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
Fifteenth Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to today's webinar on The Impacts of Congestion Pricing on Carpooling and Transit. 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 Allen Greenberg of the Federal Highway Administration, followed by presentations from Eric Schreffler of ESTC; Brian Pessaro of the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research; Dave Schumacher of the San Diego Association of Governments; and Jim Edwards of SoundTransit in Seattle.
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 Allen Greenberg of the Federal Highway Administration Congestion Management and Pricing Team.
Thank you. First of all I want to say this webinar is part of a large webinar series, but it is an extension of interesting discussions on this subject and research the federal highway commissioned and it does get to the question of what is happening when we convert HOV facilities to HOT facilities. We see some instances of the decline in carpooling and the question is if it is significant, or if we're doing something wrong and should be doing this at all? My remarks today which again reflect not only some of the research we have commissioned, but a session we had at the congestion pricing workshop that the Federal Highway sponsored in Seattle and subsequently at the Association for Community Transportation meeting in Texas about a month later. We began to get an interesting discussion going. Eric Schreffler has been a deep part of that discussion and will be speaking later. I thought it would be good to open this up and bring the discussion to a broader community. I have a few introductory remarks to frame some things and then we will get onto the other speakers.
The first thing I think we need to recall is why we are even promoting, or working to promote, managed lanes? I think the first thing people need to realize this before we had managed lanes and specifically HOT lanes, we were losing HOV lanes and at a rapid rate. HOV lanes that were being constructed that were promised to be HOV lanes would be opened temporarily as single occupancy vehicle or general purpose lanes. Even if they quickly moved into becoming HOV lanes, a few days or a week of underutilization of these lanes lead to large public outcries and ultimately most of these lanes reverted back to being GP lanes. We also had circumstances because there was capacity and they were stuck in traffic on the general purpose lanes, they thought they should be able to use that. People were responsive to that. We were losing HOV lanes and seeing a decline in occupancy requirements for HOV lanes. New construction that was promised to be HOV was in fact becoming general-purpose lanes. This was occurring in the 80s and the early to mid-90s. We saw some real success in HOT lanes. They worked and we were able to sell capacity that was otherwise viewed as underutilized. We were able to increase and fund transit services that were not there before. HOT lanes create a formula for keeping the benefits HOV lanes offered, but at the time expanding them to travelers and most importantly having a managed lane network that guaranteed fast and efficient travel and provided a continued benefit especially to HOV travelers.
Essentially we are seeing for the first time occupancy requirements increasing because sometimes you can't sell any capacity and keep the flow of traffic, so we're seeing with some of the urban partnership projects more stringent requirements to get more through-put in these lanes. I used Miami as a case study because I'm most familiar with it. We have added a lot of transit services and in the case of Miami, we have tripled transit ridership. The idea these core doors may encourage people to drive alone, there is some of some of that -- but the big story is the real benefit to transit and some of the other speakers are going to address that.
What is it we should be striving to achieve? First we want a managed lane network that works. If we say we want to open it up to HOV to HOT, we are feeling. The first and most important goal is whatever we do we manage to operate the system so it is efficient and it offers users a fast and efficient trip. Two, we want to foster express bus and in the corridors that have casual carpooling and people. In those markets in particular we want to continue to accommodate casual carpooling, and make sure we are supporting express bus services. I don't think this third bullet is inconsequential. It is important to offer solo drivers a premium travel option that was used by drivers of all income. Penalties can be $5 a minute, so there are times when it makes perfect sense for someone who is low income to pay a fee to use the HOT Lane. It is really about having an option. Lastly, when we are talking about deciding on what levels of infrastructure to provide, it is a common argument that people take the trip that is most important that they're not able to make because of congestion: a plumber who cannot make us pay house calls as desired, somebody desperately trying to get to their child's school play for instance. Even though a lot of trips on the freeways are not nearly those high-value trips people draw illustrations from, the ability to accommodate the strips is very important. Now what you thought is you are saying maybe we should add a general-purpose infrastructure but more importantly we are providing a structure now and if we can provide an option using the lanes in network we have now, I think that brings up some different questions about what is and isn't appropriate for future investments.
The flipside of this is what we shouldn't be worried about. I think slight changes in vehicle occupancy doesn't matter that much if the network is working and were giving express buses a good travel corridor. If we have vanpools and some of them choose not to pay a toll when before they were able to travel for free, that is a choice they are making. I don't think that is a big deal, maybe the faster travel lane isn't that important. I wouldn't concern myself too much about what the average occupancy is as long as the system is working efficiently. What are we doing to accommodate the higher value trips? Do we have more buses? Those are vehicles filled with a lot of commuters. SOV users who are willing to pay a real premium for a trip that is important. This is my contact information if anyone wants to reach me. I think the exciting speakers are the ones to come, so I appreciate the opportunity to kind of introduce the topic and pose a few questions to get started and I will stay on if there are questions at the end, I'm happy to participate in that as well.
Thank you. We're going to take questions after all the presentations, so now we will move on to our next presentation given by Eric Schreffler of ESTC.
Allen, thanks for the great introduction. Allen mentioned research commissioned by Federal Highways and you would hear bits and pieces about a lot of federally funded work for the next number of speakers but a particularly we wanted to talk about a white paper put together on the impact of HOV tweet HOT conversion and the impact of that, specifically on carpooling. Part of this comes out of discussion we had back in January. We had a workshop where this was brought up and discussed based on early information coming in from some of the urban partnership agreement sites. Federal Highway commissioned a white paper to assess the impact of HOV conversion on carpooling. The paper doesn't focus on transit impacts although high-quality transit is an important part of corridor management, and Brian will be talking about some of the transit impact. The paper colleges some of the primary objectives of these HOT Lane projects has increased efficiency in those lanes and the whole corridor and they may be different than the policy objectives from the original HOV system. We looked at a number of projects both current projects as well as previous projects. Looking at some of the findings from earlier projects, it was building upon recent work that was done. Â The co-authors of the study with myself are Carol Zimmerman, Ginger Gooden, and Nick Wood. Folks with a lot of experience.
We look at the early evidence from the projects. We included a little bit of information from some of the newer UPA/CRD sites, Seattle and Los Angeles, and some studies that had been done in a number of places in Dallas and Seattle. We also looked at projects that had been around for a while.
We looked at a range of potential interventions that were all HOV to HOT conversions. Most require the users both HOV and solo users obtain a transponder. In some cases, uses of the free HOV issue were raised to three plus -- to pay the toll. Slugging was thought to occur because of the increased occupancy, and clearly there was additional commuter transit service in most of the projects.
The UPA/CRD sites are set up as before and after evaluation. We look at occupancy counts and traffic counts to get vehicle and person throughput. The vehicle came from license plate surveys. In the case of Atlanta we had a very good survey of carpal registrants, people already registered before the HOT lane was implemented. We had other data from some of the newer sites but that data has been collected and ready for use.
There is a range of impacts - some of us feared HOT was decimating carpooling. Others felt it was expanding choices whether it was SOV, ridesharing, or transit. The impact appeared to be all over the board. There was a number of places where carpooling increased in the managed lanes after the conversion from HOV to HOT. In some cases there was no change in carpooling as was the case in Denver on the HOT facility. There were places where there was a negative impact where carpooling decreased in the HOV to HOT lanes. If you look at places that have been around a while like San Diego and Minneapolis, after some initial ups and downs, and in both cases the carpooling went down during the early stages of HOT implementation, but then in the long run it has stabilized and carpooling is growing. I might even say carpooling and HOT or pay to use services are independent of each other. People now realize they've got different choices. Of course, there were some other impact that happened, not so much a change in overall levels necessarily, but in some cases there was a shift in carpools simply from the original HOV facility over to the free general-purpose lanes and Miami and Atlanta are good cases of that. In Allen's comments about a system standpoint, that may not be a negative.
Let me quickly give you the four pieces of data we looked at: First was Atlanta interstate 85 conversions of HOV to HOT. Transponders were required of all users. For reasons that are not fully known but may have to do with the economy as well and people using parallels, but overall in the entire corridor, both the general groups and HOT lanes, person throughput was down by 7% in the morning and up a little bit in the afternoon. In general, volumes of both people and vehicles were down overall in the facility. The good proportion switched over to general-purpose lanes. Very few three-person carpools were found. Some data came out that the total three-person carpools went down. Not only were they not formed but actually went down. About one in three of the existing carpoolers switched over to driving alone.
People switched to the general-purpose lane and early on initially overall levels of carpooling were down after implementation of HOT. Here is a case in Minneapolis where initially carpooling was actually down at the beginning. This also shows there were other things going on in the corridor at the time. Over the long run, carpooling rebounded and went back up above pre- HOT levels. There was a dip and then arise after the fact.
San Diego in one of the early projects, Carpool volumes increased slightly at the beginning and in the decreased in both the HOV and GP lanes after implementation of dynamic pricing but longer trends show stabilization work carpooling has gone through cycles that appeared to be independent of what is going on but the tolling. Of those places that we stabilized, those were both allowed two person carpools free. I'm curious -- what I'm trying to say is in the long run places where two plus -- we don't know if the same thing will happen in the cases were three-person carpools or three but two person carpools were charged.
What could have influenced changes in carpooling? The increase in occupancy requirement -- somebody in the Atlanta area involved in the carpool program told me they find it is harder to add a third person to an existing carpool than it is to form a new three-person carpool. We note a three-person carpool is more difficult to form than 2 person. It could be the third person is hard to come by and that could have influenced things in Miami and Atlanta. Requirements for carpools to register and obtain transponders could have been an issue. The change in total structure could it influence occupancy. The quality of parallel transit service could influence it both ways, either to drop people off of carpools into transit, although that doesn't necessarily seem to be the case. Like someone said in Dallas, HOV was put into place for quality reasons and now it is revenue generation and the projects that come out of those different policies may be different. Plus gas prices and employment.
In the paper we identified four issue areas for further investigation. The white paper was just the beginning. It is not meant to be the final word. It is meant to be the beginning of a dialogue. We know there is a number of issues, are there conflicting policy objectives? From an analytical and behavioral standpoint, Â analytic tools accurately predict the impact on carpooling cracks operationally, can the negative impact of HOT on carpooling be mitigated? This is an area -- four HOT projects. Finally what level of public understanding is needed for HOT conversion projects and the impact it might have on current or potential carpoolers? Finally carpool support is needed after HOT implementation. We felt there was a feeling among planners and implementers the carpool or will sort itself out as travelers will make the right choices. Carpooling needs ongoing support before and after implementation of HOT lanes or any other change. I think the folks in Atlanta have learned this is the case and they are providing incentives to carpoolers. Policies need to be considered to look for potential conflicts. Quantification of the actual impact is necessary and it needs to be done better for future predictive exercises. Lessons can be learned from HOT pioneers and continuing investigation and assessment is needed. With that, here is the contact information and I look forward to questions at the end.
Thank you, Eric. If you think of additional questions, type them into the chat, but if you could indicate they are for Eric so I can keep everything separate. The next presenter is Brian Pessaro.
Good afternoon. This December it would've been five years since the first urban partnership agreement kicked off in Miami. I'm going to talk about Miami as well as three other cities that have come online that I've done projects through the urban partnership agreement program, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Seattle. There is another city, Los Angeles, but I'm not going to talk about Los Angeles because we're just starting to get that data.
For the past several years I've been looking at how these congestive pricing projects have impacted the transit performance. When we look at transit ridership, the results have been pretty positive. In each one of the cities on the screen there have been various degrees of ridership growth. I need to point out these figures are not current. These are what the ridership figures were at the time of the evaluation. For example, for Miami, they were at about 2900 average daily passengers. Today I think they are at about 5000 average daily passengers. The ridership increases vary from location to location. Miami had the largest and I think that was attributable to the fact that there wasn't much transit service in the I-95 corridor or before the project began. There was only a single express bus route for today there are four routes, five depending on how you count them. In others. cities like Minneapolis and Seattle, there was already a large amount of transit service in the corridor.
Three of the cities, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Seattle introduced all or some of their transit service prior to the tolling. Minneapolis and Atlantic introduced some of it, Seattle added all of their enhanced transit service prior to the polls. This shows the breakdown of the ridership growth during the intermediate period, the period after the new transit service was added but before the polls shown in blue and pink compares it to what the ridership growth was after the tolls in red. Minneapolis and Seattle register larger percentage gains after the tolls began while in Atlanta there was a larger percentage gain in the intermediate. The pattern we see in Minneapolis and Seattle is similar to what was seen in Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm has a pricing project and they introduced enhanced transit service six months before the polls. In Stockholm they saw 2% increase in public transportation usage prior to the tolls but then a larger 6% increase after the tolls were started. Which is a similar pattern we were seeing was Minneapolis and Seattle.
Another benefit of the congestion pricing to the buses has been improved traffic flow and shorter travel times. The decreases in travel time as varied. Partly this is because the segment lengths vary in each one of the cities. With Miami we are looking at a 7.3 miles segment rather than Minneapolis and Atlanta, the segment was 16 miles and 15.5 miles respectively. In Seattle those times you see are based on the 2.7 miles green line across the bridge. Pretty much across-the-board we saw improvements in bus travel time.
We surveyed the writers before and after the total and we asked them about their perceptions of travel time. We were not able to as the question in Atlanta but then the other three cities the score for the bus travel times improved after the tolling began. In Miami in Minneapolis, the change in the score was statistically significant. We asked writers about bus reliability after told began. In Miami in Minneapolis, the score improved. In Seattle, the score dropped and we think what may be the cause of that is there was construction on the eastern side of the bridge.
The previous travel modes of new transit riders, the transit riders who only began writing after the told began. Between 29% and 41% said they used to drive alone. There is also a large percentage of transit riders that said they had used some other form of transit previously. Perhaps they were on a different route or in the case of Miami there were a large percentage of riders on the 95 express buses who had switched to that. We didn't see a large percentage of former carpoolers in any of the cities.
In the post told surveys we asked the writers whether they were influenced to take transit because of the tolls. Among the established riders, those who had been riding a long time, those percentages were low because they already made the decision. When we limited the amounts to adjust to new riders, the percentages were higher. Close to 50% on average said they were influenced to take transit because of the tolls. The only exception was Minneapolis were only 23% said they were influenced to take transit because of the tolls. In the Seattle survey, we also asked the writers in the pre- tolls survey whether they were influenced to take transit because of the service that was added. We compare that percentage to the percentage in the post tolls survey and they said they were influenced to take transit because of the tolls. A greater percentage of the new riders were influenced by the tolls then they were by the added service. A full 33% of the new riders said they were not aware of additional service being added in the corridor.
Some other miscellaneous observations I want to share, in Atlanta, the transit riders in the survey said they loved the express bus service but not the HOT concept. In the pre-tolls survey, 60% of the transit riders disapproved of the plans to convert the I-85 carpool lane into a HOT Lane. In the post tolls survey only a small percentage of the I-85 expressed it had improved their travel. We talked to the local partners about this and they were not surprised by the findings. They said what the transit riders were saying was indicative of what a lot of people within the Atlanta metropolitan area were saying as well about the express lanes, that there was a lot of disgruntlement about them.
Writers and the other cities were much more positive about the impact of tolls on their personal travel. In Seattle, 57% said the tolls had improved their travel and 42% said the tolls have been good for the region. In Minneapolis, 61% the lanes on I-letter 35 W improved travel speed in 35% said the impact lanes improve reliability.
Thank you. We will now move on to Dave of the San Diego Association. Dave, you can go ahead.
Welcome everybody. What I'd like I like to do today is give you some feedback or information on our I-15 managed Lane and describe how the system works and how we designed it especially for transit as well as carpooling and SOV use. Also, what some of the results are in some of the things we have learned and challenges ahead. The role of managed lanes in San Diego is part of our long-range regional transportation plan. It goes out to the year 2050 so it is a very long plan. I think I will be 95 years old when this gets implemented. We go out that far because of our local sales tax. The focus of the plan the multimodal strategy, it was see the word provide travel choices. This is something we heard over and over and over again. "Give me reasons to carpool", "Right now if I take the bus or car pool I'm stuck in traffic", "Give me a reason for incentive to use an alternative mode". Our plan focuses on time competitive travel and increasing operating efficiency and moving more people through the corridor. Our strategy emphasizes over and over again is managed lanes are dynamic. They can change over time and likely will change over time. We have built in the flexibility not only with the riding public but with elected officials as well, as things change over time, we may have to move to the three plus carpool requirement.
The design is a barrier separated for lanes football barrier. Direct access ramps, the idea of ramp meters on all of the freeway on ramps and that can be anywhere from upwards of 50 minutes just to get onto the freeway. We have off-line bus rapid transit stations and obviously the FasTrak program.
This is an artist rendering a few years ago. This is pretty much what is in operation today. It operates as a freeway within the freeway. You can see direct assets ramps provide specific interchanges just for the managed lanes so people don't have to merge back to the SOV lanes. We have the bus rapid transit located off-line. This has generated somewhat of a controversy with certain transit advocates. They would've rather us but the transit on the freeway and we are doing that in some corridors and I will explain that later. We felt because of the noise and the size of the facility, the ambiance and getting the rider to walk -- just the noise factor would be tremendous so we decided to locate the buses off-line. Keep in mind the stations are only four to 5 miles so even though you incur a one or number two minute delay, it is still a pretty fast service. We have parking ride as well.
Our FasTrak design is a dynamic pricing strategy so depending on where you are at the price will vary. We want to make sure congested locations have the higher toll to keep the free flow of conditions. There are intermediate access points as well so people can access the managed lanes from the direct assets ramps or SOV ramps. We have about 20,000 average daily users, so that has increased. It is resignation to provide travel choices. People like the fact they can carpool. The I-15 corridors is a very suburban environment so having choices is something brand-new to these people and something they really grasped onto. FasTrak we have generated revenues after paying the basic administration cost. Most of the money goes back to transit. We generated over $7 million the first decade. You can see the bus on the left was our initial bus which operated using the FasTrak revenues. We literally didn't have any other vehicles available. People used it and I liked it and it offered direct service into downtown San Diego. Since then we have replaced it with highway coach buses.
Talking about moving people, not just cars, is something which emphasize. 21% more people moved during the AM/PM commute. We are getting better use out of those lanes and that countered the empty lane syndrome we were experiencing before this.
San Diego has a very extensive light rail system. We recognized light rail is not appropriate in all core doors. We looked at light rail in the -- the distances and the fact there is no -- around any of the stations pointed to -- being a better more cost-effective and higher-speed service that light rail. It is designed as a trolley on tires so we will have an all-day service that will operate along the 35-mile corridor in entering the peak period we have commuter express bus service that provides more limited stop service into downtown San Diego and to one of our other job centers. We have a trolley like service on an all-day basis every 15 minutes and peak period commuter services. This will open up next summer. We only have commuter bus operations today but when this opens up we think we will get about 20,000 riders by the year 2020 on this service.
Value pricing social equity was something we recognized early on and we did a lot of outreach and discussions with people. You can see by age and ethnicity and income, there was a consensus the value pricing had a lot of approval to it. Part of the reason is we reinvested the money back into transit so people didn't just view it -- somebody couldn't afford that SOV buy-in and there was more transit service and met with acceptance from the overall public.
Some of the lessons learned, this is collaboration between three key agencies. We work very closely with Caltrans and the transit operators. It wasn't just creating this idea and going to the operators in trying to sell it. They are very much supportive of the buy-in.
The local transplant program provides funding for transportation improvement. It is a one half cent sales tax authorized by the voters. One third of that goes to highway so a lot of money is being used for the managed lanes and one third goes to capital and operating. Whatever we build from a transit standpoint we also have the money to operate it.
Some other lessons, we are improving the overall efficiency to handle more people. People recognize managed lanes provide significant incentive for ridesharing, not only for being in the managed lanes that using the direct access ramps. You can see the travel time benefits existing back in 2000. The travel times were pretty severe, that was for an all-day trip and they will improve once we operate the all-day service next year. HOV users represented about 80% of the divan and so this is very much still a HOV oriented facility. Four lanes is a nice thing to have because it helps us maintain the two person occupancy. We know down the road based on future demand it will probably start hitting us around the year 2035. We will have to go to three plus occupancy and perhaps looking at peak and off-peak occupancy. We recognize that is something we're going to have to deal with eventually. The equity issue was never something we had to deal with. Some of the other challenges that the cuter -- and fewer direct access ramps and off I-15 we have the luxury of a lot of right away we don't have and other corridors. You can imagine these direct access ramps; it is a very expensive type of project we may not be able to replicate.
Tolling in transit work has to do with schedule reliability even more so than travel time. I have got a guarantee you were going to get there when the bus says you're going to get there otherwise I would not get the choice rider. That is what the managed lanes does. -- the HOV Lane Woodgate and aggregated. By the fact we offered tolling, somebody's not going to pay to use the toll facility that is congested so what provide -- we view it as a win-win for carpooling and tolling.
Some of the challenges, expanding managed lanes and tolling to other corridors. This is a map of our system. All the other light blue lines where we are either planning or engineering on other managed lanes throughout the system. We will have quite a system of managed lanes. A lot of these will be in place by the year 2030. Future opportunities and challenges, expanding managed lanes in the tolling concept of other corridors. The aim is not to generate dollars, that is not the focus. The focus is to create travel choices. The fast-track fills the excess capacity and manages the empty Lane syndrome. Free flow conditions is a key challenge. At some point were going to paste the three person carpool requirement. How high can tolls go? At some point during high congestion they can be over $10. There is probably a breakpoint or you can't simply charge people more. We haven't quite hit that at some point it will be recognized that is an issue. Long-range we have plans where the light rail may make sense. And would we dedicate one of those -- this is the idea of dynamic managed lanes that can change over time.
I mentioned there would be future direct access ramps. Some initially will be one in facilities that we are debating whether we can toll those. You might have to go three plus carpool requirement initially. Can it work, can it work with the one main facility? There will probably have to be -- or do you simply just not allow fast-track users into those? Automated highways for something our directors talked about over and over again. The managed lanes could be where somebody's early automated highways take place.
This is a map showing our transit network. It is a pretty elaborate network of light rail and rapid bus. Sometimes people say we are a light rail oriented city but we are very much a multimodal city fitting the technology through the specific characteristics of an individual corridor. With that I will conclude and I look forward to your questions at the end. Thank you.
Thank you, Dave. Our final presentation will be given by Jim Edwards.
Thank you. Thank you everyone for allowing us to share our experience with congestion pricing and the toll systems implemented by the Washington State Department of Transportation. In partnership with DOT we have involved in various degrees with a four pricing system. Today I wanted to share a little bit about our perspective on the impact of our operations from the pricing system. If you look on the right-hand corner of this border will you would see the cranes in place assisting with the replacement of state route 520.
A little bit about sound transit upfront. We are the regional transit provider for the three county area in Seattle . We provide light rail, commuter rail and regional express bus service.
We have about 25 rounds that operate seven days a week. We carry about 58,000 riders every day. Those HOV lanes serve as the primary right away for the regional express bus service. The graphic on the left, the heavy lines showing the routes represents -- if you look to the right of the graphic you will see a number of routes going north and south through Bellevue. Just North of Bellevue completing the hourglass is 520 across Lake Washington, to the north of Bellevue in just to the south is the I-90 corridor. We have invested more than $750 million on more than 40 projects to improve transit operations and access including parking right facilities, transit centers and direct access interchanges, all with the intent to allow better travel access and increase the ability to utilize the HOV system DOT has put into place.
As the agencies around the nation are looking going to congestion pricing and converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes, plain courage any agency doing that should evolve transit agencies as early as possible in the planning and design of these systems. Just where the buses come on and off the HOT system will be important factors in how buses operate. On the 405 project currently in construction that will ultimately lead to HOT lanes. We spent two years on the planning and system designing. The proposed design right now includes provisions and they're going to allow us to shoulder running in some locations so we can get from the HOT, which doesn't have direct access facilities. The last bullet I talked a little bit about what Dave talked about, and effective transit element should add to the success limitation of your systems and help address the potential lane perception of the congestion pricing.
Congestion pricing is beneficial. We would expect most transit agencies would support these because the potential depending on the pricing method does appear to be one of the best solutions for addressing needed system improvements and is a fair way to address congestion needs and the funding for those needs. We would expect most transit agencies would be willing partners in those systems.
In the Seattle area, I want to talk about maintaining HOV systems at a higher performance level. With the GP in HOV lanes which are pretty much two plus are heavily congested and unreliable during peak periods. There is not much that can be done to improve the current HOV performance short of the HOT systems that are likely to be instituted on all four of the major area roadways.
There is a downside. There is impact on transit service for congestion pricing. It does impact transit operations and add on the parking right facilities in the transit centers and adding peak hour transit capacity requires time and money. Additional buses have to be procured. Each of those buses can run up to like 800,000 or more each. You have to hire and train drivers which takes time. The 46% is different than the numbers were heard today but there is a large increase in ridership. Through the urban partnership agreement and the two your ramp-up, we were able to purchase buses and program additional service hours. Once more I wanted to talk about how transit, speed and reliability are critical to ridership. People viewing transit as an alternative need to know they can get on the bus and be at their destination. The performance standards should be up front for how the lanes will be managed and how tolls will be set to ensure performance.
In Washington, the process for implementing and legislative acceptance for pulling and congestion pricing as a tool for addressing congestion is evolving. The three systems are currently in place. The first system which was a PIII system and some buses required transponders to recognize the buses and zero out the account. Even on the most recent project still under construction, transit is not included as a permitted user of the revenues. Maybe in closing pricing objectives should be established up front. Is it revenue generation or congestion management? Finally, peak hour tolls should be higher than transit fares. With that I will conclude in turn it back to Jennifer.
Thank you, Jim. We went now use the remaining time for questions and answers. I'm going to skip around a little bit and try to get a few questions for each presenter. We can try to address as many questions as possible. I'm going to start from the top. Allen, there were a few questions for you. Are there any lanes that allow trucks to use them and what is the FHWA policy on the use of singling facilities by trucks?
I should start by saying I am not the foremost expert on this topic. A lot of other people deal with totaling more than I do. I was stepping back and framing the issues I saw. I was just flipping through some of the chat discussion and I did see somebody didn't have an answer to that. You might want to look at the chat box. I think Dave said Denver allows on I-25 and I-35 West in Minneapolis allows it as well. In most cases even when allowed, it is a very small portion of the users. I would distinguish between trucks and more utility bands. The plumbers and carpenters and those users. They are actually big fans of this.
Eric, I know you typed in a few answers, are there any customer surveys done to see what they felt about it?
Some of the surveys that were done in Atlanta did ask people what influenced their decision and pricing came pretty high on the list. What I would say that is a real weakness. I think that is an area for future exploration. I think we have a little bit of information from Atlanta but I don't think we have enough to really conclude. Brian has more information about the influence on pricing on transit riders. I would think the same would be for carpooling. Carpooling is dynamic in and of itself since they change all the time.
Another question: had there been any efforts to use the smart phones as a way to pay for the trip as opposed to transponders?
I'm probably the wrong guy because I'm not very good on the technology side. I am not aware of that. Maybe somebody else could weigh in?
This is Dave, I know it is something we are thinking about but we haven't done it yet. There are some things were we use smart phones to pay transit fares at one of our operators is experimenting with it I think increased use of smart phones for things like this I would think as part of the future.
Anybody else want to jump in on that one? All right. Dave, what incident management plans were developed for transit vehicles on the managed lanes?
Meaning if the bus were to get into an accident?
I'm not aware of anything specific other than what our operators would normally do. I think there has been a couple of times where a bus has broken down and they will send out a replacement bus like they do with any other service so I don't think there is anything special they had to do.
Okay. Do you have a problem with congestion on the exit ramps and local roads?
On the direct access ramps? That is something they did think about when designing it. We have signals at the top of these ramps to help control the flow. I'm sure most highway departments don't want cars backing up to the freeway and managed lanes so it was something woven into the design.
Okay. How do you see the competition for the state?
There is always a concern on the managed lanes committee and that is a frequent topic of discussion. It hasn't been a problem for us because we have the luxury of a four Lane facility but down the road we know with growth in the region that overall occupancy is going to be an issue and then how we deal with these vehicles you were mentioning. That is an issue to come. Right now we haven't had to deal with it.
Alright, this question I will put out all the presenters. Is anyone aware of anyone partnering with the partner from the private sector?
This is Dave. We have what we call a commute team and they deal with issues. Working with employers to increase demand and getting them to buy transit passes and encourage them to carpool. That is where our involvement with the private sector is now.
This is Jim. Here in the Seattle area, Microsoft has its own bus system that it routes and operates to pick up Microsoft employees to take them to and from work.
Another question, I'm not sure if this was for Dave, my recollection is some of the three plus carpool registration requirements may be unfriendly to informal carpoolers.
This is Dave, we don't have the three plus carpool requirement in San Diego yet. That is one concern. If you go from a two-person to a three person, you're going to lose two thirds of your carpoolers. At some point is going to come down to carry capacity. You don't want your HOV Lane to be congested so how do you manage that in a fair way? One of the things I would like to explore is rather than simply going from a 2 person to an 83 person. You only do it when it is absolutely necessary. A two-person carpool could still carpool; they might have to adjust their travel times a little bit to accommodate. At some point you have to deal with it and make decisions.
This is Allen, I know in the case of Miami there were some legitimate enforcement options. There was no place for enforcement action so it was easier to review video. If you only had to look at registered carpools and then you could determine if the registered carpools were meeting the threshold that particular day and if you were not registered, it was assumed you were in violation. In that particular instance that made enforcement better, it precludes casual carpooling entirely.
This is Eric, in Atlanta we try to monitor whether there was any casual carpooling going on the bus park-and-ride lots. The transit authority felt there might be casual carpooling. Our suspicion was confirmed in people but did have to change the registration so people either have to call in or use the website to change the registration status if the going from two to three person and that probably couldn't be done on the fly. We saw very few casual carpools in Atlanta.
Anybody else? Alright, I don't see any other questions typed in at this time. Are there any last remarks any of the presenters wanted to make before we close out?
This is Brian, there was someone who asked if we looked at the time differential between the express lanes and the general-purpose lanes. I can say for Miami it was about a two and a half minute difference on the 7.3-mile segment. If you were to take the express lane your trip would be two and a half minutes faster.
This is Eric. Somebody asked if the white paper was available and it is actually being revised based on comments we received from the first workshops. I would expect in a month or two it will be available but it is just being finalized now. I will make a couple of comments. First, it was interesting to look at the statistics on Miami and it was not doing particularly well on the carpooling friend but did amazingly well on transit. I think it sort of suggests we should look at the entirety of what is happening, not just carpooling or just transit. I don't want to be dismissive, and this was a longer conversation, but there are additional strategies if people are interested in encouraging carpooling and ridesharing beyond just the ones we talked about at this webinar. Most important among them his employer parking pricing in something called parking cash out. Today 95% of private employers are providing employees read parking. Only 6% are providing transit benefits even though at the moment the tax treatment for the two is the same. Employers are choosing in the most cases to offer only the parking benefit. By instead offering something called the cash out -- lots of studies show that would have been huge impact.
Thank you. I think we're going to close out a little early since we are out of questions. I want to thank all of our presenters for today and everybody in attendance. Thank you for your questions. We don't currently have any upcoming webinars planned but there should be some in the near future and the message will be sent out as soon as one comes up. I was sent out a notice of the link to the recording and the presentations once they are posted online. With that, we will and for today. Thank you everybody.