12th International HOV Systems Conference: Improving Mobility and Accessibility with Managed Lanes, Pricing, and BRT
BREAKOUT SESSION — DEPLOYMENT APPROACHES — MAKING PROJECTS HAPPEN
Robert Cady, Federal Highway Administration, Presiding
Xpress Lanes: Florida's Turnpike Enterprise Strategic Initiative to Managing Congestion
Jennifer Tsien, Florida's Turnpike Enterprise
Jennifer Tsien described the evolution of toll facilities and the use of electronic toll collection in Florida. She discussed the Xpress Lane concept, the partnership approach being used to implement the concept, current projects, and future initiatives.
- The toll payment methods used in Florida have evolved over time. Cash was the only form of payment when the first toll facilities were opened in the state in the 1950s. By the 1990s, toll plazas provided lanes for cash or electronic payment. In the late 1990s, dedicated lanes for electronic payment were in operation. In 2003, the Xpress Lanes concept was initiated. By 2008 open-road tolling is planned.
- Florida has a system-wide ETC program called Sun Pass. Approximately 54 percent of people using toll facilities in the state participate in Sun Pass. Some 1.75 million transponders have been sold. Approximately 45,000 transponders are sold per month. Sun Passes may be purchased from the toll authorities and retail partners.
- Florida's Turnpike Authority Strategy Number Four focuses on deploying Xpress Lanes. The mission is to pursue partnership opportunities to develop and build cost feasible Xpress Lane projects in congested urban areas of the state.
- The Xpress Lane concept utilizes all ETC with no toll plazas. The Xpress Lanes are optional, so non-Sun Pass users would still be able to access the toll roads. Variable pricing would be used. Emergency and public transportation vehicles would not pay a toll.
- The Turnpike Partnership focuses on investment to reduce costs and partnering to accelerate projects. The ridership and toll revenue risk are shared and reduced. Innovative toll management is used and there are opportunities for staff synergy.
- Xpress Lanes are being considered on a number of freeways in the state. Planning studies include examining design concepts, conducting traffic modeling, completing preliminary revenue estimates, and identifying construction costs.
- The Xpress 400 being considered is a 20-mile segment of I-4 through downtown Orlando. The estimated cost of the project is $2.1 billion. The Xpress 400 represents new user-financed capacity within the median of I-4. The project is being designed and right-of-way acquisition is underway. A public education campaign is being undertaken. The project is forecasted to open in 2012.
- The results from surveys and focus groups in the I-4 corridor indicate that 73 percent of the respondents believe congestion will increase in next 10 years. Approximately 85 percent support the Xpress Lanes to accelerate I-4 improvements. Some 78 percent of the respondents indicated they would use the Xpress Lanes some of the time and 30 percent would routinely use the lanes.
MnPASS System Study
John Doan, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Jeffery Buxbaum, Cambridge Systematics, Inc
John Doan and Jeffery Buxbaum discussed the MnPASS System study. They described the background to the study, the study process, the technical findings, and areas for further research. They acknowledged the involvement of Mike Subolewsky and Paul Czech with Mn/DOT in the study and the development of the presentation.
- MnPASS is envisioned to be a system of express toll lanes using ETC. HOT lanes allow SOVs to pay a toll to use an existing or proposed HOV lane. State legislation approved in 2003 allows conversion of the I-394 HOV lanes to HOT lanes. Express toll lanes, or FAST lanes, are usually defined as tolled lanes added as new capacity alongside existing, non-tolled, general-purpose lanes.
- The I-394 HOV lanes are 11 miles in length and include a three-mile barrier separated reversible section and eight miles of concurrent flow HOV lanes. For the MnPASS project there will be five eastbound and six westbound access points in the eight-mile concurrent flow section. Buses, carpools, vanpools, and motorcycles will continue to use the HOV lanes for free. SOVs will be able to use the lanes for a fee. MnPASS will be fully electronic and dynamically priced. It will open to paying SOVs on May 16, 2005.
- In early 2003, the Governor supported the idea of converting the I-394 HOV lanes to tolled lanes. Legislation was approved in the spring of 2003 allowing the HOT project on the I-394 HOV lanes. In December 2003, the Governor and Congressman Kennedy introduced the FAST lanes concept. The MnPASS System study was initiated in the summer of 2004 and the Study Steering Committee was formed. The study was completed in early 2005 and the opening of I-394 MnPASS Express Lanes is scheduled for May 16, 2005.
- There are a number of preconceived myths related to toll facilities and HOT lanes. Many of these myths had to be addressed in the MnPASS project. The first myth is that toll lanes pay for themselves and no additional public funding needed. The second myth is that tolls expire after a period of time. A third myth is that there is a great deal of private sector interest in owning and operating new toll lanes. Other myths are that toll lanes are a roads-only solution to congestion relief and that toll revenues reduce the need for additional gas tax revenues. There is also a perception that toll lanes only benefit rich people. A final myth is that toll booths are necessary despite their inconvenience.
- The goals of the MnPASS system study were to assess the feasibility of a MnPASS system concept in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, to identify and analyze potential systems of MnPASS lanes, and to identify associated policy and implementation issues. The study process included a technical analysis involving agency staff and consultants, and a policy analysis involving the MnPASS Study Steering Committee. A peer review process was also used with the study.
- The Mn/DOT Metropolitan District was responsible for overall management of the MnPASS system study. Consultants were used to conduct the technical analysis. A technical team, comprised of staff from Mn/DOT, the Metropolitan Council, FHWA, and the Transportation Advisory Board, provided technical oversight and quality control. The MnPASS Study Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from the Transportation Advisory Board, the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, Mn/DOT, and the Metropolitan Council provided policy direction to the study.
- The technical analysis identified a potential toll lane system for the metropolitan area and associated implementation issues. Capital and operating costs were examined, along with the potential for revenue generation. Travel benefits focusing on changes in travel times, operational considerations, and the impacts on the existing transportation system and policy plans were assessed. The technical analysis included one round of initial screening and two rounds of increasingly detailed analysis.
- There were seven major technical findings that emerged from the study. The first finding was that public investment is required for new roadway capacity. New capacity segments were clustered in the 15-to-55 percent capital cost recovery range, with a system-wide average of 22 percent. The second finding was that MnPASS provides a congestion-free alternative. MnPASS users travel approximately 25 mph faster during peak periods than non-users, with a three-to-four mph speed gain for non-users.
- The third finding was that the transit system would benefit from MnPASS. Modeling MnPASS express bus service on TH 36 predicted a 6.2 percent increase in ridership. The implementation of BRT has design implications on access to MnPASS lanes, placement of transit stations, and operating speeds. The fourth finding was that a regional model shows that by 2030, little excess HOT lane capacity is available for SOVs, because 2+ HOVs fill up the lanes. This finding indicates the need for flexibility in HOV definitions.
- The fifth finding was that providing hybrid vehicles with free access supports an environmentally beneficial policy of encouraging hybrid utilization, but allowing hybrids into HOV lanes built with federal funds violates current federal law. Allowing hybrid vehicles also increases toll collection and enforcement challenges. The high cost-premium on hybrids raises equity issues. Virginia is considering discontinuing its hybrid-free policy due to high use of HOV lanes. Enforcement has also proved problematic in Virginia.
- The sixth finding was that many potential projects that might have ranked high are already under construction or committed, and thus are not eligible under current policy to be considered for the MnPASS system. The I-494 design build project represents one example of a project that is not eligible. Finally, potential projects that ranked high in the technical analysis are not in the Transportation Policy Plan (TPP).
- The 2030 MnPASS system concept includes approximately 120 miles of HOT lanes. This system is estimated to save some 176,000 daily vehicle hours in 2030. It would also result in higher travel speeds than the future base condition.
- The Steering Committee consisted of 15 members. The chair was the mayor of a suburban community in the corridor. Other members included three state legislators, five local elected officials, and three Mn/DOT officials. The committee also included a representative from the Metropolitan Council, the University of Minnesota, the freight and business community, and the general public.
- The Steering Committee made a series of policy findings and recommendations. A first recommendation was that an interconnected system of MnPASS lanes should be pursued for the primary purpose of managing congestion in the area. A second recommendation was to establish transit and BRT routes on MnPASS lanes wherever feasible, and adequately fund an integrated transit system. A third recommendation was that the public sector should make decisions on when, where, and how MnPASS lanes are developed. A fourth recommendation was that public investment in the MnPASS system is necessary. A fifth recommendation was that MnPASS lanes should be identified, analyzed, financed, regulated, enforced, and owned by the public sector. A sixth recommendation was that MnPASS lanes should be fully-electronically tolled and variably priced. A seventh recommendation was that MnPASS lanes should be actively considered for future highway expansion projects, without threatening projects currently underway.
- A peer review panel assessed and validated the reasonableness of the technical and policy issues. The peer review panel consisted of three nationally recognized experts from FHWA, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, and Cal Poly State University. The peer review panel concluded that the technical analysis and findings were reasonable. They were also impressed by quality, depth, and soundness of the policy recommendations. The final reports incorporate the comments from the peer review panel.
- The MnPASS System study also identified issues for further study. These issues included evaluation of the I-394 MnPASS Express Lanes, conversion of existing free lanes, updating growth projections, and assessing the impact on transportation system needs. Other issues included examining the integration of MnPASS into the transportation planning and programming process, and exploring the potential treatment of HOVs and hybrids further.
- The next steps in the process focused on demonstrating and evaluating the MnPASS concept on I-394. Other activities included examining corridor-specific design and operational issues and addressing policy and institutional issues.
Implementing Road Pricing — European and North American Models
Jeffrey Casello, University of Waterloo
Jeffrey Casello provided a comparison of North American and European approaches to implementing road pricing projects. He described the evolution and goals related to road pricing and provided examples of successful projects. He reviewed the North American and European approaches and described opportunities and challenges in transferring these experiences. He noted the assistance of Christopher Martin Puchalsky and Mario Semmier, Ph.D. candidates at the University of Pennsylvania with the research for the presentation.
- The traditional toll road concept is based on using toll revenue to repay bonds or debt financing and maintenance of a facility. Tolls may influence demand and facility performance.
- The congestion-pricing concept modified this traditional approach. Congestion pricing is a function of network performance or the volume-to-capacity ratio. Variable tolls influence demand and roadway performance, which in turn influences demand and variable tolls. The revenue generated is used to create new highway capacity and to maintain and manage existing highway capacity.
- Contemporary congestion pricing focuses on generating revenue for existing and new highway capacity, modifying demand, improving the level of service, and stimulating market forces. Issues related to equity, public acceptance, and political feasibility may need to be considered.
- Recent examples of the successful implementation of congestion pricing in North America include the Leeway project in Lee County, Florida, the I-15 HOT lanes in San Diego, California, and 407 ETR in Toronto, Canada.
- A systems approach in transportation pricing takes the congestion-pricing concept a step further. The fundamental changes focus on revenue redistribution, facility pricing versus trip-based charges, and more broadly defined externalities. Examining the interrelationships of transportation, land use, and urban form and coordination with taxation policy are also important elements.
- North American examples of the systems approach include transit exemptions, revenue redistribution, and trip-based charges. Taxation policies provide another example of the systems approach in North America.
- European examples of the systems approach include complementary measures for public transportation enhancements and trip-based charges. Example of complementary measures for public transportation enhancements include the Swiss system of rail improvements partially funded by road revenue and the 1971 dedicated transport funding law in Germany, which provides a significant amount to transit. Examples of trip-based charges include the Dutch distance-based insurance and Norwich Union and Pfizer parking cash out programs in the United Kingdom.
- Examples of European externality pricing with the systems approach include the German fee based on the number of axles and emissions class, and the European Union (EU) white paper on transport policy in 2010. Some European pricing policies also attempt to address urban form, including examples in Durham and London in the United Kingdom and Rome in Italy.
- A number of benefits may be realized by the systems approach. Potential benefits include internalizing true external costs and realizing transportation as an economic good. Other possible benefits include improving safety, mitigating equity concerns, and promoting transportation's role in social, economic, and cultural contexts.
- There are a number of challenges in transferring the experiences in North America and Europe. The legacy of the North American automobile cost structure and the emphasis on market solutions represent two challenges. North America is also characterized by strong lobbying groups, the federal transportation policy, land use conditions and policies, and the lack of regionalism.
- The North American models appear to be successful in achieving congestion pricing goals, implementing technology, and engaging the private sector. Revenue redistribution occurs when fundamentally strong leadership exists, transit viable alternatives exist, and higher-tier governments are involved.
- European challenges include increasing vehicle kilometers of travel (VKT), dispersion of urban areas, and incidents of public opposition. European models appear more successful in understanding the interaction between transportation and urban form, implementing a wider set of trip-based pricing methods, and more broadly defining and pricing for externalities.