Center for Innovative Finance Support
Federal Highway Administration
Third Part of a Webinar Series on Road Pricing Outreach
Road Pricing and Public Outreach - Session 3
September 28, 2010 - 2:00-4:00 PM EDT
Michael Kay, Host
Thank you and welcome everyone to the third and final road pricing webinar. My name is Michael Kay, and I'm with the U.S. DOT. I will be working behind the scenes to facilitate today's webinar, which is hosted by the Federal Highway Administration Center for Innovative Finance Support. Before turning it over to the moderator, I want to point some key features of our webinar room. You can download today's presentation as well as other materials utilizing the "file download" pod on the top left of your screen. Click on the file and then save to my computer to save locally to your desktop. Below that is the audio information. The audio information has changed. If you made it this far, you got that information about the change that there is a new call-in number and passcode. We appreciate that you got that information and called in today. We have 130 attendees already. Below is the chat box to ask questions. If you are having technical difficulties, you can send a private chat to me, Michael Kay. With that, I would like to turn the webinar over to John Doan of SRF consulting.
Moderator for the Event - John Doan
Thank you, Michael, and thank you to the 134 participants we have online for the last of the three webinars on road pricing and public acceptance. This session will be two hours long. It will go from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Eastern, which is a slight change from the original posting of 90 minutes. In our prior webinars, we had a good amount of participant discussion and input through the chat box in the question and answer period. We have over 30 minutes allotted for Q&A in this session. Feel free to send in questions via the chat box. Last but not least, we have a great lineup of speakers.
The subject today is outreach strategy for project and program development. The featured case study would be the Puget Sound area, which includes Seattle, and you will hear about what is happening in the Pacific Northwest with regard to public acceptance of road pricing and what they have done to successfully incorporate road pricing into their long-range planning process. There are a number of readings if you have not had a chance to download and read them. They are worthwhile resources for you after the webinar has concluded.
I would like to move to our survey questions. We have done the survey questions in the past two webinars and would like to do that again. The first is how many people are participating at your site? We will give you five seconds to complete that question. We have almost 150 people registered. That is a good sign that this topic area is of interest to you and we hope to fulfill those expectations for the last webinar.
The second question is where you are located. To get a geographic sense of where you are located. Participation in the last couple of webinars has been fairly well distributed throughout the country. It looks like we are edging out more in the east coast this time around.
This next question relates to what type of organization you work for. Federal, state, regional, consultant, research, or some other. We were pretty well balanced between federal, state and regional local at the last session. Let's see how we come up with this session. It looks like we have a lot more local representation on this session.
The last question relates to what level of involvement the folks at your sites have with road pricing up to date. Are you just interested? Doing research and planning study? In the process of implementing? Have a project and operational?
Now I would like to turn it to Lee Munnich who will start with a learning moment. Everyone has experienced Lee Munnich's learning moments. He is director of the state and local policy program at the Humphrey Institute located at the University of Minnesota. With that, I will pass it to you Lee.
Presentation by Lee Munnich
Thank you, John. I want to talk about a few issues that have come up in the last couple of sessions. Over the years, we have learned a lot about pricing and particularly about outreach and education dealing with some of the institutional issues and how to make it happen. That is our focus today. How do you move forward with the implementation of these projects? First of all, we all know that political leadership is necessary. We talked about getting people at the top -- getting stakeholders involved and having champions. All the projects that moved forward have had multiple champions. Maybe one person like a governor or mayor may be out front. A lot of people are needed to have that full support. The public will support projects if they can see the benefits. The last presentation highlighted the fact that it is important that everybody be able to see the benefit -- not just a few people who are going to get the benefit of the congestion relief. Pricing projects must work from day one. This means you have to do significant planning and outreach and education, identify projects that have worked, which problems have occurred, and how they were addressed. This has been an important part. Effective outreach, education and marketing are critical for success. Finally, pricing projects are more likely to succeed if linked to transit improvement. I want to highlight a couple of examples where congestion pricing links to transit have been important. In virtually all the projects that have been successful, transit has been an important component.
Linking Congestion Pricing to Transit - Singapore
Singapore is probably the longest and best example of that. They have road pricing at over 70 charging points. At the same time they get congestion pricing revenues and invest in extensive rail and bus transit system for their island country. Over 30 years time, since they started congestion pricing, transit mode share rose from 40% to 67% while income rose tenfold. They have some other tools that they use there like the certificate of entitlement that makes a big difference in keeping the number of cars down on the island. It is a good example and some of the information that is presented turned up during the international scanning tour last year and illustrate these points.
Linking Congestion Pricing to Transit - London
The next example is London. After congestion charging there was a 6% increase in bus speeds and a 20% reduction in wait times at bus stops. Congestion pricing removed cars from the streets and the buses can move faster. There were significant investments in improving the services at the same time. They experienced a 4% modal shift to transit across London. Bicycle and power to wheelers also increased.
Linking Congestion Pricing to Transit - Stockholm
In Stockholm, they experienced a 22% reduction in traffic crossing in the seven-month trial period. After the trial period, they held a vote and then decided to permanently institute congestion pricing with public support in Stockholm. One of the effects of the system was that there were significant investments that were made in public transit before congestion pricing was implemented. As a result of these investments, there was a 6% increase in public transit during the congestion charge trial. Four and a half percent was attributed to the congestion charge while the rest was due to gasoline and external factors. There was not a significant increase in transit just by the investment alone, but when congestion pricing was implemented, there was a significant shift to transit.
Linking Congestion Pricing to Transit - Minneapolis
Minneapolis I-35W, which is what Ken Buckeye talked about two sessions ago, is another example of linking congestion pricing to transit. The congestion relief project was funded through the UPA program. The MnPASS program, which was already in effect on I-394 was combined with transit, technology, and telecommuting improvements. A significant part of those investments was expansion of single bus lanes to two-bus lanes in downtown Minneapolis, which nearly tripled bus capacity while reducing bus travel time. Bus service improvements have been significant, and the project is almost complete with parts of it already open. The project should provide a significant benefit in terms of transit service as well as congestion pricing options.
Linking Congestion Pricing to Transit - New York City
The New York City congestion pricing effort is another example of linking congestion pricing with transit investments to reduce congestion. An important aspect of the New York City proposal, as we talked about during the last session, was a commitment to dedicate net revenues from the congestion pricing program to fund vital capital improvement to the MTA transit system. The project did not ultimately go forward but there would have been many key benefits for transit users from the changes. Future potential to New York City will depend on the transit population to generate public support. I will turn it back to John.
Thanks, Lee. We have about five minutes for questions. Others feel free to send in your questions in the chat box. The question relates to transit funding. It seems like in the U.S. , there are a lot of congestion pricing projects taking the form of managed lanes are HOT lanes. What is the current thinking about being able to tap transit funding?
Thanks, Lee. We have about five minutes for questions. Others feel free to send in your questions in the chat box. The first question relates to transit funding. It seems like in the U.S. , there are a lot of congestion pricing projects taking the form of managed lanes or HOT lanes. What is the current thinking about being able to tap transit funding?
That is a good question. I think probably a lot more could be done. We have had conversations and recent conferences in terms of looking at bus rapid transit strategies in conjunction with congestion pricing. Not just looking at how congestion pricing revenue might be used to fund transit, but how transit might take advantage of reduced congestion. Minnesota is looking at making more use of dynamic shoulder lanes as managed lanes in the future and combine transit investments and service improvements with road investments. I think there's more that can be done. I am hoping that the experience from the UPA, where there was good collaboration between FTA and FHWA on combining transit with congestion pricing will carry forward in the future.
The same question to Patrick or some of our FHWA folks. Could you talk about the role of transit for the future of managed lanes in the U.S. and more broadly on how different regions are thinking about integrating transit in their pricing programs, like in the case of New York City?
I think I fully support everything that Lee said in regard to making free-flowing lanes available for public transit vehicles. If we really want to demonstrate how congestion pricing can be combined with transit, we have to really work very closely with transit folks. On the design of those services -- a lot of our jobs are in suburban employment centers. Transit currently is focused on downtown. If you really want to increase support for congestion pricing, you've got to be able to design transit systems that serve the suburban employment locations and provide good service. Just providing free-flowing lanes is not sufficient, I think we need to think much more broadly about what kinds of service would serve these employment locations. And also how would they be funded? It is not just sufficient to have a lane. You need to have buses. How will those buses be paid for? How would the operating subsidies be supported? We need to think more completely about packaging transit with congestion pricing if we are going to be successful.
Patrick, a follow-up on the use of revenues to fund operations. . . what have you seen around the country with regard to using toll revenues for operating transit? Particularly with the use of revenue that is collected from managed lanes.
A pioneer project was I-15 in San Diego. A lot, if not most of the net revenue from the managed lanes went to new transit services. In fact, that was one of the main reasons that project moved forward to implementation. The political champion supporting that project was interested in the new transit services that would be funded from the toll revenues. Since then, there has been really quite limited support from the toll revenues to pay for operating transit services. I think Minnesota had legislation passed which actually calls for 50% of net revenues going to support transit. However, in the I-394 corridor, there have been no excess revenues. In fact, no toll revenues have gone to transit. I think we definitely could use more examples of support of transit for congestion pricing projects. But we have not seen that other than in San Diego, the pioneer project. I think the point is not to just think of congestion pricing as a way of funding transit. Transit investments that are independent of congestion pricing revenue might be supplemented by that revenue to improve the transit service in an area. What this gives you is a way to free up space for transit and also make a much stronger case for congestion pricing because you're not just doing that for those drivers that will benefit by timesaving, but improving the service in the area. I think that is the way to think about it. By combining the two, you are going to get a lot more impact.
Patrick, can you give an order of magnitude for London and Singapore and perhaps some other places you've visited for how the revenues are used for transit?
We know in London, the majority of the revenues, roughly 80% or 90% go to support the bus services. That is how they were able to beef up their bus services in conjunction with congestion pricing. In Stockholm, before the project was implemented, there was a huge outlay. I can't remember the figure, but the cost of the transit services was almost as much as what it was going to cost them to implement the technology to charge for vehicles entering the downtown area. A lot of money was spent on the support services for transit, new buses, and the park-and-ride lots. And all kinds of support services for transit. Singapore, of course, is the classic case where they don't even think about implementing congestion pricing until they are sure that the transit service is adequate. For example, they might build a rail line and then begin to price the expressway that might be in the same corridor as the rail line. That funding comes from the general fund and congestion pricing revenue is returned to motorists in the form of a reduced vehicle tax. It is like a rebate that is returned to all motorists. And none of that revenue actually goes directly to transit. That does not mean that transit is not well-supported. It is well supported, but from general revenue. If we can have that in the United States, if we can have general revenues with some source of funding to support transit, there is no need for congestion pricing revenues to go to transit, but we don't have that situation here. Transit agencies are hurting, they are cutting back. Just creating a free-flowing lane is not going to magically create a new transit service.
Thank you, Patrick. Now I would like to turn to Patty Rubstello, who is with Washington State DOT. She is director of the tolling system development and engineering. She is going to give about a 20-minute presentation on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the SR 520 Bridge, and the SR 167 HOT lanes. These are three premiere projects in Washington State that have pricing components. The current project being deployed, the SR 520 Bridge, is part of the Urban Partnership Program. I am going to pass it to Patty.
Presentation by Patty Rubstello
Tolling in Washington Today
Thanks, John. I want to start off by giving you a sense, geographically, where we are today in Washington state. In July 2007 we started tolling the Tacoma Narrows, and the next year we implemented our first HOT lanes system on State Route 167, connecting Seattle and Bellevue.
History of Tolling in Washington State
We are not new to tolling. Washington State has a long history of tolling. There have been several bridges. It has been that tradition to build a bridge and put a toll on it and once the bridge is paid off the toll will go away. The SR 520 and Tacoma Narrows Bridges were models of building a bridge and tolling them back in that timeframe.
Brief Interest in Public Private Partnerships
We have also had moments with Public-Private Partnerships back in the 1990s. We looked at six different projects where we could privately have those built and financed. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is the one that survived through that process. The legislature was very supportive of it from a political leadership standpoint. The problem was we did not do our homework. We did not educate the communities and jurisdictions around the facilities as to why -- not only why was tolling was appropriate, but why private entities will be responsible for that. That would have been something different for our users because of the history where the highway department was responsible for tolling. That definitely slowed down the progress of tolling in this state. We learned a lot from that. I think that with our projects that we have now, we took advantage of those lessons learned.
Tolling in Two Current Corridors
That brings me to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. As I mentioned before, in 2007, we started our first electronic tolling on the bridge. That is the new innovative feature that we brought to that facility, otherwise it was a traditional project where it was to build a bridge, and once it was completed the tolls were put into place. It is a flat rate all times of the day, very much like it was originally. There was a real emphasis and need to market electronic tolling, educate their users and what it meant. You need to make sure that have to users have those transponders in their vehicles so that they would not back up to six manual means. We watched a very aggressive marketing campaign that was extremely successful. The messages were really focused around the convenience to the driver if you went electronic. The toll rates were cheaper. We also had a giveaway program for transponders.
When we switched to the SR 167 HOT lanes, that was full electronic tolling, different than a toll bridge. They are dynamically prices, and we had to educate the users why the price changed. In addition to that, because of our success on Tacoma Narrows Bridge, we were concerned at marketing the HOT lanes. We kept it at a more educational level of how it worked. What we learned is a lot of the users along 167 are not familiar with the toll program. That is what we are working on, to better market power toll program so that they can take advantage of the successes of the travel time in those HOT lanes.
New SR 520 Bridge
SR 520 was one of the projects that came out of the Public-Private debacle. We take those lessons learned. We realized we needed to go out in the community and talk to them about why these projects were necessary. As you can tell from the picture, the bridge does take a lot of hardship during the winter with storms and is also susceptible to earthquake damage. We educated the users that one of the bridges needs to be replaced and new capacity needs to be added. These discussions go back to the late 1990s. Tolling has not been proposed to fund the entire project, but there is a need to toll to complete the financial plan for the bridge replacement. There is also talk about it being fully electronic. It is one of the most expensive real estate areas within the Puget Sound area. Notably, Bill Gates lives about a mile from that location. Adding tollbooths back in the facility is not a question we would entertain.
Lake Washington Urban Partnership
To the development of the project, the Lake Washington urban partnership was developed with the UPA federal government program. That facilitated our interest in looking at how can tolling on 520 help advance the construction of the new bridge. We partnered with King County Metro, as well as the Puget Sound regional Council to go after this program.
SR 520 Transit Improvements in 2010-2011
As you can see from the map, there's substantial amount of bus increase to the 520 corridor. There are 100 new bus trips that will cross this bridge. It is about a 40% increase in seat capacity and a 20% increase in service. Most of the service existing is additional headway added, but there are a few new routes that are being implemented as well. In addition to that service, there are improvements to a couple of park-and-ride lots and the bus stops for the user that uses transit on 520.
How SR 520 Tolling Will Work
Tolling of 520 will be fully electronic. From our public outreach effort, we learned that people still believe that tollbooths will be out there. A lot of the messaging will be geared around changing that expectation. It is fully electronic. The only way you could pay us is by having a transponder or license plate. The pricing is variable time-of-day tolling. It is not dynamic. There was a question of why not do it dynamic. If you are looking at where people are coming from, they are coming from other congested corridors. Drivers really want to know what the toll is going to be when they travel. Dynamic did not seem reasonable from the user's perspective. They wanted to plan ahead.
SR 520 Tolling Implementation Committee
Prior to our legislation to be able to toll 520, the Legislature required that the implementation committee be formed. It was comprised of three individuals, the secretary of transportation, the executive director of Puget Sound Regional Council, and the chair of the state transportation commission. Our commission is the entity that sets our toll rates. This is an important activity for getting the support needed to be able to pass the tolling authorization. They went out to different meetings -- to public open houses with council members, to large and private businesses to talk about what the tolling mean to the 520 corridor and to individuals that could be impacted. It was a huge endeavor but also critical in getting that legislation passed. Part of this work included doing a lot of survey work and focus groups. One of the documents you can download is the committee's report which gives you some highlights of what the information provided.
2009 Phone Survey Results (Respondents are King County Residents)
Here are some results from the surveys that were done. It is really critical to know who your users are -- the demographics, where they are coming from, what is their purpose. Question number three indicated that only 19% of the users use the facility for work trips. That means most of our users are infrequent users. Trying to reach out and educate them on not only when tolling and how tolling works is a real challenge. We continue to utilize our surveys and focus groups to get a better sense on how to reach out to them.
2009 Phone Survey Results on Messages
Here is question number four. Generating the support for electronic tolling. People recognize the benefits of electronic tolling and being able maintain freeway speed. People understand that they can benefit and how it makes it easy for them. We reminded users that they were getting a new bridge. We used an analogy to suggest that charging a toll is like buying down your home mortgage with a bigger payment. People understood that and grasped the long-term benefits to the users because of that financial benefit that will be gained.
Messaging Focuses on Tolling, But Also Incorporates Other T's
We have utilized a lot of focus groups to hone in on what the key messages were. We've tried to remind users that there are other choices out there, as well as commute reduction programs that are available to employers and employees. We've reached out to the major employers, but also to the recreational event planners. We have been working with groups such as the Seattle Seahawks, or major theaters in Seattle to find ways to reach out to those who come into the city for those events. We did radio spots where we utilize Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and some local celebrities. We also achieved recognition through billboards. We utilized the web as well, including web banners. We found different avenues and new techniques to reach out to those in the area -- in the region that might be using 520. I will turn it over back to John for any questions.
Great. Thanks, Patty. First, for the 520 project, how will you read license plates from other states?
With our new customer service center that we are opening up, we have the ability to read license plates from any of the 50 states. We do have that ability -- I think the other states have a challenge to actually collect. We will mail them a bill in the mail and hope that they pay it.
How are you talking with the broader public about enforcement? What's the approach, and what has been the feedback from the public with regard to how you are going to enforce that facility?
A lot of the enforcement discussion has been around who is going to do the enforcement. Currently, on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, we have our state patrol involved in the process. When you cross the toll location and you don't pay the toll, you used to get an infraction mailed to you and you got the pleasure of either paying the bill with a hefty fine or going to one of our Pierce County courts. Two years ago, the Legislature changed that process. Now it is really more focused on the business-friendly aspect. If people cross the bridge and don't have a transponder, we will mail them a bill in the mail. The DOT will be responsible for collection of that toll. It's been more of a change in who collects the toll than it has been on that specific enforcement activity.
With regard to public involvement, could you speak more about what role public involvement played at the project level and the policy level to your successful implementation, particularly of the variable pricing components of the two projects in the Seattle area?
I would say specifically with 520, it is paramount that you have a very extensive marketing public information campaign about variable pricing. Especially for us, it is something that people don't necessarily understand. Trying to explain the benefits by traveling outside of the peak periods, they can save money, pay a lower toll. We have been trying to work on those messages that help drivers understand what it means and what it means to them. SR 167 HOT lanes, that dynamic pricing -- the drivers still struggle with understanding how that works and what it means to them especially when they bought in and the price goes down. That is probably the biggest challenge that we face -- really educating people on how that works and finding messages that hone in on that message in a simplistic manner. It takes a while to explain how it works and what the benefits are.
With regard to your marketing efforts, could you give a magnitude of number of people that are working on that front or consultants that you might have engaged, as well as an ongoing budget? I imagine that you have some initial money to get the word out and then some ongoing cost in order to maintain a presence and awareness with the public.
We have about 15 people working this. It stems from everything from setting up the presentations that we do with the Rotary Clubs, as well as City Councils, and to talking to the legislature -- keeping them up-to-date on what is happening. Our budget is $5 million for the implementation side. We have a modest budget once we go into operation. The expectation is that it will probably take three to five staff members to support that. I think that is one of the challenges we face from a political standpoint -- the understanding of why you need to do marketing and education after you start tolling. I think for a lot of people the mindset is once you start tolling then what more do you need to do? Similar to HOT lanes, there is a constant need to remind people how the system works. People are moving into the region all the time. We always have to be aware of it from that standpoint.
Switching gears a little bit. . .the past policy of making a commitment to toll a facility and then once the bonds are paid off to take off that toll. . .what are you doing differently this time around with the 520 Bridge to convey the message that this toll is important even after the bonds are paid off?
When it is brought up, discussion focuses on the misconception that just because the bridge is paid off does not mean there is not continual need for maintenance and repair work to that facility. Stressing the fact that there is continued cost well after the debt has been paid off -- that is what we are focusing our messaging around.
I know that you had mentioned that people more readily accept being tolled for a bridge, as there is a legacy of experience around tolling a bridge. Can you talk a bit about that versus what you would have done with an existing road that was not a bridge. Would you say that there would be additional difficulties or challenges in developing key messages around that?
Absolutely. To give you an example, when we put on our Urban Partnership grant application, originally it included tolling I-90, which is a parallel route to 520. Politically, it was not the thing to do at that time. It continues to be a point of discussion and that is primarily because of the funding constraints or lack of funding. We still talk about tolling I-90 to create that additional revenue to pay for 520. That is not an easy thing for people to understand. People think that it is not fair that my toll goes to pay for somebody else's improvement. When people are buying something by paying a toll, they want to see something very tangible that they are going to gain -- some real tangible benefit. I would say that to simply say congestion management is what they gain is a hard concept for them to understand. You really have to prove it to them and that is our hope with 520. We are going to prove to people that you can price and change the way traffic flows because of that.
With the 520 Bridge there is no current commitment to take down the toll once the bonds for capital cost are paid off? Is that correct?
That is correct.
Could you speak to the concept of time-of-day pricing versus dynamic pricing, how did you make the decision for the 520 Bridge? In the future, would you go to the dynamic pricing of 520?
The way we came to that decision is looking at how you inform drivers. The toll location on 520 is about 2-3 miles in from the major interstates, I-5 and I-405. That is where the majority of traffic is coming from. To be able to tell people, there is a lot of variability that can happen. If you are trying to guarantee performance with a price, dynamic does not work well for a facility such as this. In the future, we probably will continue to look at whether there is viability there. Based on the different choices that people can make, I think there's a real challenge in being able to give that information to people in a timely manner so they can make good travel choices. If you are not going to guarantee some performance, you could always have dynamic in any fashion.
To confirm -- we had a comment here -- that says that your message is focused on paying for and maintaining a facility and not focusing on congestion management. I want to confirm that is what we are hearing.
That is typically what is said. Again, people do not really believe that we can toll them to manage congestion. Once we prove it to people that this works -- that traffic can flow better by managing that through pricing -- we can change our message, but right now the public is saying "prove it to me".
With your experience on the SR 167 HOT lanes project, are you finding people are being convinced by that project -- at least the people in that corridor -- or do you see any spillover effects from that project to the 520 project?
We know that the people taking advantage of the HOT lane and buying into it, they not only love it on 167, but they're clamoring for it to be expanded to I-5 and I-405. Those who see the advantage of it really embrace it and want to see it widely spread. Again to prove it to me, show me that works and then you get support to expand elsewhere.
For your 167 and 520 projects, have you seen some opposition, whether at the grassroots level or from elected officials that represent those areas?
On 167, we have some challenges more recently. I think because people have forgotten why we implemented HOT lanes. Our focus is to manage traffic and improve traffic without having additional capacity. Some have forgotten that it was not about financing. Clear messages about why you are doing what you are doing is important and then reminding them of that. I think some individuals thought that with tolling instantly you will have extra cash to spend on other improvements. Make sure it is clear -- the purpose of your tolling -- and remind them after you start that tolling that the purpose has not changed.
Can you tell us how many park-and-ride spots will be available for transit and carpoolers related to the 520 project that are new -- that are part of the UPA program?
I would be happy to get it and supply it to whoever would like it. The two park-and-ride lots, one is completed and one is in the development phase. They are converting those into transit-oriented developments. Taking a flat lot and creating residential and commercial support in that location.
Lastly, we'd like to shift gears to a subject that came up during session two which is environmental justice, particularly as it relates to income equity issues. Were there certain things in the environmental process that you had to do to address environmental justice issues with regard to income? Secondly, what have you done beyond what may have been required in the environmental process in reaching out to those groups that may have been disproportionately affected? Is it an issue at all?
It is definitely an issue. When we went through the environmental process, we did our EJ report. We looked at who are the users -- we came up with a series of approaches. Most of them are things that we already do with our Tacoma Narrows Bridge, ranging from being able to offer customers support in other languages, as well as, here locally, they call it an EBT card. But for those who would have normally use food stamps, they can also utilize that card for transportation expenses. Our toll program accepts that as a form of payment. We also located at customer service centers on either side of the Lake, within close proximity to transit service, to facilitate those users having access to the good-to-go program. We tackled what we thought were the reasonable approaches for addressing that issue of EJ. Since then, in discussions with federal highways, their concerned that our assessment of EJ was not appropriate, so we are talking about whether it needs to be changed. At this point, our commitment is to try to reach out into those low-income communities as well as those communities where English is not their first language to do more education, focused education. By the day that tolling starts on 520, we want everyone to be prepared.
Thank you so much, Patty. That has been an informative presentation and question and answer period. I would like to turn to Charles Howard, who is the executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council. He is going to focus his presentation on the integration of road pricing into the Puget Sound Regional Council MPO policy, planning and programming process. Charlie has been a real forefront thinker on this and served on the steering committee that Patty alluded to in her presentation. I will turn it over to Charlie.
Presentation by Charles Howard
Four Integrated Strategies
Thank you. I will talk about the regional planning that we have done in the Puget Sound Regional Council that resulted in the adoption in May of this year of Transportation 2040, which is our new regional transportation plan. The plan has in it four integrated strategies that cut across our main issues. Our main issues going into the plan that were determined through a scoping process of talking to the public about what the public were concerned about were congestion and mobility, environmental issues, including air quality, water quality and greenhouse gas reduction, as well as finance. The four integrated strategies are meant to address all three of those high priority areas. It starts with a land use strategy. We have a regional land use growth strategy in the region. The idea of the region's policy being to concentrate on a development pattern that really also helps improve the efficiency of the transportation system. The second of those strategies is creating efficiencies and making sure that the system operates at its peak performance. We have strategic investments and carefully thought out where the transit system, roadway system, and nonmotorized system needs to be expanded in order to maximize the effectiveness of travel. Finally, pricing, which is an integral part of our region's transportation plan. It begins moving from what are now traditional forms of funding to more sustainable types of funding in the future that relies on more direct user fees through tolling.
The strategic investments in the plan cover all modes. The plan talks about creating a fully built regional high-capacity transit system, as well as a substantial increase in transit service within the region. Completing many of the missing links in the highway system and focusing on the chokepoints and bottlenecks in the system, as well as making targeted improvements in walk and bike systems.
Align with Vision 2040
The region has a regional growth strategy called Vision 2040. The transportation plan is designed to support this adopted growth strategy. 87% of the roadway investments are within or directly serve our metropolitan core cities, which are the main places that our growth strategy calls for being employment and population growth. The build-out of the regional transit system will serve 27 of the designated growth centers. The bicycle and pedestrian facilities are designed to support the transit system and also growth centers.
Support Regional Economic Strategy
We also have a regional economic strategy which looks at how the region can grow jobs over the next 30 years. Our plan is also designed to support that through the support for job centers and freight movement.
Congestion and Mobility Program
Quickly going over the three areas that we were concerned about from the scoping process -- congestion, mobility and we've got the integrated strategies, but to recognize that land use planning in our vision, especially, helps reduce congestion in the region. Demand management, and systems management, which help improve the efficiency of the system. Adding strategic capacity is important. Those being integrated strategies, where we are seeing strategic capacity expansion in the roadway system, we are seeing that, along with a commitment to have those facilities be tolled.
Aggressive Environmental Program
We have an environmental program that addresses the concerns that we have. The health of Puget Sound, which is the main water body of our region, is important. The plan has specific strategic strategies to reduce the stormwater and other water pollution that enters Puget Sound. But also it has an innovative greenhouse gas reduction strategy that complements the overall state approach. The land use is key to that -- creating more concentrated development patterns. Pricing through user fees is an important piece of that. Transportation choices - again, our transit service is calling for 100% increase in transit service hours in the region. And then also recognize that technology needs to be part of that shift to reduce greenhouse gases.
Financial Plan Program
Our financial plan we are talking about, this is the one that the audience will probably be interested in. We took a look at several 3 10-year increments in our financial plan. The financial plan recognizes in the short-term, traditional sources such as gas tax will play a central role in funding the implementation of the plan. Sometime past 2020, the gas tax is going to become unproductive as we start to get alternative fuel vehicles into the system that erodes the base. In the second 10 years of the plan, we are anticipating a shift with the gas tax replacement. For example, the VMT fee -- our board did not adopt a specific proposal, but general policy terms they see that happening in that timeframe. The long-term horizon -- the 2030 or 2040 timeframe -- a shift to the system toll approach. We have a policy basis set to traditional funding programs over these 30 years into something that looks a bit different than the current funding system. Even in the short-term, we recognize that if there is capacity improvement in the roadway system, it should be accompanied by tolls. Patty talked earlier about the 167 HOT lanes, 520 floating bridge, which will be the first larger facilities that will be entirely tolled. We are starting to see the implementation of this.
Tolling Implementation Concept - Early Phase
In the mid-range, what we see in our system is perhaps one or two lane HOT lanes system with individual facilities being tolled on the freeway system.
Tolling Implementation Concept - Longer-term
In the long-range, this map predicts what we anticipate, which is all of our access controlled freeways being tolled as a system toll which plays into our long-range finance strategy.
Sustainable and Fair Funding for Transportation
Our financial plan, you can see the current law revenue in the brown. 18% of our total plan funding is anticipated to be from HOT lanes or facilities or network tolls. That adds up to a lot more, almost half of the new revenue that is anticipated to fund the efforts above and beyond current revenues. We spent a significant amount of time looking at the social equity concerns of tolling. Obviously, if you are going to be proposing a full system tolling approach, that is a topic that comes up and rightfully so. We spend a lot of time looking at benefits and costs across different income groups and geographies within the region. What we did, and what our board did was specifically address that concern by structuring the financing proposal to be sensitive to the social equity concerns. What I mean by that, our board specifically adopted a toll rate structure, and again, we are not the ones that set toll rates, but for the purposes of our planning, set toll rates at levels that improve the equity to lower income populations. They specifically decided to not recommend in the plan tolling of regional arterial systems because a lot of people with lower incomes tend to drive not on the freeway system but instead on the arterials. That is an important element here. We want to make sure that the tolling proposal was sensitive to those concerns. We actually structured a system that treats lower income people pretty well from an equity perspective.
Findings from 520 Implementation Committee Random-Sample Phone Survey
Patty talked about 520 tolling implementation committee and I want to touch upon that before I make my closing remarks. This was an effort a couple years ago to engage the public in the issue of tolling 520 since this is the first major toll facility that was going to be implemented and involves converting an existing bridge into a toll facility, which has not been done before, rather than building something new and tolling it. Getting to the idea that was brought up by one of the commenters earlier is do you talk about tolling for financing or do you talk about tolling for congestion relief? What we found overwhelmingly is that I think we were successful in this 520 tolling work because we started by talking about the need to fund the bridge. We recognize that this is an Urban Partnership project and it is focused on congestion relief and the structure of the program is congestion relief, but right now the public is not at a place that is going to accept that. However, there are a lot of messages there that worked, which is once they are convinced that the bridge need to be replaced and there is a need for tolling to do that, the electronic tolling idea, which is getting rid of the tollbooths, resonates with people and not getting rid of congestion. While we have to have tolls if there's an ancillary benefit of an increase in travel speeds --they do really support that.
Lessons Learned - Communicating About Pricing
Some of the lessons learned that we have from the 520 project and the planning work that we have done, it is really difficult to have this conversation with the public about congestion relief and tolling. They understand that tolling raises revenue. I am not so sure that they get the concept of congestion relief. Both in our plan and with 520, we started in the idea that this is a financial strategy element that then has other benefits and then we can open the door to that discussion. Until we have more practical examples, and the question to the audience here and others, does Singapore and London and Stockholm provide practical examples or do we have to wait until we have some here in the U.S. ? Fortunately, in this region, we will have one next year when the 520 tolling starts. We will hopefully be able to point to that as a domestic example. Leaving you with the idea that the message perhaps needs to evolve to practice and we may be comfortable in the short-term with tolling as a funding strategy, but in the longer term, as we have practice and examples, we can switch that messaging to reflect what people understand to be the situation, which is the traffic management tool. That is the end of my presentation. I would be happy to have questions.
Thank you, Charlie. I wanted to talk about the idea of road pricing. How was that received by your body of elected officials as a necessary tool to include in your long-range planning process? How did you get there with them? What was the process of outreach and education to those decision-makers that brought them to the place where you currently are?
Early on in our planning process, our board created a working group. Mostly elected officials with whom we spent a lot of time. We also had a pricing task force. That delved into the financing issues and eventually toward the end of the planning process, the working group focused on the substance of the plan -- the projects and programs -- and the financing group came together and merged their work effort. We spent a lot of time talking to them about alternatives. We did not presuppose that the pricing was going to be the ultimate outcome, although all of the alternatives we developed for the plan had some type of pricing in it since we knew that for example the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and 520 will be tolled facilities, so there will be a pricing component. There was no alternative that had no pricing in it. The whole system tolling, by going through the options, for funding in the future, recognizing the fall off of the gas tax that will happen in the next 30 years, I think their basic desire to link funding with users so they seem to be innately fair. They basically accepted this long-term approach toward system tolling.
Another question for you related to the outreach process and specifically to the messaging. I remember hearing that in the Washington State area, there was a professor, Mark Hallenbeck, and he was asked to be quoted by the media quite a bit with regard to congestion pricing and dynamic pricing. Could you speak to the role that he played and how someone outside of the public agencies can be perceived by the public and can potentially help or hurt your pricing program? That is to both for you and Patty.
Mark has been generally extremely helpful from the aspect that he is not part of the agencies that they are talking about these concepts. He brings a different perspective -- the academic perspective -- but has a great way in explaining. At the DOT, we found him to be a great resource to facilitate different conversations with groups.
Can you give some background for who Mark Hallenbeck is and what kind of credibility he has with the press and with the public?
Mark is out of the out of the University of Washington. He is a professor primarily around transportation courses. His reputation is well known. It comes down to he can talk very simplistically and articulate these complex issues in a very basic manner. He comes across very credible and pretty funny. That helps engagement with the people he's talking to.
I know that there have been a number of lessons learned. I would like to make a plug for a lesson learned that relates to having a third-party advocate or champion, like Mark Hallenbeck or Lee Munnich in the Minnesota region, who is separate from the public agencies or owners of the facilities who has a more independent role and at the same time can lend their credibility as a researcher or academic to these types of projects. The potential of course is that it could go either way, because they are independent of the project. At least through the experience I have heard with Mark Hallenbeck, he has been a very good spokesperson for educating the public about these types of concepts.
Another example of that is, I mentioned our pricing task force -- the group was chaired by Aubrey Davis. Aubrey Davis is a former FTA regional administrator and he is a businessman, very well-respected in our region. He was a lot of times the independent voice talking about the necessity to consider pricing. I echo the support for having a third-party outside of the process, somebody who speak to the issue.
You mentioned that lower income drivers tend to use arterials more than highways. Do you have a source that you can provide via the chat box or after the discussion?
I will look for it. Part of my experience was related to some focus group work that we did. Washington State DOT did some lower income focus groups early on to talk about what were some of the perceptions of some people for tolling. One of the things I took away from that, from the focus group, and that cannot be too generalized, the particular group we talked to was really focused on that they did not really use the freeway system that much. Their travel patterns were focused around the arterials. Our board, in deciding to take arterials out of the tolling picture, at least for now, we're looking for ways to reduce the cost and improve the equity bottom line. We have a cost-benefit model that we used to help us provide the Board with information. By lowering the toll rates, and doing different things with the system toll, you are able to judge the benefit in different income groups. That is one of the materials I was referring to.
Related to that, Charlie, I have heard and I guess it seems logical enough, but if you price a larger system then your overall toll rate can be lower. Can you speak to that and of what your traffic and revenue studies have found that if you priced a number of facilities, for example, a network, that you can lower the overall toll rates to affect behavior or to affect revenue?
That is obviously true. In our system, we were trying all the way through to have our toll rate focused on performance of the system. It was more at the end of maximizing performance as opposed to maximizing revenue. What ended up happening as the more of the system that we would toll -- and we want to have the system to function optimally -- it ended up raising more revenue as opposed to saying, we can then lower the toll rate because we never really looked at toll rates that were revenue maximizing. We were pretty much focused on maximizing the performance of the system, although we did test higher toll rates to see what effect they had on reducing the vehicle miles traveled and other greenhouse gas implications.
A very specific question about what cost-benefit economic model did you use for your region?
We have a cost-benefit tool that we applied that we built. That is an attachment to our demand model. You can probably find on our website, www.psrc.org, documentation of that if not, you can get in touch with me.
This is specific to local officials. What we have heard at times, is that motorists in other parts of the Metro got their additional capacity for free. On the other side of the Metro, why is it now that you need to pass this policy that we need to pay for additional capacity or new capacity that is in the program? Can you talk about that geographic equity issue and how that played out or is playing out in your region?
That is a major issue that probably happens everywhere. In Pierce County, down near Tacoma, they were concerned about the bridge being the only tolled facility, and concerns about how much other corridors have to pay, it is a big issue. All I can say is it is going to play out and people have to feel somewhat comfortable that there is geographic equity to the system. I will speak for the PSRC plan. When we put out a policy of saying that if there is going to be in the capacity it has to be tolled, that pretty much says to anybody that there will be a toll component of their program. Where this is going to play out is in the legislature. They will have to authorize tolling and figure out how much funding for state projects that will come from the tolling versus tax resources. It is a big issue, and not one that has gone away.
I remember hearing that Texas had passed legislation that their new capacity on a statewide basis would need some type of tolling component. There are some other areas that have also made that kind of policy statement that new capacity would need to be tolled. That is subject for a whole new webinar for Patrick to host.
With that, I would like to thank both Patty and Charlie for the great presentations and the case study in the Seattle and Puget Sound region. I would like to turn our focus now to Peggy Catlin, who is the deputy director of the Colorado DOT. Peggy volunteered as a case participant after session one to talk about the U.S. 36 express lanes and what is being discussed currently for that HOT lane or express lane facility. I think it is still being thought through as to what the details of the project will be, but we are lucky enough to have Peggy volunteer to present her case with us and for the panel to respond to the project. Peggy, thank you again for volunteering and the floor is yours.
Presentation by Peggy Catlin
Key Moments in U.S. 36 History
Thanks, John. A little bit of history about U.S. 36. It was originally built in built as a toll facility. It had one interchange, at Broomfield, which is State Highway 121. That was located in the middle, and that is where the toll booth was. The turnpike reverted to a non-tolled facility in 1967 and that was 15 years earlier than expected because the revenues allowed for the bonds to be paid off early. I've often said what we could have done with that facility had we kept the toll on, but that is all water under the bridge. CDOT and the transit agency, RTD, began an environmental statement in 2003. At that time, there was pretty unanimous opposition from local governments about any kind of managed lanes or tolling concept. Five years later, when the U.S. DOT came up with the Urban Partnership Program, the politicians in that corridor rethought what they were going to do and they looked at that as an opportunity to secure funds for their preferred alternatives. It got them to thinking a little bit more about tolling as an option. In late 2007, when the final EIS process was going to be started, we joined with the local stakeholders to collaboratively decide on a preferred alternative. In 2008, there was the congestion reduction grant initiative project. I should mention that the corridor was unsuccessful in securing a UPA, but it still got them thinking about other ways to deliver this project. They also applied for a congestion reduction grant initiative. We did not get that one either. The group persevered. The final EIS was completed last summer and a record of decision was signed last December. When the TIGER grant recipients were announced, U.S. 36 was one of the projects selected for a TIGER grant. It was one of the 4 selected for a TIGER grant to be used for credit support for a TIFIA loan. At this point, it is the only one remaining, or still pursuing a TIFIA loan. The communities along the corridor are very unified in support. The project has demonstrated that it can compete for federal funds.
U.S. 36 Project Area
This is a map of the project area, for those of you unfamiliar with the area. The purpose of the project is to improve mobility in the area, from I-25 in the Denver area to Boulder. The preferred alternative for the 18-mile corridor is much more comprehensive than this managed lanes project, but it does provide for one buffer-separated managed lane in each direction. It provides for auxiliary lanes between most interchanges. It provides for a bus rapid transit corridor, improvements for all interchanges. It has transportation demand management components in addition to the pricing elements. A real key for those communities was a commuter bikeway because that area is a strong biking community from Westminster to Boulder. The total cost is projected to be $1.3 billion, but given funding constraints a phased approach was developed.
TIGER Grant: Proposed U.S. 36 Managed Lane/BRT Project
The TIGER grant, and what we proposed for the first phase of this project focused mostly on the managed lane/BRT part. The partners focused mostly on the availability of funds. Resulted in $160 million package of improvements. There were two alternatives - one for $160 million and one for $260 million - that would achieve the goals of Phase 1 of the project, which were managed lanes, improving BRT segments, and building part of the bikeway. The $160 million package would extend the improvements from I-25 to Wadsworth, or the Broomfield interchange that I talked about earlier. We were going to be able to leverage dollars, and if we were able to get the $260 million package we would have been able to extend past Wadsworth. The $160 million is total cost to design, construct, and oversee the project. It does not include costs such as a traffic revenue study or administrative costs. It does not include operations and maintenance costs, which would have to be considered in the investment grade analysis.
U.S. 36 TIGER TIFIA Challenge Grant
We received a $10 million award for credit support for a TIFIA loan. What this would do would allow CDOT to leverage a $10 million grant into a $50 million-$80 million TIFIA loan. It allows us to get to the front of the line for a TIFIA loan. Anyone who has applied for a TIFIA loan knows there are a lot of steps you have to go through to even be considered. This one essentially serves as a statement of interest. We still have to go through the loan acquisition process, but it does give it some priority.
Major TIGER Requirements
The minimum loan amount required of the TIGER TIFIA grant was $50 million. You must indicate dedicated revenues for repayment. In this case we would use the toll revenues to repay the TIFIA loan. The TIFIA limits are 33% of project costs. Our financing needs were to assemble roughly $100 million up-front in order to get the TIFIA loan. You have to get an investment grade rating from one of the ratings agencies, and you must meet all federal grant requirements.
The newly created High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) that replaced the Colorado Tolling Enterprise (CTE) is the entity that can legally issue debt in Colorado without a vote of the people. Even though the DOT was the applicant, there also has to be a transportation commission decision. HPTE has an independent board. It has 3 commissioners on the board, but it also has 4 outside members, so it is a little bit more autonomous than CTE, and even though it is a division of the Colorado Department of Transportation it is meant to operate as a business. We're trying to cobble together the remainder of the funding for this TIFIA loan, but in the meantime we had to develop a Plan B in the event that the traffic and revenue study said that we couldn't generate sufficient revenues to repay the loan.
How to Make an Informed Decision
We had a couple of questions of the board and commission. Do we have a sense that the tolls will provide a consistent revenue stream for payback? Can we secure financial commitments to fill the unfunded gap? We have a constitutional provision called the taxpayers bill of rights (TABOR) in Colorado. There are implications of this project on the TABOR, so what potential TABOR impacts/limitations exist? What's the cost/benefit of pursuing this project?
Question 1: Will U.S. 36 tolls provide consistent revenue stream?
We assumed $5 million in gross toll revenues could be generated on annual basis based on sketch-level model. That would translate to roughly $58 million in TIFIA loan proceeds. The Office of the Secretary, U.S. DOT, is concerned about the projected revenues. We secured an investment grade traffic & revenue consultant to verify this projection. It is somewhat unprecedented, but FHWA did agree to let us use up to $900,000 of the $10 million TIGER grant on some startup costs (including traffic & revenue study). We issued the RFP in May and have hired the traffic and investment grade consultant, which happens to be Wilbur Smith.
Question 2: Can we secure financial commitments to fill unfunded gap?
We have a number of different partners involved with this project. We have financial commitments from a couple of regions in CDOT. From the transit agency, which is called the Regional Transportation District. From the MPO, which is called the Denver Regional Council of Governments. Also from the numerous communities along the corridor. There are some strings attached with some of the contributions, so we are working with our partners on addressing those right now.
Question 3: What potential TABOR impacts or limitations exist?
The enterprises are limited to only 10% of their annual revenues from state and local tax sources. So we had to work through some legal aspects of that. We recognize that some of our RTD contribution could be viewed as a non-TABOR revenue contribution. The issue is that the HPTE cannot issue debt in the year that it goes out of enterprise status. Therefore this is a critical component of this project going forward. It is unique to Colorado, but we must be careful to address. So that is why it is a key issue to our board and commission.
Question 4: Cost/Benefit Analysis
We realized that we couldn't put all the funds together without securing the debt, so the TIFIA loan was critical. Building it now is certainly better than building it later due to inflationary costs. Also, the public benefit for reducing some of the congestion and improving transit service. It is really a complex financial deal. We have a financial advisor onboard to help. There are still a lot of questions to be asked, but we should have some preliminary results from the traffic & revenue consultant in October. Then, we'll have a go-no go decision to move forward on the TIFIA loan, and at that point we'll have to hire underwriters and bond counsel to get that in motion. We also have TIGER timeline challenges that we have to meet.
Proposed TIGER Grant Plan B
Plan B, if we're not successful in securing the TIFIA loan would be to maybe pursue some more alternative financing - maybe Public-Private Partnerships, maybe conventional types of credit. Just installing the ITS & tolling infrastructure, and ramp metering, and cameras. We can install all of that without that actual expansion of the managed lanes. Options for a shorter project, perhaps. Even if we are able to pursue this later there are some reconstruction components with this project that we may be able get started on. Are there any questions?
Could you explain more about TABOR?
TABOR was enacted as a constitutional amendment in the 1990s. It restricts spending and revenues that the state can collect. It's a very complicated bill. It is somewhat modeled after some of the California propositions. In good years, when we have a lot of revenue coming in, then when revenues grow too much per capita anything on top of the threshold is returned to the voters. We cannot expend any more than that formula will allow. It's not so bad in the good years when revenues grow, but the problem is that during recession, when revenues decrease, you can only go by the previous year's formula at the previous year's base. So that formula is somewhat challenging, but it also provides that you cannot issue any debt or raise taxes without a vote of the people. So Colorado cannot issue a TIFIA debt without a vote of the people of Colorado.
What is the primary purpose of pricing on U.S. 36?
The overall goal is both congestion management and revenue generation. Because of the bus rapid transit, it is more of a multimodal transportation solution. But the carrot that got the elected officials along the corridor to start thinking about tolling was the UPA opportunities. It is a fairly sophisticated group of people along that corridor, but it's also about funding.
Would you consider tolling the whole facility, shoulder-to-shoulder?
I don't think so. The collaboration to develop the preferred alternative was key in coming to this stage - getting an EIS and a record of decision. Opening up a new debate would be difficult at this time. For one it would require reviewing the EIS, which would be impossible in the TIGER TIFIA timeframes at this point.
How many years has it been since Colorado, through CTE, has initiated a toll project?
The only one operational is the I-25 managed lanes, which I should have made note of, that ties into the U.S. 36 corridor. It is about a 6.8-mile stretch of barrier-separated reversible managed lanes system into the Denver Central Business District.
If you're looking at raising revenue as a key component, how would carpoolers be treated?
The current policy was that carpools would go free. It would therefore operate as a HOT lane. However, the opportunity exists to generate revenue if you allow only HOV-3 to go for free. The traffic and revenue consultant will be doing a sensitivity analysis which includes the HOV-2 and HOV-3 scenarios.
Do you anticipate any "broken promises" backlash over how carpoolers may be treated?
I think not giving any discount to any carpooling would be seen as a broken promise. However, right now we're only looking at the HOV-2 vs. HOV-3 issue. If we think it would be worth it, we would have to go back to the stakeholder to see if they would they consider changing their policy.
Do any other panelists have questions?
How are you planning on doing enforcement, especially in light of the new billing process on E-470 and taking away cash booths. Are you thinking you might implement license plate-based tolling?
Yes, we already have license plate-based tolling on our I-25 managed lanes. We would do the same. You could either have a transponder or we would do license plate tolling. Enforcement would be manual -- visual.
I know that there were some problems working with the transit folks in the past on tolling issues. How is that relationship today?
I think they were just a bit scared of the politics of tolling at the time. The relationship is very solid. The I-25 project shows that this can be done well and that there is a benefit to transit. It just took some time to get them comfortable, and the I-25 project was one way to do that. They have been very supportive of the U.S. 36 corridor because the revenue can help pay for the bus rapid transit. On I-25, the transit agency formerly paid for the plowing and paving on I-25, and now with the tolls we took on that task on I-25 of the maintenance. It results in a $350,000 annual savings to them. Similarly, we use tolls on I-25 to repay CDOT for pothole patching, signing, striping, and other routine maintenance. That provides about $500,000 annually. It is a win-win for transit. Excess revenues go into a reserve fund for major maintenance, such as bridge deck replacement.
We're coming to the end of the webinar. Continuing education credits are available for this webinar series. It is, of course, up to the individual to do any necessary paperwork. Information is available at the Regionalities blog kept up by Lee Munnich: http://regionalities.hhh.umn.edu/. Please go there to download the professional development sheet.
I want to summarize the wealth of resources we have available at FHWA with planning and outreach efforts. First, of course, we have the websites and publications. Both IPD, which sponsored this webinar, and the Office of Operations, have folks available to provide technical assistance to develop your projects. If it is a non-tolling project, Allen Greenberg with the Office of Operations can be contacted. If it is a tolling project, you can contact me, (Patrick DeCorla-Souza), or Wayne Berman or Angela Jacobs. With regard to our forthcoming outreach activities, we are scheduling 4 regional workshops on integrating tolling and pricing into the planning process, and that should be sometime in early 2011. If you are interested in targeted workshops in your particular area, we can help you with that. The funding for outreach activities and implementation studies is available as discretionary funding under the Value Pricing Pilot Program. There is a solicitation that will be out soon for grant awards for FY2011. We also have tools available for those who are just beginning to explore what pricing can do for you. There is a sketch planning tool called TRUCE, which is a spreadsheet model available on our website that can help with revenue and cost projections. For more sophisticated analysis of pricing impacts, there is a more complicated tool called STEAM that can do benefit-cost analysis based on the output of your four-step travel demand models. It does equity analysis, and can be useful for environmental justice purposes. Finally, we have periodic announcements on our webinars and activities. I encourage you to send your email address to Thay Bishop at email@example.com to be included in future announcements. Also, there are activities sponsored by the TRB Congestion Pricing Committee. If you are not already a friend of the committee, send your email address to Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Lee Munnich has a TRB subcommittee on outreach related to pricing. You can send Lee an email at email@example.com if you would like to be a member of that subcommittee. Many of these email addresses are available from the presentation itself. Finally, I would like to close by thanking the Humphrey Institute, specifically Lee Munnich, SRF Consulting, specifically John Doan, and the team at the Volpe Center, specifically Michael Kay, for helping to put on these three webinars. Also, thanks to Thay Bishop of the Center for Innovative Finance Support, for helping out and organizing these webinars. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank all of the speakers for this webinar and all of our prior webinars.
Thank you everyone. We appreciate your attendance on these webinars. We look forward to helping you on these projects that would have a road pricing component and addressing the issues and challenges associated with those projects. Thanks again and have a great day.