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REGIONAL PRICING INITIATIVES

FLORIDA: Sharing of Technology on Pricing

The Federal Highway Administration, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the Florida Department of Transportation are collaborating in sponsoring an international symposium to set the stage for consideration of wider implementation of innovative pricing strategies to meet congestion relief, emission reduction, and fiscal objectives. The symposium will assemble key pricing experts from across the U.S. and overseas and will provide a unique opportunity to synthesize the lessons learned about pricing policies throughout the world. It will generate a greater understanding of economic, institutional, and administrative issues and concerns relating to pricing strategies, and is expected to provide invaluable impetus for broader consideration of value pricing strategies throughout the U.S.

The symposium will be held in Florida at the Sonesta Beach Hotel Key Biscayne, Key Biscayne, Florida on November 19-22, 2003. It will explore U.S. and international applications of road pricing strategies in different governmental and socio-economic settings. Case studies from the United States, Europe, and Asia will be the principal focus of the symposium. An international group of participants will discuss the rationale and motivations for implementing pricing; factors affecting the political and public acceptance of pricing strategies; the use of pricing revenues; and project outcomes. Drawing on papers, presentations, and symposium discussions, the TRB / OECD Steering committee will evaluate the current state of practice, assess future directions and opportunities, and identify research and information needs.

July -- September 2003 update: During the period from July to September, speakers and the agenda were finalized. Registration for the Symposium was opened and the agenda and registration procedures were publicized by TRB. Interested persons may register at: http://gulliver.trb.org/conferences/RoadPricing/#conference.

For More Information Contact: Claire Felbinger, Transportation Research Board; Phone (202) 334-3177, e-mail cfelbinger@nas.edu.

MARYLAND: Feasibility of Value Pricing

In the 2001 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly directed the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to examine the potential for variable pricing strategies in highway project planning; and include such strategies in metropolitan and Statewide transportation planning to boost transportation efficiency and equity, expand travel choices, and reduce emissions. In June 2001, former Governor Parris N. Glendening decided to remove consideration of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes from Maryland transportation plans. The former Governor's decision was based on the perceived inequity of linking an easier commute with a person's ability to pay. However, in the fall of 2002, the former Governor's Office of Smart Growth initiated a revised feasibility study of value pricing. The feasibility study will investigate and address equity issues that arose during the previous project, using the concept of "credits" (as in FAIR lanes) and smart card technology. The revised study scope includes developing initial alternatives, appraising new technology, developing a plan for public outreach, defining a concept test plan, and devising an implementation plan and evaluation process.

July - September 2003 update: A consultant was selected for the study and a contract has been executed. An Advisory Committee was formed with representatives from the State Highway Administration (SHA), Montgomery County, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), and North Bethesda Transportation Management District (NBTMD) (a local transportation efficiency advocacy group). The group convened and was briefed on the project on September 11.

The project management group has been coordinating with NBTMD to develop focus groups comprised of employers/employees in the Rock Spring Industrial Park as potential customers and working with the TMD to develop an information base on the target employers to assist in outreach efforts. Discussions continue with Montgomery County planning officials, the regional MPO, and the TMD to acquire/assemble data on travel patterns of commuters employed in the Rock Springs Park target site. Initial explorations of the proposed technology for the demonstration continues, which involves a mobile "SmartMeter" that is capable of debiting toll charges on a user's smart card to reflect different time of day, toll rate, duration of usage, and other factors. It can also report back valuable data on the patterns of usage for subsequent evaluation. The manufacturer is developing an assessment of the cost of various modifications required for our application.

The project management group assembled and analyzed data on traffic volumes and classification/occupancy for key segments of the proposed test facility for the purpose of determining available capacity to offer up for HOT lane use. This will determine the number of "permits" that can be issued under the demonstration.

For More Information Contact: Mr. Terrance Hancock at the Maryland State Highway Administration. Phone (410) 545-5675 or 1-888-204-4828; Fax (410) 209-5025; e-mail thancock1@sha.state.md.us.

MINNESOTA: Project Development Outreach and Education

Previously, a 30-member task force of state legislators, mayors, and business, environmental and transportation leaders examined value pricing options in Minnesota and met regularly to develop support within the state to conduct a demonstration project. The task force completed its work in 2002. The objective of this project is to continue the work of the task force by developing local champions and educate the citizens of Minnesota to help bring about Value Pricing implementation projects in Minnesota. A visible group of local leaders will advocate value pricing in Minnesota and succeed in convincing doubters that pricing should be tested and implemented. The Humphrey Institute's project team will work with Mn/DOT Metro Division staff, Metropolitan Council transportation staff, and members of the Value Pricing Advisory Task Force to develop support for value pricing alternatives and specific projects. Specific activities will include examining the technical and political feasibility of alternative approaches, giving presentations to elected officials, transportation advocacy and other interest groups, and the formation of a local advocacy group for value pricing.

July - September 2003 update: Mn/DOT issued a request for project partners (RFPP) in July for private partners to design and implement an express lane fee system for solo drivers on I-394. The proposals were due in September and are currently being reviewed and evaluated by Mn/DOT staff. A recommendation will be made to the Commissioner, Lt. Governor Molnau, by early November, with a decision to be made by the Commissioner soon thereafter.

A community task force was established. The task force, chaired by former legislator Henry VanDellen, will examine a variety of issues dealing with the I-394 project and provide feedback to Mn/DOT. The first meeting was held in September.

John Berg, consultant, completed a paper entitled "Listening to the Public: Assessing Public Opinion about Value Pricing." A copy of the paper is available in format on the Community of Practice website. Ken Buckeye and Lee Munnich submitted a value pricing paper to the 83rd TRB Annual Meeting. Focus groups are being planned for December. The Value Pricing Working Group, through SRF Consulting Group, began laying out options, with varying cost and time frame scenarios, for implementing the HOT Lane project in the Twin Cities.

Meetings have been held with various stakeholders about value pricing in Minnesota. Lee Munnich made a presentation on "Road Pricing in Minnesota: Has the Time Come?" to the Bloomington Rotary Club in September. The Minnesota Value Pricing Outreach and Education Technical Advisory Panel met in August. The Center for Transportation Studies, State and Local Policy Program, and the Value Pricing Working Group have conducted a series of breakfast roundtables to educate stakeholders about transportation financing, with an emphasis on value pricing. U.S. Congressman Mark Kennedy, of Minnesota, was a recent participant.

A Minnesota Project Update Section, focusing on progress on the I-394 project, has been added to the www.valuepricing.org website.

For More Information Contact: Lee Munnich, Sr. Fellow and Director, State and Local Policy. Phone (612) 625-7357; Fax (612) 626-9833; e-mail Lmunnich@hhh.umn.edu.

TEXAS: HOT Lanes Region-wide Study in Dallas

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, in cooperation with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (the T), the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), initiated a review of value pricing concepts for applicability in the Dallas-Fort Worth Region. The regional study will establish criteria, policies, and procedures to identify potential candidates for a short-term value pricing demonstration project, and study the applicability of value pricing concepts in existing corridors. The study will also propose managed facilities for the next metropolitan transportation plan. Additionally, the results of this study will be incorporated into the concurrent IH-635/LBJ Major Investment Study and planning recommendations that include High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes/Value Pricing implementation.

July - September 2003 update: The Project Review Committee (PRC) met in August to review a status report and an overview of all work tasks completed, including: the goals and objectives, national and international value pricing experience, development of screening criteria, and development of a methodology to evaluate facilities for short-term value pricing potential. The goals and objectives are being slightly modified to reflect recent changes in the work plan due to mitigating factors influencing the work scope. The team talked about the purpose of a demonstration project, which could be used to monitor the measures of effectiveness (MOE) of value pricing. NCTCOG staff suggested that establishing the MOE's is an essential goal of this project.

URS presented their findings on the deliverable for Task 2: Review of Value Pricing Projects that included a comprehensive review of various national and international value pricing projects and studies. The PRC was asked to review this portion of the report and return any comments to COG staff for inclusion into the final document.

URS staff then presented the draft deliverable for Task 3: Screening Process and Evaluation Criteria. The draft technical memorandum describes a two-tiered methodology for evaluating facilities as potential demonstration projects. The first tier screens out facilities that cannot reasonably be considered appropriate to support value pricing. The second tier follows two paths: one to evaluate corridors for short-term implementation and the second path would be for inclusion of corridors in the metropolitan transportation plan. The PRC has provided their review and comments about the criteria for final documentation.

For More Information Contact: Wes Beckham, North Central Texas Council of Governments; Phone (817) 695-9252, e-mail wbeckham@dfwinfo.com.

VIRGINIA: Value Pricing for the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads Regions

Although the emphasis of the project is on Northern Virginia, the effort will essentially consist of two regional studies with strong outreach and education components. The initial tasks will focus on determining the corridors for which value pricing holds the greatest potential to improve regional mobility. Later tasks will include detailed analyses of those corridors.

Both regions currently have extensive networks of HOV lanes as well as transit services. Northern Virginia is considered to have some of the most successful HOV lanes in the country. In some corridors, however, HOV lanes currently operate with excess capacity and could potentially be candidates for value pricing.

While all corridors are open to consideration at this stage, the Capital Beltway (I-495) will receive particular attention in light of the recent submittal and VDOT's consideration of a proposal to implement HOT lanes on I-495 under Virginia's Public Private Transportation Act.

This study will focus a significant amount of effort in educating the public about pricing. It is recognized that an effective public outreach component is integral to successfully implementing pricing.

This study will ultimately lead to recommendations for potential implementation of value pricing concepts across the Northern Virginia metropolitan area and the Hampton Roads region.

July - September 2003 update: A cooperative agreement was signed in late September 2003 to initiate the effort. Included with that agreement is an updated work plan that includes the Hampton Roads region in addition to Northern Virginia. The schedule for the project provides 24 months for the initial tasks with the potential for more time if implementations are underway or pending.

For More Information Contact: Cathy McGhee, Virginia Transportation Research Council; Phone (434) 293-1973, e-mail Cathy.McGhee@VirginiaDOT.org.

 

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