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Report on the Value Pricing Pilot Program Through April 2016

Key Goals for Advancing Congestion Pricing Over the Next 3-5 Years

Program results clearly demonstrate that the application of congestion pricing strategies across the country has successfully relieved localized congestion problems in major metropolitan areas. That is why it remains an important congestion management strategy for the FHWA. Efforts and initiatives to effectively support and mainstream congestion pricing will remain a focal point for FHWA programs to reduce traffic congestion and improve the reliability of the transportation system.

With the completion of many of the VPPP projects and the national evaluation of the UPA and CRD programs, FHWA is now focusing on delivering a comprehensive congestion pricing program that uses the cumulative lessons learned and successes of all three programs rather than focusing on the individual findings of each. This comprehensive approach ensures that outreach efforts take into account the wide variety of stakeholders, strategies, and approaches that have been used or are being used across all FHWA congestion pricing programs.

In the past few years, the rapid increase in priced managed lane deployments indicates that acceptance of this strategy has continued to spread in major metropolitan areas of the United States. It is anticipated that eventually managed lanes will also be considered a "mainstream" strategy for regions in which they have been deployed, as HOT lane conversions became during the 2005-2010 period.

However, FHWA also desires to advance the use of all demand-based pricing strategies, not just priced managed lanes. Non-toll congestion pricing strategies such as parking pricing, PAYD insurance, car sharing, bike sharing, dynamic ridesharing, and other strategies that turn the fixed costs of driving into variable costs have experienced strong successes as well. There is a significant opportunity for regions that have installed priced managed lanes to expand into other demand-based pricing strategies to further increase utilization of transportation alternatives such as transit, carpools, and vanpools on a broader scale.

In order to change the conversation about priced facilities, it is appropriate for us to change the way we talk about priced facilities. One way to do this is to begin using the more comprehensive term "demand-based pricing" in reference to the many strategies that FHWA supports through its congestion pricing program. This change in terminology may also work to broaden the appeal of priced facility strategies in terms of public acceptance, as history has shown that the public's first reaction to "tolled lanes" is typically outright rejection.

The FHWA anticipates that, in the future, synergies among demand-based pricing approaches will enhance significantly the effectiveness of comprehensive and coordinated regional programs. Second-generation pricing approaches will combine regionwide pricing strategies, such as VMT fees, cordon pricing, and regional pricing, with non-toll strategies. Table 2 provides an overview of the FHWA Congestion Pricing program's goals, objectives, and strategies over the next 3-5 years.

Table 3. Overview of the FHWA Congestion Pricing Program's goals, objectives, and strategies over the next 3-5 years

Goals

Objectives

Strategies (or Program Components)

Mainstream demand-based pricing into the mindset of transportation decision makers and managers as a viable option.

Mainstream demand-based pricing among those regions that have implemented projects already.

  • Increase significantly the number of major metropolitan areas that include language promoting the expanded use of demand-based pricing strategies in their long-range transportation plans.
  • Increase significantly the number of metropolitan areas (that are currently using at least one demand-based pricing strategy) that undertake studies on implementing additional, complementary demand-based pricing strategies within the region.
  • Study incentive-based pricing to manage demand.
  • Create and enhance analytic decision-making tools that will help state, local and regionalentities determine the most effective demand-based pricing strategies.
  • Study the potential early deployment of connected vehicles/automated vehicles (CV/AV) in priced managed lane corridors.
  • Assist industry in achieving national interoperability of toll transaction technologies.
  • Develop the types of outreach products to decision makers that the public and transportation experts have identified as being most useful in deploying congestion pricing projects.

Mainstream demand-based pricing among those localities that have not yet implemented such projects.

  • Identify the metropolitan areas (top 30 metro areas in annual congestion) that have no demand-based pricing projects and target them for outreach from FHWA Division Offices to find out who is considering but has not implemented so they can be offered marketing assistance.

 

Expand public acceptance of demand-based pricing.

  • Host deliberative forums in all regions interested in congestion pricing strategies.

 

(Note: The Metropolitan Washington COG VPPP study on public acceptance of road pricing offers an effective future outreach effort. For more information, see: http://www.mwcog.org/store/item.asp?PUBLICATION_ID=470)

  • Develop a tool for local agencies to use to help them identify areas of specific concern among the public so that those concerns can be targeted for response.
  • Develop a media kit for use by local and regional agencies considering a demand-pricing project.

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