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Virtual Workshop on Environmental Justice Analysis, Tools, and Approaches -

February 28, 2017



Webinar Recording:

Environmental Justice Analysis, Tools and Approaches Virtual Workshop



  • Objectives
  • Speaker Introductions
  • Introduction to the Congestion Pricing Program
  • LA Metro: ExpressLanes Low-Income Impact Assessment
  • NCTCOG: Influencing Travel Behavior with Sensitivity to Environmental Justice
  • Open discussion


  • Insight into FHWA's efforts towards supporting agencies with Environmental Justice (EJ) aspects of their congestion pricing initiatives
  • Learn about innovative EJ analysis approaches and tools through real-life examples
  • Gain perspective of the role of public perception and EJ population concerns
  • Broader conversation through open discussion and suggestions for FHWA

Speaker Introductions

  • Angela Jacobs, FHWA Office of Operations, Congestion Pricing Manager
  • Natalie Bettger, Senior Program Manager, Congestion Management and System Operations, North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)
  • Nancy Pfeffer, President, Network Public Affairs, LLC

FHWA's Congestion Pricing Program

  • Congestion Pricing program and website provides information and resources to help equip state agencies and practitioners with an understanding and tools to implement congestion pricing projects and incorporate pricing into transportation planning.
  • Relevant Initiatives
    • VPPP supported project in Texas
    • Ongoing support to NCHRP 08-100 "Environmental Justice Analysis when Considering Toll Implementation or Rate Changes"
    • Upcoming White Paper: "Impact of Congestion Pricing on Low-Income Populations

congestion pricing
        Congestion signage

Impetus for the Workshop

"Agencies looking to implement priced-managed lanes need to be cognizant about both the potential for genuine adverse impacts on low-income populations, as well as the gap in public education leading to a rejection of road pricing as inherently inequitable."

  • There has been a significant amount of interest in the impact of pricing on EJ populations.
  • Very limited information filters to practitioners and the public beyond the transportation agency involved in the action.

LA Metro: I-10/I-110 ExpressLanes
Low-Income Impact Assessment

LA Metro - Overview

  • Assessment of low-income impacts required by state authorizing bill (SB 1422)
    • Offered guidance as to methodology
  • ExpressLane implementation would leave low-income commuters better off:
    • More travel choices
    • Enhanced transit service
  • However, some mitigations were recommended and implemented:
    • Transponder account: administrative burdens
    • "Equity Plan" - now called Low-Income Assistance Plan

LA Metro - Methodology

  • Define "low-income" -> Recommendation
    • State and local assistance programs
    • Federal poverty threshold
    • Definitions used in project surveys
  • Identify potential "low-income" users of express lanes
    • Census data on commuting modes
    • Regional MPO commuting survey
    • Travel demand model: trip origins & demographics by TAZ
    • License plate survey

Income Distribution in ExpressLane Corridors

Chart - Income Distribution in ExpressLane Corridors

Source: 2008 data from SCAG; income distribution based on 2000 U.S. Census

LA Metro - Methodology

  • Evaluate impacts on low-income commuters
    • Travel demand model plus toll optimization model
      • ***Toll model can be run to optimize revenue OR optimize travel time***
    • Comparison: low-income value of time with marginal value of time: the value at which the driver is indifferent between staying in the free lane or entering the ExpressLane
  • Conclusion: no instances where low-income commuters would choose the express lanes, BUT
    • ***Minimum toll level affected model results***
    • Average value of time vs. instantaneous (range)
    • Toll credits could help, along with different assumptions about value of time
    • Anyone may decide that the cost of toll is worth the time saved

LA Metro - Additional Findings

  • Overall cost- benefit analysis
    • Ensure cost of contemplated toll and transit credits could be covered
    • Overall net social benefit (positive Net Present Value)
  • Analysis of transponder account administrative burdens
    • Prevalence of credit cards, bank accounts

LA Metro - Recommendations

  • Credit account set-up fees for low-income households
    • Versus on-going toll credit
    • Implemented: one-time $25 credit per household
  • Require lower minimum account balance for accounts not linked to credit card
  • Ensure wide local distribution of transponders
  • Waive or reduce minimum monthly account charges
    • Implemented - monthly $1 fee waived
  • Transit credits can be earned
    • Implemented via TAP cards
  • ***Outcome: as of early 2015, over 5,000 low-income households signed up***

Two Important Publications

  • Equity of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms, 2011 (TRB Special Report 303) suggests these key questions:
    • Who is affected by the project?
    • Who makes direct payments, and how are revenues spent?
    • What are the benefits and impacts of the project [for low-income drivers]?
    • What travel alternatives are available (if needed)?
  • Just Pricing: the distributional effects of congestion pricing and sales taxes (L. Schweitzer, University of Southern California, and Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles, 2008)

    "Using sales taxes to fund roadways … shift[s] some of the costs of driving from drivers to consumers at large, and in the process disproportionately favors the more affluent at the expense of the impoverished. Others have shown such transfers to be inefficient; we argue it is inequitable as well."

Elements of Equity Assessment

  • Demographic data (focus on low-income)
  • Survey data
  • Project funding/financing data
  • Traffic modeling: time savings
  • Toll modeling and value of time
  • Travel alternatives
  • Transponder issues

Equity Findings - Project Finance Plans

  • Funding can come from multiple sources
    • Toll is paid by user for specific benefit (most equitable)
    • Gas tax may be paid by non-users of I-10 & I-15 toll lanes
    • Sales tax may be paid by non-users

Overview of funding sources example

  • There is no goal or standard for what is equitable

General Purpose Lane Travel Time on I-15 Year 2030 from SR-60 to US 395

(in minutes to travel ~33 miles)

General Purpose Lane Travel Time

Source: CDM Smith traffic model results September 2013

Overall Recommendations for Tolling Equity Analysis

  • Analyze equity concerns early (if you can)
  • Coordinate with other project analysts
    • GIS staff
    • Traffic modelers
    • Financial projections
  • Consistent findings for HOT lanes
    • Positive findings for equity for low-income travelers: better off with more travel choices, (possible) new transit service, faster GP lanes
    • Subsidy or special policies recommended for low-income households' accounts
  • ***Other forms of tolling may present more equity concerns***

NCTCOG: Influencing Travel Behavior with Sensitivity to Environmental Justice

Project Overview Phases

  • Develop Tool to Track Usage and Provide Incentives
    • TryParkingIt
    • DFW Connect-A-Ride
  • Enhance Tool to Guide Operational Decisions on Managed Lanes (ML)
    • Goals And Performance Measures
    • Determine and Measure Incentives through Survey
    • Model Incentive Impacts and Incorporate Results into Tool
    • Use the Tool to Help Determine IH-30 ML Policies
  • Implement Incentives
    • Marketing and Outreach
    • Track Usage
    • Compare Model Data to Real World Data

IH 30 Corridor Characteristics

IH 30 Corridor map

  • Major East/West Facility
  • Connects Dallas and Fort Worth
  • Multiple Operators
  • Managed Lane Corridor
  • Over 80% Households in Corridor are disadvantaged

Usage Tracking Tools and Incentives

  • NCTCOG's Commuter Tracking & Ride-matching System
    • Purpose is to reduce journey-to- work trips
    • App and Website
  • NCTCOG's "real-time" ridesharing program
  • Drive on TEXpress is a free mobile app and website for HOV users to receive toll discounts
    • Carpools using the app receive a 50% toll discount on ML


Logo - DRFConnectARide: Connet, Meet, and Go!

Logo - Drive on TEXPRESS

Traffic Thermostat Modeling Tool

Goal MOEs
Safe Travel Number of Crashes
Incident Clearance Time
High-Speed Travel Average Speed
Travel Time
Reliable Travel Buffer Index
Days per Month Below Threshold
Provide Choice Public Perception of User Choice
Number of Unique Users
Maximize Throughput Person Throughput
Person Throughput in HOVs

Traveler Characteristics - Survey

Characteristic Percentage of Travelers
Male 55.2
Female 44.8
18-24 4.3
25-34 20.1
35-44 17.6
45-54 24.1
55-64 23.5
65+ 10.2
White/Caucasian 78.5
Hispanic/Latino 6.9
African American 6.6
Asian American 2.8
Native American 1.3
Other 3.8
Less than high school 0
High school graduate 2.5
Some college or vocational school 21.9
College graduate 42.5
Post-graduate college 33.1
Household Income
Less than $10,000 0
$10,000 - $14,999 0.3
$15,000 - $24,999 1.9
$25,000 - $34,999 4.1
$35,000 - $49,999 8.8
$50,000 - $74,999 20.7
$75,000 - $99,999 16.3
$100,000 - $199,999 25.4
$200,000 or more 6
Prefer not to answer 16.7

Mode Choice

Answer to Stated Preference Question 1 Percentage of Travelers
General Purpose Lane 68.8
Managed Lane Drive Alone 15.7
Managed Lane Car Pool 11.7
Transit 3.7
Average of SP2 and SP3
General Purpose Lane 60.2
Managed Lane Drive Alone 19.1
Managed Lane Car Pool 17.1
Transit 3.7

Express Lanes chosen 31% of the time without an incentive and 40% when an incentive was offered

Incentives Chosen for Survey

  • Earn a free trip for every X paid trips taken on the ML
  • Earn gift cards worth $5 for every X peak-hour trips saved by either telecommuting or by not traveling during the peak hours (7-9 am or 4-6 pm)
  • X% discount offered through select businesses
  • For every X trips taken by transit, $5 in credits that can be used on the Express Lanes
  • A transit fare discount of X%
  • Express bus service from park-and-ride lots to downtown

Traffic Thermostat Tool: Inputs Page

Traffic Thermostat Inputs Page software example

Traffic Thermostat Operational Fixes

Traffic thermostat sample overview screen

details screen example continued

Traffic Thermostat Output

Traffic thermostat goal page example

Marketing & Outreach Goals & Objectives

  • Recruit participants for the I-30 Insider program
  • Determine the effectiveness of several types of incentives to encourage alternative commutes
  • Specific focus low-income individuals
  • October 2016 through April 2017

IH 30 Insider Infographic

IH 30 Insider infographic screen


  • Social Media Advertising
    • Facebook
    • Instagram
  • Digital Billboards
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Targeted Digital Advertising
    • CBS Radio
    • Dallas Morning News
    • KXAS / NBC 5

Advertiser logo collage


  • Challenging to develop a tool that is both accurate and flexible
    • Quantifying impacts
    • Changing operational fixes
    • Conflicting goals
  • Access to demographic data for specific users of the system.
    • Have options not to answer
  • Marketing and outreach to specific audience.
    • How best to engage Environmental Justice disadvantaged community?
  • Environmental Justice disadvantaged is high along corridor, but not sure about travelers on the facility



Open Discussion

  • Other experiences with performing EJ analysis and equity concerns related to congestion pricing projects
    • Innovative approaches
    • Tools developed
    • Steps taken to mitigate any adverse impacts
    • Communicating equity impacts to public
    • Lessons learned
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