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CONVERTING HOV LANES TO HOT LANES

CALIFORNIA: HOT Lanes on I-15 in San Diego

San Diego's "FasTrak" pricing program was implemented in April 1999. Under this program, customers in single-occupant vehicles pay a toll each time they use the Interstate 15 HOV lanes. The unique feature of this pilot project is that tolls vary dynamically with the level of congestion on the HOV lanes. Fees can vary in 25-cent increments as often as every six minutes to help maintain free-flow traffic conditions on the HOV lanes. Motorists are informed of the toll rate changes through variable message signs located in advance of the entry points. The normal toll varies between $0.50 and $4.00. During very congested periods, the toll can be as high as $8.00. Toll revenues are supporting express bus service in the corridor, in addition to all operational costs of the HOT lanes, including police enforcement.

At the end of September 2003, there were 24,765 transponders issued. During September 2003, average daily traffic on the Express Lanes reached a peak of 22,382 total vehicles. This is a 143 percent increase from the 9,200 daily vehicles prior to the initiation of the program. On average, 79 percent of the daily traffic is from high occupancy vehicles (HOVs), and 21 percent is from toll paying customers. Total revenue in 2003 is estimated at $2.2 million. Approximately 50 percent of this goes to fund the Inland Breeze Express Bus Service that operates in the corridor. The remainder funds enforcement by the California Highway Patrol and operation of the Customer Service Center.

Extensive outreach was conducted to measure public response to the concept. The outreach included 25 stakeholder interviews, three focus groups, 100 intercept surveys at park and ride lots and transit centers, and a telephone survey of 800 I-15 corridor users. The surveys found that equity was not considered a major issue or obstacle to implementing pricing on the managed lanes. The majority of those interviewed in the phone survey (71 percent) felt that pricing the lanes was "fair" for travelers on the main lanes. Furthermore, 66 percent approve of the currently operating HOT lanes, and 71 percent believe that tolls are an effective way to manage demand. Both users and non-users of the dynamically priced I-15 HOT lanes strongly support the use of pricing. Support is high across all income groups, with the lowest income group expressing stronger support than the highest income group (80% vs. 70%).

July - September 2003 Update: A pilot program for 24-hour weekend operations began in September 2003. The I-15 Express Lanes will remain open on weekends, around-the-clock in the northbound direction for up to three months as part of a pilot program. The direction of the Express Lanes will then be reversed for up to three months. The purpose of the pilot program is to determine the most efficient direction to operate the Express Lanes on the weekends. There continues to be discussions about how to close out the original CPPP project and the appropriate final date up until which the project may submit expenses for reimbursement under the approved CPPP funding. Final report available.

For More Information Contact: Derek Toups, San Diego Association of Governments; Phone (619) 595-5300, e-mail dto@sandag.org.

CALIFORNIA: HOT Lanes on I- 880 in Alameda County

Interstate 880 is a major congested freeway in Alameda County. It has one high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane plus three contiguous mixed flow lanes in each direction for approximately 17 miles, from just south of Oakland to Fremont. This corridor has the highest volume of truck traffic in the region. It connects the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport with high technology companies in Santa Clara and southern Alameda counties and with goods distribution centers to the east. A study was done to determine whether excess capacity does exist, whether there is a market among potential users, and how to address the physical and operational issues associated with such a plan. Study results indicated that, while excess capacity exists, it is not sufficiently high to make local officials comfortable that additional priced vehicles could be accommodated. Also, the demand by light duty commercial vehicles was perceived as modest, and the California Highway Patrol expressed strong reservations about its ability to conduct effective enforcement.

July - September 2003 update: Nothing to report. Study completed.

For More Information Contact: Jean Hart, Deputy Director, Alameda County Congestion Management Agency; Phone (510) 836-2560, Fax (510) 836-2185, e-mail jhart@accma.ca.gov.

COLORADO: HOT Lanes on I-25/US 36 in Denver-Implementation

A regional study of the feasibility of HOT lanes in Denver concluded that the I-25/US 36 corridor was the most feasible location for a pilot demonstration of HOT lanes. The I-25 Bus/HOV lanes, also known as Downtown Express lanes, consist of a two-lane barrier-separated reversible facility in the median of I-25 between downtown Denver and 70th Avenue, a distance of 6.6 miles. The lanes are used by southbound traffic from 5:00 am to 10:00 am, and by northbound traffic from noon to 3:00 am.

The proposed value pricing program would manage and partially alleviate severe congestion during the peak periods, as well as yield greater utilization of the I-25 HOV lanes. The plan would convert the Downtown Express HOV facility into a HOT lane facility, serving additional trips and optimizing the use of the facility. This HOT lane facility would feature dynamic pricing of single-occupant vehicles (SOV). Toll-paying SOVs would be excluded from access to the facility if SOV access were found to depreciate the level of service for HOVs and buses. In 2002, CDOT received $1,721,526 toward its request for $4 million in Federal funds for implementation of the project. The HOT lanes would be the first demonstration in the United States of value pricing directly into and out of a large central business district, with multiple ingress and egress.

July - September 2003 update: Colorado DOT very recently cleared a major "roadblock" standing in the way of progress on the project (i.e., inclusion in the adopted, conforming Regional Transportation Plan). The technical consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), was under contract in early August and is well underway on some of the early action tasks. PB will attend an Open House in late October to demonstrate the CORSIM (& VISSIM) microsimulation of the traffic impacts in downtown Denver. The public will be asked for its comments on existing traffic conditions. This will set the stage for further microsimulation of projected traffic adding HOT traffic.

CDOT is implementing some of the ITS infrastructure elements, required for the HOT lane project, in a current construction project (HOV Gates relocation - a.k.a. Pinchpoint project). A schedule and master plan for the project is currently being developed and will be available shortly. It will include NEPA decision document preparation by February 2004, followed by an RFP for a Design/Build contract issued in March 2004. Full implementation of the HOT Lane conversion on I-25 could be operational by late 2004 or early 2005.

For More Information Contact: Myron Swisher, Colorado Department of Transportation, 2000 South Holly Street, Denver, CO 80222; Phone 303-757-9866; e-mail myron.swisher@dot.state.co.us.

FLORIDA: HOT Lanes on I-95 in Miami-Dade County

This funding would pay for an investment grade traffic and revenue study, market research, outreach efforts, and development of monitoring and evaluation plans. FDOT already funded a preliminary feasibility study.

A proposed new lane would be added in I-95's median. A moveable zipper barrier would permit multiple lane configurations of between two and three HOT lanes in the peak direction. The additional lanes would use the two existing HOV lanes. The HOT lanes would allow multiple ingress and egress points.

FDOT hopes to carry out this project via a public-private partnership. A private firm or consortium would be selected to design, finance, build, and operate the HOT lanes. FDOT would make use of a non-profit corporation to run the facilities and issue the toll revenue bonds. FDOT would not permit a non-compete clause in the public-private partnership agreement.

The overall project, which includes new ramps and several minor improvements to the mixed flow lanes, would provide a 20 percent increase in peak hour, peak direction capacity without having to widen I-95. The project's estimated benefits, in terms of travel time savings and reduced vehicle operating costs, are $3.77 billion and the cost is about $600 million. This produces a very impressive benefit-cost ratio in excess of 6.0.

July - September 2003 update: The cooperative agreement was signed. Department of transportation staff is working to advertise for consultants. The goal is to have an agreement fully executed by February 2004.

For More Information Contact: Kenneth Jeffries, Office of Planning FDOT, District 6, Phone (305) 377-5683; Fax (305) 377-5684; e-mail ken.jeffries@dot.state.fl.us.

TEXAS: HOT Lanes on Two Radial Corridors in Houston (I-10 and US 290)

In January 1998, Houston's "QuickRide" pricing program was implemented on existing HOV lanes of I-10, also known as the Katy Freeway. It was implemented on US 290 in November 2000. The HOV lanes are reversible and restricted to vehicles with three or more persons during the peak hours of the peak periods. The pricing program allows a limited number of two-person carpools to buy into the lanes during the peak hours. Participating two-person carpool vehicles pay a $2.00 per trip toll while vehicles with higher occupancies continue to travel free. Single-occupant vehicles are not allowed to use the HOV lanes. The QuickRide project is completely automated and no cash transactions are handled on the facility. Results from surveys conducted on I-10 indicate that the primary source of QuickRide participants is persons who formerly traveled in single-occupant vehicles on the regular lanes. Toll revenues from several hundred vehicles each day pay for all program operational costs.

July - September 2003 Update: The Texas Transportation Institute project team designed a comprehensive project to provide improvements to the existing QuickRide program, options for the use of QuickRide during the reconstruction of the Katy Freeway corridor, and a model for extending QuickRide to other regional HOV lanes as conditions warrant in the future. Changes in the HOT lane pricing, enforcement (including electronic toll collection), driver communication, and marketing will be implemented and evaluated to determine their effectiveness.

The survey will assist in identifying:

This quarter, the project team completed their analysis of the survey of current QuickRide enrollees. Built on the survey findings of current and former QuickRide users, a non-user survey has been developed. Distribution is scheduled for late October 2003. Procurement for enforcement equipment began in September. Along with stepping up the physical presence of officers, friendly reminder letters of how to display QuickRide requirements will be mailed in October. Several field studies were conducted that determined the need for reminder compliance instructions. The TTI project team updated METRO and TxDOT sign plans, the basis for the project's signing implementation plan. Work on the overall sign implementation plan began this quarter.

For More Information Contact: David Fink, Transportation Operations Engineer, Texas Department of Transportation; Phone (713) 881-3063, e-mail dfink1@houstontranstar.org.


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