Report on the Value Pricing Pilot Program Through April 2012
Moving Forward: Advancing Congestion Pricing Over the Next 3 to 5 Years
Congestion Pricing in the U.S. is at a "tipping point" whereby the successes of many of the initial HOT lane conversion (and other partial pricing) projects have led directly to much more comprehensive pricing programs. Although the VPPP has already helped advance congestion pricing to date, the next 3 to 5 years will be a critical period for the FHWA to continue its work to promote and support these projects. These early adoption projects have also led to the inclusion of pricing programs and the use of pricing as a long-term strategy in some regional transportation plans, particularly in large metropolitan areas. The numerous studies that have supported these early projects have continuing value as regions take on tolled express lane networks, pricing of previously non-tolled facilities, areawide pricing, and distance-based pricing approaches to dealing with congestion. These studies, made possible by VPPP funding, have examined the issues of equity and public acceptability in support of several HOT lane conversion projects. Results of those studies are directly applicable to these more aggressive pricing programs.
The industry is on the verge of a major shift to comprehensive pricing programs, one metropolitan area at a time, which will have a significant impact on traffic congestion relief, economic growth, and sustainable transportation for our largest cities, along with the potential for generating much-needed revenues. The support of the FHWA is essential to that expansion of pricing programs, not only through grant funding, but also by providing expert staff support, technology transfer, technical assistance with evaluation and implementation, outreach to industry partners, and interstate tolling authority.
Crucial Issues in Advancing Congestion Pricing at the Regional Level
The FHWA has been evaluating the role of congestion pricing in supporting funding and regional goals and has been actively involved in a variety of outreach activities, including workshops, peer exchange activities, and the preparation of primers and white papers designed to advance the future of congestion pricing at the State, regional and local levels. In September 2011, FHWA sponsored a series of four workshops on the application of congestion pricing strategies to meet regional goals for MPO, State DOTs, transit agencies, and other interested participants. Workshop participants identified the following crucial issues in advancing congestion pricing at the regional level:
Over the next 3 to 5 years, FHWA will support current initiatives as well as advance new thinking to evolve the state of the practice on congestion pricing along five tracks of activity:
The outcomes of these five program area tracks will include activities such as:
The above activities are expected to encourage improved understanding, evaluation and integration of a full array of toll and non-toll pricing strategies in State and local planning and decisionmaking processes. The information and resources needed to implement these activities are currently being provided by FHWA through a number of outreach efforts, meant to help advance emerging trends in congestion pricing.
An important ongoing role for the FHWA in the next few years will be to provide support to regions and States in planning and implementing pricing projects through funding and technical guidance that enable regions and States to select the most appropriate programs to meet their goals. The expansion of congestion pricing across the U.S. depends heavily on the extent to which FHWA can educate States, MPOs, the public, and decisionmakers about congestion pricing and equip them with resources, information, and materials to help them develop and implement congestion pricing projects. The FHWA must continue to build awareness among these target audiences that congestion pricing is a viable solution for congestion management.
The FHWA Congestion Pricing team has been involved in several successful outreach efforts around the country related to toll and non-toll pricing strategies. Participation has been strong and feedback from participants has been quite favorable.
Between 2008 and 2009, FHWA developed several primers as part of the Congestion Pricing Primer series. The aim of the primer series was not to promote congestion pricing or to provide an exhaustive discussion of the various technical and institutional issues one might encounter when implementing a particular project; rather, the intent was to provide an overview of the key elements of congestion pricing, to illustrate the multidisciplinary aspects and skill sets required to analyze and implement congestion pricing, and to provide an entry point for practitioners and others interested in engaging in the congestion pricing dialogue. Since then, FHWA has moved from educating practitioners about what is congestion pricing, to providing them with lessons learned, strategies for overcoming challenges, and successful practices found through existing projects.
In November 2010, FHWA conducted a stakeholder workshop, attended by members of various congestion pricing related TRB committees, to identify congestion pricing outreach and education needs. The majority of workshop participants indicated that updating the FHWA Tolling and Pricing Web site with relevant information and holding seminars, meetings, workshops, and Webinars would be most useful to sharing congestion pricing related information and knowledge.
The FHWA held four 1-day peer-to-peer practitioner workshops on road pricing in September 2011 in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, DC. The objective of the workshops was to provide technical assistance to help transportation practitioners better understand approaches that integrate road pricing, land use, and multimodal investments to support regional goals, including livability. This includes information on what pricing approaches are most effective in different settings and in combination with different transportation investment strategies. Participants at the workshops included MPO planners, Federal and State DOT staff, as well as representatives from transit agencies, tolling authorities, and consultants.
"I want to express my appreciation for the webinar series on Congestion Pricing."
— Philip Winters,
The focus of the workshops was the role of congestion pricing in supporting funding and regional goals and how to integrate pricing in metropolitan transportation plans. The workshops included sessions on lessons learned from experience with congestion pricing and metropolitan planning, and included presentations and panel discussions by practitioners from different regions of the country that have implemented, planned, or conducted studies for congestion pricing programs. Through these sessions, workshop participants shared their perspectives and presenters provided insights from their experiences. This information is now being used to develop a Primer on Effective Approaches for Advancing Congestion Pricing in a Metropolitan Region.
In March 2011, FHWA launched a monthly Webinar series entitled "Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing." These Webinars are aimed at State and local agencies that are currently in the process of implementing or would like to implement congestion pricing; decisionmakers/political leaders who want to better understand the benefits of congestion pricing; MPOs that may be interested in incorporating pricing into their planning activities; and others who just want to learn more about congestion pricing strategies. The Webinars were held on a monthly basis from March through December 2011 and are being held on a bimonthly basis in 2012; the first Webinar of 2012 was held in February. Topics covered have included:
Each Webinar typically includes three or four presenters who have firsthand experience with the topic and can share their challenges, successes, and lessons learned. Webinars have averaged over 150 participants and have been very well received.
The Hampton Roads MPO included on its blog a summary of findings from the December 2011 Webinar on Results of the UPA/CRD Programs, noting that, "Given that Hampton Roads has HOV lanes which may be candidates for being converted into HOT lanes, the "lessons learned" from the Webinar are summarized below."(18)
In September 2011, FHWA (in conjunction with its partner — National Association of City Transportation Officials) held a 2-day workshop in San Francisco entitled, "State of the Practice: Parking Management and Pricing in the United States." This workshop brought together over 70 city parking policy makers and managers from around the country to share lessons learned, best practices, and plans for the future. It provided the opportunity for these professionals to experience first-hand, the details of the groundbreaking SFpark project. There was a strong interest among participants to continue this as an annual event.
Experiences and information on a wide range of parking topics were exchanged, including:
A peer exchange on congestion pricing institutional issues was held in May 2012. The peer exchange workshop examined a variety of institutional challenges and opportunities related to implementing congestion pricing programs, such as:
Participants in the peer exchange will include representatives from FHWA, State DOTs, MPOs, and other interested stakeholders. The one-day peer exchange will include short presentations and facilitated discussion. The presentations will highlight active congestion pricing projects and the institutional issues involved in planning and implementing the programs. After each group of presentations, the group will be led through a facilitated discussion to explore the issues in greater detail.
The FHWA has developed numerous primers and research reports to help guide State and local agencies and decisionmakers in implementing congestion pricing strategies. These include the Congestion Pricing Primer series, which covers topics such as non-toll pricing, technologies that enable and complement congestion pricing, transit and congestion pricing, economics of congestion pricing, and income-based equity impacts of congestion pricing. The FHWA is currently in the process of developing a primer on Active Parking Pricing and Management to provide information about cutting edge parking management and pricing policies and systems, especially the systems that use ITS and other advanced technologies that are being deployed by cities and large institutions. A primer on Congestion Pricing Institutional Issues is also in development, based on the outcomes of the Institutional Issues Peer Exchange.
Through each of these outreach and knowledge and technology transfer activities, FHWA is addressing emerging congestion pricing trends and equipping target audiences to implement congestion pricing strategies. Without the VPPP and other FHWA tolling and pricing programs these outreach efforts would not be possible. It is the outcomes, lessons learned, and success stories that are found from the VPPP that are often shared through these activities. These real world examples are what enables target audiences to trust the information provided by FHWA and understand that congestion pricing strategies can be successfully implemented in all different types of regions.
18 HRTP E-Newsletter, January 6, 2012, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?link=http://www.hrtpo.org/crossings/post/e2809cCongestion-Pricinge2809d-Webinar.aspx ↑