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CALIFORNIA: Peak Pricing on the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road in Orange County

The San Joaquin Hills Toll Road (State Route 73) is 15 miles long and extends from Interstate 5 near San Juan Capistrano to Interstate 405 in Newport Beach. It provides an alternative to heavily congested portions of I-5 and I-405, two north-south freeways in the southern portion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. It carries in excess of 2.3 million vehicles monthly (2.7 million annual average) on a six-lane facility. Currently the Toll Road is near capacity during peak periods. A small peak period premium of 25 cents was implemented at most entrances to the facility in February 2002. The premium was calibrated to reduce congestion and spread peak demand to shoulder and off-peak periods, while maintaining revenues at levels required to maintain the covenants on the Agency's revenue bonds. Evaluation results showed that there was a net reduction of 2.7 percent in total traffic along with a net increase of 5.8 percent in toll revenue due to the premium tolls.

July -- September 2003: In the prior reporting period, the Board of Directors for both the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency and the Orange County Transportation Agency approved the creation of an Exploratory Joint Powers Agency ("EJPA"). The new EJPA serves as the potential acquiring entity and oversees completion of the Vollmer Traffic & Revenue Study and development of a Plan of Finance. The final steps will require the existing Agencies to vote on whether to sell their assets to the new JPA. If they do, the new JPA will then vote on whether to acquire their assets and issue $4+ billion in bonds. This is scheduled for completion in October 2003.

On August 14, 2003, the SJHTC Board of Directors approved new toll rates effective midnight October 5, 2003. The new rates were based on two primary factors - data from the Vollmer Traffic & Revenue Study, which was confirmed by Staff's analysis of the effects of prior toll rate increases, and the need to increase revenue without impacting traffic. Following is the new toll rate schedule:

San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road
2-axle vehicles (Cars, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs)
Catalina View Mainline Toll Plaza

Payment method/time of day
Cash peak* - $3.50 New Toll - $3.00 Current Toll
Cash off-peak - $3.00 New Toll - $3.00 Current Toll
FasTrak peak* - $3.00 New Toll - $2.75 Current Toll
FasTrak off-peak - $2.50 New Toll - $2.50 Current Toll

Toll rates at all other locations on the SJHTC will remain unchanged.

* Peak is weekdays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. northbound and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. southbound. Off-peak is all other hours and holidays.

For More Information Contact: Terry Swindle, San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency; Phone (949) 754-3487, e-mail swindle@sjhtca.com.

FLORIDA: Bridge Pricing in Lee County

In August 1998, Lee County implemented a value pricing strategy on two toll bridges between the cities of Ft. Myers and Cape Coral. The project created a peak/off-peak pricing structure offering bridge users a discount toll during times before and after the peak traffic periods. Under the pricing plan, a 50 percent toll discount is provided for trips made during the half-hour period before the morning peak of 7:00-9:00 a.m. and in the 2-hour period following the morning peak. In the evening, the discount period is during the two hours before the evening peak of 4:00-6:30 p.m. and during the half hour after the peak. The program has been successful in inducing significant shifts in traffic out of the peak congestion period. Surveys indicate that over 71 percent of eligible motorists (i.e., those with vehicle transponders) shifted their time of travel at least once a week to obtain a toll discount amounting to just 25 cents (Burris et al 2002).

July - September 2003 update: This successful Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP) project is still operating. There is nothing new to report.

For More Information Contact: Kris Cella, Cella & Associates, Inc.; Phone (239) 337-1071; e-mail kcella@cella.cc or Chris Swenson, P.E., CRSPE, Inc.; Phone (239) 573-7960; e-mail crs@crspe.com.com.

FLORIDA: Variable Tolls along the Sawgrass Expressway in Broward County

In May 2003, Florida began a pilot project to combine Open Road Tolling and Value Pricing entitled Sawgrass Expressway: A Study of New Technologies. Open Road Tolling (ORT) utilizes electronic toll collection to create a tolled highway system free from toll plazas and delays. This technology has the potential to change the toll industry by improving customer service, lowering operating and maintenance costs, and providing potential savings in capital costs. Under ORT, toll roads would be open to everyone and completely transparent to customers. There would be no toll plazas, tollbooths, or lane restrictions. All traffic would operate at highway speeds, yet every vehicle would pay a toll. Toll collection would occur through equipment located on overhead gantries. Eliminating the toll plazas themselves and the merging and weaving that occur while entering and exiting the plazas enhances roadway capacity and safety. Customers with a transponder would already have a pre-paid account with the toll agency. The toll charge would be automatically debited from their accounts. Value Pricing could be utilized during heavily congested peak periods along the corridor.

July - September 2003 update: Carleen Flynn, Bill Austin, and Kent Rice introduced the Sawgrass Expressway: A Study of New Technologies at the July 10, 2003, Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting. A video explained the Study during the information portion of the MPO agenda, followed by several questions from MPO members for clarification purposes. Staff provided the MPO with a copy of the video to be run on the Broward County public access channel.

An updated and improved Study web site is located at http://sawgrass.urs-tally.com. Up-to-date information on the proposed development of bicycle facilities in the Sawgrass area has been added.

The data collection effort continued during this first full quarter of the study. The study team collected travel time and delay runs using sophisticated GPS units that identify location and speed in one-second intervals. The preliminary information provided a window into current conditions and areas of bottlenecks and delay.

Focus Groups convened September 29-30. The groups were divided into three distinct user groups: Frequent, Infrequent, and SunPass customers. The frequent users were cash customers that use the Sawgrass greater than twice per week, and the infrequent users were cash customers that use the Sawgrass less than two times per week. The third user group was made up of SunPass customers. A summary report will be available for the next quarterly update that captures the essence of the focus groups and highlights key findings.

For More Information Contact: Randy Fox, AICP - Turnpike Planning Manager, Phone (407) 532-3999, e-mail Randy.Fox@dot.state.fl.us or Gary Phillips, AICP - Project Manager, URS Corporation, Phone (850) 574-3197, e-mail Gary_Phillips@urscorp.com.

FLORIDA: Variable Tolls for Heavy Vehicles In Lee County

The on-going operational Variable Pricing Program in Lee County (see above) is currently restricted to light duty vehicles. This project will expand the existing program to allow larger vehicles to participate in the program and encourage them to travel during off-peak times. The program is anticipated to be operational in summer 2003.

July - September 2003 update: Lee County is moving forward with the installation of axle counting and vehicle separation equipment in the lanes. Business rule meetings are being held to establish how to manage new technology issues (e.g., type of heavy vehicle, number of axles) due to the new equipment and variable pricing tolling of three plus axle vehicles. A public hearing has been scheduled on November 25, 2003. The goal is to have this project active by December 2003.

For More Information Contact: Kris Cella, Cella & Associates, Inc.; Phone (239) 337-1071; e-mail kcella@cella.cc or Chris Swenson, P.E., CRSPE, Inc.; Phone (239) 573-7960; e-mail crs@crspe.com.

FLORIDA: Pricing Options on the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County

The Florida Turnpike Enterprise recently completed a study of the feasibility of implementing value pricing on a 21-mile section of the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike (HEFT) in Southwest Miami-Dade County. The facility can be divided into two unique and distinct segments. The southern segment extends from SR 874 to SR 836. It is approximately eight miles long and includes four interchanges. The northern segment extends from SR 836 to I-75. It is approximately 13 miles long and includes six interchanges. For the southern segment, the study recommended widening the HEFT from six to eight lanes in the short-term. The long-term recommendation (by 2010) was to add two reversible, elevated, value-priced Express Lanes. The recommendation for the northern segment was to widen from four to six lanes in the short-term. The long-term recommendation was to add an additional four value-priced express lanes at ground level by 2015.

Final: FHWA is closing out this study and will ensure that all deliverables are received. A new study with the Florida Turnpike is beginning under this original cooperative agreement, so the cooperative agreement will not close out. A final report and executive summary is available on FHWA's Community of Practice website at xxx.

For More Information Contact: Gary Phillips, URS Corporation; Phone (850) 574-3197, e-mail Gary_Phillips@urscorp.com.

ILLINOIS: Variable Pricing on the Northwest Tollway/I-90 in Chicago

The Northwest Tollway has experienced considerable growth in traffic volumes. In 2001, the Authority explored restructuring as a result of the Governor's recommendation to eliminate all tolls. The Illinois Tollway Authority is evaluating variable toll options for the eastern section of the Northwest Tollway, approximately 25 miles in length. The purpose of the project is to evaluate potential variable pricing strategies that could be used as tools to manage travel demand on the Northwest Tollway.

The study will include extensive market research and outreach, traffic and socioeconomic impact analysis, and identification of alternative pricing strategies. A final implementation phase will establish variable pricing on designated Tollway facilities.

The study is expected to determine how to provide pricing incentives to shift traffic out of peak travel periods and encourage use of ETC. Benefits would include improved travel times and reduced delays on the Tollway.

July - September Update 2003: The cooperative agreement was signed in September.

For More Information Contact: Dean Mentjes, Mobility Engineer, Phone (217) 492-4631, e-mail dean.mentjes@fhwa.dot.gov; or Clarita Lao, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Phone (630) 241-6800, e-mail clao@tollway.state.il.us.

NEW JERSEY: Variable Tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority operates a 148-mile facility with 28 interchanges. It is one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the country with average daily trips exceeding 500,000 vehicles. The Turnpike's variable pricing program began in the fall of 2000. The program provides for tolls that are about seven percent higher during peak traffic hours than during off-peak periods for users of the electronic toll collection system. The price differential is scheduled to increase in a phased manner over several years.

The introduction of variable tolls has improved traffic flow and provided associated air pollution and energy consumption benefits. Preliminary data show that value pricing is working to shift traffic out of the peak period. Most of the recent growth in traffic on the Turnpike has been in the off-peak hours, with total traffic up by around seven percent, but morning peak traffic up by only six percent and afternoon peak traffic up by only four percent. The proportion of daily Turnpike traffic accounted for by the morning peak dropped from 14 percent to 13.8 percent, and the afternoon peak's share of traffic decreased from 14.7 percent to 14.3 percent.

July - September 2003 Update: The Project Management team received and analyzed preliminary traffic data from the New Jersey Turnpike (NJTPK), which will be analyzed further, if necessary, to better understand the impact of price differentiation on traffic demand. Martin Robbins and Allan Lichtensten of Rutgers Transportation Policy Institute started to work on the media issues and will provide a draft report next quarter.

The transportation network model is being built around the NJTPK for the traffic modeling, which, in conjunction with the results of the surveys, will be use for impact assessment. The focus area's skeleton network already exists and the network database will continue to be populated to ensure adequate representation of the traffic network.

Rutgers researchers met with Patrick Murray of Eagleton Institute and discussed the surveys being prepared by the research team. For the NJTPK study, the focus was on the passenger survey since the NJTPK does not implement value pricing for commercial vehicles. The scope and the length of the surveys were also discussed. The next meeting with Eagleton Institute will decide about final steps for actually conducting the surveys. Professor Ozbay also had a conference call with Mecit Cetin of RPI and Professor Ed Sullivan of Cal Poly to further discuss the content of the surveys. Several suggestions were made in terms of the content and the length of the surveys.

For More Information Contact: Kaan Ozbay, Ph.D., University Principal Investigator, Rutgers University; Phone (732) 445-2792; Fax (732) 445-0577; e-mail kaan@rci.rutgers.edu.

NEW JERSEY: Variable Tolls on Port Authority Interstate Vehicle Crossings

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) adopted a variable toll strategy for users of the electronic toll collection system (E-ZPass) in March 2001. The Port Authority provides a 20 percent discount for off-peak tolls on its bridges and tunnels crossing the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. An estimated 121.4 million vehicles and approximately 65 million interstate transit system riders use the interstate crossings annually. Studies show that morning peak period traffic in May 2001 reduced by seven percent compared to the same month in 2000. Evening peak period traffic dropped by four percent; and overall traffic remained stable.

July -- September 2003 update: The project team has produced two basic questionnaires aimed at assessing behavioral changes produced by the value pricing initiative. These questionnaires, one for passengers and another for the commercial sector (shippers, receivers and trucking companies) will gather the data needed for behavioral modeling. Focus groups will be used to assess the appropriateness of the questionnaires, as well as to get a qualitative idea about the impacts of pricing upon travel behavior. Six focus groups will be conducted: one for cash users; three for EZ pass users (tunnels, George Washington Bridge, Staten Island bridges); one for shippers and receivers; and one for trucking companies. The focus groups will be complemented with surveys administered to randomly selected users (both passengers and commercial vehicles). The project team discussed and approved a preliminary set of questions for the survey instrument. Rutgers University is analyzing the traffic data. New York University produced a draft report about the stakeholders/media reaction to the Value Pricing initiative.

For More Information Contact: José Holguín-Veras, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; 110 8th Street Building JEC 4030, Troy NY 12180-3590; Phone (518) 276-4833; e-mail jhv@rpi.edu.

NEW JERSEY: Express Bus/HOT Lane Study for the Lincoln Tunnel

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) implemented variable pricing on the major crossings over the Hudson River in 2001. The Value Pricing Pilot Program is currently funding a monitoring and evaluation study to analyze the impacts of the variable pricing structure.

The objective of this proposal is to determine whether value pricing might be used to allow non-bus traffic to use the excess capacity of a potential second Exclusive Bus Lane on NJ Route 495 leading to the Lincoln Tunnel and Midtown Manhattan.

This study will consider whether pricing is an appropriate mechanism to manage the demand of non-bus traffic wishing to take advantage of the reliability and the improved service levels on the new bus lane.

This project will evaluate an array of pricing alternatives that allow a vehicle mix that ensures a travel time advantage in the new managed lane, while also improving overall passenger throughput and travel time reliability during the weekday a.m. peak period.

The major benefit of this study is in the increased service level for buses through more reliable travel times. This enhanced service would meet increased demand for buses and may potentially increase bus ridership.

July - September Update 2003: The cooperative agreement was signed in September. The kick-off meeting is scheduled for October 31, 2003.

For More Information Contact: Mark Muriello, PANYNJ, Assistant Director, Phone (212) 435-4836, e-mail mmuriello@panynj.gov.

OHIO: Northern Ohio Freight Efficiency Study

Truck use on the Ohio Turnpike is low relative to total truck travel in the corridor that encompasses both the turnpike and many parallel arterial roadways. As a result of the recent expansion of the turnpike, turnpike capacity is underutilized. By contrast, parallel State routes are more congested, and some of these routes carry 30-50 percent trucks.

The proposal shows the link between arterial congestion and the turnpike tolls and cites a study finding that 70 percent of truck drivers using an arterial roadway through one town are doing so to avoid a turnpike toll.

Because of arterial truck traffic, local government officials have been pressuring the State to build bypass roadways around their towns. The proposal estimates the cost to construct all requested bypasses would exceed $100 million. This study would explore turnpike truck toll discounts as an alternative to, or at least a means to reduce the need for, construction of bypasses.

Project goals are to identify whether value pricing can attract traffic from parallel routes onto the turnpike, and to develop and recommend a pricing strategy to encourage trucks to use the less congested Ohio Turnpike.

The project includes substantial public outreach and participation by government and non-governmental organizations.

A pricing structure would be developed to alleviate truck-caused arterial roadway congestion with no or minimal construction of new bypass routes and without substantially increasing turnpike congestion.

July - September 2003 update: Received approval of value pricing program grant, and executed cooperative agreement with FHWA. The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Turnpike Commission have met several times since June, to discuss study approach and scope of work. The parameters of the scope have been agreed upon, with details on the scope of work to be finalized.

For More Information Contact: Howard Wood, Ohio Department of Transportation, Phone (614) 466-2255, e-mail howard.wood@dot.state.oh.us.

PENNSYLVANIA: Variable Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) is currently implementing electronic toll collection for travel between many of the interchanges along its toll facilities. This will allow the Turnpike to implement variable tolls. The project involves a study of the potential for value pricing strategies to alleviate congestion; to facilitate the timely, efficient, and economical movement of commercial vehicles to industrial and commercial destinations; and to improve the movement of daily commuter vehicles to and from the workplace. A pilot test will be initiated soon.

Concurrent with the value pricing study, the PTC has implemented electronic toll collection (E-ZPass) for travel between the ticket interchanges on its mainline system. The PTC is currently equipping additional lanes with E-ZPass, which would facilitate the implementation of variable tolls should the Commission decide to do so. This work has been accomplished without federal funds.

Meanwhile, the marketing and growth of E-ZPass usage has temporarily alleviated much of the congestion previously being experienced in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh urbanized areas served by the Turnpike.

July - September 2003 update: Based on preliminary results of the value pricing study, revisions were made to the toll collection system to provide for a 25 percent discount to motorcycle customers who utilize E-ZPass. This went into effect on July 1, 2003. The appointments of a new Executive Staff at the PTC and PennDOT have delayed consideration of other pilot project implementation strategies due to new priorities being established. At this time, the PTC does not plan to pilot any further value pricing strategies.

Wilbur Smith Associates, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's Consultant for the value pricing study, is preparing the final draft report and addendums to provide to the Commission by September 30, 2003.

For More Information Contact: Robert J. Smith, Director of Finance, PA Turnpike; Phone (717) 939-9551 x2432, e-mail rsmith@paturnpike.com, or George L. Hannon, Special Assistant, PA Turnpike, Phone (717) 939-9551 x5124, e-mail ghannon@paturnpike.com.


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