Report on the Value Pricing Pilot Program Through April 2016
Advancing Congestion Pricing: Components of Outreach and Technical Assistance Initiatives
Transportation professionals representing the Congestion Pricing and Managed Lanes Committees of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) as well as others who have been involved with the FHWA Congestion Pricing Program in the past have been quite vocal in their support of the agency's congestion pricing initiatives. The following list summarizes some of the common components and themes of existing products and services offered by the program.
Project Support and Technical Assistance To enable effective and successful implementation of each VPPP project awarded, the FHWA Congestion Pricing Program staff provide significant levels of support and technical assistance to VPPP awardees on an ongoing basis. This often time-consuming effort includes meeting with awardees via phone and in person, coordinating with project partners, reviewing project materials, and collecting and posting quarterly reports. This is a large-scale effort that requires constant support and dedication from FHWA staff to ensure that VPPP successes and lessons learned are understood and available to be shared with other agencies.
Program Involvement with Professional ForumsHWA involvement in transportation professional forums(such as the TRB Annual Meeting) has been a crucial link between public and private transportation professionals and DOT programs. With such a large cross-section of transportation experts in attendance, it is an efficient means of getting the word out on current programs and accurately sharing recent industry developments. The TRB committees are very effective at sharing common experiences, identifying research needs, and helping to plot the course for the congestion pricing industry into the future. Throughout the past two decades, "FHWA Updates" have been a key agenda item at TRB Managed Lanes and Congestion Pricing Committee meetings. Many respondents expressed that hearing first-hand from FHWA program managers in these forums was the most effective way of raising awareness of pricing success stories as well as the most recently published pricing-related outreach materials.
Written Materials (Primers, White Papers, Guidance, and Flyers) The VPPP and other related FHWA programs have delivered numerous valuable documents for industry use. During the discussions at the National Congestion Pricing Conference in 2013, two research topics were identified that have led directly to primers. These newest primer in the Congestion Pricing Primer series are Evolution of Second Generation Pricing Projects, was published in 2016 and Effective Approaches to Streamlining Back Office Operations is currently under development.
Facilitated Peer Exchanges Many agencies have benefited from FHWA-sponsored peer exchanges that include participation by congestion pricing experts. There is a great benefit in bringing together a broad array of technical specialists and key decision makers from the host agency for the opportunity to interact directly with the out-of-State expert. The local congestion pricing expert may already have certain specific knowledge; however, it lends additional credibility to have the project manager from another State deliver the message. It also creates a focus and urgency to bringing many decision makers together to meet with the out-of-State expert.
Workshops The VPPP continues to sponsor workshop series such as the one on Contemporary Tools and Approaches for Parking Pricing and Management. The initial round of workshops concluded in March 2015, including workshops in the District of Columbia, Denver, Houston, Boston, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. These events were designed primarily for parking program managers and transportation policy leaders from local governments to exchange ideas with national leaders and among themselves. The overall feedback has been positive, and an additional round of workshops began in September 2015 in Chicago; Durham, NC; and San Diego, with two more planned in Portland and Fort Lauderdale. A new series of workshops designed to support entities that desire to implement pricing will begin in March 2016. Chicago and Pittsburgh will host the first two workshops.
Webinars FHWA sponsors a continuing series of webinars that explore challenges in implementing congestion pricing. Webinars have proven to be one of the most effective and efficient means of delivering project results, research findings, and lessons learned to industry, with the Congestion Pricing webinar series consistently attracting 200 to 300 participants per event. The FHWA often partners with TRB committees in identifying congestion pricing topics that are timely and of interest to practitioners. Webinars in 2015 included: Synergies Among Congestion Pricing, Active Transportation and Demand Management (ATDM), and Other Market-Based Strategies and Evaluation Procedures for Converting from HOV Lanes to Priced Managed Lanes, and Environmental Justice Mitigation, Equity, and Public Transit on Priced Managed Lane Facilities. Recordings and presentations from these webinars can be accessed via the link in the callout box.
Web Site Updates FHWA unveiled a new Congestion Pricing Web site in late 2014 that combined the four previously disparate sites on VPPP, UPA, CRD, and the Express Lanes Demonstration Program into one comprehensive congestion pricing Web site. The site provides links to publications, tools, and other resources to help agencies implement congestion pricing. In addition, the VPPP quarterly reports continue to be posted to the Web site, providing updates on each VPPP project.