Skip navigation

USDOT Resources: Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing 2013
FHWA Webinar Series

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

Fourteenth Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.

Session 14: The Impacts of Congestion Pricing - Lessons Learned from Recent Evaluations - Transcript


  • Jen Symoun


Jen Symoun

Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to today's webinar on The Impacts of Congestion Pricing - Lessons Learned from Recent Evaluations. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's webinar. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.

Today we'll have a brief introduction, given by Wayne Berman of the Federal Highway Administration, followed by presentations from Katie Turnbull of the Texas A&M Texas Transportation Institute, John Swanson of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Sean Peirce of the USDOT Volpe Center.

We will be taking questions after the conclusion of all presentations. If during the presentations you think of a question, please type it into the chat area.  Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will ask the questions typed into the chat box following each presentation. If we are unable to get through all of the questions in the time allotted we will get written responses from the presenters and send them out with the follow up information.

The PowerPoint presentations used today are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. I would also like to remind you that this session is being recorded. The recording, presentations, and a transcript will be posted to the Tolling and Pricing web site within the next few weeks and I will send out a notice when they are available.

We'll now go ahead and get started. We're going to have a brief introduction by Wayne Berman of the Federal Highway Administration Tolling and Pricing Team.

Wayne Berman

Thanks Jennifer, and thanks to all of you for joining us today. I especially want to thank our speakers for participating in today's webinar. What we are going to hear about today are some of the key sessions and the key topics that were presented at the national congestion pricing conference. Next slide please?

This conference was held in Seattle, Washington in early July. Sponsored by federal highways in coordination with the TRB congestion pricing committee. We had about 114 or so attendees with the objective here in the conference to begin to raise awareness and identify the research and technology transfer needs of the needed to deploy congestion pricing strategies in the United States. But, deeper than that we have had a lot of good material coming from our US DOT urban partnership congestion reduction demonstration projects over the last few years. A lot of those projects are implemented now. And so, this was an opportunity to begin to hear about those projects and the evaluations of those projects as well as the pricing program. So it is will a combination of an effort to really bring to the public forefront a lot of good information that is happening on congestion pricing implementations around the country. Next slide please.

Briefly I want to go over the agenda really quick. We talked about the different projects and certainly the urban partnership and reduction partnerships as well as some other key value pricing pilots and implementation projects around the country. We heard from elected officials from what it takes for them to be able to buy in and support congestion pricing. We heard a lot about some of the impacts and lessons learned from some of these new congestion pricing projects. In particular we learned about and we talked about the influence of congestion pricing on ridesharing and transit programs and we looked a little bit at the back-office capabilities and technology that goes on behind the scenes that makes it all come together technology wise. And just to begin to address the challenges of public acceptability. We spent a lot of time on parking pricing projects, because that is a significant piece of the congestion pricing and we also had a tour of some of the projects going on in the Seattle area particularly the SR 520 bridge which is the first effort in the United States to toll all lanes on the facility.

Regional pricing we looked at what it takes to do right and proceed from a regional perspective on how to do regional buy in. This is the area that you will hear little bit about today. The speakers on today's agenda, Katie Turnbull and John Swanson and Sean Peirce are going to tell you a little bit about the evaluations they have worked on over the last years or so on congestion pricing. And then we will wrap it up with a year of learning and what we all learned and some of the tidbits that we took away and key fact that we took away from the lessons. And the TRB committee is going to use this in their future work as well and outreach.

Next slide please. So, some of the key outcome things that you really need are that we have seen some and transit benefits as a result of some of the implemented projects and while it is true that there has been some investment in transit with congestion pricing it has paid off in terms of mode shift and just overall reliability of the system. Again, parking pricing is kind of an integral element into a regional pricing program. In the last two points are really kind of tied together. The selling point is that we really need to begin to define objectives upfront to the public and communicate it. So that it really guides the direction of the project, as well as the decision maker's efforts.

And, if we are going to get public support, it has got to come more than just to raise revenue. There has to be value to it that the public sees in the benefit that they derive from it.

So that is just a little bit of an overview. And that there is another workshop/webinar on September 17 that will go into a little bit more detail to the aspects of congestion pricing related to ridesharing and transit usage as well. So little bit more about that at the end.

Again, thank you all for joining us and thing store speakers. So without, Jennifer let's get started.

Jen Symoun

All right thank you Wayne Berman. Now I will turn it over to Katie Turnbull from Texas A&M in Texas transportation Institute.

Katie Turnbull

Great. Thank you very much and it is a pleasure to participate in this Web seminar and have the opportunity to give a little bit of an update on the national evaluation of the urban partnership agreements or the UPA's in the congestion reduction demonstrations or CRD.

So what I would like to do is just cover a quick overview of the national evaluation and then go into the results from the individual sites. And we will cover five of the six sites. I think that everyone is aware that the six sites are shown there with the stars. The focus of the UPA CRD was really to focus on four strategies. Telling transit telecommuting and travel demand management as well as technology to reduce congestion in key travel corridors.

The projects and the sites were selected back in 2008 or so, or 2007. And they are all now up in operation and various stages of evaluation. So the US DOT sponsored the evaluation and it was done through a competitive procurement process. The focus is really to obviously assess the impact of the different strategies. And to provide the information from the evaluation to other areas through seminars like this and other methods. Including the lessons learned. Obviously, for those areas those that are interested in deploying similar projects in and also to help inform federal policy and program development.

So the team Battelle is the prime on it and TTI in the center for urban transportation research at the University of South Florida and the University of Minnesota, Humphrey school of public policy, and a couple of other groups were involved in the evaluation. And it really focused on the four key questions that the US DOT asked. How much congestion was reduced? Where the associated impacts of the different strategies? What lessons can we learn? And what are the overall costs and benefits? We are going to focus today on the three evaluation analyses of the congestion, the tolling and the transit.

So, for each of the five sites I would like to quickly go through and highlight the different projects and then highlight really some of the key findings, certainly not able to cover all of those. Even just in those three topic areas. So I think that everyone is aware that Miami was really the first one out of the box and phase 1A started back in 2008. And it was again an expansion of an existing HOV 2+ to a hot lanes and 3+ was termed and is termed the 95 express. And in addition to the change from the HOV 2 to HOV3, they added in the northbound direction and in the softbound direction and as you can see from the slide from is phase 2 which goes further to the north is scheduled for 2014. Registered 3+ carpools and hybrid vehicles currently operate toll-free and motorcycles which do not need to be registered operate toll-free.

And then as we will talk about there were also enhancements to the service and additional park-and-ride services and to transit signal priorities. Since it was so quick getting started, it was really sort of a self-evaluation by the local group with the national evaluation team providing more of an overall monitoring and advising role. Some of the key findings were and are the reduction in both traffic in the hot lanes, than in the general purpose lanes. And you will see significant increases in express bus ridership. So, if you look at the slide, you can see, in terms of the overall impact on congestion, in 2008, the travel speeds in both the HOV lane in the general purpose lanes were averaging around 20 mph in the peak periods. Again, congested both general-purpose lanes and the HOV lanes were congested.

In 2011, that improved to between 51 and 61 mph in the hot lanes and 35 to 47 in the general-purpose lanes. They have seen that actually hold steady it is improve a little bit and 2013. With the increase in peak volumes that you see there again, both the hot lanes and the general-purpose lane continue to have increases in volumes.

In terms of the told Lane, the peak periods. Which to around $2.30 in the softbound direction and in February of 2013. $2.90 in the northbound direction with the highest total around seven dollars. Again monthly revenues increased from about $740,000 back in January of 2010 to about $1.7 million in February. We sought initially a shift of HOV into the general-purpose lane and we saw a slight decline in HOV 3. But we have seen that actually turnaround in the HOV 3 increase since the initial evaluation was conducted after the first year. But hybrid certainly continues to account for about 50% of the trips. So again, Florida is one of the states that allows hybrid vehicles to utilize HOV and HOT lanes in the state. Again in this case they do have to be registered.

As Wayne Berman mentioned in his introduction, we have certainly seen improvements in express bus service and travel speeds have increased, travel times have decreased. The ridership has increased significantly. A 2010 survey that was done indicated that about 72% of the riders that were included that responded to the survey were new riders since the tolling began and 52% of those indicated that tolling had affected their decision to use transit.

So let's move from the sunny Florida to the cold and snowy Minnesota. The key projects here were expanding an existing HOV lane to a dynamic price to the HOT lanes and adding the new HOT lane and price dynamic lane of the first attempt for using a shoulder lane during the peak periods for a hot lane. Significant transit improvements with six new or expanded park-and-ride lots and 27 of buses. And major improvements in downtown Minneapolis with the dual bus lanes on the Marquette and second Avenue. Technology included real-time traffic and transit signs, systems for shoulder running buses, and in a very significant -- significant telecommuting program that you workplace.

So this gives you an idea of the hot lanes and of the conversion of the existing HOV lanes at 2 Hot Lane. occurred in the southern portion of I 35W South. That exist in new age of HOT lane was added in what was called across town comment section. In addition, an additional 10 all-purpose lane in each direction was added in this section, not as part of the UPA, but as part of an already planned project. And as you see in the minute, that obviously confounds trying to figure out exactly what the impact of the HOV lane is. So that was added capacity in this section and in the price dynamic shoulder lane is on the very north side entering downtown Minneapolis.

So one of the key findings obviously is that it is difficult to separate some of the urban partnership elements from the general-purpose lane expansion. But I think this graphic shows a very clearly that what you see in the before and peak period and the congestion northbound into downtown Minneapolis and across town comment section went away with the UPA improvements in the hot lanes to the section. What you do see is a little bit of transferring of the congestion pinch point the northern section where I-35 merges or meets not only downtown Minneapolis but I-94 to the East and West. And there's congestion as people merge to go either of those directions.

So in terms of results, and in travel speeds increased for both the general-purpose lanes, and the HOT lanes. We sought increased person throughput and the majority of individuals responding to a variety of surveys indicated that travel was easier and less congested overall in the corridor in both in the general-purpose lanes and the hot lanes. Again, you see the increase in monthly toll use of the HOT lanes which are peak period only I should mention. You see increased throughput in the quarter and some shift from the HRT lanes from the general-purpose lanes but that HOV really remained with the 2+ requirement. And then what were previous violators with the HOV requirement really became HOT users. So significant reduction in violations. This just gives you an idea of the use of the HOT Lane at different locations. This is when the full facility became operational in November of 2010. Again, in terms of transit, certainly benefited bus speeds increased on 35W South and travel times decreased in the park-and-ride That was at a time when actually one of the highest unemployment levels was going on in the Minneapolis St. Paul area when the UPA was introduced. So ridership increase was very good because the system is really flat that year. And then obviously major increases and major benefits by the mark2 lanes in the downtown area.

So let's move to Atlanta which is another example of a hot lane project and converting the existing HOV to facility to and HOT3 on about 60 miles of I-85 it occurred in October of 2011. The toll tags and preregistration are required for the HOT 3. In addition new enhancements with additional parking spaces that expand the new park-and-ride lot and also some technology enhancements to the enforcement system. And fairly significant outreach efforts to help people that were HOV2 Convert to HOV 3. So, this just gives you an idea of the corridor in the park-and-ride lots that were funded by CRD to the north. And the one-year findings indicate sort of a modest improvement in travel times in both the general-purpose and the HOT lanes. Some congestion in the general-purpose lanes. Bus ridership increased use of the park-and-ride lots increased. And the transponder violations decreased the new technology.

So overall, in terms of the congestion analysis which was done using the sensor data from Georgia Department of Transportation because that was obviously the only before data to match up after data, we have seen some of the more recent data from circa which is based on the transponders but does not have any before data. And that is showing some additional benefits as the system has sort of matured and some of the initial use of the bugs were worked out. So initially you saw a little bit longer travel times in the general-purpose lanes and shorter travel times of the express lanes. But again, seeing some difference in travel times more recently. Overall, vehicle throughput the kind of little bit and we have seen an increase in transit use.

In terms of the tolling analysis, fairly significant number of HOT pass accounts were opened along with transponders and significant increases in the number of monthly trips over the first year of operation. The average weekday tolls range from about $1.19 to $1.47. The meeting use was about to trips, for both cold and HOV 3+. But you certainly see some very significant full-time users and individuals who use either the toll of the HOV three full-time users and individuals who use either the toll of the HOV3 3 to 4 times a week. About 7% of the users appear to switch between told and untold depending upon their carpool formation. And then again the 3+ carpool has remained relatively steady over the time period. Again the express bus has been very successful in the ridership has increased in the park-and-ride lot has increased. And again at a time that overall ridership in the Atlanta area has remained relatively constant.

The Seattle Washington quarter UPA as we mentioned is really the first time that an existing facility where all lanes have been tolled. And that was implemented in late December of 2011. The project also included three real-time signs that you see there in green. And active traffic management strategies on both the SR 520 and the I-90 and significantly transit and improvements in terms of new buses, additional bus trips and park-and-ride lots.

So what we see in Seattle over the first year come and I think the transit has continued since. Is travel time reductions on the SR 520, speeds have increased, trip time reliability has improved and the HOT has been reduced.

One of the issues that has happened though is that we have seen some shifting in travel patterns. The I-90 people have been appearing to rather than paying the tolls, using alternative routes including I-90 across Lake Washington. So the has been an increase on travel times on I-90 or they have remained the same. The peak periods and that trip time reliability has declined. And the DMT has increased. So you see some mixed results on the I-5 and I-405 and the SR-520 connecting to both. And some modest increases in travel times in the 2 to 3 min. The survey results in the interviews that have been conducted with various groups indicate that there is a general perception that congestion has been reduced on the SR-520 but has increased somewhat on I-90. So in terms of the tolling analysis and about 275,000 good to go accounts were open from February 2011 to December 2012. You see the average prices there. It is a veritable toll rates with is published and people know what they will be paying for the different times of day. Having a good to go pass is obviously a much lower rate than if you are paying by mail which is the license plate capture and sending the bills. So than focusing on the polling indicates that people are making fewer trips and Shawn will talk about this a little bit more in his presentation on the major survey that Volpe Center sponsored and the trip satisfaction has increased but declined on them I 90. This graphic just as a little bit of an idea of the solid line which is the travel before tolling. They were able to read tags for about three or four months before the actually implemented the actual toll charges. So that is the solid line there. In the fall of 2011 and then the dashed line is after tolling was implemented and you can see the decline there, and then the more solid dashed line gives you an idea of what the toll charges are doing those different time periods.

Again, as we mentioned, certainly a benefit to transit in the corridor. The County Metro has added depending on that time of year between 90 and 140 additional bus trips and travel times have declined or remained about the same. Ridership is up about 46%. Again the indication is that it is less congested and new riders have been reported that there is started writing since the polling and that their reporting faster travel times. So the last project to just briefly highlight is the Los Angeles CRD in the mature express lanes. This is the most recent one to become operational and it is actually not even a full year ago. Again, the HOV to HOT on the Interstate 110 and 10 though 110 facility started in November of 2012 and the bus way started in February of 2013. So slightly different operation on the two facilities since the copyright and had a 3+ requirement and through plus travel pool and to plus or to HOV to travel free during off-peak but told during the peak periods and then I can HOV to their toll-free at all times.

And then there is also an equity plan which is an interesting part of this project that allows low income households to receive a waiver on some of the initial start-up charges for the toll tags and receive some of the benefits. Again, major transit improvement and 59 new buses with service added in both core doors at the transit station expansion at the Belmont a busway station and a few others. And then some improvements in the downtown signal priority. There is also a community-based vanpool program that has been very successful. And again and intelligent working management system in the downtown area.

So initially, what has been seen, primarily on the 110 which is the facility that had good before and after travel times and travel speeds decreased in the general-purpose lanes. And the express lanes, except in the southbound direction in the general-purpose lens which experienced a slight increase. Any see the same thing in the northbound direction. Again with a slight increase in the general-purpose lanes. Again, good introduction to fast-track accounts open and transponders. Steady increase of about 60% of the users on the 110 are HOV to and about 40% are toll paying. You see the toll rates there and then the maximum toll rates that have been posted to date.

Again in terms of the transit analysis, the initial look was done at the Silver line PRT section that operates on the 110. The travel times remained about the same or improved a little bit in the on-time performance has gotten better. The transit ridership increased by about 52% when the service was introduced which was before the tolling was initiated. And then you can see it increased again by about 29% in the morning after the HOT lanes became operational.

Again the surveys that have been done indicate significant customer satisfaction as well as a large number of new riders who have joined since the tolling and since the routes. And a significant number of those indicated that they previously drove alone.

And then you can see there that 78 new registered vanpools formed. Slightly more than the 110. But again about an even split.

So in summary, I think, as Wayne indicated in his introductory comments, we have certainly seen the successful introduction of the HOT lanes in different forms in different types of requirements and different occupancy requirements and registration and non-registration and hours of operation. We have seen congestion reduced in the different quarters. We have seen transit riders increase and overall positive perceptions from individuals traveling in the HOT lanes or the SR-520 toll lanes as well as in the general purpose lanes. And there's a whole host of additional information. Some of the ridesharing information will be covered in other presentations. And some of the lessons learned from the institutional arrangements. So again I would be happy to answer any questions later on as well as afterwards as would Carol Zimmerman from Patel. So thank you and I will pass it back.

Jen Symoun

Thank you Katie. We are now going to move onto our next presentation given by John Swanson of the Metropolitan Council of government. Please go ahead when you're ready.

John Swanson

Okay great. Thank you for this opportunity. We did a study last year which we are just finishing up the final report for that. And we really looked at public opinion, which was largely related to a number of different bold scenarios for congestion pricing. We talked with arithmetic folks around the region and we really found out in this study and we spoke mostly and all of the scenarios dealt with conversion of existing capacity to toll capacity. And the bottom line in this study is that we found that people were cautiously open but that there were a number of conditions that the placed on any support that they would give to congestion pricing.

So this is really building on a decade of work that we have been doing it the Metropolitan Washington Council of governments in the agency that brings together local governments in the metropolitan region here. And that means the states and the District of Columbia are very fragmented local government system. And so really a lot of work that we have been doing is getting people to think regionally about congestion management and congestion pricing. We have also done a lot of analysis looking at different networks of variably priced lanes.

The map on the right is a network that we study through an earlier pilot of pricing project.

Since we first started talking about this over a decade ago, we have had a number of price lame projects open to the region. The intercounty connector and to hotlink projects in Virginia. I think that these are beings would've viewed as being successful projects in this region. We conducted our study before the hot lane projects were actually open and the ICC was just barely open. So really, our study did not have a chance to evaluate people's opinions and experiences after these major projects open. So for a lot of people we were talking about concepts that were still hypothetical.

A few years ago, sort of on a separate track, the Brookings Institution issued a study which proposed quite a bold solution. How would you like to spend less time in traffic?

Essentially the proposer variably priced VMT fee using a GPS-based system that would be sort of regional wide in the region would use this as a highlight to test something like this out. Obviously a very controversial bold solution and something that think tanks do. This was spearheaded by Alice Rivlin was a founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and President Clinton's budget director. So this is something that really did get a lot of attention in the region. And we join forces with them to submit a proposal in 2010 to look at the public acceptability of value pricing and realize that we have been talking about a lot of interesting ideas but the stumbling block or at least the perceived stumbling block is what does the public think about these ideas.

So we joined with Brookings and we got the grant in 2011 through the value pricing pilot program. And we engaged America speaks as our primary consultant to help us with the public opinion research.

This is our research problem and essentially the transportation revenues are decreasing and congestion is increasing and congestion pricing is a tool, a policy tool a can possibly solve both twin challenges but we assume that support will be very limited. Is that true?

As people learn more about congestion pricing, whether attitudes about a change? And I think most importantly, which factors are which costs and benefits that people perceive those their acceptance upon? What really matters to people and how strongly do they feel about those factors? What factors cause them to change their minds?

So we decided to use a tool called deliberative forms. This is often used in a lot of planning processes and a lot of MPO's around the region have used this. These are sort of best characterized as mega focus groups. In our case we got 60 or 70 people together in a realm over a period of several hours. You explain the policy challenge and potential solutions and get them to talk about it. They voted through keypad voting and at the end of the data set of see and you can really pin point opinions and see how opinions evolve.

So this map shows where we conducted it and we tried to be very scientific and getting a good sample of the region. Five forms. Two in Virginia one of Maryland and one in DC. That lasted four and half hours and we paid people to attend these forms. We want to make sure that we had not the usual suspects, but people that were broadly representative of the region.

This is how we explain the purpose of the event. The congestion pricing is a type of road pulling the could solve our funding and congestion problems. But do believe the benefits could be worth the cost?

We made sure that we extend to please spoke about the existing problems. We did not want people to not understand the costs of congestion and the very severe funding shortfall that the region is facing.

And then we presented three scenarios and we talked about each one of them quite extensively. There is what of the classic congestion pricing scenarios that a lot of us would've read about and talk about.

First of all that was the price lane network and this was based upon past analysis that we had done. We basically asked, what if all major highways in the region had a list one toll lane with free-flowing traffic? And most all of these cases, the lands word for the roads would also maintain toll-free options, which we told people would be more congested but they would be free of charge.

And also, this scenario largely involved converting existing capacity to toll lanes. Although in some cases we said that we would probably need to build new lanes.

Second was the boldest scenario which was based on the Brookings proposal that I mentioned earlier. What if instead of paying gas taxes drivers paid the per mile fees that would be calculated in a vehicle by a GPS system? The rate of the fees would vary based upon time of day, level of congestion. And again we emphasize that this would replace gas taxes.

And then, the system that we know from internationally from London and Stockholm and Singapore, what if drivers had to pay to enter central DC or Silver Spring or Tysons corner I three places that are or will be compact activity centers with a variety of non-automobile travel options. Good walking, biking, and local public transit opportunities. But also, several hundred pages of scribe notes from the sessions, which we analyzed extensively and look for keywords and keep things. We also did some papers servers which helped round out the data.

So small groups discuss the benefits and the costs. Scribes record the discussions at each table and send back that information that those notes in real-time to FEMA team which summarizes the comments which were then fed back regularly to the participants.

They were pulling questions throughout the day and this little keypad voting devices. So at the end of the day how did people see the region's transportation problems? This is one of the baseline. We know the congestion has very deep personal impacts. People spoke about it in terms of lost opportunities, jobs that they had not taken, family time that was lost. We also found in this is not surprising the funding shortfalls did not resonate. The know the there's a lack of money and the has been a lot of media attention and that is something that maybe the intellectually understand but not something that really resonated.

People were very unaware of how transportation is currently funded. The did not know the gas taxes had been raised for less the quarter participants were close to understanding the current rate of gas taxes.

And finally people locked confidence in government to solve transportation problems. We asked the question, do you disagree or agree with the statement? If the government had more money for transportation, I'm confident that we would have a better transportation system. 39% of respondents disagreed with that. So quite a bit of cynicism and a lack of confidence.

How did people react to the pricing scenarios? This is what of the bottom line. Scenario one, the price lane network got a lot of support. People were cautiously optimistic and they were open to this and they like the idea. Under the government in this earlier that scenario number one really emphasized the use and implementation of bus transit of the price lanes. People like that, they were intrigued.

In comparison, scenario number two was really unpopular. People saw as incredible government overreach. They were outraged by what they perceived to be the loss of privacy. I think is generally, they just kind of were overwhelmed by what seemed to be a needlessly complicated system. And this is the variably priced VMT with the GPS-based system then it is felt that this was incredibly complicated. The doubted that it could be done well and they didn't really see why it should be done in the first place.

Scenario number three, which is the zones, about 50% of people did support that. But people like a smart logical idea a lot of people did not think it was particularly regional however they were not sure that would really get at the issues that they are confronting

This basically repeats what I just said. Again, scenario one got the most support work scenario number two negative and price zones not seen as regional.

A few details regarding the findings. We really thought or wanted to know whether people would find scenario number two the GPS system attractive because it would be replacing gas taxes. This is sense often that gas taxes are so deeply unpopular that the people would be happy to get rid of them. In fact we found when asked folks that the fact that this would replace gas taxes, does that make it more or less likely that you will support it? The majority of people said it would make them less likely to support it. And number of people that we asked about this in the number of people said well, how do we know if you say you will replace gas taxes, how do we know gas taxes are going to go down are gas prices are going to go down? Some people sort of talked about the reliability of the current gas tax system then they really didn't see a problem with that. Another poll noted that if the gas taxes would've a proxy for fuel efficiency and it is. And if we were places with the fee, then we are essentially not rewarding fuel efficiency anymore.

So people were skeptical about the effectiveness of the scenarios which I think was one of the most fascinating things and really worn out I think in a lot of congestion pacing examples around the country and around the world. We asked people, is this going to reduce demand? They're extremely doubtful. That folks just about think that driving would be reduced by pricing. Because of the end of the day, people that don't think that driving is a choice it's a necessity. And, if you price people you are not going to be occurring showing them to so the options are just essentially going to be gouging them.

So again these of the factors that we really probe eventually in our future quite prominently in our final report. Choice. People are really interested and they want to know specifics regarding choice. They want to know that they're going to be good transit options in all cases.

Scenario number two which is said we would raise a lot of money and there will be overall improvement. That really was not good enough for people. They much prefer to hear the specifics of scenario number one where we spoke about the BART system.

Privacy was a significant concern to folks. I think that they do recognize that we are losing privacy increasingly in this world. That there is a sense that there is government overreach that is may be somewhat out-of-control. There is also a sense that there really losing control generally in their personal lives. And this is just one more evidence of that.

The use of revenues, people want transparency and accountability. They want guarantees that the money is going to be used to provide options.

And finally, fairness was interesting. We probed that extensively and we spoke to folks about equity and we talked about geographic fairness.

It was interesting. The Lexus Lane argument, our concern in these discussions did not really have the traction that we thought it might. People thought that it was like the unfairness of providing better services to people who can pay, but the understand that is kind of the way the world works. However, they did talk a lot about fairness in their own personal lives of the assumptions that they built their lives upon. If you are taking away appropriate, options and not providing good alternatives, that's not the best -- that's not fair.

At the end of the forms what did people think? Essentially the undecided solidify their opinions in the positions on both sides really heartened.

And, this is really an interesting footnote. This was not a study about the full menu of rotation revenue options. But we did ask people their opinions about the gas tax on both the beginning and the end of the forms. And, this was the single largest change that we saw in this study. The support for the gas tax and raising the gas tax nearly tripled. After they heard about congestion pricing options a lot of people said why don't you just do the obvious thing and raise the gas tax.

So, what does it mean? People are skeptical of pricing is an overall solution. They did not look at it the way that we look at in terms of solving this larger policy challenges. They do support specific proposals if they can see direct daily benefits. Again, they're cautiously optimistic or open I should say. To having these types of solutions is that make sense.

I'm more concerned about losing options or losing toll-free options then they are about lanes. They lack confidence in the ability of government to pull this off and I fear government overreach. They're more likely to support obvious solutions in the really was with the sentiments forms of first things first. We need to raise the gas tax, they to fix the metro. We need to do a variety of other things before we pursue radical approaches like congestion pricing.

And finally people want to know that congestion pricing is payable wider strategic vision. I think that is a major take away. People in very indirect ways talk about land-use. The talk about transportation alternatives. To talk about living farther and farther away from their jobs. They want to know that the region is pulling together a variety of different solutions. Land-use solutions, providing better transportation alternatives, as well as looking at demand management to something like congestion pricing. So they really are looking for that wider strategic vision and they want the confidence that we are pursuing that. And I think that as regional planners, that is a major take away.

So that's it. If you want more information go to our website and have a look at the study. It is actually being finalized and will be posted today. So thank you very much.

Jen Symoun

Thank you John. Will now move onto our final presentation given by Sean Peirce of the US DOT Volpe Center. Please go ahead.

Sean Peirce

Okay great. I apologize for my voice. But I'm going to go through the results from Seattle and let me advance the slides here. We have conducted a before and after large-scale household travel survey to look at the impacts of their tolling program on actual household choices. So Katie Turnbull gave an overview of all of the EPA's CRD sites. And their of valuations which they are doing which is somewhat more focused on kind of actual outcomes of the roadway in terms of volumes, speeds, transit ridership, things like that. Our study was an ad on of just two sites, to the six in Atlanta and in a little bit more detail about how households are changing and what are kind of the different choices they are making in terms of route choice or mode choice. If they're cutting back on the use of the total facility then what are they doing instead? Other telecommuting? Consolidating their errands and so on. So I will go through. This is just an overview of these slides for today. I am just going to go through methodology a little bit not to bore everybody, but just so that you know and you can make sense of where the results came from. Go through the key findings from Seattle and then wrap up it up with a discussion.

Like I said, this is a two-stage panel approach, with the same households before and after. So it was planned to be about six months before and six months after the pulling that the project ended up getting a little bit delayed. In Seattle there was a longer gap than we had planned. But we went back to people after the pulling had been in place for at least for five months so that were out of the initial adjustment period. People did a 48 hour travel diary for all of the adults in their household and recording all of the details of their trips in the starting in and pointed mode of travel a number of people in the vehicle and the purpose of the trip and everything like that. There was a survey alongside that had more general attitudes and then the graphics and things like that.

Our sample was not the region as a whole, but actually peaked and shoulder core door users. So, people who were driving on the SR-520 and some of the nearby alternatives for the license plate capture the transit riders were personally intercepted at transit stations around the bus and the example writers were directly solicited by e-mail.

We also used focus groups after the tolling had just started to help us get a better feel for what was actually going on in some of the follow-up questions that we should ask in the lead.

This gives you just a feel for what people saw the materials that they received in the notes that they could make to themselves. Again quickly, not to get too bogged down in methodology, but what we did in Seattle, we did end up getting about 2000 completed households. Meaning that everybody, all adults in the household, completed all of the questions in both waves of the survey.

In terms of the demographics, we found that the people in our panel were not demographically representative of the region as a whole. But, they were representative and in line with other surveys of the same corridor and they had higher levels of income and education and they were basically typical of employed commuters were using the corridor during the period. We are focused on the tolling aspect on the 520 but it was accompanied by other improvements in the region.

The total sum, since the time of the survey, this gives you a feel for what we're looking at from the time of the survey in Spring 2012. As a $3.50 peak told assume to be very salient in people's minds and then there was the surcharge for your not using the electronic transponder. And then the tolls go down from there during the shoulder.

Also, just before we get into the results, it is worth mentioning that is much as we tried to control for everything else that was going on in the region and is the same households before and after, stuff does happen and there are external factors I think in this case, one of the big things was that gas prices increased noticeably from our wave one to wave two. So you'd expect some decrease in car travel is based on that. Rather than anything else that is going on.

So, with all of that out of the way, here are some of the key results that we saw. Most of these slides have a mix of the data and then a little bit of interpretation and then a quote from survey respondents themselves from the open-ended comments at the end of the survey we asked people to just share anything that they wanted us to know.

In terms of overall travel, we noticed from wave one to wave two, there was a significant decrease in the amount of or the number of trips that people took. At first we were a little concerned that maybe people were getting lazy about reporting their trips, so we did a survey with a separate question we asked them to adopt a question about how many trips to make in the Lake Washington corridor, in a typical week, people reported almost exactly the same decrease in the travel.

So we're pretty confident that based on their start and end points, we have a crew their vehicle miles of travel since we know the start and end points that we know which bridge they took, we can get a reasonable approximation.

Since some of the people were diverting from the price bridge to the free bridge and increasing and going in a less direct route and increasing the VMT. Any see the quote there. People, a number of people, just give us these open-ended comments about that I used to -- or I am really rethinking my trips into Seattle or over to the East side. I used to hop back-and-forth and not anymore.

In terms of mode choice, we did not see a huge movement but there was an increase in transit mode chair in the first 100 people saying that transit was a typical commute mode for them.

And when we asked targeted follow-up questions, we saw someone who switched to transit from wave one and wave two, the survey logic allowed us to ask it targeted follow-up of why was that? Was it the toll? Was at improved bus service? Was a gasoline? The toll was certainly a factor but people also talked about just general stress and gas costs and the costs of commuting.

You can see the quote from one person there that I expected to be inconvenienced by switching to the bus but actually enjoy it.

No for route choice, as you would expect, that was not a lot of factors that change people's motivation for the change of the root. It was the toll. So the share of overall corridor trips that were on the toll roads of 520, that fell in the share of the other alternatives increased in almost everybody who switched the toll was basically impacted.

So these pie charts kind of give you the overall feel for the Lake Washington corridor, in terms of the roots and modes that people are taking. In wave to the overall pie is smaller. There are just fewer trips and people cut back on the overall travel in this corridor in the proportions have changed. The purple magenta slides for SR-520 have shrunk considerably with the five being picked up by I-90 in transit and to some extent, the arterial SR-522.

We want to look the people have cut back on their travel, but what specifically are they cutting out? Most of the time you assume they still need to get to work and do the things that they need to do during the day. So, are people cutting back maybe on a discretionary trips? Or, what are they doing? To some extent, that is what we are seeing. Shopping and dining trips, when you look at the change in VMT for shopping and dining are down pretty significantly. Whereas things like child care, going to work and returning home are not down nearly as much. School was a surprise to me that would have dropped suitably. But you see the quote. This is just anecdotal but you see the quote from one spot that he said we have reduced our trips to the east side, and now are child takes a school bus. So it is possible that the VMT or school related trips are down as people make strategic decisions about not paying the toll to drive the kids to school necessarily.

Another thing that people can do in the face of the toll is to try to share the toll across two or three or four passengers by carpooling. We did see a slight increase in occupancies. Both on the core door and on the SR-520 in particular in the slight decrease in solo trips. But when you ask people about their regular commute, are you carpooling more often? There really was no change. So it seems like it is not a systematic change in people's commuting behavior. But they are perhaps doubling and tripling up for other trips.

Telecommuting was a surprise to us. We thought that given the high tech nature of this corridor and the fact that the toll was pretty significant people would increase their use of telecommuting to avoid the toll. But, every which way we asked the question, we really did not see any difference between wave one and wave two. When we asked during their today or their 48-hour diaries and we asked them to record the times that they were teleworking or telecommuting during this period and then we asked a separate question about just the general how often they generally telework. And there was really no change on either of those metrics.

And, the people who did change when we asked targeted follow-up questions, almost all of the change was related to changes in their job or the responsibilities or their policies whether IT set up or just in general. General life but not really anything transportation related. Again as one respondent said, we are motivated to take transit or telecommute as much is possible but that is not always doable. And the number of people mentioned that they would like to do more but they cannot.

We also looked at the project I'm starting, there were not a lot of change in peak versus off-peak. But they were kind of moving in opposite directions. On I-90 which got all of the extra traffic as people diverted from the toll, whereas on the SR-520 the picture actually rose a little bit perhaps because with free-flowing conditions down even during the peak, that is the more sort of convenient time to travel. And for people who have a high value of time they may find that to be the better option now. And that is the second quote there. So now that there is less traffic I can sleep in later in the morning and I can go to work and not have to get up early to beat the traffic.

One of the things that we looked at and where actually still looking at GPS is where are people going? Since we have their trip started in the endpoints, and we hypothesized this toll on the east-west movement across the lake the people to accept the could may substitute estimations on their own side of Lake Washington. Again this is preliminary, but so far it seems like there is a little bit to that in the cross Lake travel to client more than overall travel. And people did mention in the open-ended comments again anecdotally, now when we go out to dinner or do something, we are more likely to stay on our side of the lake. But it is something that we are looking at in a little more detail.

One of the virtues of having a panel approaches that we can actually look at the people who did particular things or may particular changes between waves. And kind of follow-up on what they did or what their characteristics where. So, if anybody's interested, more on the demographics or the sociology of this, when we looked at people who are using SR-520 as their primary route for commuting in wave one, we found that just over half of them are still using wave two and about one quarter switched to I-90 which is toll free. A small number switch to an arterial or to transit or another mode. And specifically with a look that who stayed with 520 and just pay the toll versus who switched, there were some significant differences. Males and people in the lower income categories were the people who reported that they had less schedule flexibility were all more likely to switch to I-90 rather than pay the toll.

One of the other things that we were able to look at is people self-reported satisfaction with particular trips. This is not a subjective satisfaction scale on a trip by trip basis. And in fact, they were significantly more satisfied with SR-520 trips other, time after pulling. And that is just as you would expect. They were moving more freely although people also have higher expectations when they are paying a toll. Whereas on I-90 their satisfaction went down and that was especially the case for people who had previously been using I-90 rather than switching to it.

And on transit it was kind of a funny picture. Because, people were more satisfied about travel time in the buses moving faster now that there is additional service and free flow traffic initiatives on the bridge. But they were less satisfied about seating availability. We heard about that in the focus groups too.

We are still looking at equity and that is a big issue with congestion pricing. This harder to get up but we do have some demographics and other things that let us look at equity implications. And it seems like, definitely the higher income households are using the toll facility more frequently. So over the today diary periods that we have recorded, they paid much more on average in polls. But the average they paid was the same. So really seems to be a difference in the frequency of use. So that is one angle of it. Is who benefits and who is paying.

The other angle that we are looking at is, what about the prospect of possibly losing some of your mobility? If you are lower income households. It is not that you are paying a big share of their income on polls but that you are actually not making trips that have value to you that you just cannot afford. And then when you look at the lowest income group, they are VMT was down substantially from wave one wave two. And the cross Lake trips were down about 30% which is twice as much as the highest income groups. See can see that there is at least some indication that there, cutting back on their travel much, much more.

So I will just wrap up. With the toll in place, the SR-520 using our panel approach, we saw just an overall decline in overall travel on the quarter but particularly on 520 with the version to the free roots and to public transportation. There were small increases in occupancy and some small changes to making behavior. But there was not a lot of difference in telecommuting. There were demographic differences between people who stayed with the polls and those who switched.

The project, if you think about customer satisfaction, the project the family has increased satisfaction on 520. And, there were differences in the response to pulling by income group especially when you look at trips Council -- canceled or four down. We are currently doing my detailed GPS work to understand more about the origin of destination effects. And our final task  is all funded by the FHWA,  is to get all of this data in some sort of online repository where everybody else can make use of it as well. There are thousands and thousands of recorded tips in each diary.

I think that is it for me so turn it back over. There is my contact information if anybody wants to be in touch with more detail questions.

Jen Symoun

All right work thank you Sean. We are now going to use the remaining time for the questions. We have a number of questions typed into will try to get through as many as possible, and those that we don't get to, I will send out the presenters for written responses and then send them out to all of the attendees.

So, I am just going to go from the top and start with two questions I think would probably be best. Related to the CRD program, how long will the CRD project be continued and how will the costs be paid for?

Wayne Berman

Well, the CRD program at the DOT is over. So there are no more UPA CRD projects that will be awarded by the US DOT under that work there is no longer any value pricing. Or a pilot program funded program as well. But it is really up to the six areas to use up their remaining federal funds. They have all been pretty successful. They have all generated revenue to a certain extent. And to some extent, that revenue is used to maintain the operating costs of the facility. In one case in the Seattle area, the revenue is also going as almost a little bit of the down payment to a new bridge that is being built alongside of the SR-520. So they're using it in various ways. But the projects will all continue. San Francisco's going to continue. The Minnesota project is going to continue and expand probably into different corridors. Los Angeles will probably continue and expand their looking at a regional effort in Los Angeles. So, they're all going to evolve, same with Miami as well.

Jen Symoun

All right. Following on to that, does the FHWA continue to plan to expand on similar projects are how that might be funded? Any thoughts about public-private partnerships to implement the CRD projects nationwide?

Wayne Berman

Good question. I'm just looking to see if we get a budget that will be around for October 1. You never know about it these days. But I really don't think in this environment that there is going to be any major programs or granted programs like that like what we have done in the UPA CRD and for work is just not in the cards I think for the foreseeable near-term. What happens after that is anybody's guess. So I don't think there's going to be any national push other than with outreach technology and raising awareness.

Jen Symoun

All right, thank you Wayne. We have a number of questions for Katie. I'm going to go through a few of them and then move back to the other presented to so that we can take time to get everybody. But I will start with Katie. For you, in Miami, how much of the types timesaving as a result of the recession?

Katie Turnbull

Well, that is a good question. What we talked and try to do in each of the sites was to monitor the exogenous factors. So, and all of the sites that we monitored, unemployment rates and gasoline prices the sort of special events and special activities. August the for example in Minnesota, it was one of the heaviest snow winters for part of the initial demonstration. And then I think the key is, just as Wayne said, all of these projects are continuing. So, it is really also then monitoring on an ongoing basis to see what the patterns are. So, in each area we did try to one, monitor those types of things, and then adjust for them. And then, also in most locations, we also used a control corridor or looked at the same type of data for other corridors. And or looked at overall Metropolitan wide trends. So for example bus ridership. What was the overall Metropolitan ridership doing? If it was steady or declining. But yet the project was increasing, maybe at a lower rate than it would have otherwise. And so, we tried to document and analyze all of that information and it is included in the various reports.

Jen Symoun

All right thank you. Katie, another question for you, for the Seattle SR-520 project and looking at the negative impact on I-90, is there a plan for I-90 as well?

Katie Turnbull

Well, I think that is an ongoing topic of discussion in the Seattle area. Again, one of the things that in addition to the survey that Sean talked about, and all of the areas in a stakeholder interviews were conducted with the various individuals responsible for the projects and involved. And I believe that. That was a topic of discussion even initially as the SR-520 bridge was moving forward. And should do I-90 be told at the same time at a local decision was to just focus on the SR-520. But again, I think a variety of discussions are being done and conducted in the Seattle area. That is one option. But the potentially as I don't know exactly. But certainly that is an option that has been and I think will continue to be looked at work.

Jen Symoun

All right. I will ask one more question before we move onto the other presenters. Where the any pool leakage violation percentages? I'm not sure if they are talking about from all of the projects that you are referring to are they are just referring to one specific project?

Yes in all cases, as part of the national evaluation, we did obtain data from either the state or the toll provider and the toll operator and looked at total leakage and or unpaid tolls to try to get an idea of what was occurring and what changes. I think, in all cases, it is relatively modest and or in line with what happens with any kind of toll facility. In all cases, there are methods to follow-up with individuals who did not pay the tolls. And action can be taken through the normal process. So that information again is included. But, from what I think that analysis that was done was that the leakage appears to be in line with what occurs with toll facilities and general.

Jen Symoun

All right thank you.

John we will move onto a few questions for you next. The first question is did you find that some individuals were against all options?

John Swanson

Yes. I think that the polling results showed that there were definitely people who were against all options. So certainly. And I think that there was would've a deep skepticism the probably ran through those described notes in the qualitative data that we received which I think there's out that there are some people who will never be convinced.

Jen Symoun

All right. The next question for you: Why would raising the gas tax address suggestion?

John Swanson

Well, we really did congestion pricing as doing two things. Reducing congestion and raising needed revenue. So, we try to make the case at the beginning of these forms that these were two big problems that affected people's lives personally. And a lot of people said that if you're really just interested in raising money, why not just raise the gas tax. I think that one of the key things that really resonated with that one people here about congestion pricing, they automatically think about pulling. And they automatically think that the government is just going to raise more money. This is just a way to get more money. Whether it is a good thing or bad thing, people often don't have or they cannot get a handle on the idea of demand management through congestion pricing. So, when a lot of people sort of looked at this array of distant pricing solutions and said did to me guys just want to raise money and if that's the case when it just raise the gas tax.

Jen Symoun

All right... Question for you, in the DC case, what about strongly linking revenues with improved methods such as the 520 to demonstrate the government ability to deliver? Maybe even having improvement go the same time is no pricing?

John Swanson

I think that is a really important point. And I think that is one of the key lessons that anyone that has implemented particularly sort of the more radical forms of congestion pricing around the world have realized. That the improvement either needs to proceed or they need to be very quickly visible. So I think that is really a key piece.

Jen Symoun

Alright thank you. Sean we will move onto some questions for you. How do the polling rates per mile for peak hour congestion?

Sean Peirce

I'm not sure how to answer that one exactly. The total rates in Seattle are not dynamically adjusted. Based on current conditions that are fixed tolls schedule by time of day. But I guess we would call it the variable pricing system rather than a dynamic one. And it is a toll to cross essentially a point. Sort of a point on the toll point on the bridge itself, rather than the per mile take charge.

Jen Symoun

Okay. Has there been any attempt to compare metrics such as DMT or occupancy with major highways outside of the study quarters? That much and please the gas price in the economy affect.

Sean Pierce

Yes actually that is a good idea and something that we need to do to his more isolate the effects of the tolling itself. But so far no. At least not in our case. Maybe others have but we have not.

Jen Symoun

Okay. Another question for you:  is there is not a large number of people in the lowest income group in the quarter. What is the level of confidence and information about the lowest income group from the SR 520 survey?

Sean Pierce

That is also very true. I think the average -- I think we found the average household income of users of the bridge before pulling was $132,000 and after tolling was like $140,000 or something. It connects some of the wealthier parts of Washington state. And especially during peak periods there are not a lot of people with very low incomes. So when you're talking about the lowest income group people which, we define as below the federal poverty level for their household size, very, very few people. So I don't think that is statistically significant and I probably should not have presented it at all. But I think that what we have done is combine to groups. That group is the group that are in between 100% and 300% of the federal poverty level. So, when you combine those two, you start to get enough numbers to make things statistically significant. Any could basically see the same pattern that they have cut back on their travel in the corridor more noticeably to the higher income groups.

Jen Symoun

Okay. And then we are almost out of time but I have one more question to ask all of the presenters and that question is, how are the concerns of government and privacy happen to be addressed? Katie, I will ask you first if you have any thoughts on that.

Katie Turnbull

Sure. I think is one of the biggest issues. And I think, presenting it about one, in a way that explains in a realistic way, what information really people can have access to and what they can't in the safeguards. That is important. And then number two, I also think that there seems to be a difference among age groups. That the younger generation seems less concerned about that and in fact is crowd sourcing data right and left on sort of personal types of things. So it could be that. That is just one of those that is more generational type of thing and it will be going away. I am not totally sure, but I do think it is an important issue. That needs to be addressed in a couple of different ways.

John Swanson

One thing I think that is key is that if you're thinking about this sort of personal benefits and costs may be nonmonetary. But if have a season cost, and I think some people are willing to sort of pay it and grudgingly maybe even accepted, it has really got the clear to them that the benefits are going to be worth it. When I buy something on the web, I am losing some privacy there is a risk that I am taking but the benefit is clear to me. I have convenience and I'm able to purchase something and it's great that

I think a lot of times privacy is caught up in the sense of you are invading my privacy, this seems like overreach. I think that is what of the clear benefit has to be part of the reason that people are going to accept this ultimately.

Jen Symoun

All right. Well we are about out of time. Another we have a number of questions mainly for Katie that we did not get to. Katie I will send them to and if you do have time to provide some great responses and I'll get those out to everybody. I want to thank all of our presenters and thank everyone for attending. There will be another webinar held on September 17 on the Impacts of Congestion Pricing on Carpooling and Transit. If you haven't already registered you can do so by visiting the link shown on the screen.

back to top
back to top