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USDOT Resources: Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing 2011
FHWA Webinar Series

Guidebook and Toolkit on Environmental Justice Analyses in Tolling - Webinar

April 4, 2018

 

Toll Relief Logo

Toll Relief

Grindly Johnson, Deputy Secretary of Administration, Commonwealth of Virginia
Shannon N. Marshall, APR, Communications Director, Virginia Department of Transportation April 4, 2018

Why is the Commonwealth offering Toll Relief?

The Commonwealth of Virginia developed its Toll Relief Program to help ease the financial burden of Elizabeth River Tunnels' tolls on those residents most impacted.

How is the Toll Relief Program funded?

Elizabeth River Crossings, operators of the Elizabeth River Tunnels, agreed to pay $500,000 a year to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for 10 years to help offset the cost of tolls on those users most financially stressed.

commuters

How was the Toll Relief Program developed?

Toll Relief Steering Committee

  • Made up of VDOT, NAACP, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, military, education, social services, local government and consultant representatives
  • Created to provide input and guidance on program development
  • Met monthly

Steering Committee announcement

Why is the Toll Relief Program only open to qualified Norfolk and Portsmouth residents?

In order to provide meaningful financial relief, the program is focused on helping those individuals who need it the most.

Research conducted by the VDOT, showed Norfolk and Portsmouth residents were most-heavily impacted by Elizabeth River Tunnels tolls.

What are the Requirements to Participate in the Toll Relief Program?

To qualify for Toll Relief, participants must:

  • Reside in Norfolk or Portsmouth
  • Earn $30,000 or less per year
  • Have or open a Virginia E-ZPass account

Lady shopping with child

Why are participants required to have or open a Virginia E-ZPass account?

E-ZPass is the cheapest and easiest way to travel through the Elizabeth River Tunnels.

Individuals who do not have a Virginia E-ZPass account can open one with $35, all of which goes to the payment of tolls.

There are no additional costs or processing fees.

What are the benefits of Toll Relief?

Once a participant's Virginia E-ZPass transponder records eight or more trips through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels during a calendar month, a one-dollar per trip refund is credited to his or her Virginia E-ZPass account.

There is no limit on the number of discounted trips in a month.

EZ-Pass  in car

How do individuals apply for Toll Relief?

The Toll Relief application process was designed to be quick and easy.

It begins with an in-person application at either the Norfolk or Portsmouth E-ZPass Customer Service Centers.

Proof of income and residency must be presented at the time of application.

One of the following is required for proof of residency:

  • Driver's License
  • Utility\Telephone\Cable Bill
  • Checking\Savings Account Statement
  • Property Tax Bill
  • Mortgage - Proof of Ownership
  • Rental Contract
  • Military Documentation Confirming City of Residence

One of the following is required for proof of income:

  • W-2
  • 1099-Misc
  • One Month of Paystubs
  • IRS 1040
  • Employer's Statement
  • Self-Declaration of No Income

Vehicles in a tunnel

Annual Toll Relief Enrollment Period and Important Dates

  • Enrollment Period
    • December 1 - February 15
  • Toll Relief Benefits Begin
    • March 1
  • First Toll Relief Rebate Distributed
    • April 11

Driver and passenger

Communications and Outreach

  • Toll-free Number
    • 855-530-5506
  • Website
    • vdottollrelief.com
  • Postcard/Mailer
  • On-site application process at local mall
  • Social Media
  • Earned Media

Toll Relief Program Statistics

2017 Program Enrollment - 2,094
Toll Relief Rebate Distributed - $458K
Average Monthly Rebate - $30.53

2018 Program Enrollment - 2,909

Vehicles travelling via tollway

Contact Information

Grindly Johnson
Deputy Secretary of Administration, Commonwealth of Virginia
Grindly.Johnson@VDOT.Virginia.gov

804-225-4822

Shannon N. Marshall, APR
Communications Director, Virginia Department of Transportation
Shannon.Marshall@VDOT.Virginia.gov

804-371-6844

toll station at night

Assessing the Environmental Effects of Toll Implementation or Rate Changes: Guidebook and Toolbox

NCHRP Report 860

Congestion Pricing Webinar: Guidebook and Toolkit for Environmental Justice Analyses in Tolling

Louis Berger
Rutgers
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Introduction

Photo of congested traffic

Purpose of the Guidebook and Toolbox

Show how to incorporate environmental justice analysis in the context of tolling.

  • Provide a set of tools to enable analysis and measurement of impacts of toll pricing, toll payment, toll collection technology, and other aspects of toll implementation and rate changes on low-income and minority populations.
  • The Guidebook shows when and how to apply the tools in the Toolbox through an 8-step process framework and cross-referencing.
  • Process framework corresponds with the typical transportation project planning and development process.
  • Framework and supporting tools show how to measure tolling-related changes on such factors as mobility, access, and household expenditures, and illustrate how to engage low-income and minority populations in the evaluation process.
Guidebook and Toolbox Organization

Scalable to potential for disproportionately high and adverse effects.

Guidebook

Chart of 8 Steps

Text of the Steps chart:

Step 1 Frame the Project
Step 2 Identify the Applicable Requirements Governing Decisions
Step 3 Recognize the Relevant Decision-Makers and Stakeholders: Roles, Responsibilities and Key Concerns
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts
Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement
Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies
Step 7 Document Results for Decisionmakers and Public
Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring

Toolbox

Toolbox Tools

Text listing of available tools:

  • Tools
  • Case Examples
  • Checklists
  • Reference Tables
  • Public Involvement
  • Scenarios
Principles of Environmental Justice (EJ)

FHWA Environmental Justice Reference Guide (2015)

U.S. DOT's EJ strategy identifies three fundamental principles of environmental justice:

  • To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations.
  • To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process.
  • To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations.
Rationale for the Guidebook and Toolbox
  • Tolling has become more prevalent as a funding mechanism and an operations strategy for transportation facilities.
  • Effects from toll implementation and rate changes can cause direct, indirect and cumulative impacts.
  • Toll implementation has benefits but may, in some cases, create burdens that have the potential for disproportionately high and adverse effects on low-income and minority populations.
  • Need for analytical tools to assess, evaluate and, if necessary, mitigate impacts from toll implementation or rate changes on low-income and minority populations.

Guidebook Walkthrough

Toll station

Step 1: Frame the Project

Identify the type of tolling action from among a range of types.

1. New Toll Road or Bridge (mix of toll and general purpose lanes)
2. New Toll Road or Bridge (all toll lanes)
3. Partial Conversion of Existing Highway, Bridge or Tunnel Travel Lanes for Tolling (mix of toll and general purpose lanes)
4. Full Conversion of Existing Highway, Bridge or Tunnel Travel Lanes for Tolling (all toll lanes)
5. Partial Conversion with Widening of a Highway, Bridge, or Tunnel (mix of toll and general purpose lanes)
6. Full Conversion with Widening of a Highway, Bridge, or Tunnel (all toll lanes)
7. Increase Tolls on an Existing Toll Facility
8. Change in Method of Payment on Existing Facility
9. Change Toll Collection Technology on an Existing Toll Facility
10. Introduce Variable or Dynamic Tolls on an Existing Toll Facility
11. Change Operator of an Existing Toll Facility
Step 1: Frame the Project

Identify the impact-causing aspect(s) associated with the type of action.

Introduce Transaction Cost Increase Transaction Cost Create Uncertain Transaction Cost Form of Payment and/or Credit and/or Fixed Cost Requirements for User
Accounts
Change in Access to Highway Network Create or Increase Highway, Bridge or Tunnel Footprint* Decrease Distance between Community and Highway, Bridge or Tunnel*

* The Guidebook primarily covers the travel behavior and socioeconomic effects of tolling on roadway users. Although covered in the Guidebook, lesser attention is given to facility footprint and proximity impacts as these topics are extensively covered in other literature.

Step 1: Frame the Project

Identify potential adverse direct effects to users.

  • Change in road use patterns (diversions to alternative route(s) or mode(s)).
  • Change in trip-making behavior and trip purposes (trip frequency, trip timing).
  • Change in household disposable income and change in household financial burden.
  • Change in "disposable time."
Step 1: Frame the Project

Identify potential adverse indirect effects that could stem from direct effects.

  • Effects related to route and modal diversions, such as:
    • change in mobility between travel points.
    • change in accessibility to destinations.
    • change in travel reliability.
    Increased travel on alternative route(s) or mode(s) leads to degradation of level of service on the alternative route(s) or mode(s).
  • Changes in health (air quality, noise, vibration) for residents nearby alternative route(s) that have degradation in level of service.
  • Changes in quality of life from:
    • reduced opportunities for employment and services because of degraded accessibility, mobility, and travel reliability.
    • delayed or foregone activities and purchases because of reduced disposable income or less available time outside of travel time.
    • degraded environmental quality and pedestrian safety along alternative route(s).
Step 1: Frame the Project

Context considerations.

  • A toll implementation or rate change action occurs within a regional transportation network that connects people to community, housing, jobs, health care, education, services, religious, recreational, social, and retail opportunities.
  • The roadway network provides access to these opportunities.
  • The ability to benefit from these opportunities can be influenced by the affordability of transportation, expressed as both cost and time, to travel to places where such opportunities are located.
  • The contextual assessment enables inquiry into potential "tipping points" for adverse EJ effects of the tolling action and aids in demarcating a preliminary study area of potential effects.
Step 2: Identify Applicable Requirements Governing Tolling Decisions

Policy and planning stage of decision-making (Reference Table 2.1)

Regulation/Policy Criteria
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964/EO 12898/DOT Order 5610.2(a) EJ populations provided opportunities for involvement and input in the creation of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and State Transportation Improvement Program/TIP alternatives
23 CFR 450.216 (fiscal restraint requirements prior to determination of Categorical Exclusion, Finding of No Significant Impact, or Record of Decision) LRTP identifies tolling as a goal, objective, or strategy
LRTP financial plan and STIP/TIP reflect anticipation of funding
from tolled projects
Specific tolling projects are included in the STIP or TIP
23 CFR 771.111 and 23 USC 139(b)(3) (early coordination, public involvement, and project development) LRTP analyzes impacts of tolling alternatives
FAST Act and MAP 21 - Toll Pilot Programs - Require MOU with FHWA and annual audits Project utilizes state bonds, private activity bonds, or other U.S. DOT-approved financing instruments.
FAST Act Section 1411 (tolling, HOV facilities, Interstate reconstruction and rehabilitation) Allows states to consider the use of tolls for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Interstate System in their respective states.
Clean Air Act* (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) Consistent with regional air quality goals as determined in the LRTP
Step 2: Identify Applicable Requirements Governing Tolling Decisions

Project development and implementation stage (reference table 2.1)

Regulation/Policy Criteria
NEPA, 40 CFR 1500-1508 (NEPA Regulations) NEPA review
Qualifies for CE
Requires EA
Results in FONSI
Requires EIS
Requires ROD
23 CFR 771 (FHWA NEPA Regulations) EJ populations provided opportunities for involvement and input in
the development of the project (§771.105, §771.109)
EO 12898 Directs federal agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations
EO 13166 Required federal agencies to develop and implement a system to provide those services so limited English proficiency persons can have meaningful access to services
Clean Air Act* (NAAQS) Requires "hot spot" analysis due to non-attainment and a potential significant impact on the human environment
Requires quantitative mobile source air toxics evaluation
23 USC 327: Surface Transportation Project Delivery Program State DOT is delegated review authority of EJ analysis
U.S. DOT maintains review authority of EJ analysis
Step 3: Recognize Relevant Decision-Makers and Stakeholders

Users, affected communities, professionals, and sponsor and review entities.

  • Early and continuous communication and coordination to determine whether or not there is a potential for disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority and low income populations.
  • Ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process.
  • Prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations.
Step 4: Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts

Concurrently.

  • Refine the project study area as initially defined in Step 1, as necessary.
  • Identify demographic characteristics of populations in the study area beginning with early screening of community characteristics and building on data and relationships established in Steps 1-3.
  • Work with the public, including EJ populations, to identify potential adverse and beneficial impacts of tolling and address questions, expectations, and concerns.
Step 5: Conduct Impact Analysis & Measurement

Mobility and access measurement of impact severity on EJ populations.

  • The mobility and access tools identified in this step are designed to help determine:
    • who benefits and who is burdened by toll implementation or rate changes.
    • the size of the benefit or burden.
    • whether the burdens are principally borne by or appreciably more severe or greater in magnitude for EJ populations.
  • Relative comparison of "with toll" vs. "without toll" or "with rate change" vs. without rate change."
  • Regional travel demand models can be adapted to assess potential changes in travel behavior, e.g., trip diversions from tolling and resulting changes in trip lengths and travel times.
Step 6: Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies

Is there a disproportionately high and adverse effect and what to do about it.

  • Systemwide analysis for considering and addressing impacts through the long-range transportation planning process.
    • Regionwide (statewide) toll policies.
    • Implementation of toll network over time.
    • Methods of toll collection.
    • Policies regarding the use of toll revenue and/or mitigation measures.
    • Limited English proficiency provisions in accessing toll facilities.
    • Cumulative impact considerations over time at regional scale.
  • Project-level analysis
    • Localized impacts on access, mobility, and travel costs.
    • Cumulative impacts of successive toll rate changes in combination with other actions in the study area.
Step 7: Document Results Decision-Makers and the Public

Record of the process and defensibility of findings.

  • Demographic data, e.g., race, color, national origin, limited English proficiency, and income, related to transportation data.
  • Study area boundaries (reasonable and logical?).
  • Adverse effects, if any, that disproportionately impact minority and/or low-income individuals.
  • Engagement with potentially impacted minority and low-income populations and resulting input integrated into study area geography and analysis of effects.
  • Consideration of effects in decision-making.
Step 8: Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
  • Establish performance metrics upfront.
  • Monitor actual vs. predicted effects and address negative deviations.

Example Mitigation Measures and Commitments for Tolling Projects

  • Net revenues used to subsidize transit services
  • Net revenues used to fund other prioritized projects
  • Free or reduced cost for initial transponder purchase
  • Waiver of maintenance fee for toll account tied to low-income eligibility
  • No minimum balance for toll account
  • Toll credits tied to transit use
  • Toll credits or discounts tied to low-income eligibility
  • Toll credits tied to local access impacts
  • Travel credits earned on general purpose lanes to access managed lanes free
  • Minimum access to managed lanes for all registered users
  • Convenient opportunities for cash replenishment
  • Free local access to a bridge or toll road for local trips

Toolbox Walkthrough

toll station

Toolbox

Elements of the Toolbox

Tools icon - Tools
Case Examples icon - Case Studies
Public Involvement icon - public involvement
Checklists icon - checklists
Reference Tables icon - reference tables
Scenarios  
Toolbox

icon - Toolbox

Tools

Tools Framework Steps
Step 3 Recognize the Relevant Decision-Makers and Stakeholders Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies Step 7 Documenting Results for Decision- Makers and Public Step 8 Conduct Post- Implementation Monitoring
Developing a Socioeconomic Profile and Community Characteristics Inventory for EJ Assessments   X X      
Using Public Use Microdata Samples to Profile Transportation Characteristics and Differences   X        
Using the National Household Travel Survey to Profile Transportation Characteristics and Differences   X        
Preparing, Implementing, and Assessing a Public Involvement Plan X X X X X X
Using Focus Groups in Assessing the Impact of Tolling on EJ Populations   X   X   X
Toolbox

Tools

Tools Framework Steps
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies Step 7 Documenting Results for Decision-Makers and Public Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
Designing and Executing Surveys to Assess Attitudes and Travel Behavior for EJ Analyses and to Monitor Implementation X X X   X
Using Travel Demand Models for EJ Assessments X X X   X
Applying a Select Link Analysis to Assess Trip Patterns   X X   X
Analyzing the Value of Time / Willingness to Pay in EJ Assessments X X X   X
Assessing User Costs and Household Burden Effects X X X    
Toolbox

Tools

Tools Framework Steps
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies Step 7 Documenting Results for Decision-Makers and Public Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
Evaluating Disproportionate Effects with Quantitative Methods     X    
Instituting Cash Replenishment Options for Unbanked and Underbanked Populations     X    
Recycling Tolling Revenue through Transit Investment and Low-Income Assistance as Forms of Mitigation     X   X
Examining Spatial Patterns and Distribution of Users on Existing Tolling Facilities         X
Tool Layout/Template

Tool Organization and Questions Answered

  • What Is It?
  • Why Is It Effective in EJ Analysis?
  • What Are Some Techniques for Implementing This Tool?
  • What Are Its Limitations?
  • What Types of Resources and Costs Are Required?
  • Who Has Used It Successfully?
  • Resources

Summary Textbox:

  • Framework Step
  • Stages in Decisionmaking
  • Tools and Techniques
  • Affected Populations
  • Examples Featured
Tool Example: Preparing, Implementing, and Assessing a Public Involvement Plan

Techniques Outlined in the Tool

  • Preparing and implementing the public involvement plan
  • Prepare or review social and economic profile of study and project area
  • Initial site visits to establish scope of PIP
  • Develop and maintain community contacts lists
  • Prepare a limited English proficiency (LEP) plan
  • Use "I speak" cards to ensure communications with LEP populations
  • Offer assistance for hearing impaired
  • Offer assistance for sight impaired
  • Offer refreshments
  • Brand project through clothing and other paraphernalia
  • Provide information
  • Distribute Flyers
  • Publicize through local and ethnic media outlets
  • Advertise on billboards, marquees, and variable message signs
Tool Example: Preparing, Implementing, and Assessing a Public Involvement Plan

Techniques Outlined in the Tool (cont.)

  • Use videos to convey information
  • Employ visualization techniques
  • Gather feedback
  • Conduct outreach at nontraditional locations
  • Go to "their" meetings
  • Go to faith-based institutions
  • Conduct market research interviews and focus groups
  • Undertake surveys to understand needs, preferences, and impacts
  • Use computer-assisted technologies to explore preferences
  • Build relationships
  • Form advisory boards, committees, taskforces, and working groups
  • Foster understanding of communities through relationships with community organizations and other local experts
  • Recruit and mobilize "community ambassadors," "beacons," or "trusted advocates"
  • Document "everything"
Tools

Featured Tool Example

  • Recycling Toll Revenue through Transit Investment and Low-Income Assistance as Forms of Mitigation
    • Toll Relief Program, Elizabeth River Tunnels, Norfolk-Portsmouth Area
Toll relief sample web page
Case Examples

icon - case examples

Case Examples in Toolbox

Case Examples Framework Steps
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies Step 7 Documenting Results for Decision-Makers and Public Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
Conducting Citizen Panels to Explore Key Issues of Value Pricing, Minneapolis-St. Paul Region, Minnesota X        
Using an EJ Index to Identify Affected Populations,
Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Region
  X      
Mobilizing a Local Liaison to Recruit Community Leaders for Survey, Louisville- Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project X   X    
Targeting Local Grocery Stores to Administer Community Surveys, Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges X   X    
Case Examples

Case Examples in Toolbox

Case Examples Framework Steps
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies Step 7 Documenting Results for Decision-Makers and Public Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
Analyzing, Mitigating, and Monitoring Impacts on Low-Income Commuters, I-10 and I-110 Express Lanes, Los Angeles County     X   X
Mitigating Reduced Access via Toll Credits, Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Region     X    
Selecting a Design Alternative to Mitigate the Adverse Effects on a Low-Income Community, St. Johns River Crossing, Clay and St. Johns Counties, Florida     X    
Conducting Pre-and Post-Implementation Surveys of Traveler Behavior and Opinions, Atlanta Region, I-85 Corridor X X     X
Case Example Layout/Template

Case Example Organization and Topics Covered

  • Background
  • How It Was Done
  • Resources and Costs
  • Benefits: Why It Was Effective
  • Challenges and Limitations
  • Lessons Learned
  • Resources

Summary Textbox:

  • Framework Step
  • Stages of Decisionmaking
  • Tools and Techniques
  • Affected Populations
  • Participants
Case Examples

Featured Case Example

  • Conducting Pre-and Post-Implementation Surveys of Traveler Behavior and Opinions, Atlanta Region, I-85 Corridor

report cover - Evidence from a Panel Study of the I-85 Corridor in Atlanta

report cover - Exploring the Equity Impacts of Two Road Pricing Implementations Using a Traveler Behavior Panel Survey

Checklists

icon - checklists

  • Project Framing Checklists (Step 1)
    • Types of Toll Implementation and Rate Change Actions and Associated Impact- Causing Aspects
    • Potential Adverse Direct and Indirect Effects
    • Context Considerations
  • Documentation Checklist (Steps 4 through 8)
    • Template that can apply to all resource topic areas

sample checklist

Reference Tables

icon -Reference Tables

  • Applicable Requirements Governing Tolling Projects (Step 2)
  • Decision-Makers and Stakeholders: Actions, Decisions and Concerns (Step 3)
  • Examples of Resource Topic Considerations Added by Tolling (Step 4)
  • EJ Assessment Methods by Resource Topic Area (Step 5)
  • Qualitative versus Quantitative Evaluations of Resource Topics (Step 6)

Chart of Steps

Text of Steps Chart:

Step 1 Frame the Project
Step 2 Identify the Applicable Requirements Governing Decisions
Step 3 Recognize the Relevant Decision-Makers and Stakeholders: Roles, Responsibilities and Key Concerns
Step 4 Scope Approach to Measure and Address Impacts
Step 5 Conduct Impact Analysis and Measurement
Step 6 Identify and Assess Mitigation Strategies
Step 7 Document Results for Decisionmakers and Public
Step 8 Conduct Post-Implementation Monitoring
Reference Tables

The actions, decisions and concerns of various agencies and stakeholders during 1) policy and planning; 2) project design / NEPA; and 3) implementation

Decision-makers & Stakeholders Tolling Lens Environmental Justice Lens
U.S. DOT & FHWA    
State DOTs    
MPOs    
Public Tolling Authorities    
State Legislature/State Governments    
Local Governments    
Public Transportation Agencies    
Public Private Partnerships and Private Sponsors    
Private Investors and Holders    
Permit Agencies    
Research Institutions    
Social Service, Community and Advocacy-Based Organizations    
Communities of Concern; Affected Populations    
Reference Tables

Examples of Resource Topic Considerations Added by Tolling -

Categories Resource Topic Questions
Mobility, Access & Safety Mobility and Access - Accessibility
  • Will the toll or the toll pricing policies result in low-income drivers being "priced out" or excluded from certain trips?
  • What reasonable alternative transportation modes are available to those who cannot afford the toll?
  • Are there adequate non-tolled corridors to serve as alternative roads?
  • If pricing yields travel-time savings, are they experienced by all users
Route, mode and trip- time - transportation choice
  • Will the additional travel costs result in lower-income users choosing to use less desirable (to them) modes or routes to meet their mobility needs?
  • Will low-income commuters change their travel times to avoid tolls or to avoid congestion on non-toll routes?
  • Will the toll facility impact transit (e.g., altered bus routes, transit times/schedules)?
Safety
  • Will the toll facility divert a substantial amount of traffic through an EJ community?
  • Will diverted traffic through EJ communities impose a higher safety risk to local pedestrians and bicyclists?
Scenarios
  • Scenario A: Untolled Bridge to Tolled Bridge, P3
  • Scenario B: HOV Lanes to HOT Lanes
  • Scenario C: Rate Change

sample scenario screens

Future Research Needs

Potential areas for research or implementation beyond the scope of the study.

  1. Convert Toolbox and Guidebook into online resource for practitioners.
  2. Establish data clearinghouse for Environmental Justice and Tolling, including such topics as:
    • Pre- and post implementation monitoring of effects
      • Survey design, sampling approaches, and findings on attitudes and travel behavior for low-income and minority populations
      • Weighting factors for travel demand models to reflect low-income populations and values of time
  3. Additional guidance from FHWA on analytical methods and required documentation to evaluate toll implementation, rate changes
    • Suggest FHWA guidance for analyzing and evaluating regional effects of tolling impacts akin to FTA Title VI guidance for transit projects for service equity.
Questions?

Contact:

Lawrence Pesesky (PI): lpesesky@louisberger.com

David Aimen (Co-PI): david.aimen@ejb.rutgers.edu

Equity Issues Related to Full Facility Variable Tolling: Evidence from a Panel Survey of SR 520 Corridor Users In Seattle

March 20, 2018

collage of pictures of transportation and Volpe staff engaged in project activities. Conveys that Volpe works across all modes of transportation and does innovative and exciting work.

Volpe
The National Transportation Systems Center
Advancing transportation innovation for the public good

U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of the Secretary of Transportation
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Survey Overview

Background & Study Motivation
  • Urban Partnership Agreement/ Congestion Reduction Demonstration Programs
    • strong emphasis on evaluation and learning
    • FHWA-sponsored evaluation at all six UPA sites, plus in-depth household surveys in Seattle and Atlanta to study impacts on traveler behavior
  • Understand how road pricing affects travelers - surveys provide insights that cannot be measured through vehicle counts, speed data
    • In what ways do individuals change their travel?
    • How does road pricing affect their attitudes & opinions about their travel?

toll bridge photo

Study Questions

How does road pricing impact:

  • Route Choice
  • Mode choice (transit, carpooling, telecommuting)
  • Origin-destination patterns
  • Trip departure times
  • Overall Vehicle Miles Traveled
  • Equity
Approach and Methodology
  • Household Panel Study: same households before and after tolling
    • 2-day travel diary plus questions on demographics, typical commute, technology ownership, attitudes
  • Sample corridor users
    • Drivers: license plate capture during AM and PM peak, with match to registered address; mail study invitations to households
    • Transit intercept in-person
    • Vanpool members: via email to vanpool participants
  • Invite ALL adult members of household to participate
  • Online survey with option to take by phone
  • Incentives ($15/$30 Amazon gift card)
  • Pilot Study
Survey Recruitment
  • Advance notification postcard
  • Invitation package
    • Letter, FAQs, Memory Jogger, unique link to survey
  • Reminder postcards and emails, as needed

reminder postcard example

sample survey

Overall Response and Sample Size
Recruitment Phase Response
Net Survey Invitations 31,873
Wave 1 Completed Households (Entire Survey Completed by All Adult Household Members) 3356
Wave 1 Response Rate (As Share of Initial Contacts) 10%
Households Retained in Wave 2 2063
Wave 1 to Wave 2 Panel Retention Rate 61%
Overall Response Rate (as Share of Initial Contacts, by Mode) 6%
Seattle: SR-520 Project Overview

map of SR-520 project area

External Factors
  • Gasoline prices: increased 35% from Wave 1 ($3.06) to Wave 2 ($4.13)
  • Transit fares: base Metro bus fare up $0.25 per ride since Wave 1
  • Employment levels: total nonfarm employees in region about 3% higher in Wave 2
Sample Demographics
  Seattle UPA Survey Respondent Panel (Weighted Data) American Community Survey, King County, 2008-2010
Male / Female 45% / 55% 50% / 50%
Household Income:    
Under $50K 13% 37%
$50K-$99.9K 35% 32%
$100K-$150K 28% 17%
Over $150K 24% 15%
White / Black / Asian / Other or Two or More 81% / 1% / 15% / 4% 70% / 6% / 14% / 10%
Hispanic or Latino 3% 9%
Bachelor's degree or higher 79% 46%
  • Higher levels of education and income compared to region as a whole, though demographically similar to other survey samples of the corridor

Equity Analysis

Equity Analysis Overview
  • Caveat: SR-520 survey not designed specifically to assess equity issues
    • Sample sizes for lower income categories are small, even before tolling
  • Approach included assessing 3 types of equity issues
    • Income
    • Geographic
    • Modal
Income Groupings: Based on Household Size
Income Group Poverty Level Year 2 Income Range Mean Year 2 Income Year 1 Trips Year 2 Trips Individuals Households
Income Group 1 Below poverty level
- 3 times poverty level
$0 - $99,999 $37,399 2,183 1,750 302 174
Income Group 2 3 - 5 times poverty level $35,000 - $149,999 $68,666 4,067 3,520 547 311
Income Group 3 5-10 times poverty level $50,000 - $250,000 + $117,037 11,959 10,025 1548 901
Income Group 4 More than 10 times poverty level $100,000 - $250,000 + $197,188 5,230 4,427 691 400
All Respondents     $118,806 27,217 23,055 3585 2058
Change in Individual Trips
  • Decline in trips across the board - but greater declines within the lowest income group, particularly for cross-lake trips
Income Group All Trips Individual Wave 1 All Trips Individual Wave 2 Percent Change Cross-lake Individual Wave 1 Cross-lake Individual Wave 2 Percent Change
Income Group 1 (~$37K) 7.23 5.79 -20% 1.70 1.22 -28%
Income Group 2 (~$70K) 7.44 6.44 -13% 1.82 1.49 -18%
Income Group 3 (~$120K) 7.73 6.48 -16% 2.05 1.69 -18%
Income Group 4 (~$200K) 7.57 6.41 -15% 2.27 1.83 -19%
All Respondents 7.60 6.43 -15% 2.02 1.63 -19%
Change in Reported Cross-Lake Trips, By Trip Purpose
  • Lowest income group making significantly fewer discretionary trips, as well as fewer work/school/child care trips
Income Group Home Work /
School /
Child Care
Discretionary Other Total
Income Group 1(~37K) -9% -34% -51% -27% -28%
Income Group 2 (~70K), -16% -18% -27% -17% -18%
Income Group 3 (~120K) -13% -19% -19% -30% -18%
Income Group 4 (~200K) -19% -18% -24% -16% -19%
All Respondents -15% -20% -25% -24% -19%
Changes in Cross-Lake Mode Share
  • Increase in transit mode share greatest among middle income groups
Income Group Driving Vanpool Transit Walking/ Biking Other
Income Group 1 (~$37K)
Wave 1 81% 1% 18% 1% 0%
Wave 2 78% 0% 22% 0% 0%
Income Group 2 (~$70K),
Wave 1 77% 1% 20% 1% 1%
Wave 2 69% 1% 27% 2% 0%
Income Group 3 (~$120K),
Wave 1 80% 2% 14% 1% 0%
Wave 2 75% 2% 21% 1% 1%
Income Group 4 (~$200K)
Wave 1 83% 2% 14% 1% 0%
Wave 2 80% 3% 15% 1% 2%
Attitudes on the Equity of Tolling

"Tolls are unfair to those with limited incomes"

bar chart showing percentages of those who think tolls are unfair to those with limited income

Table data used to generate bar chart:

Income Group Strongly Disagree Disagree Disagree Somewhat Neutral Agree Somewhat Agree Strongly Agree N/A
Income Group 1 (~$37K)
Wave 1 >5% 8% >5% 13% 12% 22% 37% >5%
Wave 2 >5%   7% 16% 24% 17% 26% >5%
Income Group 2 (~$70K),
Wave 1 >5% 7% 6% 12% 20% 20% 29% >5%
Wave 2 >5% 5% 8% 16% 18% 20% 25% 5%
Income Group 3 (~$120K),
Wave 1 >5% 11% 8% 15% 18% 20% 22% >5%
Wave 2 >5% 11% 8% 18% 22% 17% 19% >5%
Income Group 4 (~$200K)
Wave 1 7% 11% 9% 18% 22% 15% 16% >5%
Wave 2 6% 13% 11% 17% 19% 18% 15% >5%
What do Respondents Say?

Equity concerns were much less common in Wave 2 comments compared to Wave 1 comments, but were still mentioned:

  • "There should be an option for discounted tolling for low-income individuals who need to commute across the bridge."
  • "My family cannot afford the $35.00 a week it would cost me to take the most efficient route to work."
  • "As much as I enjoy an empty bridge it doesn't feel right to charge a fee to use a precious public resource. What's next, a fee to use the library? [...] I see folks in Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, etc. all loving this. They couldn't have dreamed up a scheme this personally beneficial."
  • "I am an elementary teacher who lives in Seattle, but works in Medina. I get on from I-5 and then take the first Bellevue exit. I rush as fast as I can (speeding like many others) to make it over before 7am each day to avoid the extra dollar. It is extremely expensive and luckily I am moving next year so I will avoid this added cost in my commute."
Transponder Ownership

chart showing transponder ownership

Table data used to generate Transponder Ownership chart:

Percentage of Respondents That Own Transponder
Income Group Ownership Percent
Under 50K 42%
$50K-74.9K 52%
$75K-99.9K 59%
$100K-149.9K 66%
$150K-199.9K 66%
$200K-249.9K 80%
$250K+ 79%
Toll Payments by Income Level
  • Higher income households paying more in tolls

chart showing toll payments by income level

Table data used to create Tolls Paid chart:

Average Reported Tolls Paid During 2-Day Diary Period
Income Group Amount Spent (2-day average)
Under 50K $0.66
$50K-74.9K $1.12
$75K-99.9K $1.13
$100K-149.9K $1.81
$150K-199.9K $1.65
$200K-249.9K $3.35
$250K+ $2.49
Geographic Equity
Trip Attributes by Route Pre-Tolling Post-Tolling Change
Driving Trips on SR 520: ( N=1,840) ( N= 1,032)  
  • Satisfaction with Travel Time
3.41 5.17 +1.76 *
  • Satisfaction with Travel Speed
3.35 5.16 +1.81 *
  • Satisfaction with Predictability
3.47 5.13 +1.66 *
Driving Trips on I-90: ( N=1,306) (N=1,199)  
  • Satisfaction with Travel Time
3.98 3.87 -0.11 *
  • Satisfaction with Travel Speed
3.93 3.81 -0.12 *
  • Satisfaction with Predictability
4.03 3.68 -0.35 *
Driving Trips on SR 522: (N= 104) (N= 169)  
  • Satisfaction with Travel Time
3.34 3.66 +0.32 *
  • Satisfaction with Travel Speed
3.39 3.64 +0.25 *
  • Satisfaction with Predictability
3.91 3.97 +0.06
Modal Equity:Transit User Satisfaction

Chart showing Transit User Satisfaction

Table data used to generate Passenger Satisfaction chart:

Transit Satisfaction Very Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Neutral Somewhat Satisfied Satisfied Very Satisfied
Travel Time
Wave 1 5% 6% 9% 9% 16% 37% 18%
Wave 2 >5% >5% 9% 13% 14% 38% 20%
Wait Time
Wave 1 >5% 5% 8% 13% 17% 38% 17%
Wave 2 >5% >5% 8% 10% 16% 43% 16%
Reliability
Wave 1 >5% >5% 8% 8% 18% 39% 21%
Wave 2 >5% >5% 8% 10% 17% 42% 18%
Seat Availability
Wave 1 >5% >5% 9% 7% 12% 42% 23%
Wave 2 5% 7% 10% 7% 13% 38% 19%
Modal Equity: Driver Satisfaction

Chart showing driver satisfaction

Table data used to generate Driver Satisfaction chart:

Driver Satisfaction Very Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Neutral Somewhat Satisfied Satisfied Very Satisfied
Travel Time
Wave 1 9% 13% 14% 14% 13% 25% 11%
Wave 2 >5% 7% 12% 14% 14% 33% 17%
Congestion
Wave 1 10% 14% 14% 13% 13% 26% 11%
Wave 2 5% 7% 12% 12% 14% 34% 16%
Predictability
Wave 1 10% 13% 12% 16% 14% 25% 10%
Wave 2 6% 8% 10% 13% 14% 34% 15%
Modal Equity: Evidence from Atlanta
  • HOV-2 lane converted to Express Lanes (HOV3+)
  • Must own Peach pass to use Express Lanes
  • Modal Equity Issue: what happens to 2-person carpools that are no longer able to use Express Lanes for free?
  • Profile of I-85 Trips among wave 1 HOV-2 users
I-85 Lane Type Wave 1 Wave 2
HOV/Express Lanes 64% 19%
General Purpose Lane Trips 36% 81%
1-person (81%) (43%)
2-person (17%) (52%)
3+ person (2%) (5%)
Number of Trips 422 280
Evidence from Atlanta (2)

I-85 Trip Satisfaction among HOV-2 Users

Trip Attributes Very Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied Neutral Somewhat Satisfied Satisfied Very Satisfied
Travel Time
Wave 1 10% 11% 18% 10% 14% 28% 9%
Wave 2 18% 21% 9% 9% 16% 23% 5%
Travel Speed
Wave 1 9% 13% 16% 7% 17% 28% 10%
Wave 2 22% 19% 8% 9% 13% 23% 6%
Predictability
Wave 1 15% 9% 12% 15% 15% 26% 8%
Wave 2 19% 18% 8% 9% 15% 25% 6%

Conclusions

  • Survey data show evidence of income equity impacts
    • Key difference is in foregone trips: lower income households reduced their cross-lake travel disproportionately
    • Transit mode share increased, suggesting that it is an alternative for some, but this was somewhat less true for the lowest income group
    • Equity concerns abated somewhat in Wave 2, but a majority of respondents still believe it to be unfair, especially among the lowest-income group
  • Geographic impacts were also felt
    • I-90 users expressed greater dissatisfaction with trip quality
  • Modal impacts less clear (in Seattle)
    • Small increases in dissatisfaction among transit users (seat availability)
    • HOV-2 users in Atlanta expressed trip dissatisfaction after HOT-3 conversion
Using Surveys to Measure Equity Impacts
  • Surveys are one tool in your toolbox
  • Understand the local travel context, characteristics of the road pricing strategy, and potential impacts on EJ populations
    • Type of road pricing strategy
    • Use of alternate routes? Modes?
    • Toll collection method and toll structure
Using Surveys (2)
  • Be deliberate in your study design
    • Are resources available to conduct a panel survey (before-after) - ideally with two post deployment surveys (i.e. to monitor impacts/changes over time)
    • Will your method result in a sufficient sample size of EJ populations - or do you need to oversample?
    • Does your questionnaire include the right questions?
      • Household income
      • Race/Ethnicity
      • Zip code
      • Use of alternate routes/modes?
      • Other?
    • Do you need to administer the survey in other languages?
    • Do you need to consider multiple methods (e.g., supplement online surveys with in person intercept surveys for under-represented populations)?

Thank You!

Margaret Petrella, Social Scientist

Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
margaret.petrella@dot.gov

Sean Peirce, Economist
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
sean.peirce@dot.gov

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