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USAGE-BASED VEHICLE CHARGES

CALIFORNIA: Car Sharing in the City of San Francisco

City CarShare is the nation's only non-profit, fully automated car-sharing program. It is located throughout the City of San Francisco, and expanding rapidly throughout the Bay Area. Today there are 2,700 members sharing 80 vehicles, located in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Palo Alto, and Mountain View, and at twelve Bay Area Rapid Transit stations. Surveys of members and a comparable group of non-members (located in similar neighborhoods, but without convenient car sharing) suggest a decrease in driving from members, reduction in gasoline consumption and emissions, and sizable dollar and travel time savings, suggesting that cars were used to replace some of the least convenient off-peak transit trips. Future surveys will seek to identify how vehicle ownership and residential location choices, when combined with the availability of car sharing, affect travel patterns.

July - September 2003 update: Received reports prepared by Prof. Robert Cervero, which are available on FHWA's Community of Practice website at: http://knowledge.fhwa.dot.gov/cops/hcx.nsf/384aefcefc48229e85256a71004b24e0/29ab105a2787964c85256db100641efe?OpenDocument.

For More Information Contact: Larry Magid, Executive Director; Phone (415) 995-8588 x305, e-mail larry@citycarshare.org; www.citycarshare.org.

GEORGIA: Simulation of Mileage-Based Insurance in Atlanta

This test is designed to assess the effects of converting fixed automotive insurance costs into variable driving costs. To establish baseline travel patterns, the research team is monitoring the driving patterns of a pool of 875 household participants for one year with no pricing treatments. In the second year of the study, insurance rates for study participants will be assessed on a per-mile basis, such that if they continue their pre-existing driving patterns, their annual insurance premiums will remain unchanged. Participants that reduce their household miles of travel will receive insurance rebates in accordance with their mileage-based rate schedule. The research team will monitor the changes in driving patterns and will use statistical analyses of household characteristics, vehicle travel, and relevant employer survey data (parking costs, transit accessibility, etc.) to examine the relationships between the incentives offered and subsequent travel behavior changes.

July - September Update 2003: The manufacturing of all 500 hardware units was completed this quarter, of which 359 of these units were installed. Instrumented vehicles make approximately six trips per day. To date, more than 63,000 vehicle trips (7,200 vehicle hours) have been monitored on a second-by-second basis. All of the target households were recruited with interviews conducted to establish the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the households. Summer travel diaries were completed by 347 of these households (as well as a subset of 68 SMARTRAQ households).

The fourth wave of the employer commute options survey was completed this quarter, bringing the number of surveys distributed to 600 (of the total 875 target). Survey response has exceeded a 50 percent response rate, well above the expected 35 percent rate. The team will conduct final survey of these employers in October.

A project summary was prepared for, and approved by, the Georgia Department of Transportation to use as press release materials. Dr. Randall Guensler and Jennifer Ogle were interviewed in early September by CNN, who collected extensive file footage.

On the communications side, the research team has faced numerous challenges. Sending text messages and data via cellular requires very careful setup of the various software programs at the cellular carrier. Any mismatch in the service or cellular modem firmware results in the failure of the unit to communicate messages and/or circuit switched data. To date, all but 60 cellular numbers have been corrected to provide proper data transfer.

The project management team will undertake additional recruitment as necessary to complete the household sampling strata and ensure that 480-500 vehicles are deployed. The team will delay implementation of the second travel diary survey until January/February 2004. The employer commute options surveys will be completed in November. Eleven activities under Phase I of the project (except for the second travel diary survey) will be completed by the end of next quarter, and the research team will continue monitoring vehicle activity and troubleshooting any problems that arise.

For More Information Contact: Randall Guensler, Georgia Institute of Technology; Phone (404) 894-0405, e-mail randall.guensler@ce.gatech.edu.

MINNESOTA: Variabilization of Fixed Auto Costs

The Minnesota Department of Transportation began a demonstration of how drivers would change their travel behavior if some of the fixed costs of owning and operating a vehicle were converted to variable costs. The pilot project will simulate changes in vehicle lease pricing that substantially reduce fixed lease costs but charge for every mile of travel. (About 30 percent of new vehicles in the U.S. are acquired through leases.) The project will also simulate the conversion of state sales taxes and vehicle registration fees on automotive leases to mileage charges.

Approximately 300 vehicle owners and/or leaseholders will be enrolled in a longitudinal study intended to examine the effects of alternative government and private sector fee structures. Upon completion of a baseline assessment, drivers will be offered individually tailored financial incentives. Tests will be focused on developing the best possible understanding of price elasticities and how they vary by income, location, annual mileage driven, and other factors. The project will use, as appropriate, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), Global Positioning System (GPS), and cellular technology to record and report vehicle mileage, locations where driven, and time-of-day. A range of price-signal frequencies will be tested within each experiment category to evaluate driver response. A possible outcome of this demonstration might be a reassessment of government motor vehicle fee structures that will help to address growing peak period travel. This demonstration may also help lease companies structure incentives to reduce miles driven over the life of the lease, thus improving the resale value of vehicles.

July - September 2003 update: With General Motors out of the picture, the project team has turned attention to designing a demonstration that will test drivers' reactions to mileage-based pricing. The objectives of this approach will be to achieve as realistic a simulation as possible with the highest level of statistical confidence.

The team will undertake a comprehensive market research effort to understand who would voluntarily opt for mileage based leasing and/or insurance and/or registration fees. This will build on the work done in the April focus groups, aiming for statistically relevant samples. The goal will be to understand the opportunities and constraints for a real leasing or insurance product that might be offered by the private sector. This effectively focuses the study on people that would voluntarily opt in to a program.

Upon completion of the market research effort, the consultant team will recruit a sample of people that fit the profile of willing participants. This may be a small sample, but participants will be studied extensively to understand reactions to simulated lease and/or insurance conversion to the mileage basis. The consultant team will track the participants' mileage, and provide price signals on a regular and convenient basis. The trade-off of this approach may be in statistical validity and expandability to the general population, however, an evaluation will be done on how to address issues of statistical significance.

For More Information Contact: Kenneth R. Buckeye, Mn/DOT, Phone (651) 296-1606, Fax (651) 215-0443, e-mail kenneth.buckeye@dot.state.mn.us.

OREGON: Mileage-Based Road User Fee Evaluation

This pilot is identifying and evaluating mechanisms to supplement or replace Oregon's statewide fuel tax. A Road User Fee Task Force (RUFTF, pronounced "Rough Tough") was formed in November 2001. The RUFTF has considered over 20 potential revenue sources to ultimately replace the fuel tax on gasoline as the primary funding source for the state's road and highway system. The task force decided to go forward with a test of a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fee collected at the fuel pump, with data generated by either a simple GPS device or odometer sensor with automated vehicle identification (AVI) technology. Under either technology, the data would be transmitted to a reader at the fuel pump via radio frequency.

The Task Force concluded that the costs for implementing and operating a VMT fee will be extensive, much more than for the gas tax, but that the fuel pump collection option may prove affordable. It also determined that area pricing is feasible with the GPS technology option. Retrofitting a GPS device for every passenger vehicle in the state, however, will be cost prohibitive. The task force thus will recommend to the Oregon Legislature that a mandate be imposed that every new vehicle sold in the state be equipped with a properly configured GPS device. This would take over 20 years for full market penetration. Area pricing would not be implemented until every vehicle subject to area pricing is equipped with the device.

July - September 2003 update: The next meeting of the Task Force is scheduled for November 21, 2003. The task force will review the progress of ODOT and Oregon State University on the development of functional and technical specifications for integrated GPS/AVI and odometer sensor/AVI devices, the acquisition of technology devices for purposes of integration, testing and refining the components into working prototypes and the preparation for functional testing of the devices to occur in the Autumn of 2003. The task force will also review ODOT's logistical plan for collecting the mileage fee at fuel service stations during the pilot test program, including a report on the work plan status under development by a consulting firm for implementation of the pilot. A quarterly report for this project will be submitted by October 31, 2003.

For More Information Contact: Mr. James M. Whitty, Project Administrator; Phone (503) 986-4284, Cell (503) 881-7552, e-mail jim.whitty@odot.state.us; Website http://www.odot.state.or.us/ruftf/.

WASHINGTON: Global Positioning System (GPS) Based Pricing in the Puget Sound Region

In this pilot, meters will be placed in the vehicles of voluntary participants. Different prices per mile will be imposed depending upon the location and time of travel. Drivers will be made aware of the pricing both though maps and other printed material, as well as a real-time read-out on the in-vehicle meter. The location and time of travel of the vehicle will be determined by an integrated GPS antenna/receiver. The GPS approach has been selected because it offers a cost-effective method of pricing ubiquitously. By relying on "In-Vehicle Meters," the need for expensive wayside antennae is eliminated, and even arterial roads can be priced cost-effectively. At the start of the pilot, participants will receive a billing account with a positive cash balance. Any cumulative in-vehicle meter charges will be debited against this balance. Any funds remaining in the account at the end of the pilot may be kept by the participants. This "hold-harmless" study design gives participants the opportunity to participate without committing their own funds, yet gives them the incentive to adjust their driving behavior so as to enjoy the surplus remaining in the account at the end of the experiment.

July - September 2003 update: Started initial technology review and assessment, as well as conceptual design of research and sampling methodologies. Initiated a more intensive analysis of technology options and the initial development of detailed specifications. Began a procurement process for a Systems Integrator for the technical (software/hardware/systems) elements of the project implementation phase. During the next quarter a Systems Integrator will be selected and the experimental design will be more fully developed.

For More Information Contact: Matthew Kitchen, Puget Sound Regional Council; 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98104-1035; Phone (206) 464-6196; e-mail mkitchen@psrc.org.

 

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