The Value Pricing Pilot Program: Project Updates
In FY 2012, FHWA awarded approximately $12 million in VPPP funds to 18 projects in 8 States and Washington, DC. The awards were for a variety of congestion mitigation studies or implementation projects. Table 1 lists the FY 2012 awards and locations.
In addition to these projects, numerous other projects have received funding since FY 2008. Appendix A includes a listing of all awards. The following section describes project updates from the past year.
Projects Involving Highway Tolls
Updates from Recently Deployed Projects
SR 237/I-880 Express Connectors in Santa Clara, CA
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) received $3,200,000 in VPPP funds in 2009 to implement the SR 237/I-880 Express Connectors project, which opened in March 2012. This roadway pricing project is part of the Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program, which includes the conversion of existing carpool lanes on SR 85 and U.S. 101 into Express Lanes. The SR 237/I-880 Express Connectors project relieved an existing freeway bottleneck by variably pricing a carpool ramp that connects carpool lanes on two freeways. Results from this project are providing valuable lessons from pricing applied to what is essentially a queue jump –a facility that allows vehicles to bypass points on the transportation network where congestion is particularly severe and occurs in a predictable pattern. In the first year of operation, the application of the toll led to a reduction in delays up to 20 minutes and net revenue was over $500,000. The project's one-millionth customer paid a toll in November 2013 and the project received 2013 "Project of the Year" from the California Transportation Foundation. The focus now is on delivering the Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program in segments based on sections that have carpool-to-carpool direct connectors similar to that of SR 237/I-880 Express Connectors.
I-680 Smart Carpool in Alameda County, CA
Northern California's first Priced Express Lane, covering 14 miles of I-680 Southbound, opened in September 2010. In 2004, the VPPP awarded Alameda County feasibility funds to explore pricing on I-680. In 2005, the VPPP awarded the project pre-implementation funds. The Priced Express Lane previously operated as a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Carpools, transit vehicles, and motorcycles can still use the lane free of charge. Between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., the Express Lane is operated using dynamic pricing to ensure that traffic is always flowing smoothly. As of April 2014, over 1,700,000 toll-paying customers have used the facility with toll revenue exceeding $4 million. Actual Express Lane usage and net revenue continue to exceed projections. During the peak commute hour, approximately 30 percent of the HOV/Express Lane users paid the toll and the remainder represents HOV and exempt vehicles (e.g., clean air vehicles, motorcycles, etc.) that travel free. The Express Lane continues to provide travel reliability while reducing congestion within the corridor by allowing the solo drivers from the general-purposes lanes to use the Express Lane for a fee. By opting to leave the general-purpose lanes and use the Express Lane, these solo drivers are also helping reduce congestion in the general-purpose lanes. The average speed in the Express Lane was observed at or above the posted speed limit of 65 mph during the morning commute while the average speed in the general-purpose lanes during the same peak period was observed up to 25 mph lower than the speed in the Express Lane.
Projects Deployed Since 2012
I-15 Managed Lanes/Bus Rapid Transit in San Diego, CA
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) opened its first high occupancy toll (HOT) lane conversion project on I-15 in 1998, utilizing grant funding and support from the VPPP. The original dynamically priced facility included two reversible lanes that went a distance of 8 miles. In January 2012, SANDAG opened the final segment of the now 20-mile managed lane system. The four new Express Lanes include a moveable barrier that allows up to a 3x1 configuration of the northbound and southbound lanes. The new lanes also feature a sophisticated pricing system that varies tolls for solo commuters based on distance traveled along with the amount of congestion in the Express Lanes. Light rail transit had been in the Long-Range Transportation Plan for decades for this same corridor, but a viable funding source did not materialize. In 2014, a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, called Rapid, will begin service along the I-15 corridor. This high-frequency bus service will offer increased reliability and customer convenience, similar to the services of a light rail system. Rapid features include transit signal priority, digital displays announcing next vehicle arrival times, modern bus shelters, and fewer stops.
The SANDAG has a major managed lane network defined in its long-range plan and design and planning on key corridors is underway. According to SANDAG, adding four new Express Lanes to Interstate 15 has cut the average commute by 25 percent compared with a decade ago.
LBJ TEXpress Lanes in Dallas, TX
When complete the LBJ Express Project will nearly double the capacity on the LBJ Freeway while providing commuters with more travel options. Under this project, 17 miles of eight existing general-purpose lanes on I-35E and I-635 will be reconstructed. In addition, 13 miles of new express toll lanes, called TEXpress Lanes, will be added to the route: two lanes each direction on I-35E, and up to three lanes in each direction on I-635. The Express Lanes will maintain a guaranteed speed of 50 mph. In addition, two- and three-lane continuous frontage roads will be added for better access to the roadway. Project construction began in early 2011. Phase 1, which includes 3 miles of Express Lanes on I-635 from Preston Road to Greeneville Avenue, opened in December 2013. For the first 6 months of operations, pricing on the Express Lanes will be fixed according to a pre-established pricing scheme. From that point forward, pricing will fluctuate in real-time based on demand. The Phase 2 lanes on I-35E are scheduled to open in spring 2014, and Phase 3, which will extend the I-635 lanes to connect them with I-35E, is scheduled to be completed in December 2015.
SR 167 Express Toll Lanes Continuous Access Demonstration in Seattle, WA
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has developed a 230 lane-mile system of freeway HOV lanes in the Puget Sound region that have been a popular and well-used enhancement to the freeway system. In the past decade, most Puget Sound HOV lanes have become so well used that they have lost some of their speed and reliability advantage and fail to meet State and Federal performance goals. To remedy this, WSDOT is testing HOT lanes on a pilot basis in the SR 167 corridor, and is developing a dual-lane express toll lane facility on I-405. This project will re-stripe the SR 167 HOT lane system to allow near-continuous access, provide information and outreach to customers and the public, as well as perform a before and after evaluation of the system. As of March 2014, development efforts for this demonstration project are well underway. Development of contract documents for the civil construction is complete and the project has been advertised. The development of the education and outreach plan is also complete. The beginning of outreach efforts are planned to coincide with the award of the construction contract. The WSDOT has also contracted with the Washington State Transportation Research Center at the University of Washington, to perform before and after evaluations. The evaluation plan is complete and analysis of the "before" data has begun.
Updates from Studies Underway
SR 237 Express Lanes Extension with Continuous Access in Santa Clara, CA
The SR 237 Express Lanes (Phase 2) project is an extension of the existing first phase of the SR 237 Express Lanes project called SR 237/I-880 Express Connectors. The SR 237 Express Lanes (Phase 2) project is the conversion of the remaining 4 miles of HOV lanes on SR 237 to Express Lane operations. It will provide solo drivers the option of paying a toll to use the Express Lanes during commute hours. Carpools with two or more occupants, motorcycles, transit buses and eligible hybrids continue to use the Express Connectors free of charge. The tolls are collected electronically using the proven FasTrak transponder technology already in use throughout California. Tolls for solo drivers vary based on the level of congestion and are adjusted to maintain a free-flowing ride on the Express Lanes.
The Santa Clara VTA was awarded VPPP funds in 2012 to evaluate the potential of using different access approaches, such as continuous access with no painted buffer between the Express Lanes and general-purpose lanes. It is anticipated that the study will be completed in June 2015.
Interstate 35E MnPASS Managed Lanes Extension, in Minneapolis, MN
The I-35E MnPASS Extension Study is a pre-implementation planning study that will develop and evaluate conceptual alternatives for extending MnPASS Express Lanes between Little Canada Road and CR 96 on I-35E. The study seeks to explore and test a number of managed lane scenarios to provide a higher level of service for all users. A key component is evaluation of additional transit enhancements that can increase transit and carpool use in the I-35E MnPASS Express Lanes. The goal for the Interstate 35E MnPASS Managed Lanes Extension Project is to achieve greater efficiency and performance in the corridor through better utilization of existing infrastructure, and to optimize highway system performance and customer service through transit enhancements and transit and bike/pedestrian supportive land use planning. The study is divided into three components: Concept Development, Outreach & Education, and Land Use & Transit Enhancement. Modeling work has been completed on all three alternatives (Continuous MnPASS through 35E/494 interchange, MnPASS not continued through interchange and implementing a Priced Dynamic Shoulder Lane through the interchange), including development of probable cost estimates and listing of pros and cons. In addition, a corridor simulation analysis on the Continuous and Non-Continuous alternatives has been conducted, and it was determined that the alternatives had counter-balancing benefits and costs. Three conceptual options were initially analyzed for extending the MnPASS lanes on 35E between Little Canada Rd and CR 96. Only two of the options could go through more detailed traffic analysis and modeling. The initial evaluation criteria determined that the Continuous and Discontinuous options should be modeled - the PDSL option was not modeled because it did not perform as well against several of the criteria.
The Land Use and Transit component continues to develop scenarios for improved land uses on its selected sites, although considerable effort has been expended in developing a more complete understanding of the study area. The Outreach and Education component has finalized plans to hold two community dialogues for each of three different groups: general users of the corridor, professional drivers and community leaders.
Feasibility of Pricing on I-84 in Hartford, CT
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) received VPPP funds to examine the feasibility of a variety of pricing strategies to address the deteriorating conditions on I-84 in the city of Hartford, one of the most highly traveled and congested highway segments in the region. A portion of the segment traverses an elevated structure, which is nearing its end of useful life. Replacement costs will be high, and this study will examine the potential of congestion pricing to both finance part of the replacement and better manage congestion. Data collection and evaluation activities were conducted in 2013, along with a stated preference survey to generate insights into the public's willingness to pay tolls in return for a more reliable trip. The project team completed base-year calibration of the micro-simulation model in early 2014 and is currently working on developing a future year travel demand model. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2015.
Variable Pricing in I-95 Corridor from New York to New Haven, CT
The CDOT is currently evaluating the potential of congestion pricing strategies on the heavily congested I-95 corridor from New York to New Haven to better manage traffic and improve the efficiency of existing facilities. The study will also explore the ability of congestion pricing to generate revenues to finance transit improvements. Data collection activities to understand traffic patterns on the corridor are underway, including truck surveys, origin-destination surveys, and license plate surveys. The data will serve as inputs to a Travel Demand Model of the corridor, which in turn will be used to assess the likely impacts of various pricing strategies. The project team completed the draft existing conditions report in early 2014. In addition, initial calibration of the travel demand model has started. The project consultant obtained and tested the Regional Transit Forecasting Model and found that mode shift is sensitive to highway tolls. The model will be used once scenario evaluation begins in late summer 2014. A workshop will be scheduled in mid to late 2014 to go through the whole corridor and determine the extent of right of way impacts. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2015.
Influencing Travel Behavior, Sensitivity to Environmental Justice, and Use of Innovative Technology in Austin, TX
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is conducting a study to determine which types of congestion pricing incentives and programs on IH-30/Tom Landry Highway will most encourage drivers to seek alternatives to driving alone or outside of peak periods. Smart card technology will track subscribers' managed lanes use, and they will be awarded incentives based on how they choose to use the managed lanes. The study also includes an equity component to explore the potential impacts managed lanes have on low-income travelers. In 2014, the team completed the real-time casual carpooling mobile application for the region. The Texas Transportation Institute initiated work on the enhancements to "Traffic Thermostat Framework" including the development of goals and performance measures. The "Traffic Thermostat Framework" is a tool that can help make operating decisions for priced facilities and can guide changes in operational strategies for a facility over time.
Studies Completed Since 2012
Charlotte, NC Region Managed Lanes Study
The city of Charlotte was awarded VPPP funds in 2011 for the third phase of a series of studies to determine where "fast" lanes – HOV, HOT or truck-only toll facilities – should be implemented in the Charlotte region. The primary objectives of this study completed in June 2013 were to familiarize the public with congestion pricing, their acceptance of managed lane projects, and define preferred managed lane projects for two specific corridors on US-74 East and I-485 South. Public assessment activities were conducted to determine the public's understanding of and support for congestion pricing projects. Results showed that 56 percent of telephone respondents supported the fast lanes concept, and 85 percent of interviewed stakeholders preferred this approach to raising taxes. The team conducted technical analysis to generate recommendations for fast lane projects on the specified corridors and to estimate traffic and toll revenues associated with the projects. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is currently considering a public-private partnership (PPP) to implement the I-77 North HOV-to-HOT lanes conversion and extension project.
Regional Bus Toll Lanes in Tampa, FL
The Tampa-Hillsboro Expressway Authority received $800,000 in VPPP funds to evaluate the potential of advancing the first regional network of bus toll lanes (BTL) in the Tampa area through a BTL Concept Feasibility Study. The BTL is a price-managed lane with up to 10 percent of the capacity dedicated strictly to bus-transit. While buses would travel without paying the toll, the BTL would be open to use by all light-duty, two-axle vehicles and would be price-managed to assure the desired level of service on the facility. The BTL would maximize passenger throughput by employing proven bus technologies, all electronic open road tolling, and dynamic congestion pricing techniques. The final report for the study was completed in July 2013. It shows that even with a conservative estimate of 10-minute bus service headways (6 buses per hour); the BTL could raise the potential people-moving capacity by 187 percent over a congested highway lane. In addition, all three of the hypothetical BTL networks studied would provide new fare box revenues that would cover 100 percent all of system operations and maintenance costs. Supplemental activities to identify and evaluate potential BTL projects in Hillsborough County are underway. This will include identification of 10 potential alternative routes and completion of the scope of services for the supplemental activities, involving traffic and revenue projections, cost projections, and financial feasibility analysis for each of the potential routes.
Integrating and Financing Transit with Managed Lanes on the I-90 Corridor in Chicago, IL
This study modeled the impacts of operating the two new lanes (one in each direction) to be added to the I-90 Jane Addams Memorial Tollway as managed lanes. It also examined how transit could be integrated and financed through priced managed lanes and evaluated steps to mitigate equity concerns for potential low-income users. The final report for this project was completed in July 2013. The study found that managed lanes on the Tollway are not warranted for the immediate future. Results also showed that a separate project underway to complete the Elgin-O'Hare Western Access Expressway, combined with the planned lane additions to the Jane Addams Tollway, would relieve congestion on the corridor through 2030, and managed lanes would actually negatively impact corridor performance due to weaving at managed lane entrance and exit points. Ongoing design and construction for the Jane Addams Tollway includes an extra wide median and electrical infrastructure that could accommodate managed lanes in the future.
Trunk Highway 77 Managed Lanes in Minneapolis, MN
The Trunk Highway 77 Managed Lanes project in Minnesota was awarded $540,000 in VPPP funds in 2009 funding for a pre-implementation planning study that explored and tested a number of managed lane scenarios to provide a higher level of service for all users. The study also evaluated whether managed lanes concepts were compatible with long-term plans to develop Cedar Avenue BRT. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) completed the original study in early 2011. The new BRT service opened from the Apple Valley transit station to the Mall of America in June 2013. The remaining project funds financed Phase II, which includes preliminary engineering and evaluation work for three alternatives: 1) a contra-flow lane for northbound AM peak traffic; 2) a permanent MnPASS lane; and, 3) a hybrid design. The study also considered options to provide better direct access to the Cedar Grove park-and-ride lot. The MnDOT completed Phase II of the study in late 2013 and found that adding managed lane capacity on I-494 is necessary prior to MnPASS implementation on TH 77. The main concern is that creating MnPASS capacity on TH 77 prior to I-494 improvement will only serve to compound a bottleneck at the I-494 on-ramp westbound.
Projects Not Involving Tolls
The VPPP has awarded a portion of its funds to projects that did not involve highway tolls. The majority of these projects fall into one of three categories: parking pricing, priced vehicle sharing and dynamic ridesharing, or pay-as-you-drive-pricing initiatives.
Parking pricing encompasses parking policies that rely on market forces to influence the decision to drive. Strategies include variable pricing of curbside parking, commuter parking taxes, and parking "cash out" programs that require employers to provide their employees with the option to take the value of free or subsidized employee parking in cash in lieu of using the parking space provided by the employer.
Parking Pricing Projects with Recent Results to Report
Priced Smart Parking Field Test at Commuter Rail Stations in San Diego, CA
This VPPP project focused on developing pre-implementation products for smart, paid parking on North County Transit District's COASTER commuter rail service. In addition, stated preference surveys and other data were used to determine the relative impacts on parking and ridership of increasing transit fares by $1 round-trip or beginning to charge $1 for commuter parking, if revenues need to be raised from one of these sources. The results indicate that, where parking availability is not constrained, increasing fares would result in fewer losses in ridership and revenue than charging for parking among park-and-ride commuters. Only 20 percent of drivers believed that a change in parking fares would not influence how they used COASTER, as opposed to nearly 60 percent of non-drivers. In addition, 38 percent of drivers said they would not change the way they used COASTER in response to fare changes, versus 42 percent of non-drivers.
goBerkeley Parking and Transportation Demand Management Pilot in Berkeley, CA
This VPPP project involves a pilot program called goBerkeley, which seeks to reduce congestion in the city of Berkeley through parking pricing and transportation demand management strategies. The program promotes alternatives to driving, such as biking, walking, transit, and carsharing. It also includes variable parking rates to control the demand for parking spaces, along with signage directing drivers to available parking, more flexible parking time limits, and more methods to pay for parking. These elements are all designed to decrease the number of drivers "circling" for parking spaces, and thereby decrease congestion. The goBerkeley project launched in June 2013, and data collection activities to better understand parking demand, turnover, usage characteristics, and parker behavior will be conducted during the pilot. The project is halfway complete as of March 2014, with excellent results that demonstrate that demand-responsive parking pricing works in the City. Transit and carsharing incentives were distributed to participants in summer 2013, while demand-responsive parking rates were implemented in fall 2013 to encourage shifts in parking demand.
At the halfway point, the transit and carsharing incentive programs have attracted many participants – the exact mode shift and change in vehicular use will be collected and analyzed in June 2014. From data collected on the parking pilot, changes to parking rates and time limits have caused significant shifts in parking demand from congested blocks to blocks with available parking. Some areas have reached target occupancy of 1-2 available spaces per block. In general, the project has seen decreases in the percentage of blocks that are congested, or full, in the pilot areas. The Downtown area, which has 65 percent of the metered spaces in the pilot, saw a 9 percent decrease in the number of blocks that were full between June 2013 and January 2014. However, there are some pilot areas where there is room for improvement– a recommended increase to parking rates was presented to the City Council on April 29, 2014 and will be implemented June 2, 2014 if approved.
Findings have also indicated that most drivers do not purchase the full parking time available. For example, in the Downtown area, for the premium 2 hour time limit, the average time purchased is 0.97 hours and for the value 4 hour time limit, the average time purchased is 1.27 hours.
Staff will meet with stakeholders to discuss a potential extension of parking meter operating hours into the evening to manage high demand. In parallel, the City is ready to test the ability of enforcement technology to collect parking data so the City can make parking policy decisions in the future based on data collected during enforcement patrols. Though this data source would be less robust than parking sensors, it would also be much less expensive and accessible to many small to mid-sized cities for. The technology pilot will begin in summer 2014. All pilot activities above will conclude in December 2014.
Incentives to Reduce Off-Street Parking Supply and Car Use in King County, WA
King County Metro's "Right Size Parking" project seeks to promote livability by reducing the supply of and demand for parking in new developments and by providing new residents with a range of transportation choices that are less costly than car ownership. This, in turn, facilitates the building of more compact, transit-oriented communities. The project includes a dynamic Web site where users can calculate parking use at developments in order to guide decisions on building and managing parking. Incentives are being offered to jurisdictions and developers to test pricing and right-sizing of parking supply, and engagement activities are being conducted with the development community to encourage use of parking demand information and implementation of parking pricing strategies. The surrounding jurisdictions established a local competitive grant program for localities and developers to take aggressive actions to reduce parking supply and to promote alternatives to car ownership and use.
Pilots to test parking pricing, parking management, and transportation demand management strategies were awarded to four partner King County cities: Seattle, Kent, Kirkland, and Tukwila and began in 2014. The intent of the pilot projects is to apply the findings from the RSP research to better align jurisdiction parking regulations with regional goals, like increased transit ridership and affordable housing. Policy changes under consideration by the municipalities range from reductions in parking minimums to management strategies including shared parking and a residential parking program update.
In December 2013, King County Metro published Right Size Parking Model Code, aimed at municipalities looking to right-size their residential parking supply. The document provides a menu of options and explanation of each policy choice.
Off-Peak Commuting Incentives and Parking Pricing at Stanford University
This project focuses on using behavioral economics to design transportation pricing schemes in order to optimize consumer responses in furtherance of public policy goals. The project partners include Caltrans, Santa Clara County, and Stanford University. Regular Stanford campus commuters can sign up for a program called Capri, through which they earn credits for driving on or off campus at off-peak hours or for biking or walking to and from campus. The project uses Radio Frequency Identification tags and a smartphone application to record vehicle entry and exit times. Credits can be used to earn cash rewards ranging from $2 to $50. Daily incentives will also be deployed to discourage parking in the most over-subscribed lots instead of in less desired, more peripheral facilities. As of January 28, 2014, 3837 Stanford affiliates have registered for Capri. These participants have conducted a total of 573,099 Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID)-scanned trips and 54,960 app-based trips, and received a total of $143,288 in incentives.
Priced Vehicle Sharing and Dynamic Ridesharing
Priced vehicle sharing involves the provision of vehicles, typically by a commercial vendor, for use by members in exchange for an hourly or daily charge. The periodic rates for use can vary in response to demand or be fixed. Customers have the advantage of using the vehicle only when needed and can avoid owning a car or need for a family to purchase additional vehicles. Priced vehicle sharing also includes peer-to-peer (P2P) carsharing, in which owners rent their vehicles out for use, and all vehicle ownership costs are converted to hourly rental costs that include insurance and gas. Human contact is not required for any part of the transaction. The P2P carsharing can be offered at a lower cost than vehicles leased exclusively for carsharing, enabling less dense and lower income areas to be served, and making shifting from car ownership to carsharing more attractive. Participating car owners will be able to maximize their revenue potential by using their own vehicles as infrequently as possible (and leaving them in the shared-vehicle fleet), further reducing congestion. Dynamic ridesharing involves matching of drivers and riders without pre-planning a car pool. The ride matching process can be conducted in real time aided by smart phone technology or can occur at pre-designated pick-up locations. Priced dynamic ridesharing adds the element of cost sharing.
Priced Vehicle Sharing and Dynamic Ridesharing Projects with Recent Results to Report
Dynamic Ridesharing with Financial Incentives in Northern Virginia
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is implementing a pilot dynamic ridesharing program on the I-95/395/495 corridor from Fredericksburg, VA, to Washington, DC. The program includes a range of cash incentives to attract both drivers and riders to participate, focusing on Department of Defense employees and contractors who were impacted by base realignment and closure relocations. A private sector partner, Avego, is providing dynamic ridesharing software that will be coupled with global positioning system (GPS)-enabled smart phones to facilitate finding and executing ride matches, tracking and recording of journeys, and transferring money automatically (mostly from riders to drivers, although riders will be provided "credits" to spend before having to contribute their own funds). As of September 2013, nearly 900 users signed up for the program and 250 user trips were made, resulting in over 4,481 pounds of CO2 emissions reduction and 5,050 total travel miles shared. The pilot program has found, based on the number of registrations and positive feedback that the most effective marketing tool has been on site events at targeted military installations.
Peer-to-Peer Carsharing in Portland, Oregon
This project is a collaborative effort between FHWA, Getaround Inc., Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) to evaluate the effects of P2P car sharing and other incentives on people's travel behavior in the city of Portland, OR. The project will assess whether P2P car sharing reduces overall vehicle miles traveled by marginalizing the cost of driving for both car owners and renters, while both creating a revenue stream for car owners and increasing access to jobs and activities for those without cars. Additional factors such as usage-based insurance and peak usage pricing will also be studied.
In-vehicle technology is being installed to allow renters access to the vehicles at times the owners choose to make them available, and to collect data on mileage and time of driving. The project will have a peak-period surcharge default and will uniquely offer Pay-As-You-Drive-Insurance (PAYDI) priced by the hour to both vehicle owners and renters. Data will be collected from the GPS in-vehicle units, the reservation system, and participant surveys and will be analyzed by the Oregon National University Transportation Center.
By the end of March 2014, there were 193 active study participants and 36 percent or 122 owner participants had completed the 3 surveys that have been sent to date. The study has found that revenue follows a cyclical pattern, with peaks in summer and troughs in winter. Approximately 7 percent of the rental activity occurs among the top 20 percent of owners. Twenty-nine percent of owners have never completed a rental, while 45 percent have completed 1-9 rentals and just over one-quarter completed more than 10 rentals. Cars with rental activity completed on average of one rental per month and earned an average of $45 per month gross income.
Real Time Carpooling Automated Toll Discounts in Austin, TX
This innovative VPPP project deploys real-time ridesharing, facilitated by technology and incentives. The project will link dynamic ridesharing and tolling systems automatically providing participants sharing rides with a toll discount. Carpoolers who use the free app (CARMA) on the 183-A Tollway or the U.S. 290 East Tollway, known as the Manor Expressway, get half or their entire toll reimbursed, depending on how many people are in the car. Carma allows users to match up and message one another before sharing a ride. Users create a profile, input their commute and schedule, and register their TxTag and license plate information. Drivers using Carma get a 50 percent toll reimbursement through their TxTag account if they have one passenger and a 100 percent rebate if they have two or more passengers. As of March 2014, 582 Austin-area residents have downloaded Carma. The Carma could be the first system to verify carpoolers, which otherwise might take a police officer on the side of the road or cameras, and then provide them with toll reimbursements.
Dynamic Ridesharing Pilot with Pricing Incentives in Santa Barbara, CA
Dynamic ridesharing is single-trip carpooling efficiently facilitated by telecommunications technologies and social networking structures, where participants need not bind themselves to travel arrangements until the last minute and make no long-term commitments. This VPPP project is implementing a technology-facilitated dynamic ridesharing program called SmartRide in the Santa Barbara region that includes a range of cash incentives to attract both drivers and riders to participate. The system is based on a GPS-enabled smartphone platform and involves commuters on two congested segments of U.S. Route 101. For a preliminary trial period, 20 drivers and 20 riders were recruited in each of the 2 corridors (80 participants in total) and were offered cash incentives and reimbursement for mileage and cell phone service. The pilot then expanded to include 360 total participants for a full pilot from January 2013 to March 2014. Data analysis and the final report will be completed in spring 2014. The SmartRide Program was officially launched on the Santa Barbara City College campus during the first quarter. The implementation team conducted significant marketing on campus, in classrooms, on the Metropolitan Transit District buses and in Isla Vista. A total of 439 SmartRide accounts were created during the initial outreach push. While this number is significant, the team had difficulty generating actual carpool trips using SmartRide. Only a few carpool trips were being made each week. During this quarter, the team offered $5 or $20 Amazon cards for participants to sign up and start carpooling. The team also raffled off two iPads to participants that were carpooling using SmartRide. The Hwy 101 commuter corridor will be the next target audience, which will begin in July and August.
Priced Electric-Assist Bicycle Sharing in San Francisco, CA
This project is testing priced electric-assist bicycle sharing stations at 25 locations, with electric-powered bicycle trailers at up to 10 of the locations, in San Francisco and Berkeley. The bicycle stations will be located adjacent to carsharing stations, and study area will overlap with some areas where the federally funded SFpark parking pricing project is being deployed. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco City CarShare will set an hourly price for the electric bicycles at 50 to 70 percent less than the price for cars, and the same reservation, access, and billing systems will be available for both. The test will see how many carshare trips are replaced with electric bicycle/trailer trips. Travel behavior comparisons will be made between electric-assist bicycle sharing deployment neighborhoods and similar control neighborhoods, and between participants who are granted access to electric bicycles and a control group whose access will be temporarily restricted. University of California, Berkeley Transportation Research Sustainability Center (TSRC) is leading the data collection, surveying, focus groups, and analysis as the pilot progresses.
In 2013, City CarShare identified locations for the electric bicycle stations and conducted the environmental review process. In January and February 2014, TSRC completed two focus groups in San Francisco and Berkeley in relation to the designated areas of implementation of the electronic bicycles program. Following these focus groups observed by City Carshare staff, TSRC completed analysis of pre-focus group questionnaire data and wrote summaries of both groups. These data and summaries were compiled into an executive summary that will be delivered to City Carshare for review and consideration leading to implementation of their e-bikesharing program. Additionally, the summary will help inform the design of the 'before' survey questionnaire with City Carshare members to discern their willingness to participate in and pay for services associated with the e-bikeshare component of their City Carshare membership services.
Distance Based or Pay as You Drive Pricing
Fixed costs of vehicle ownership, such as insurance costs or registration fees, do not currently depend directly on the amount the vehicle is driven. Projects in this category are designed to convert those fixed costs into costs that vary according to the miles the vehicle is driven, thus giving the driver the incentive to recognize these costs when making the decision to drive. Strategies in this category include mileage-based user fees and pay as you drive insurance, and they are unique in providing drivers direct financial savings for reducing their driving. Studies indicate that PAYDI would save 64 percent of households an average of $270 per year on each insured vehicle. Advanced projects relying on GPS may be able to make an even finer distinction for pricing of auto use according to time and location of travel.
Distance Based or Pay as You Drive Pricing Projects with Recent Results to Report
Minnesota Mileage-Based User Fee (MBUF) Research and Outreach
The MnDOT received VPPP funding in September 2006 to conduct Statewide outreach on application of MBUF in Minnesota. Subsequently, in May 2011, MnDOT began conducting technical research on using MBUF as an alternative to the fuel tax. This project developed into a statewide effort to investigate public understanding and opinions of mileage-based charges via interviews, focus groups, and qualitative surveys. A MBUF Policy Task Force was developed to evaluate issues related to a potential MBUF system. The Policy Task Force issued its Final Report in December 2011, in which they recommended that the MBUF approach could be a potential supplement or alternative funding method to the fuel tax, but a full-scale implementation should not proceed due to unfamiliarity with MBUF among the public and policymakers and the technological and operational complexities of a potential MBUF system. However, the Task Force did recommend that exploration of a MBUF for Minnesota continue to advance. Accordingly, MnDOT conducted a technical demonstration with 500 participants to test the effectiveness of using smart phone technology to collect MBUFs. This research was completed in 2012, and the final report was published in February 2013. Some of the key findings from the research include that participants were accepting of modest monthly MBUF invoices, privacy was not a major concern to participants, and drivers value simplicity in the design of any alternative transportation funding program. The demonstration also provided insight into the types of planning, management, and customer interactions that would be required of a full-scale MBUF program.
Oregon Mileage-Based Road User Fee Evaluation
The ODOT conducted a test designed to demonstrate the feasibility of area-wide, mileage-based road user fees as well as congestion pricing. The purpose of the pilot test was to demonstrate the technical and administrative feasibility of implementing an electronic collection system for MBUF and congestion tolls. The on-board technology was demonstrated in May of 2004. Twenty trial vehicles were equipped with the on-board devices in the fall of 2005. In the spring 2006, after verifying successful functionality, 260 trial participants in Portland, Oregon, had the on-board equipment added to their vehicles. For a period of 1 year, participants paid distance charges rather than the fuels tax (when they filled up at the fuel station, the fuels tax was deducted from the bill and the mileage charge was added). At the conclusion of the study, ODOT successfully demonstrated the feasibility of both MBUF and congestion pricing. The ODOT is now conducting additional pilots that give driver's options and address security concerns, using devices without GPS as well as devices that link to GPS already in drivers' smart phones. As a result of the success of the pilot programs, Oregon is now considering enacting the mileage-based road user fee program into law in 2014. The law would require vehicles made in 2015 or later and getting at least 55 miles a gallon to pay the road user charge.
Distance-Based or Pay as You Drive Pricing Projects with Results Not Yet Available
Pay-Per-Mile Insurance and Supporting Incentives in Texas
The VPPP awarded funds to the TxDOT in 2010. The original partners to TxDOT included MileMeter Insurance and NuRide, which helps commuters find alternatives to driving alone in return for cash-based incentives such as gift cards. The NuRide system lists ride matches for requested times by the percentage of route overlap and allows users to limit searches by a host of factors, such as to a circle of personal friends and colleagues, to riders and drivers who other participants have rated highly, or to people of the same gender. The Texas Transportation Institute was also a partner responsible for leading the evaluation of the project. The project intended to assess measures such as changes in VMT; changes in mode use; changes in cost of travel due to the PAYDI model; and other differences in traveler behavior (e.g., number of trips, trip timing, and trip chaining) among different socioeconomic demographics and in rural versus urban drivers.
In late 2013, the TxDOT decided it no longer wanted to lead this project after three unsuccessful attempts to secure an insurance company for the duration of the project. MileMeter Insurance decided that it was no longer in its interests to participate in this project. Two other insurance companies were subsequently invited to participate in this project, but they ultimately declined for similar reasons. The FHWA is presently reviewing the feasibility of continuing the project under the direction of the Texas Transportation Institute.
Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance in Washington State
The VPPP awarded funds to the State WSDOT and its partner King County Metro in 2007. This pilot was designed to field-test telematics recording devices on a sample of approximately 5,000 vehicles, collect baseline data, select a PAYDI premium structure, and roll out and test it in the State of Washington. In addition to mileage, the telematics devices would have collected data on where driving occurs; total driving time; speed; time and day usage; routes; and aggressive stopping and acceleration, some of which may be incorporated into the premium structure. Study participants would have been recruited from Unigard Insurance Company policy holders. Half of the participants in each experimental group would have received free transit passes along with the PAYDI. Participant surveys before, during, and after the study phase would have addressed issues of customer satisfaction, changes in travel modes and travel behavior, use of transit passes, and participants' intentions to continue with their current insurance policy. A control group, whose mileage and claims rates would have measured just as for the experimental groups, would have received discounts based on traditional risk factors.
In late 2013, the WSDOT and the King County Metro decided to end this project because of the difficulty of finding a long term insurance company partner, after Unigard withdrew from the project. In addition, the WSDOT felt that since award of the VPPP grant in 2007, the insurance market has begun to adapt to delivering a product that meets the goals of the project, on its own, without the need for public support.
Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance Implementation in Massachusetts
This VPPP project, awarded in 2012, is a cooperative undertaking by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Division of Insurance and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, along with Plymouth Rock Insurance, the Conservation Law Foundation Ventures, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (as the evaluator). Over 3,500 participants will enroll in a PAYDI program, and before-pricing driving data on all participants will be collected. Different pricing protocols will be tested, varying the form of pricing (first using straight mileage pricing, then varying mileage rates by location and time of day); and the nature and frequency of communications to customers. There will also be monitoring of an additional 5,000 drivers who are never priced, to serve as a control group. Because insurance is very costly in Massachusetts, and also because the pilot will over-concentrate recruitment in congested urban areas where there are good transit and other alternatives to driving, it is expected that substantial changes in driving behavior will result, demonstrating the potential for significant reductions in congestion if deployment were to be further expanded beyond the pilot. A thorough study plan was included with the application that will ensure that the effects of PAYDI on both mileage and on driving during congested times and in congested conditions will be discerned.