Congestion Pricing - Links to Congestion Pricing Home

Advancing Pricing Initiatives: FHWA Outreach and Technical Assistance

The Transportation Research Board's Congestion Pricing Committee established 2013 as the "Year of Learning for Congestion Pricing." Aside from authorizing, funding, monitoring, evaluating and documenting the various pricing projects and programs listed in the previous sections, FHWA has contributed to this "year of learning" by advancing the adoption and implementation of road, parking, mileage, rideshare and other pricing initiatives through a variety of other means. In particular, FHWA has sponsored and participated in numerous webinars and conferences on the latest and best pricing strategies to encourage widespread attention and adoption. The FHWA has also supported the development of primers, guidance documents and white papers to provide specifics on program development, successful ongoing implementation and issues pertinent to promising, emerging strategies. The DOT also continues to oversee the independent UPA/CRD National Evaluation conducted by Battelle. The evaluation report will focus on assessing the impacts of strategies, providing information and lessons learned to support deployments in other areas, and helping to inform Federal policy and program development.

Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing

The FHWA continued its successful Congestion Pricing Webinar series with Webinars focused on topics related to overcoming the challenges of congestion pricing. Webinar topics over the past year have included:

  • Incident Management and Access for Managed Lanes
  • The Impacts of Congestion Pricing – Lessons Learned from Recent Evaluations
  • The Impacts of Congestion Pricing on Carpooling and Transit
  • Managed Lanes Access Issues

The Webinars on the Impacts of Congestion Pricing were intended to provide information similar to what was heard at sessions during the National Congestion Pricing Conference, enabling those who were unable to attend the conference to participate in the discussion on these topics.

The Webinars had an average of 200 participants each, with the Managed Lanes Access Issues topic attracting over 300 participants. Participants represented State DOTs, local agencies, and private sector organizations. Recordings and presentations from all Webinars are available at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/revenue/road_pricing/resources/webinars/congestion_pricing_2011.htm, allowing the materials to be used as a resource at any time to help implement congestion pricing strategies.

The FHWA/Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) I-15 Express Lanes Workshop

This FHWA-sponsored workshop assisted the UDOT with advancing the I-15 Express Lanes program. Presenters from Miami and Los Angeles served as experts during the workshop and shared information about the strategies and key elements that lead to the successful operation and management of projects within their jurisdictions. The workshop included sessions on enforcement, outreach/communications, back office operations, changing toll rates, and degraded facilities. The workshop resulted in a series of action items to include quantifying the need for toll rate changes, developing an I-15 strategic plan, surveying existing express pass customers to determine their preferences and level of satisfaction, enhancing enforcement, and enhancing communications and outreach to encourage more motorists to use the Express Lanes.

Congestion Pricing: A Primer on Institutional Issues

This primer was published in June 2013 as part of the Congestion Pricing Primer Series. It explores a range of institutional issues commonly encountered with priced roadway lanes and parking pricing programs. These include the up-front challenges of establishing leadership, meeting legislative requirements, and setting an organizational structure. Once these challenges are overcome, there are numerous institutional issues related to the planning process, public involvement and implementation procedures. These topics are considered based upon the insights offered during a peer exchange, and from case study applications around the United States and Europe. The primer is available at https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop13034/index.htm.

Guidebook for State, Regional, and Local Governments on Addressing Potential Equity Impacts of Road Pricing

This guidebook was published in August 2013 and is designed to assist transportation agencies to better assess and mitigate perceived and potential equity impacts of road pricing projects on local communities, commuters, and system users. Addressing potential equity issues is often vital to obtaining support needed to implement road pricing projects. In order for road pricing projects to succeed, the implementing State, regional, and local agencies must understand equity issues, develop mitigating measures, and articulate the issues and mitigation strategies to both the decisionmakers and the public. This guidebook is intended to help agencies understand and communicate both the horizontal and vertical equities of their road pricing policies and projects. The guidebook is available at https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop13033/index.htm.

The UPA/CRD National Evaluation

A major objective of the UPA/CRD programs was to clearly and definitively evaluate the impacts of these multimodal projects on traffic congestion, safety, and transit use. The DOT established the National Evaluation as an independent process to assess those impacts. Representatives from the modal agencies were actively involved in the evaluation. The Battelle team was selected by the DOT to conduct the national evaluation through a competitive procurement process. The national evaluation generated information and produced technology transfer materials to support deployment of the UPA/CRD strategies in other metropolitan areas. The national evaluation also generated findings for use in future Federal policy and program development related to mobility, congestion, and facility pricing. Project participants were required to provide extensive data in support of the performance measures establish by the National Evaluation. This has proven to be the best opportunity that the managed lanes and congestion pricing community has had to develop data-driven performance measures producing statistically significant results and lessons learned. Many pricing projects over the past two decades have provided valuable lessons learned but were mostly anecdotal, lacking adequate data to draw statistically significant conclusions. The results of the national evaluation for each UPA/CRD location have been summarized in a series of national evaluation reports. These reports are in the process of being finalized and will be posted online to the FHWA Congestion Pricing Web site.

National Congestion Pricing Conference

The National Congestion Pricing Conference was the cornerstone of the "Year of Learning" effort. On July 9-10, 2013, 114 leaders in congestion pricing, managed lanes, and parking pricing convened in Seattle, WA to discuss recent successes in and challenges to advancing congestion pricing in the United States. The primary objective of the conference was raising the awareness, advancing the State-of-the-practice, and identifying the research and technology transfer needs in support of deploying congestion pricing strategies in the United States. Participants represented State, local and regional jurisdictions from across the United States and Ontario, Canada. Nearly half of the participants came from regional entities and State agencies; including MPOs, State DOTs, and tolling and transit agencies.

The workshop maximized participation by using a sequence of moderated panels followed by interactive discussion. Panelists represented the perspectives of different types of stakeholders involved in congestion pricing projects, including project managers, local elected officials, academics, State and local practitioners, and consultants. Key takeaways from the panels are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2. Key Takeaways from the National Congestion Pricing Conference
Panel Topic Key Takeaways
Innovations in Congestion Pricing over the Past 3 Years (Panel – Implementing Agency Project Managers)
  • Clearly define pricing objectives early in the process, communicate them broadly, and use them to guide project decisions.
  • Transit benefits associated with congestion pricing projects have been substantial.
  • Identify relevant key performance indicators including traffic, safety, drivers' time savings, and revenues. 
  • Funding tied to aggressive deadlines established by DOT for implementation of the UPA/CRD projects helped to expedite consensus and focus project delivery.
Gaining Support and Buy-in from Elected Officials (Panel – Elected Officials from Regions with Implemented Pricing Projects) 
  • Perceptions of elected officials are often quite different from the agency view.
  • Sources and uses of funds are sensitive with pricing projects.
  • Broad coalitions are particularly useful in politically balanced cities. A center city, suburb, and exurb coalition is essential.
  • Look for partners and champions outside of the lead public agency.
Issues, Impacts, and Lessons Learned in Advancing Congestion Pricing Projects (Panel – Project Managers, Consultants, Planners)
  • The public needs to see clear, direct benefits of pricing in their lives – a "Value Proposition."
  • Back office functionality must align with policy goals through setting clear and manageable business rules.
  • Demonstrate that you are reinvesting excess revenues and back office cost savings into the corridor and local regions.
Parking Pricing – A Key Element of Regional Congestion Pricing Programs (Panel – Agency Project Managers)
  • Effective parking management requires a balance between actual demand and supply.  Current parking minimum policies are outdated.
  • Parking pricing with advanced technology allows for a shift from violation revenue to meter revenue, which is far more effective and popular.
Congestion Pricing Projects in Seattle (Agency Project Managers)
  • Equity issues are not only related to income and environmental impact, but also jurisdictional impacts.
  • Domestic scans can be useful to share information. The scan demonstrated the value of practitioners viewing pricing projects first hand and sharing experiences with peers.
Regional Approaches for Implementing Congestion Pricing Around the U.S. (Regional Planners Involved with Pricing Programs)
  • There is a need to develop a National Vision for transportation funding as Regional Long Range Plans are starting to effectively address funding shortfalls utilizing various pricing strategies.
  • Policies, business rules, and finances will continue to be very different for each new project and must be flexible to accommodate regional networks.

Office of Operations