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Road Pricing: Resources

USDOT Resources: Center for Innovative Finance Support Road Pricing Public Acceptance and Outreach Webinar - Introduction to Road Pricing and Public Outreach

Patrick DeCorla-Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, FHWA
Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
Kenneth Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation
John Doan, SRF Consulting

Center for Innovative Finance Support
Federal Highway Administration

First Part of a Webinar Series on Road Pricing Outreach

FHWA - Center for Innovative Finance Support Road Pricing Public Acceptance and Outreach Webinar Mini-Courses


  • John Doan, SRF Consulting


  • Patrick Decorla-Souza, Tolling and Pricing Manager, FHWA
  • Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
  • Kenneth Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • John Doan, SRF Consulting

Audience Q&A:

  • Type questions into the chat box. The moderator will field your question to the appropriate panelist. Questions will be answered at the end of each session and during the last 15 minutes of the webinar.

Presentation Outline

  1. Key factors that have led to public acceptance of road pricing in the U.S. (Patrick DeCorla-Souza)
  2. A grasstops approach to outreach and communications (Lee Munnich)
  3. Minnesota experience (Ken Buckeye)
  4. Group Discussion and Preparation for Next Session (John Doan)

Part 1 Key factors that have led to public acceptance of road pricing in the U.S.

Patrick DeCorla-Souza,
Tolling and Pricing Program Manager,

Types of Congestion Pricing

  • Priced lanes: High-Occupancy/Toll (HOT) or Express Toll lanes
  • Priced highways: Variable tolls on toll facilities or on existing free roads
  • Priced zones: Area or cordon
  • Fully priced road networks: Commercial vehicles or all vehicles
Priced Lanes: HOT Lanes

San Diego, I-15:

  • Choice not to pay
  • No lane "take-away"
  • Most of net revenue allocated to transit
Priced Lanes: Express Toll lanes

SR 91, Orange County, CA:

  • Choice not to pay
  • Only new lanes tolled
  • Discount for high-occupancy vehicles
Priced Highways

SR 520 Bridge, Seattle:

  • Key factors:
  • High cost of bridge replacement
  • Lack of tax-based funding.
  • Public understanding of the above
Cordon Pricing

New York City proposal:

  • Key factors:
  • Understanding of the economic cost of congestion ($13 B annually)
  • Revenue generation for transit infrastructure ($500 million annually)
  • Mitigation of negative impacts
Fully Priced Road Networks
  • Pilot test:
    New York State
  • Pilot tests: Oregon, Seattle, Minnesota, Atlanta, and 12 other cities (VMT fee demonstration)
  • Metropolitan area model-based studies

Metropolitan Area Study: Seattle, WA

Metropolitan Area Study: Seattle, WA

Seattle Study: Finance

Seattle Study: Finance

Seattle Study: Emissions

Seattle Study: Emissions

Seattle: Benefits vs. Costs

Seattle Study: Benefits vs. Costs

Effectiveness vs. Acceptance

Seattle Study: Effectiveness vs. Acceptance

Public Acceptance: Opinion Surveys

  • Priced Lanes:
    • About 70% approval from all income groups
  • Priced Highways:
    • Seattle: 64% approval for new tolls on SR 520 bridge
  • Priced Zones:
    • New York City: 40% approval, rising to 59% if the revenue were used for expanded transit service
  • Priced Highway Network:
    • Seattle's MPO has adopted full pricing of its network of limited access facilities in its Long Range Transportation Plan, with a 98% vote.

Addressing Equity Concerns

  • Income-based equity:
    • Toll credits, discounts or reimbursements
  • Benefit-based equity:
    • Congestion relief and physical infrastructure improvements
  • Modal Equity:
    • Provide toll exemptions and dedicate some of toll revenue to alternative modes
  • Geographic equity:
    • Region-wide approach vs. project-by-project approach

Addressing Public Perceptions

Doubts about effectiveness

Pilot tests, subject to referendum

Travel alternatives, traffic diversion

Enhanced alternative modes, enhanced signal coordination on parallel free arterials

Paying twice

Engage public in debate on true costs of infrastructure and funding from taxes

Cost of toll collection

Collecting taxes is less expensive, but does not provide the same benefits
Privacy Legislative safeguards, anonymity of account information, electronic purse

Credibility and trust of government agencies or elected bodies

Money-back guarantee

Dedicated use of revenue

Identify the specific projects on which the revenues will be expended

Part 2 - A Grasstops Approach to Road Pricing Outreach and Communications

Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute,
University of Minnesota

Outreach and Communications Process

  • Market research - understanding
  • Education - learning
  • Outreach - involving
  • Communication - explaining
  • Marketing - selling
  • Evaluation - confirming

Grasstops Approach

  • Get the Governor on board
  • Engage legislative champions
  • Keep it bipartisan
  • Take your show on the road
  • Take policy leaders on the road
  • Look for media opportunities
  • Leave no question behind

Part 3 - Road Pricing Public Acceptance and Outreach

I-394 MnPASS Case Study

Kenneth R. Buckeye, AICP
Value Pricing Program Manager
Minnesota Department of Transportation

I-394 MnPASS Express Lanes
  • Brief History
  • Project Description & Goals
  • Driving Forces
  • Public Acceptance Issues
  • Public Involvement
  • Performance
  • Satisfaction Levels
  • Lessons Learned
  • Related NCHRP Projects
A Brief History of Tolling in Minnesota
  • 1993 Public-Private Partnership Law
  • 1995 TranSmart tolling initiative
  • 1997 Minnesota Road Pricing Study
  • 1997 First attempt at MnPASS
  • 1998-2002 Value Pricing Policy Debate
  • 2003 HOV to HOT Conversion Legislation
  • 2005 I-394 MnPASS launched
  • 2009 I-35W MnPASS launched
I-394 MnPASS Goals
  • Improve I-394 efficiency
  • Maintain free flow speeds for transit and carpoolers
  • Use revenues to improve highway and transit in corridor
  • Employ new technologies for pricing and enforcement

Map of Project Area

Project Photo

Project Photo

Project Photo

MnPASS Driving Forces
  • Congestion
    • 150,000 ADT
    • Perception of under used lane
  • Expansion or conversion not feasible
  • Must manage system better
  • Influence of other successful projects
  • Outreach and education: Value Pricing Advisory Task Force
  • Political leadership emerged
  • Value Pricing Pilot Program
Public Acceptance Issues
  • Public acceptance is by far the biggest challenge
  • Minnesotans are toll averse
  • Concerns
  • Equity
  • Double taxation
  • Performance
  • Toll booths!
  • Diminish level of service for transit
  • What is variable (dynamic) pricing

Public Involvement

  • Collaboration: MnDOT, FHWA, Met Council, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Value Pricing Advisory Task Force
  • I-394 Corridor Implementation Task Force
  • Advise Commissioner of Transportation on:
  • Hours of Operation
  • Transponder
  • Safety and Enforcement
  • Toll Rates
  • Dynamic Message Signs
  • Public Outreach
  • Expected Revenues
  • Project Evaluation
  • Type of Vehicles Allowed
  • Access Points/Traffic Operations
  • Outreach and education
  • Clearly articulate objectives
  • Visit projects
  • Framing solution: choice; use of revenue
  • Build trust and expertise
  • Provide ample opportunity for pubic input
  • Answer every question!
  • Conduct market research
  • Make changes to project if necessary
  • Pro-active communications and marketing
  • Final report available online at

I-394 MnPASS Performance

  • Dynamic pricing works
  • I-394 MnPASS lanes peak hour volumes increased 9 to 33%
  • Total I-394 peak hour roadway volumes increased by up to 5%
  • 98% of time speeds above 50 mph
  • Travel speeds in the general purpose lanes increased by 2 to 15 %
  • Transit ridership and carpools levels increase
  • Safety has not been compromised
  • Enforcement has been effective

MnPASS Acceptance by Income

MnPASS Acceptance by Income

Satisfaction Among All MnPASS Lane Users

Satisfaction Among All MnPASS Lane Users

Comparison of MnPASS Corridors

  I-394 I-35W
Regional Support Weak Strong
Legislative Comparison Cautious Supportive
Public Perceptions Negative, a very high level of engagement Accepting, low level of engagement
Framing the Problem Underperforming lane, high violations, must preserve HOV and Transit LOS, choice option Underperforming lane and corridor, high violations, PDSL necessary for lane continuity, transit enhancements
Agency Support Weak to moderate Strong
EJ and Equity No issues No Issues

I-394 MnPASS Meeting its Goals

  • Significantly reduces congestion and increases safety
  • Non-barrier separated access is safe and reduces infrastructure requirements
  • Dynamic pricing and technology works
    • Free flow speeds maintained
    • Lower violation rates
  • Customers are highly satisfied and are getting value for their toll dollars
  • Revenues meeting operating costs

MnPASS Lessons Learned

  • Political leadership is essential
  • Public will support projects if they can see benefits
    • Choice to pay to avoid congestion
    • No reduction in LOS for transit and carpools
    • Safety has been improved
    • Put the market to work
    • Sustainable
  • HOT lanes are not a revenue generator
  • Effective outreach, education and marketing are critical for success
  • Pricing projects are more likely to generate support if linked to transit improvements
  • Nothing succeeds like success!

Related NCHRP Projects -

  • 20-5 Synthesis Project 377 Compilation of Public Opinion Data on Tolls and Road Pricing
  • 08-36 Task 93: Road Pricing Communications Practices (complete)
  • 08-57 Toll Decision Model and Forecasting Tool (complete)
  • 08-73 Road Pricing Public Perceptions and Program Development (Draft report)
  • 08-75 (Guidelines for Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects (Draft report)

Part 4 - Group Discussion and Preparation for Next Session

John Doan - SRF Consulting

 For More Information

  • FHWA Center for Innovative Finance Support :
  • FHWA Office of Operations:
  • Webinar Mini-Courses:

Contact Information

  • Patrick DeCorla-Souza
    Tolling and Pricing Program Manager
    Center for Innovative Finance Support
    Federal Highway Administration
    Department of Transportation
    1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
    Washington, DC 20590
    (202) 366-4076

  • Lee Munnich
    Senior Fellow and Director
    State and Local Policy Program/Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
    280 Humphrey Center
    301 19th Avenue South
    Minneapolis, MN 55455
    (612) 625-7357

  • Kenneth Buckeye
    Program Manager
    Minnesota Department of Transportation
    395 John Ireland Blvd
    MS 330
    St. Paul, MN 55155
    (651) 296-1606

  • John Doan
    Senior Associate
    SRF Consulting Group, Inc.
    1 Carlson Parkway, Suite 150
    Minneapolis, MN 55447
    (763) 249-6750

What's Next?

  • Session 2: Seeking Approval - Lessons from PLANYC 2030 Congestion Pricing
    • September 7, 2:00-3:30PM EDT
    • Presenters: Bruce Schaller (NYCDOT), Lee Munnich (Humphrey Institute), John Doan (SRF Consulting)
  • Session 3: Integration with the Planning Process and Outreach Strategies for Project Deployment
    • September 28, 2:00-3:30PM EDT
    • Presenters: Charlie Howard (PSRC), Patty Rubstello (WSDOT), Rob Fellows (WSDOT), Patrick DeCorla-Souza (FHWA), Wayne Berman (FHWA), John Doan (SRF Consulting)
  • Registration and more information:
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
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