September 13, 2018
[Radha Neelakantan]: Good afternoon, thank you for joining us for today's webinar recapping the 2018 National Congestion Pricing Conference. I'm Radha Neelakantan from ICF and I will be the moderator today. ICF was pleased to support FHWA Office of Operations to organize the conference which brought together practitioners and thought leaders from across the country to discuss the latest innovations in congestion pricing. We had over 150 registered and a waitlist, which shows the level of interest in the topic. We are very happy to have the opportunity to present this webinar on the highlights of the conference today. Some housekeeping notes, as you heard, all participants are in listen only, feel free to type your questions or comments in the chat pod on the bottom left of your screen, we will have 1 to 2 questions after each presentation and we will address the remaining questions after all the presentations are finished. We encourage you to download the proceedings document which you will find on the left-hand side of the screen. That is a summary of the two days of the conference. The webinar is being recorded and will be made available after the presentation. With that I'd like to turn this over to Angela Jacobs from FHWA's Office of Operations. Angela is the Manager of the Congestion Pricing and Surface Transportation System Funding Alternative programs and she will provide a brief introduction.
[Angela Jacobs]: Thank you, welcome to today's webinar, we will be recapping the highlights for the 2018 National Congestion Pricing Conference which was held at the U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters in Washington DC on May 22nd and 23rd, 2018. Over the course of two days, participants attended 12 sessions including peer discussions, an off-site tour and poster presentations. The conference featured the latest developments in congestion pricing divided into two tracks, Managed Lanes and City Pricing, that included both tolling and non-tolling innovations. The participants represented state, local and regional jurisdictions from across the U.S. Nearly half of the participants came from regional entities and state agencies including Metropolitan Planning Organizations, state Departments of Transportation, and tolling and transit agencies. The FHWA worked with the District Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation and the Transportation Research Board's Congestion Pricing Committee to make this conference a success. Our webinar today will present a brief overview of the proceedings of the conference. We will have four presenters. I would like to introduce all of our speakers so that we can dive into the presentations.
Patrick Vu will recap the sessions on Managed Lanes, focusing on operational challenges and how agencies are overcoming them, and on how agencies are moving towards managed lane networks.
As co-founder of Silicon Transportation Consultants, Patrick has over 17 years of experience in the transportation industry with strategic planning, environmental permitting, implementing, and operating roadways and priced managed lanes facilities. He has extensive experience in technology and congestion pricing concept development, toll system design, traffic and revenue study oversight, toll system procurement, toll operations, Customer Service Center operations, and enforcement. As the engineer-in-charge at the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, Patrick managed Atlanta's first Express Lanes on I-85 as part of the USDOT Congestion Reduction Demonstration program and managed strategic planning for multiple future express lane corridors. In addition, Patrick managed three FHWA Value Pricing Pilot Program studies throughout Georgia. Patrick was awarded the ENR California's Top Young Professionals award in 2018.
Rachel Weinberger will present an overview of the Urban Track sessions. Rachel is an internationally recognized expert in sustainable transportation with specializations in travel behavior, land use transportation interactions, economic impacts of the transportation system, and parking policy. As the Senior Policy Advisor on transportation to the NYC Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, she was a key contributor to the first PlaNYC and has since assisted the New York City Department of Transportation with their current strategic plan, an on-going curb management study, and an analysis of commuter vans. She has worked on sustainable transportation projects in cities including New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Mexico City. A founding Principal of Weinberger & Associates, Rachel lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Mia Zmud will go over one of the most important topics that agencies face when implementing congestion pricing projects, communications and public acceptance. Mia has spent nearly 25 years in the transportation industry, drawn to the opportunity to impact people's lives and help build sustainable mobility systems. Mia is a specialist in travel behavior research and the use of technology to inform and transform personal mobility decisions. She is currently assisting the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority with strategic planning and is aligning a research roadmap to explore and introduce innovation and technology to their near and long term vison and goals. Mia draws heavily upon experience in mobile technology, research, and communications through her recent tenure at Metropia as Vice President of Ecosystem Partnerships, and prior to that, NuStats research consultancy and the US Environmental Protection Agency. She has a Masters in Environmental Science from George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Our final speaker will be Trey Baker. He will give an overview of road-user charging, and look at how states across the country are implementing road user charging pilot projects. Trey is a consultant with WSP Advisory Services and the current co-chair of the TRB Congestion Pricing Committee. Trey has over 11 years of industry experience working in the areas of pricing, policy, and public acceptance. He has worked extensively with state and local agencies across the US to explore, test and implement innovative approaches to congestion management and infrastructure funding.
Before we get to the presentations, I want to just set the stage and provide a bit of context. The first slide talks about congestion pricing. Congestion pricing is a way of harnessing the power of the market to reduce the waste associated with traffic congestion. It is about shifting rush-hour highway travel to other transportation modes or to off-peak periods. What we found is by removing a fraction, even as small as 5%, of the vehicles from a congested roadway, pricing enables the system to flow more efficiently, allowing more cars to move to the same physical space. Congestion pricing projects can be grouped into two categories, projects involving tolls and projects not involving tolls. With that, I am passing it over to Patrick.
[Patrick Vu]: Thank you for the great introduction and setting the stage for the rest of us to recap the conference. This is Patrick, good morning everyone on the West Coast and good afternoon on the East Coast. Before I dive into the actual summary of the Managed Lanes sessions of the conference, I would like to set the stage in terms of stepping back for a second. Sorry about that, setting the stage on what priced managed lanes are all about. As most of you know, priced managed lanes, sometimes known as express lanes or high-occupancy toll lanes is a combination of congestion pricing and lane management. What I mean is that for roadways that are multilane, there will be one or two roads set aside to be actively managed through restricted access, vehicle type, so forth. Hot lanes and express lanes add the flavor of restricting it and allowing through a toll for people to buy back into the lane if they don't have the number of occupants. So in terms of express lanes and hot lanes around the country, it has been deployed since 1995 when Orange County first deployed their express lanes. Since then we have 40 different priced management lanes. The good news is that there are so many rolling out every day, month and year that we lose track of those numbers, the latest ones that I know of, the I-75NW corridor in Atlanta, which just opened this Sunday. A lot of lessons learned through the years and many issues have popped up along the way as we evolve express lanes from static pricing to dynamic pricing. There have been quite a number of discussions and webinars on issues like do you have a barrier separation, striping, do you use violation enforcement, do you have people register and use transponders? What kind of markings do you have? For this, because we spent all year and many conferences on different problems, this conference, we wanted to focus on networks. As we have been focusing for the last 20 something years on single facility deployments, a lot of regions are facing the issue of planning, designing, deploying and operating networks of express lanes so now, you see one or two express lanes next to each other. Those have their own complications. This conference, we wanted to focus on two specific issues. One is to look at managing the network in general, a session led by Nick Wood about moving it to regional networks. And we had folks from Dallas, Texas area, the Bay Area, as well as South Florida. In another session, we focus on a specific issue of pricing, and the challenges of pricing in the context of deploying a large lane network. Those are the two sessions we will be recapping and provide insights and lessons learned.
Jumping in, for the managed lanes network general session, we had Dan focused on Dallas and Fort Worth regional network deployment, they are doing 160 miles of managed lanes, some have already been deployed. A couple of lessons learned that I wanted to take away is that NCTCOG formed a working group bringing regional partners, there are many different operators, and what they wanted to do was have a goal of be consistent with regional policy. They stepped forward and created a framework of different regional policy to ensure that individual facilities and roadways make sense as they become part of a larger network. That was a great insight in terms of what they have done. Another take away was although you have deployed one or two different express lanes, there will always be continual threats to individual projects and large networks. One example was an issue with pricing, issue with violation processing, so many things to keep in mind of, you might be settled the first time, but it is a continual process to make sure that there is political will, public buy-in and performance lives up to expectations. That may threaten the rest of your network deployment. Moving onto Jim's presentation, the Bay Area efforts in California to deploy their 640 miles, they have a formal working group with four agencies they sat down and said how do we work together with issues. They had an informal group. Again, from a regional standpoint, as each of these agencies are deploying express lanes, they want to make sure they are consistent with the signage and how they work together. The interesting point from Jim's presentation is that you may have policies in place but there are other things that will pop up moving forward. Things that the Bay Area is working on are how do you deal with clean air vehicles. Low emission vehicles are allowed to use express lanes today, but as capacity is reduced, should they be charging clean air vehicles? Something that is consistent is going from HOV-2, allowing two or more carpool from two up to three. Some of these things are from a network standpoint, making sure it is consistent with the rest of the region and their customers. The last presentation from that session was from Javier for the Southeast Florida region. FDOT went one step beyond and instead of just having policies, they created a design handbook, an operational handbook. They went further encapsulating the consistency within that framework. Another take away from his presentation was that one project can impact the rest of the network, so the deployment on Interstate 95 sets the tone for the rest of the other deployments. Lessons learned and issues that popped up with management, customer violation and impacts. Again, to recap, this session of different presenters, some of the common takeaways from deploying managed lanes around the country is that coordination is key to regional partners. For the sake of regional consistency, customer standpoint, from an official and overall understanding of the roadway. Another aspect is everyone is striving for consistency, either formally or informally. If you deploy one, and you deployed the second one, there will always be an evolution of how you operate and design and plan for these facilities as well as of the overall network.
For the next session, this is more specific in terms of the pricing operation insights. One of the things we have talked about during the years is dynamic pricing. In past years when express lanes were deployed, it was time of day pricing for express lanes. As we have evolved and newer facilities have come online, dynamic pricing has been the default implementation for pricing the roadway. Dynamic pricing is changing the toll rates, depending on real-time traffic conditions. You have toll rate times and traffic monitoring stations and as capacity is reduced, demand increases and so forth and in real time, every couple of minutes, you change the rates to modulate, to regulate the number of people in the lane to maintain the performance metrics of whatever speed or volume you are trying to maintain. We had Hari from Virginia DOT, they are in the mindset that they think that it works for them, so, their goal is to make sure that the roadway conforms with the performance metrics. We also had a different viewpoint from SRTA, given by Annie in Georgia how they have deployed express lanes but they are seeing a lot of operational issues to maintain and operate and make sure that dynamic pricing is working correctly. You have contrasting views and discussions to be had about does it make sense for authorities like SRTA seeing challenges to save the price correctly if you can simplify the messaging and toll rates and do something different. It is a great exposition of different thoughts on does pricing work today for one facility and does it make sense for a larger network facility?
We also had in the panel, Paul Steinberg from Carma. Paul is an outsider as a carpool app vendor give his perspective and from their insights, folks are making decisions about carpooling before they go out and see a tollway sign. He doesn't see carpooling decision-making about changing modes being done real-time on the roadway. On that aspect, he lends a different perspectives on does dynamic pricing makes sense. The take away from this is that dynamic pricing is a tool but folks are starting to look at does it make sense for them and you can see that there are agencies and other folks rethinking if dynamic pricing makes sense going forward. With that, I want to wrap it up, but that is what we were focusing on at the conference about networks and dynamic pricing. With that, I believe we take questions if anybody has any before I turn it over to Rachel.
[Moderator]: Thank you Patrick, that was great, we had a question of has anyone looked at the land-use projects of managed lane projects? And I have a follow-on, have there been any studies about traffic divergence when you build a network of managed lanes?
Good question, I will tackle the first one. About land use, there should be some early studies from earlier deployments about land-use impacts. I am not sure about the latest ones, I believe there is a wave of express lanes at that were deployed at the start of 2010, that is when you start seeing a lot more deployments going from 5 to 10 to 15. I am not quite sure, I am sure there are more off the top of my head I do not have that answer. To your other question about, can you repeat it?
Have there been any studies about the impact on parallel corridors when you have managed lane networks?
Oh, okay. Typically before they employ express lanes, they do a traffic revenue study. A traffic revenue study focuses on the revenue and the costs and what happens to traffic in particular, traffic diversions to parallel roads because if you have more diversions, there is less revenue coming in and impacts and mitigation. Typically, there are revenue studies that are done looking at impacts to LL roadways. In terms of aftereffects, actual post-deployment studies, there are different studies from different regions, I know Atlanta did a postmortem on diversions from the I-85 express lane to the Buford Highway parallel corridor. There are studies out to there that post-deployment on the actual real-time monitoring of parallel diversion on those fronts. Does that answer your question?
Thank you very much. I had one more question, could you clarify what SRTA is doing when you said they are challenging the need for dynamic pricing. Are they going back to static tolls or time of day?
In Annie's session, they said they are looking at that and all of the above. Their current experience with 85 express and 25S., there is quite a bit of the behind the scenes price setting and they know for sure the way that they are doing it is not sustainable especially if they have other express lanes on the way. They are actively looking at it, I do not know if they have made a decision. But there is serious consideration about going back to a more static or time-of-day pricing.
Thank you so much for the great presentation. I would like to turn it over to Rachel Weinberger. She will be talking about the urban track sessions of the conference.
[Rachel Weinberger] Hello, I want to thank the organizers for inviting me and the participants for joining in. I have done webinars and it is one of the weirdest formats for speaking because I imagine it is like being in a saline isolation tank and speaking. If I am spending too much time on something, if someone could just put a note in the chat and say move on, that would be great. If I am going to fast, slow me down. I am very glad to give highlights from the urban track and we are looking forward to Q&A. Generally, when I talk about something, I like to go back a little ways and take a running historical start of the material so for those who do not know, congestion pricing was introduced in academic literature in the 1950s as a solution for overcrowded transit. We usually think that it was not introduced until the 1960s as a road solution. That did happen but the first introduction was in the 1950s. Since my own work is more focused on urban travel and travel demand management revolving around pricing solutions to overcrowding in a different kind of way, I am happy to see this track was introduced into the National Congestion Pricing Conference. I am talking about the urban track, there were two sessions, the first was on performance parking pricing innovations and we had speakers from SFpark, ParkDC, and broad overviews of those projects and we had two companion presentations rethinking performance-based parking prices. Steph Nelson gave the SFpark presentation and Soumya Dey spoke on ParkDC. Robert Hampshire spoke about rethinking performance-based parking pricing which is a re-examining of SFpark in a particular specific way and I will talk about the details in a moment. And another presentation by Isaac Isukapati talking about sensor networks that were integral to the project. The second track was commuter incentives, parking cash out and transit benefit ordinance presented by Allen Greenberg, AccessMIT by John Attanucci, which is a project going on at MIT to get employees to drive alone less. BART Perks, that was presented by Camille Guiriba and a presentation by Vassilis of Metropia on making cities less congested and more connected. Some of these have more obvious connections to market pricing and market solutions than others but the nexus is there and I will do my best to animate or motivate what those connections are.
The first speaker spoke about SF Park, which was an exciting innovative project were San Francisco endeavored to price the curb at a market clearing price meaning they were looking to make sure that there were parking spaces available on every block. There were six pilot areas and two control areas so the pilot areas had new policies, technologies and significant data collection and the control areas had no new policies or significant data collection. The idea being that they wanted to contrast whether the new policies and technology solutions were having an impact to understand more clearly what that impact is separating it out from ambient market forces. They looked at 6000 metered spaces which is 25% of the city's total, 12,250 off-street spaces which is 75% of the off-street spaces managed by SFMTA which was a sponsor. And included different pricing by time of day, demand responsive adjustments and an important component was real-time parking information.
This shows demand responsive rate adjustments, the different colored streets show that it was a price increase or decrease or no change. This is one example, Monday to Friday, noon to 3 PM. The other time periods were from when the meters turned on until noon, and then after 3 PM to 6 PM, and there were different weekend rates as well. The bottom line question was, "was it easier to park?" The answer is the project absolutely achieved its objective. You can see from this chart and the control areas blocks were full 51% more often when they did the evaluation than they had been originally so those had no price changes whereas the pilot blocks where there were new policies and technology introduced, blocks were full 16% less often meaning that 16% of the time you could find a space on the block where you were looking and the HP pilot areas, they were calling those, high payment compliance areas, there was a greater success. Obviously you cannot introduce pricing controls effectively if people are not paying because then you can price at infinity if no one is paying, that will not elicit a change. So, in the high payment compliance areas you are getting a lot of good impact which is what the program was looking for.
Allen has put in Camille Guiriba, the BART speaker. Thank you for filling in those details.
The companion event was a presentation by Robert Hampshire which is rethinking performance pricing and he looked at SFpark and the progress that they made and came up with a way of being proactive about parking pricing changes rather than reactive. The reactivity is, SFMTA would look back at the previous period and see how they performed and make a price adjustment in order to bring the curb into the target pricing area and target occupancy area. This idea of rethinking the pricing, you can use the data from several price changes to estimate or anticipate what will happen in the next period going forward and make your price adjustments in that way in addition to looking at that particular block, occupancy and price which historically is what has been done, this idea includes a look at occupancy of nearby blocks as a way to estimate or predict what the future will look like. That was the discussion, be proactive rather than reactive and setting the price on a collection of blocks rather than individual blocks.
The next presentation was on ParkDC. ParkDC has some of the same elements that SFpark had, in terms of time of day differential and being responsive, this was a smaller project, 114 blocks, in the Penn Quarter in downtown DC, 1000 metered spaces versus 6000, it also included 30 loading zones, this was a multimodal approach and SFpark only looked at private vehicle parking. The loading zone was an important additional piece moving into curb management rather than just parking. The approach was an asset-light approach, the monitoring ratio was one sensor for every two spaces, they fused data in a lot of different ways, they looked at paid spaces versus occupied which SF Park also alluded to in the high payment compliance blocks that you see, you paid and occupied. They looked at the meter mobile payment, the inground cameras and area sensors. The project was very data intensive, driving to create a minimum viable product, this is an important piece of their fastback piece of their approach, and real-time availability of their pricing engine. The assessment of ParkDC shows that they are moving in the right direction, the direction that they were seeking to move. They are getting occupancy and turnover as a policy response in the way that they wanted to with proper usage doing the right thing; public reaction was acceptance, based on a survey of businesses, customers and delivery drivers, all positive marks; double parking reduced; modal shift, doing what they wanted and people moving to active and transit; and revenue doing what they expected to do. According to their own assessments, they could do better on what the impact of economic activity was in the area, it is a new project and you cannot do a deep drill down and there were operational issues that could have been addressed better. They have not yet made any determination as of last May on time to find a parking space, what citation and payment compliance look like, and what the impact has been on cruising. The companion piece to that was the AVI sensor network and here is what it looks like. The sensors are mounted on streetlamps and street signs. They are very low cost. There is a sensor network deployment system here and what they are able to do as shown in the far right panel is they can reconstruct what the vehicle routes are. By doing that route reconstruction, they are able to measure real-time urban traffic conditions, they can do travel time reliability monitoring, incident detection, they can figure out origin-destination flow estimation, and address questions of what cruising for parking looks like.
In the next session, the Commuter Incentives panel, the first presentation looked at expected impacts of the city-level parking cash out and transit benefit ordinances. For those of you who do not know what that is, in a nutshell, employees who receive a parking benefits are offered the monetary value of that benefit which they can accept and keep and find a new way to get to work or they can decline and keep the parking benefits and in fact they are using the monetary offer to purchase the parking back. This monetizes what the parking perk is. In this project, the researchers looked at six scenarios, one is a monthly cash-out, a monthly transit or vanpool benefits, a monthly cash-out with a daily cash-out incentive, a monthly cash out with pre-tax transit options, incentive to eliminate subsidized parking with transit/vanpool benefit, and a peak parking surtax. There was a look at nine cities and the scenarios looked at 2 California cities and 4 in the northeast quarter, two Midwestern cities, and the eastern part of the Midwest, and in Houston and one city in Texas. What I will say here is that the key outputs they are looking for are reduction in congestion, emissions and infrastructure costs so these are reasonable things to look for. Reordering the scenarios in terms of the most effective, and effectiveness I put a star because effectiveness in terms of the general trend but the outcomes varied by what the context was, for example, you got more transit ridership in locations where transit ridership was already high. So, the high transit is a proxy for saying that it was actually adequate to absorb shifts and allow facilitate mode shifts. The most effective scenario is a monthly cash out with a daily cash out incentive and what is happening there is the daily cash incentive turns out to be important because people vary day-to-day and if you do a monthly cash out, a person needs to make the decision at the beginning of the month what their program for the entire month is so if you give them a daily option in addition that gives them more flexibility. You get more reduction in parking takers with that incentive. The next monthly cash out with pretax transit option... I'm not going to talk about all of them, but essentially, the peak parking surtax was useful in moving out of the peak least effective was the incentive to eliminate subsidized parking with the transit vanpool option. That was the first project.
AccessMIT, that I mentioned, there are 11,000 staff members with 4,000 parking spaces and I want to contrast that with the SFpark project, it was 6000 spaces. This is two thirds of SFpark inventory in that regard. The parking subsidy in 2017 was 38%, or $1100 per permit. They determined the cost to build the parking was about $200,000 per space and they structure some of it underground. What they're trying to address here is that the campus activities are expanding but the campus footprint not so much. What can they do to keep investing in research centers and student facilities and growing the academic program and still getting everybody into work every day and out so the features are shifting to daily pricing so there we see the idea come back that we saw in the first presentation that the daily versus the annual permit, monthly permit allows people more flexibility. They also have free buses and subway passes, increased the commuter rail subsidy, increased parking subsidies at the transit stations to keep people from having to park on campus and distributing the parking in the last leg of the trip is going to be on transit. Information, online commuter information dashboard they created and they did a major marketing effort and the reason for that is someone satisfied with their commute there is not a reason to change. It is important to figure out ways to reach people to get them to rethink how they are doing things. Here is what the dashboard looks like. I saw that there was a question from Nick Wood, about how information has gotten out and I did not mention that earlier, communicating information to the parkers, I hate to use the word consumer, it is critically important and also, that is a way of collecting information back which will be emphasized more in the final discussion. This is a dashboard letting you know what your options are. It provides information about what you have done and what you can do. Here is the drive-alone mode share to give an idea of how the project is working, generally speaking, there is the 2004 to today and today being, since he gave his presentation in 2018, this is probably 2017 census data is my guess. In the USA, it is very high, about 80%. In Cambridge where MIT lives it is not as high but it is higher than MIT, although in 2004, MIT did match Cambridge mostly. Quite close. With the introduction of the AccessMIT project, you see the drive alone has dropped considerably and drive alone decreased from 2014 to 2016 five percentage points in the MIT context. They are having some success there.
Next is a discussion on BART Perks, this project was designed to reward people for smart commuting so a new tradition if that is not a contradiction in terms, of gamifying some of our approaches to transportation and what they are trying to do is shift riders out of the a.m. trans-Bay commute. I am getting the wrap up in two minutes note, so let me do that. Basically what is happening is, they had some success with this project but not as much as they had hoped, largely because the participant makeup was not what they needed. They did not have regular morning commuters, they did not have peak hour commuters, they had regular commuters but not trans-Bay commuters. Only about 30% of people who participated in the project were the target market they were looking for. They were able to get some mode-shifting which persisted. Again, the gamification idea, I want to say, there is an option to spin the dial and get engaged and they found that people who engaged by playing the game were more likely to change their behaviors. The final presentation was the Metropia platform which tries to integrate TDM and TSM projects in one place. It is a strategy to build a campaign for behavior shifts. So what they are saying is rather than starting to work right away on, "Hey, get on the bus, guys," you start with a little bit more, feeding the conversation, "Did you know the bus offers free Wi-Fi? Did you know you can pay for the bus with your smartphone? Did you know that you can save money by using transit for this trip? And finally, getting to bigger hit, which is, "Hey the bus is leaving in 18 minutes, go get on the bus." Just to summarize, eight interesting presentations. Common themes, you need to get people's attention, sometimes you can use gamification to get people interested, pricing matters and pricing in finer increments makes a real difference, and providing information to everybody is at the most crucial aspect and I will end it there.
[Moderator] Thank you so much, we will move onto the next presentation and take questions at the end. I think your final point is a good segue to Mia's presentation on communications and public acceptance.
[Mia Zmud] Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here, I am grateful to have been invited to participate and to be able to share highlights and lessons learned from the public acceptance congestion pricing sessions. Today, I will be talking about crosscutting themes and observations that I drew, not just from the sessions but from the conference as a whole. We will also walk through the presentation highlights and we have presentations from RenÃ©e Hamilton, Virginia DOT, Emily Glad from Washington State DOT and Meghan Castle from Colorado DOT. And then we will go over the summary of some lessons learned from their activities. Overall, public acceptance emerged loud and clear as a key theme of the conference as I said, across many of the sessions, not just the one on public acceptance. It came across loud and clear that acceptance is a major challenge faced by many implementers of congestion pricing projects and a source of the challenge is perceived roadblocks and barriers that can agitate the waters with regards to acceptance and stifle it and so, we will talk about how you can help move acceptance through different levels. We will talk about some of the barriers as well. The next point is, I thought it was a pointed observation shared by Kevin Reigrut of the Maryland Transportation Authority. He said this in one of the first sessions of the conference, he observed that while the public readily accepts and is willing to pay for premium pricing for things in life such as air travel, hotels and cable TV, they are just starting to make that connection with transportation. I thought that was optimistic and insightful but in many cases, we will see acceptance is still an uphill battle. The conference shed light on issues that implementers face with regards to public acceptance and what has worked, to move acceptance levels. They stressed the importance and the role of communications and public education and even engagement and shaping and managing acceptance and we will see examples of how these programs did that. With regards to roadblocks, the public acceptance, there are a lot of road blocks but I will just focus on three that I thought emerged throughout the conference and not just in this session, broad observations. First, starting off with the observation that congestion pricing programs are evolving and maturing and as they do that, they become, in some cases, more complex. This will have an effect on acceptance levels. Some regions are just getting started with programs and others are adding significantly to systems already in place. As a result, even within a single region, a congestion program might not be consistent, calling out the need for it and the importance of communication and education, for instance, a managed lane in one corridor might operate under a different set of rules and it would be different than a regular toll option. It can vary from one metro region to another and as we know that a lot of areas in the U.S. are experiencing a lot of growth, particularly in our three presenters, people bring their experience with them and the programs that are in place when they arrived are not going to be in exact match to what they left. That again brings us to the need and the complexity of the communication and the need for ongoing communication and public education, clear branding, education and outreach to reduce confusion and ambiguity. Next, associated with the maturation of these programs, we see a trend towards including multimodal travel options as we will see in the Washington DC area and, this is fine, but in the design of communication programs, you will have multiple messaging and, if not done well, it can compound how they are received by the public. That needs to be taken into consideration. Finally, while it is not the last roadblock in public acceptance, but understanding and anticipating real and perceived expectations in the public over the life of a project, even after it is implemented. We will always need to be in listening and watching mode, looking at the data. Acceptance levels can change over time and your communication needs to keep a handle on this and reflect what the public is experiencing.
We will move on to what public acceptance might look like and what it can look like. There is a range of what it can look like over a single project. Road blocks and barriers like the ones we talked about can lead to different types of posturing or acceptance levels. They can flip-flop along the way. Someone who embraces a concept in the beginning might change based on his or her experience. This slide covers the range of public posturing that can be full embracement and benign if you are lucky and they support the project from design to construction to implementing but it also include being hostile or insensitive about anything that disrupts your typical behaviors of commutes and, you also will hear from the silent majority of people who do nothing or do not seem to engage but they are in a wait and see mode. They need to be aware that there are different types of posturing that occurs throughout a project and at different times and that it may shift making communications more challenging. So, the three presentations in the session were from Renee Hamilton of Virginia DOT talking about the role of communication on their congestion pricing program along Interstate 66, Emily Glad at Washington State DOT on the I-405 express lane and Meghan Castle of Colorado DOT on addressing operational challenges of the I-70 Mountain Expressway project. Starting off with Virginia DOT program Transform 66, and I know that map is small, for those of you not familiar with the D.C. area, it is the roadway running east to west leading into D.C., and inside the Beltway and outside of the Beltway and I will be focusing on the inside of the Beltway, which was in implementation when RenÃ©e spoke. So, this is a significant program, it stands out because it was the nation's first peak period, all lanes, dynamically tolled roadway. It also stood out because they set very clear goals upfront before they went into the details of the program design and it included multi-modal travel options and, advancing safety and travel reliability, congestion reduction, and increasing rideshare and transit use. That was significant in their approach and I will, explain why. VDOT recognized early on that there were certain customers that would be impacted and sensitive to changes with a project of this size and potential impact. Being aware of the project location and the impact to the public was a priority. What they did to address that was work with the public, including stakeholders and high-level goal setting first. These are meetings that were not about specific projects or actions that they could take, but working with the public to set goals. Then, they used those goals and another round of engagement to present an assessment of alternatives and showing how congestion pricing might meets the goals that were set together with the public. Really, geared towards understanding the public, the nuances of different segments and concerns, having them agree on goals and agree together on what projects should be in place, what should the approach be, the design to address those goals. The complexity of the program required detailed and elaborate integrated marketing throughout the project design, delivery and operation, which is, this is small print, but that is what we are showing, they engaged with the public throughout the entire project and even post-implementation which is again, very important in communicating the tolling information, campaigns on that and providing performance updates and letting people know about what were the improvements going back to the goals and how they are doing with meeting their goals. And, their continual investment in multimodal projects moving forward as they go outside of the Beltway to that portion of the project.
Moving on to Washington State DOT, the Interstate 405 express toll lane, just east of Seattle, for the context of this project, this is one of the fastest growing regions of the country, and, it is one of Washington's most congested corridors. The challenges associated with the express toll lane project was that they operated under different rules than their existing Washington toll facilities. For instance, they had carpool requirements, they had a new flex pass and a good-to-go account was required to drive free in the carpool. The highlights of their approach to deal with these operational programs [Indiscernible - static] but when their story did not match travel experience. You will see the two figures at the top, the heat map showing 2014-2015 after implementation and overall in the corridor, travel times were improving but the communication of the systemwide improvements wasn't consistent with what the public was experiencing on certain segments of the corridor. Initially, upon opening the express lanes, they were more highly used than anticipated. That resulted in [Indiscernible - static] modeling, caused by bottlenecks that slow down the flow. While traffic improves for some, it did not improve for all along all segments of the corridor and the communications of corridor-wide improvements and sharing of that as performance data, and in that context it resulted in skepticism in their data and their communication and contributed to negative public perception. As a result, what Washington State did was not only communicate, they understood the problem and where the road blocks were, and they took actions and operational changes, but, they also provided updated performance data that was equivalent to the experiences of the drivers by the different segments that they also created a blog to provide raw data to the public and they created an API for third-party developers to use and interpret the data. The public really liked having access to the data and learning the value upfront, they learned the value of setting realistic expectations and communications that reflect the driver experience.
Finally, Colorado DOT, this is on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, you will see the road in the middle going east to west. This connects Rocky Mountain ski resorts to Denver. It is one of the most congested corridors in the nation. This project is unique in that it has several operational challenges including that it targeted recreational travelers, and not commuters in contrast to most other programs. The mountainous terrain prevented operational challenges, there is limited space for a project, you cannot blowout a mountain to create an extra lane or drop out on the other side of the road. There was no way to add lanes and then there were the restrictions. It was the state's first use of dynamic pricing and the lane was open for recreational travel on weekends and holidays, eastbound only. At other times, the shoulder, the use of the shoulder as the expressway and other times it was used as a shoulder. In terms of getting to public acceptance and what they did with their education, and let me just mention that there were some complaints when they implemented it some of the feedback that they got from the public, it was about the limited operating schedule of the express lane, the seasonality of it, and the limited shoulder to handle vehicle breakdowns and incidents. That can lead to undoing the potential benefit of the lane, those are some of the issues raised by the public. What Colorado DOT did was develop protocols for public outreach to address these challenges. The campaign included town halls, one highlight is the town hall that attracted 3000 to 5000 people versus just 10 or 20. And, they stressed the express lane brand to differentiate from other roadways. Just to wrap up, the road to public acceptance and the lessons learned is communicate the benefits, congestion pricing will not eliminate congestion altogether but it will lessen it and improve it for some. Public education, be prepared for public posturing with education, be honest and open and admit when you are wrong and moving forward. Share data, engage with stakeholders and the public, and participation and integrating marketing especially online techniques. Sorry, I rushed that at the end but I knew I was running out of time.
[Moderator] Thank you so much Mia. That was a great overview of public acceptance and communication techniques to improve the public acceptance, that is one of the biggest challenges. We will move straight to Trey Baker and have questions at the end.
[Trey Baker] Thank you very much, this is Trey Baker with WSP, I appreciate everybody being on the call. I am here to talk about recent innovations in the areas of road usage charging (RUC). For those of you unfamiliar with the rough concept, we are talking about fees based on distance traveled. There are a lot of different ways this can be done. It can be done using a lots of technology and data, with low-tech options and no tech options using odometer readings. There are different ways of doing this with different policy options but what we see in terms of the exploration is that most states are looking at this primarily as a revenue source. RUC is more sustainable than fuel taxes, which is the primary source of transportation funding for states as well as the federal government and as vehicles get more fuel-efficient and run on alternative fuels, we will see significant decline in the fuel tax revenue. By charging fees based on travel, we are more explicitly linking use of the roadway network to the actual revenues. It is also arguably more equitable than fuel taxes, for example, you are driving an older and less fuel-efficient vehicle, you are paying more per mile driven than somebody who is driving a fuel-efficient vehicle or somebody who is driving electric vehicle will essentially pay nothing in fuel taxes. There is interest in exploring the application of congestion pricing on RUC but right now, states are focused on proving that it can be implemented and congestion pricing will be difficult until we see wide adoption of RUC. We are seeing more interest in levying RUC in conjunction with fees and services. I will talk about that in more detail but what have the pilots we've had so far shown? They've shown that the concept is viable, the technology works, we can set up systems that can collect mileage and generate bills. But, there are challenges. For example, states are still looking at how we actually would roll these out, what are the potential administered of costs, and how do we work on enforcement? There are significant driver concerns, the two biggest being privacy, drivers might not like the idea of having data collected on them. There's also the issue of fairness. People in rural areas feel that they drive further so they feel that this is unfair because it they would pay more. As states are exploring this, we see the issue of multistate interoperable. We want to these systems to talk to each other and be seamless and we do not want people driving state to state paying multiple charges. There is a lot of interest in the leveraging of emerging technologies, keep in mind that you are seeing a lot of change in the transportation industry. We need to figure out how we might leverage these advancements for road charges. The panel that I will talk about focused primarily on the last two items. I was joined on the panel by Dr. Patricia Hendren with the I-95 Corridor Coalition talking about a multistate effort they are doing on the East Coast with Ken Buckeye of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. They are doing research and development on a very forward-looking RUC concept. I want to go over some recently completed RUC efforts. For example California wrapped up what is thus far the largest RUC pilot. They had over 5000 participating vehicles including heavy vehicles. They offered up to 13 different mileage reporting options which is interesting because 75% of the participants chosen automated high-tech options and 62% of the total shows a location-based option which is interesting considering a lot of the concern we are about privacy. Colorado also recently completed its own pilot, it was little bit smaller, 150 participants but it was statewide including rural and mountainous areas. They offered three reporting options, a manual option as well as some technology-based options that use a GPS or did not use a GPS and again, what we found in Colorado was that participants who chose the technology options had higher levels of satisfaction relative to the manual options. I also want to cover, OReGO is a system in Oregon, an actual implementation, it is structured as a voluntary fuel tax replacement, you can pay your OReGO RUC and you are discounted for any fuel taxes at that you pay and it uses private account managers that provide the technology and manage the accounts and generated the bills and so forth. There is also a state-based option available for those who do not want to use a private account manager. Washington State has initiated a multistate pilot that will feature international travel, they're shooting for 2000 participants, that will be a 12 month operation and they will be using two private service providers and they will also have a multiple reporting options including permit, odometer readings, as well as equipment that plugs into vehicles' odometer, ODB ports. I want to note that the Oregon Department of Transportation is looking at the tolling in the Portland area and they're trying to leverage a lot of what they have learned from RUC for future tolling. Right now they are developing an open architecture approach to tolling that will be standards-based, technology-agnostic, using multiple vendors and be interoperable, they wanted their RUC system to be able to function as a toll reporting system. That has a lot of implications for congestion pricing moving forward. RUC West will be doing a multistate pilot over the next year. Hawaii will be doing a three year demonstration using over 1 million vehicles in the future. California will be refining its own system looking at new administrative system and new enforcement, they will be evaluating a pay-at-the-pump option. Colorado will be doing upcoming pilot, we anticipate Utah will be doing a pilot, and Missouri is also getting into the mix. We briefly want much of the Western Road Usage Consortium with 40 Western states, this is a collaborative effort from the states that are interested in looking at RUC, building public-sector expertise, sharing information. Thus far, they've pooled about $800,000 in various research efforts, and as I have noted, they will be doing a multi-state pilot involving California and Oregon in the next year.
On the topic of multistate pilot, I want to talk about the I-95 Corridor Coalition which Trish Hendren discussed. I-95 Corridor Coalition is 16 states and the District of Columbia and includes some tolling agencies and they receive funding for the pilot through STSFA. What is interesting is I noted that RUC West are looking at multistate pilots but Western states are very large, very mountainous and there is not as much interstate travel but the I-95 Corridor Coalition is a really great testing ground to look at interstate issues and in fact, the pilot is centered in the D.C. region looking at interstate travel including Maryland, Delaware and Virginia with millions of interstate trips occurring in this area. This is a good opportunity to look at that. What the I-95 Corridor Coalition is primarily looking at is how do you address out-of-state mileage on a RUC system. They are looking at a lot of toll roads, so they will be evaluating how RUC will integrate - or MBUF, RUC uses many different names, I-95 Corridor Coalition uses mileage-based user fees. There are a lot of toll facilities in the region and they are looking at ways MBUF will integrate with that, they're looking at trucks, and the issue of value-added services. There are a lot of unknowns as to how they will get drivers to participate in a RUC system and the leveraging of a RUC systems in conjunction with other value-added services which I will talk about in a minute, is seen as a viable incentive to get folks to participate That is a central component of the I-95 corridor coalition pilot. What are they doing exactly? Let's talk about it in two groups. One, we have passenger vehicles. This kicked off on May 1, at the end of July, they had 138 people enrolled and the technology that they are using plugs into the onboard diagnostic port, all vehicles manufactured after 1996 have one. There is a smartphone option, the system uses a GPS to determine where a vehicle is traveling and this is transmitted over a cellular network. The private sector account managers offer a number of value-added services including geo-fencing. For example you have a teenage a child and you do not want them driving outside of the county, you can establish a geo-pin and the RUC system device will let you know when they have crossed that geo-fence. There is battery health monitoring, you can get a notification that your battery has been draining. There is the potential to use these for emissions testing, you can get real-time emissions diagnostics. There is a lot being added. In fact, it is helpful to think about this in the passenger vehicle context as turning vehicles into a transportation FitBit where it monitors and provides you information on your behavior and allows you to make better decisions while traveling. There is also a commercial vehicle component which is planned for later in 2018, it will be 50 vehicles equipped with the EROAD systems. That is a company out of New Zealand with offices in the U.S. working with Oregon Department of Transportation to automate that state's mile tax. The value added here is a tax reporting. Commercial vehicle fleets need to maintain a lot of different records for interstate travel and this is seen as a mechanism for automating those manual reporting processes and you can use it for fleet management, permitting, and so forth.
I want to talk about Minnesota, this work was initiated in 2018 and what is interesting is the recognition by MnDOT that technology is interim, it is always in flux and changing and we see the convergence of three big technologies with potential impact for this transportation system: electric vehicles, automated vehicles, and shared vehicles. They come together to have a significant impact on how drivers use transportation systems moving forward. What they are interested in looking at is proving that the onboard systems in shared mobility vehicles can be used to efficiently and effectively collect a distance-based fee. Minnesota is using a distance-based fee (DBUF). Let's take a step back and look at how this relates to a broader vision of where we're at with the transportation system. MnDOT's pilot has a recognition that they are experiencing three significant changes in how folks interact with the system. One is that there has been a perception that there is a lot of privacy associated with driving, I do not want people to know where I am, but we already see a transition were folks like using location-based services, wayfinding and concierge services. I mentioned a few others so we already see a transition for folks are more comfortable with technology. The traditional model has always been individual ownership of vehicles and what we see now is much more people are comfortable with using a service, not owning their vehicle but having access to a fleet of vehicles, that presents significant opportunities for leveraging RUC as folks will be paying for use of those vehicles per trip and that makes it easier to implement a road usage charge. At the general transition away from having the user pay based on fuel consumption which, as I noted, is not sustainable, towards charging based on per mile. With recognition of this overall transition, MnDOT is starting a research and development effort and there will be a lot of system design developing concepts of operation. One of the particular challenges is how you incentivize the private sector, how do you get the car sharing services to buy into this? What they are looking to do is develop a system that allows these agencies to report a lot of the local fees and taxes that they might be assessed. Similar to what the I-95 Corridor Coalition will be looking at with their commercial vehicle fleets. Another thing Minnesota will be doing is figuring out how you will price these systems, making sure that the system is developed so that it is efficient and can be administered well and is developing a path for wider implementation. That is underway right now.
We had a panel discussion and there was a lot of good discussion but the major takeaways, number one, as I noted, consumer technology has made it so that folks are more comfortable with the idea of sharing location and that makes it easier to implement road usage charging. As I noted, in a lot of pilots we have seen, the participants prefer and are more satisfied with the technology-based approaches. Those technology products have made it easier to collect. There are more vendors offering services and more technology options that might be leveraged for the RUC system and there is more data available. We did not necessarily have a specific focus on messaging but something that did come up which relates to Mia's presentation is that you need to continually emphasize the importance of education if you are looking at these. The public does not know about transportation system costs, they do not know how much it costs to maintain, build, operate roads, they do not know how much they are imposing on roads in terms of maintenance and congestion costs. They are unaware of what the long-term needs are and they do not know the limitations of the current funding system. Those are all important topics but what really clicks with the public is the fact that RUC reestablishes the relationship between cost and how much you drive. We have to stress the fact that with increasing fuel taxes, you will get an inequitable system and RUC is more equitable. This is the key message that is clicking with the public across the US and then you can make the case that this is a more sustainable funding option. Here is some contact information for myself, if you have any questions on I-95 Corridor Coalition or Minnesota DOT, there are some additional information there for you. I will now turn it back over for additional question and answer time to thank you very much.
[Moderator] It very much, that was a great overview of everything that is happening. I have a question for you to start with, when road users are charging to replace the gas tax, and other forms of the congestion pricing meant to reduce congestion, has there been any consideration into what the interplay will be between them? If you implement RUC in an area where you already pay congested pricing, how will that work?
That is a good question. The fact is, what Oregon DOT is doing right now with its open architecture approach does get into that. They do not have a tolling system and if they do implement any in the near future, it will be congestion-priced, and they do have a RUC system already in place, so those will need to interact. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. At a fundamental level it is a lot about information exchange. I think I just heard Patrick roll his eyes because that is a gross oversimplification of the challenges, but really, tolling systems collect data and detect vehicles, you need to identify them with a count, determine when the entry a facility and when they leave the facility. This is not quite as sophisticated. You are not continually monitoring vehicles, you do a lot of postprocessing checking the devices are working but not continually identify violators. The fact is, both systems are collecting a lot of data so what Oregon is looking at moving forward is how do they structure their tolling system so that the various information elements and the data being collected at the roadside is standardized and can interact with the RUC system. That is a key issue. We need to have standardized data. A lot of pricing systems on the road are proprietary systems being run by one operator. There might not be in adherence to any standard. ODOT's approach is looking at how to set up tolling so that it would interact with RUC moving forward. I do not have a good answer for how you would do that, for example, in the Dallas Metroplex area where you have a system that has been built up over many years, but again, I think it all comes down to finding ways to make sure that the information is standardized and can be shared.
Thank you, it sounds like that is an issue that is facing our entire industry whenever we talk about data, coming up with standards so that data can be shared. We had another question for Mia, can you talk about, do you have a sense of how much agencies are budgeting for marketing and communications? You mentioned that VDOT has a marketing campaign even after implementation of the project, and that Washington State has their dashboard. Do you have a sense of how much they are budgeting for that and if they are funding communications out of the toll revenues?
[Mia] I cannot answer that. I just do not know that. If anyone else is aware of that?
[Patrick] This is Patrick. In terms of Georgia, when we deployed our I-85 express lane, the marketing for the actual methods out there, we spent at least $1 million on paid marketing and leveraged as much as possible from free marketing, free advertising, discussions, storyboards with journalists, having journalists road shows, and so forth. There is quite a bit of money up front but also a lot about location by getting free airtime and storyline in the papers. It was a challenge to put together and set aside a budget for this.
[Moderator] I think that was one of the key things that came out of the communication discussion, it is important to have a budget for this and to spend money and effort in communicating the issues around the congestion pricing, what the benefits are so that people know what to expect and appreciate the reasoning behind it. We had another question, a lot of the public involvement before the project is implemented, have there been cases that anyone knows of where the pricing has not gone forward because of lack of public acceptance?
[Patrick] This is Patrick again. I know that WashDOT had a great deployment on 167 and the latest appointment on I-405, there was a lot of backlash from the public. It was an issue that you need to be careful, you might have a successful project but it is a continual effort to make sure that people understand that. That was a theme coming out of the managed lane discussion, Dan Lamers from the Dallas Fort Worth area talked about the continual threats in terms of people not understanding it, you have a new set of officials who do not understand it or may have run against it. There is a continual effort before you deploy and after you deploy making sure that you have the coalition support.
[Mia] This is Mia, I will say it did not come out in my session but I know that, Trey might be able to augment, we are both in Texas and there was a period where they were not approving toll projects or variable pricing projects, I know that one was slated for the I-35 project and they were talking about that but it was never taken off the table, but the good news is that projects are moving forward that were put on hold so that is good. I am not sure if this is going to pursue on I-35.
[Trey] For what it is worth, my personal opinion is that a lot of the recent backlash, a lot that we have seen in Texas, there is a little bit that you can attribute to toll fatigue but also Texas recently had a major constitutional amendment passed that allocated billions of dollars from oil and gas severance fees into the transportation system. I believe there was a perception among the public that you just allocated all of this money, this was supposed to fix the transportation system, why are we still tolling? I think that was part of it. I wanted to note in terms of pricing not moving forward, this is more tolling oriented but San Antonio is one of the largest cities in the U.S. without any toll facilities and they have talked about it for going on decades now but nothing has happened. There is a very strong and organized resistance in San Antonio for that and San Antonio is the headquarters for the statewide anti-toll movement. On that point, in San Antonio, it will be very difficult for them to get any tolling because public support is against it.
[Moderator] I think that is the advantage of having these conferences and webinars, to promote the benefits of congestion pricing which we have seen across the U.S., Patrick had a nice map of all of the different managed lane projects, it is incumbent upon us to keep going out there and communicate what you get from congestion pricing and how it can improve the system. With that, unless we have any other questions, I think that we will end the webinar. Thank you so much for all of the presenters, we appreciate your time.
That concludes today's conference, we thank you for your participation, you may now disconnect.