximize vehicle throughout. An aspect of our project is in order to be able to use express lanes, we ask users to register and that is synonymous with having a transponder in their vehicle, or a Peach Pass. Single drivers and two-person occupants do have to have a transponder and also pay. We have 24/ 7 operation. We have a toll operations center where we man the costs for the peak periods throughout the day.
The rules of the road real quickly: we have the toll rate signs to allow people to make decisions to enter the lane. For example, we have the first destination and the closest destination so drivers are able to know the price if they go only one segment or the full length of the corridor. People that get out in between will pay per mile. We have quite a bit of enforcement. We have double line crossings and registration and people having transponders to worry about. We have the ability to issue violations through the tolling system as well as in the lanes. An example is you can see where you have express lanes on the left-hand side and the general-purpose lanes next to it.
Eleven weeks into the program, we are still in the ramp-up stage. We are trying to stabilize the system and are also going into the holiday season, but we wanted to highlight the trip trends. This shows the overall daily trips that occur. You can see that we started with 3,200 trips and now we are at 11,500 daily trips. Because this is a registered lane, folks had to see it working in order to get feedback before registering.
This slide is a view of the total average fare folks are paying. This includes tolls and non- tolls in terms of averaging the price. We started early on with much higher pricing for our project. That prompted a reaction from the press and public that prices were too high. Our elected officials asked us to revisit the pricing algorithms, which we did.
A couple other things that came up were examining new access points and re-examining original assumptions. Toll rates have been increasing week by week. There are a lot more people registered with their Peach Passes. We started out with 75,000 passes and now we are up to 180,000 passes. We see a steady increase in terms of new passes being issued as well.
In terms of toll and non- toll customers, we are seeing a split: 79% of folks are paying and 21% are non-toll trips throughout the corridor. You can also see patterns, like on Thanksgiving.
In terms of the express lanes lessons learned to date, one of the things we can't emphasize enough is the theme being flexible and understanding things change. One of the things that did change is we did quite a bit of modeling beforehand, but the models are approximations at best. One of these things we know as implementers and operators is that there's what we went in with, but not only do we have pricing changes across the corridor but we had occupancy changes as well. The combination of these changes required flexibility. Also, think of long-term versus short-term changes. There's quite a bit of short-term. Things change so dynamically that you don't want to make drastic changes to the corridor when you're early on in the project. Holiday periods and the anticipation of how you price a holiday week versus a regular week have a major impact. Pricing did also have an impact in terms of traffic patterns of people using the full-length of the corridor or a portion. All of these models beforehand get thrown out once people start responding to pricing in the lanes. There is very much an emphasis on making sure we price it correctly. In the morning for instance, we have to make sure we price accordingly so the lane doesn't get over utilized, but also make sure we bring the price down as quickly as possible to let the lanes be utilized. There is an upside and downside to pricing insights and lessons learned you have to dynamically look at.
A couple other interesting things we found by listening to the radio was that the traffic reporters have a large impact. This is why you should have a good relationship with the media and tell them pricing and you give them insight in terms of the logic. They have a big impact. One day they say the price is this and the next day they tell drivers to get into the lane, and you immediately see an impact on traffic. Those types of responses don't get built into models regularly, but you can find it out once you get started.
Another key point about being flexible is incident response. We had a game plan in terms of how we would respond to incidents. We wanted to be conservative and customer friendly in terms of pricing and incidents. One of the things is we learned to be flexible and we changed our sensitivity to instances, like a 2 minute closure or a 5 minute closure. Those are key lessons in terms of response. One of the lessons we learned was collecting key performance metrics for the corridor: travel times, speed, volume and occupancy violations. We go in there with the game plan. There is long-term versus short-term. With all the press, there are a lot of questions early on about what the data is. Two weeks into the project, a lot of people were asking for conclusions, so one thing is matching expectations. Having two-way communication with media can give you feedback on whether the data is good enough and whether it's being updated frequently enough. You can't control the media but you can have an effect on them and manage expectations by having that two-way communication.
To focus on the transit side of the house, there were 36 coach buses on 5 routes added to existing commuter services and 4 park and ride lots added as well. Regional transit was expanded as well. One of the lessons learned is the snapshots from express bus routes that were used as part of the project, September averages versus the first week that we opened the roadway. On the bottom line you can see the change in terms of the ranges. You can see the longer trend in terms of traffic impacts.
That is pretty much it in terms of insights so far. These are some of the lessons we have learned 11 weeks in.
Thanks, Patrick. Our next presenter will be Ken Buckeye of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Thank you. Minnesota's UPA project was largely implemented in 2009. We did implement additional features over the last year as well. It was a $188 million project, $133 million in Federal Funds. We did employ all of the T's: tolling, transit, technology and telecommuting.
First of all, our I-35W HOV to HOT Lane conversion, we used MnPASS as our brand name. It's a 16 mile lane conversion starting at the southern portion of the corridor that included a price dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL)—the top portion that is green on the map. That was one of the significant innovations we adopted. The large orange circle in the middle of this map was the completed project late last year, and then the small red circle at the bottom is another project, the 2 mile extension of the MnPASS lane.
Let me talk about what some of our performance experience has been. Our MnPASS project is a much more modest project than the I-95 project in Miami. We experience about 60,000 toll trips per month, which translates to 2,500 to 3,000 trips per day over the last year. You can see the blip in July. That was due to the State government shutdown for 20 days.
We are taking in about $90,000 a month on the I-35W MnPASS, which will translate to about $1 million a year. An average toll that is being paid on that trip is $1.49. We've seen a nice growth in the number of customers that are using the corridor. It is somewhat behind the growth we experienced in our first MnPASS lane, but nevertheless it continues to grow at a rate of about 60 new customers per month.
The travel time reliability is clearly the reason our customers use the lane. This chart tells the story. Drivers on average can save 6 to 7 minutes in the peak period choosing to use the MnPASS Lane, but that can vary as much as 15 minutes if they use the general-purpose lane. Clearly, the time savings on an average day in the peak period might be modest, but it is the reliability of that trip that people pay for.
This summarizes our MnPASS results: 2,500 to 3,000 users a day; 500 to 700 use the PDSL. We have about 60 new account holders that set up each week. About one quarter of the customers on the MnPASS Lane are toll paying customers. It is an HOV 2+ facility. A majority of the customers are B6s and transit users. We have less than 8% violation rate, which is substantially lower than prior than conversion. Tolls can range from $0.25 to $8 and they vary quite a lot during peak period operations. One of the spinoff benefits of our 35W project was we had about 2,000 new transponder holders sign up for our I-394 MnPASS.
Let's move onto transit. MARQ2 was an important piece of our transit implementation for the UPA. It's an express bus corridor in downtown Minneapolis that is about a mile long. It has increased by about 18% in ridership, which means about 4,300 the riders a day are now using express bus routes that begin or end in downtown Minneapolis. It has provided a significantly enhanced customer experience. Time savings for the buses and occupants is substantial: 5 to 10 minutes per trip as they now enter or exit the downtown area. Part of our transit trip strategy was to add additional park and ride spaces on the 35W and the Highway 77 corridor; 1,484 spaces were added and 45% of the new spaces are now full. We also added service improvements and new buses on those corridors as well.
It was not part of the UPA but it is one of the latest enhancements to the 35W corridor: the opening of our BRT in-line station on I-35W. Once this BRT is fully implemented, I think that's going to have substantial benefits for users.
Let's talk about technology. We employed a large variety of technologies, such as bus arrival and electronic messaging, space availability, and electronic signing. Lane guidance systems on buses are an important piece because the buses on Highway 77 are using shoulders. It's particularly important in snowy weather so that bus drivers know where they are on those lanes. We've also installed intelligent lane control signals. The first slide had the intelligent lane control signals on them. They provide drivers safety advisories and speed limit advisories. We've done some signal coordination on arterials, which has improved the efficiency of those corridors. It's going to take longer than 1 or 2 years to fully understand the benefits.
EWorkPlace is our tele-work efforts and it has been highly successful. We've had 48 employers sign up for that. The program officially ended last Summer because the funding was limited to three years of operation. 4200 employees signed up for eWorkPlace. They save a substantial amount of time by tele-working. One of the things that is going to happen is that eWorkPlace brand and services will be continued through a partnership we have with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School and transportation management organizations. We did a benefit cost analysis of eWorkPlace and it has substantial benefit cost ratio of about 9 to 1.
We have had the benefit of looking at lessons learned from the evaluation team. A couple weeks ago we had a big meeting to consider all the provisions of the program and what we learned from it. In a sense it has created kind of a new culture at MnDOT. There has been a strong commitment from all agencies to deliver this program through deployment and operation. Clear decision-making and authority and assignment of its possibilities were given to the project managers at MnDOT. The amount of Federal funds available was a very strong motivator and the threat of losing those funds was clearly a driving force for this program. Meaningful deadlines also helped everyone focus on delivery of these measures.
We also learned that multimodal solutions work. The four T's work well. Simple solutions that I didn't talk about such as the bus bypass lane, which saves bus drivers a considerable amount of time. An important lesson learned for us is we have projects sitting on the shelf but no funding. The MARQ2 is a perfect example of that. When this money became available and we saw how these pieces would be coming together, we were able to pull that project off the shelf and move with it. It helps to be prepared for opportunities that might come along. What we learned on I-35W is that managed lanes will be transferable to other corridors. We also learned we can't become complacent. We have to market our success. We know the public supports optional toll lanes if benefits are shown, and I think we've been able to show those benefits. Some of this learning doesn't necessarily translate to conversion of general purpose lanes to HOT. That's a new frontier and we are working on projects that may entail some of those conversions, but nevertheless the learning has been very important.
Let's talk about what's next in Minnesota. Like I said, this has been transferable to other projects. We are managing lanes and shoulders on I-94. This project will be fully implemented next Summer. There is a study underway on I-35W and we're studying implementing a MnPASS lane in Highway 77. Transit growth continues and we fully expect we will see more benefits of transit in the very near future. We continue to evaluate our technology performance. It takes a little bit longer to fully understand where the benefits to the deployment of technology are going to occur, but that kind of evaluation will be ongoing. As I said, eWorkPlace will continue with an agreement we have so the continuity will be there with employers to provide them with expertise on delivering more eWorkPlace benefits. All existing HOV lanes have been converted to HOT lanes in Minnesota. We are looking at more dynamic shoulders possibly. We did a MnPASS systems study which prioritized expansion areas, one of which will be 35E, and possible 36. This map shows 35E going north out of downtown, which would be considered four MnPASS, operation and 36, which is an east-west corridor in downtown Minneapolis.
If listeners are interested, there is the link to our MnPASS website and our UPA website, or they can contact me directly. That concludes my presentation.
Thank you, Ken. Our final presentation will be given by Patti Rubstello of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Good afternoon. I thought I would spend some time explaining what our UPA project is all about. We received $154.5 million in Federal grants. Of the four T's, tolling was the predominant one. As you will notice on the map, we are looking to implement tolling on State Route 520, an existing roadway, two lanes in each direction. Included with that is time of day pricing, so varying the price by time of day, and also it's important to note from the traffic across that bridge, both morning and afternoon peaks are the same in both directions. There are major employer centers on either side. That factored into the time of day pricing for this facility. The other thing for tolling SR 520, what we had to do was implement a new back office so that has been part of the implementation of tolling and it is something that we have learned a lot with lessons learned.
On the technology side, we call it our smarter highway system. Active traffic management was deployed in the later part of 2010 and we have implemented it on the other Lake Crossing, which is I-90. Transit was implemented in the later part of 2010. We added about one third of additional transit service to 520; the remainder came in February. Mostly it was geared toward the fact we had anticipated starting tolling in March of this year. There were 130 new daily bus trips across 520, which is about a 20% increase to the service already out there. For TDM or tele-commuting, most of our effort has been focused on education and that the different choices are, and coupling that with our tolling message as well.
I will move into some of the things we have observed so far with our telecommuting TDM outreach effort. Being able to have a carrot or a stick to motivate people was important. Also, from the standpoint of having incentives, having sustainability with the funding that's able to support that. Some of the things we have been able to offer up are free bus passes. Being able to maintain that long enough to actually change driver behavior or the choices people make will be interesting to see. Tolling is a definite attractor for people trying different modes when tolling starts. Another key piece is the tele-working, which has been a more complicated endeavor for us. Educating the employer and the employees prior to getting the urban partnership money, employees were very interested in doing telework, where employers were less interested. That seems to have flipped, and now with the recession, employers seem to be more interested to lower their overhead, but employees are concerned about if they are out of sight they are out of mind, and insecurity of jobs is a concern at the moment. We continue to do outreach efforts, again bringing that all together with our tolling message. As we have looked to the effectiveness, we are trying to figure out the right measures for that. Vanpool programs and things of that nature and the dynamics that occur there are difficult to know what really drives the startup and the disbanding of those vanpools.
Switching over to the transit side, there are 130 additional trips made across 520. There's a new route that was added around SR 522, which is the route that take folks around the northern side of the lake. One of the challenges with our tolling date was that we hoped it to be March of this year. The transit service was geared to get going a few months prior to the launch of tolling so it could be visible and people could start taking advantage of it before tolling. It became too late to change that. It takes a lot to deploy that service and once we realized tolling wasn't going to happen in March, it was too late. That service has been out there ever since, but we have actually seen a greater increase in ridership on that service than anywhere else around the corridors in this area. It clearly showed there was a demand for that service and we expect it to continue to grow once tolling is implemented.
Technology: we call that are smarter highways systems that we have put out on both 520 and I-90. Some of the lessons learned have clearly been the lack of standards. That can be a good or bad thing, but as we operated, we learned we maybe didn't spend enough time thinking about how to deploy that with our other more traditional measures. We are continuing to learn. We've already upgraded our system based off of things we have learned and we will continue to do that. We know there is continued refinement that needs to happen.
As I mentioned with 520, with the active traffic management measures, one of the key things was to implement it in a way that can be utilized during construction. In the bottom left picture you will notice the corridor is under construction right now, which makes it interesting as we are trying to implement new systems. Those gantries with the variable speed limits have been helpful as the construction work has gone on. Approaching the bridge, there's a single HOV lane that goes westbound. It has been converted to bus only through a stretch there. I think it demonstrates how flexible it can be during those situations. Education is a huge piece for this type of endeavor as well as with our tolling and being able to take advantage of media and coming up with videos to better explain how the system works. It is really gone a long way to help drivers understand. We continue to have to do more education but we found this to be an effective tool.
Onto the tolling side: the thing we realized quickly was that with tolling 520, people don't get the reliability. They understand tolling will divert people and are more focused on the diversion issues. We focused our message on tolling is here to replace the vulnerable bridge, and people understand that both from having storms that can shut down the bridge but also the vulnerability to earthquakes. That has been a key message we have had for explaining why tolling is coming to 520. We also discuss how tolling helps lower our debt for long-term replacement of the bridge. Another helpful piece is it was tolled when it was originally built so a lot of drivers still remember the tollbooth. That has also been a drawback because people continue today believing we will have tollbooths into the future, so we try to stress this is an all electronic facility, but I think that will be a hurdle we will continue to maneuver once tolling starts.
Forecasting driver behavior has been a real challenge. None of the models we have found really understand because they are based off of past experience and not having an existing facility done before makes it more challenging as well as changing the value of time. I think the timing of this project made it more difficult as the recession came on and drivers' value of time changed dramatically. Trying to keep up with that and understanding how that affects that diversion has also been a challenge.
Because the corridor would be under construction as we started tolling on 520, we chose to implement it on an existing bridge structure. Although I think that continues to be the right decision on our part, it also created a lot of additional issues that we were not necessarily thinking about early on. We've learned a lot about how toll systems work on a bridge structure. Also the fact of being overwater, needing to limit the light pollution, coming up with ways to mitigate those things and to make sure the toll system is as effective as possible has also been a challenge.
Our schedule was way too aggressive. We've had many things come our way and we didn't have the contingency of time available to us, and so that has been a challenge. We had two initiatives that could have potentially affected our tolling and we also had the Department of Transportation become an enforcer of tolls. Changing the business rules has been a great challenge. As I mentioned before, being able to implement pay by mail or sending told bills is another educational piece, not only with users but also jurisdictions and how it affects them and law enforcement. We also implemented new technology. New transponders have been introduced and educating drivers about what their choices and options are has also led to a lot more complexity to the system for us.
On December 29 we will start tolling 520. It is a big moment for us. Then we will move on to our evaluation and monitoring, so we will have lots of data to share as far as what really happened on 520 and on the other facilities. Their greatest concern is how the tolling of 520 affects other facilities under consideration. You'll notice our I-405 to the north is authorized to implement express tolling. We have a lot of other facilities under studies and we know how successful 520 is will be a key issue for those ventures going forward as well.
With that, I encourage people to check out our website. We have some great videos to talk about tolling and how we are trying to educate people, and also some status information on the project.
Thank you, Patty. I know we are at our normal time limit right now. We are going to extend a little longer to take some questions. I believe Rory and Ken have to sign off. Ken has already answered some questions and Rory will give some written responses after the webinar. We'll start from the top. I think what we will try to do one or two questions per presenter and see where that gets us.
Starting with Kathy: how is Metro going to avoid the problems Georgia DOT recently experienced with their I-85 HOT Lane?
That's a good question. There are a couple of different things between Georgia' program and ours. We are not changing the occupancy requirements. I know in Georgia they increase their carpool requirements from 2+ to 3+ when they implemented the program, but our occupancy requirements will stay the same. In addition to that, our dynamic pricing algorithm is reflecting only the express lanes. There is no feedback from the general-purpose lanes. I think the way Georgia did their algorithm is they incorporate a lot of feedback from the general-purpose lanes to give them the price for the express lanes. Our dynamic pricing algorithm will not work that way. The pricing will be based solely on what is happening in the express lanes.
Kathy, I'll ask you another one. What issues were a problem that required you to need a champion?
We have a state legislator here in California are really doesn't agree with the whole concept of tolling and express lanes, especially on existing facilities. Every legislative session, he has threatened to introduce legislation to effectively kill the project. We have had to have our political champions intervene and try and work out the issues and obviously not necessarily talk to that legislator, but other people in the state legislature that could kill his bill. There's been a challenge for us that pops its head up every year, so we always have to stay on the ball and make sure we are aware of what is happening at the state level and make sure nothing is being passed that could impact the program.
We'll go on to go some questions for Jay. Have you observed as drivers read the instructions on the meters to see how long it takes and level of frustration?
Not really. We haven't gotten any complaints about the meters we have installed. People are mainly thrilled to pay with credit card. The meters we have, the user interface was really important to us and we are pretty pleased. We probably got the easiest meter to use on the market, at least the single spaced ones. The user interface is pretty straightforward. We put a lot of energy into having decals and instructions if you need them, but the point is you don't need them: you can walk up and figure out how to use it. There have been a couple minor issues. Some people think the meters are too tall. I think it's a little unrelated to this question for pricing, but in short no complaints.
Down the road, will they be able to pay for parking with an app on their phone?
There are all kinds of possibilities. Right now, parking meter technology being where it is, just being able to pay with a credit card and having that ubiquitous is a big step. Being with a cell phone is convenient, but it's still paying with credit card. Every meter now has a NFC chip, so if you have an NFC enabled phone, you can swipe it on the meter and it will launch the application automatically so you can add how much time you want. I think it's approaching that, but just being able to pay with a credit card, if the whole point is making payment easy, I think that is a nut we've cracked. Whether technology will make it even easier, we will see. I think that is several years away.
Thank you. We're going to move on to some questions for Patrick. How much capacity existed on the I-85 HOV lane to sell, or what drove the decision to change occupancy?
Our HOV lanes were over utilized. We were regularly breaking down. The whole premise was to raise the occupancy level, but having a third person in a carpool is very difficult and we projected into lanes and room. The capacity that we sold was the virtual capacity when you update to HOV 3+. We projected 25% of vehicles being HOV-3. We were able to sell 75% of the capacity back. That's the split you start seeing in our non-toll vs. toll breakdowns.
Do you have a ConOps documented, or are you being flexible as you go?
We're being flexible. Even the day before we opened we had all of these goals and lessons learned from elsewhere. There are some fundamentals and corridor-specific things you have to be careful about in terms of congestion points, merge points, reactions to traffic and so forth.
We'll move onto questions for Patty next. What is done to inform the public about how the variable speed limits can be used to mitigate congestion? Do you have interactive tools?
We do have interactive tools. We have a video and an animation that explains how the variable speeds work as well as the lane control. When this first got introduced on talk radio, it quickly became evident that the public does not like the idea of variable speeds used for congestion management. They didn't understand how going slower could make it go faster and move more people. What they did understand was by being able to moderate speeds, you can reduce the number of collisions, thereby reducing congestion associated with those, so our message has been focused on the safety aspect of active traffic management.
Was the start up delay mostly because of acceptability hurdles or logistics of start up, or which most?
I would say both. Early on it was the acceptability and getting the legislature to buy into doing this and being able to agree that early tolling made sense. Everybody is familiar with tolling after the project has been built, not tolling ahead of time. As we got through those hurdles, we got into more of the systems side and changing of business rules and things of that nature.
We have a question posed to all of the presenters. Have employer-provided transit checks also been tied into the marketing of transit to provide time and dollar savings by using transit on the BRT? I will let any of the presenters jump in and answer that.
This is Kathy from LA. We have not utilized that in any of our messaging.
We haven't in the Seattle area either.
In terms of Atlanta, we do have a partnership with our partners at the Clean Air Campaign, so it's more of a general message in terms of using carpooling and transit services and the existing programs.
We will take one more question for each presenter and then we will close out. For Kathy, what is the enforcement process and how do they identify the status of the transponder? Can users switch their transponder at the last minute?
The way system works is tolling is done in segments because we have multiple ingress and egress points. We will be able to tell if somebody switched their transponder mid- trip. The second thing is what will happen with CHP is we have technology in the roadway in the form of beacon lines that are placed on the rear of the gantry along with the cameras. They will go off and are coordinated with a switch setting. When the beacon flashes, that is associated with a specific setting. That is how CHP will know what the transponder switch is set at, but were looking at the possibility of some sort of handheld device they can have in their patrol car that will allow them to also scan the transponder, but that's primarily how it's going to be done. If there is no transponder at all, all three beacon lights will go off at the same time to signify to CHP that particular vehicle does not have a transponder. That's the way we are looking at enforcement. CHP will be positioned at a place beyond the toll reading gantries and have the ability to read the beacon lights and pull people over as necessary.
A question for Jay: on the slide where you showed the reduction in the number of tickets in the meters, is that on a percent basis and how did the revenue change?
That slide is really just to illustrate the point. This is from memory of an evaluation that was just done. We compared apples to apples—the exact same meters from January to July—and we saw in places where we didn't change the meters. Citations in SFpark areas went down by about 35% and they went down by about half that in the rest of the city. Revenue from coins or cards went down a little bit in the rest of the city. It went up dramatically in SF park areas, about 30%. When you look at all revenue minus any additional costs from new meters, year over you revenue went down about 10% last year, and in SFpark areas stayed about the same. As expected, we're still breaking even. We might be making a little more money, but the ratio of revenue from meter-related citations to just meters is changing dramatically.
Question for Patrick: have you tracked the adjacent arterial congestion level post conversion?
That's one of the things we're looking into as part of data collection and evaluation.
We will ask one last question of Patty: does the 520 bridge have the requirement to maintain 45 mph plus during the peak? Is there a worry that demand will be so great regardless of the toll that the speed will drop below 45 mph on a routine basis?
We do have the requirement of 45 mph for 520, and most people think our tolls are too high and so the concern is more about the diversion to the other roadways. We hear a lot of complaints that too much diversion is going to go to I- 90 and clog up those facilities. We will see how long it takes for traffic to settle to understand what the diversion is really like.
I think we're going to close out for today. I want to thank all of our presenters and thank you to everyone in attendance. What I will do is send the questions that have not been answered to the presenters to get written responses, and when I send follow-up information, I will include the responses that didn't get answered. After today's webinar, we will move to an every other month basis, so the next one will be on February 23 and it will be about best practices of parking pricing. We don't currently have that up for registration but I will send out a notice to everybody. With that, thank you and have a good rest of the day and happy holidays.