12th International HOV Systems Conference: Improving Mobility and Accessibility with Managed Lanes, Pricing, and BRT
BREAKOUT SESSION — ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND MANAGED LANES USERS
Tina Collier, Texas Transportation Institute, Presiding
Do HOT Lanes Service Women's Travel Needs?
Theresa Dau, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Theresa Dau discussed HOT lanes and the travel needs of women. She highlighted the key elements of women's transportation needs and the characteristics of HOT lanes. She described the experience to date with the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County and the I-15 FasTrak™ lanes in San Diego, and surveys conducted on the proposed I-680 HOT lanes in Alameda County.
- Women's expectations for transportation encompass various needs and responsibilities. These needs may include commuting to and from work, managing child care duties, running household errands, and participating in social and recreational activities. HOT lanes provide an option for improved travel conditions, which may accommodate women's transportation needs related to reliability, flexibility, and safety.
- Features of existing HOT lanes include limited-access, barrier-separation, free or reduced cost access to qualifying HOVs, and tolled access by other vehicles not meeting passenger occupancy requirements. Possible benefits from HOT lanes include helping balance supply and demand for limited roadway capacity, generating revenues for needed transportation improvements, and providing more transportation options, particularly to those who have a high value of time, such as working mothers.
- The 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, California are located in the median of the Riverside or SR 91 Freeway. The facility is currently managed by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), with operational support by the California Public Transportation Company (CPTC). Tolls on the 91 Express Lanes range from $1.05 to $7.00, depending on the level of congestion. 3+ HOVs do not pay a toll, except during the Friday p.m. peak period when they pay 50 percent of the toll. Enforcement of the facility is provided by assigned California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers.
- A customer satisfaction survey was conducted by OCTA in June 2003. Approximately 400 people — half women and half men — were included in the interview. The survey results indicate that 37 percent of the women identified themselves as frequent users of the 91 Express Lanes during the a.m. peak period, compared to 28 percent of the men. During non-rush hours, 26 percent of the women identified themselves as frequent users, compared to 16 percent of the men. Approximately 91 percent of the women and 85 percent of the men indicated they were satisfied with their experience using the 91 Express Lanes.
- The I-15 HOT Lanes in San Diego are owned by Caltrans and operated by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The two-lane reversible HOV lanes on I-15 were expanded to HOT lanes, allowing SOVs to use the facility for a fee. Dynamic pricing is used on the facility, with tolls varying by the level of congestion. The average toll during the peak hours is $4.00. Enforcement is provided by CHP based on voluntary overtime. Current plans are to include the HOT option in the extension of I-15.
- A survey of I-15 HOT lane users was conducted by SANDAG in September and October of 2001. Approximately 800 individuals were included in the survey. Approximately 24 percent of the women and 21 percent of the men reported driving alone and paying the toll to use the HOT lanes. Some 74 percent of the women and 69 percent of the men indicated they approve of the HOT project. Approximately 73 percent of the women and 68 percent of the men reported supporting the time-saving option on I-15.
- HOT lanes are being proposed on I-680 in Alameda County. The HOT lanes were proposed by the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (CMA) to ease congestion in the southbound HOV lane and to fund construction of the northbound HOV lane. The proposed I-680 HOT lanes would use the FasTrak™ toll collection, allow 2+ HOVs to travel for free, and use CHP enforcement. The HOV/HOT lanes are concurrent flow lanes with no physical barrier separation from the general-purpose lanes.
- The Alameda County CMA conducted a public opinion survey in August 2003. Approximately 450 individuals, including 225 women and 225 men, in Alameda County participated in the survey. Some 63 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women supported the choice to pay for faster commutes. Approximately 62 percent of the women and 55 percent of the men supported video and CHP enforcement. Finally, 73 percent of the women and 65 percent of the men supported the HOT lanes demonstration project.
- The results of these surveys indicate some general trends. First, women appear to use HOT lanes more frequently than men. Second, a large majority of both women and men perceive the HOT lanes to be safe. Third, both women and men perceive CHP enforcement to be effective. Fourth, based on the 91 Express Lanes survey results, 54 percent of women, would be willing to pay more to avoid congestion or delay compared to 46 percent of the men. Finally, all three surveys indicate high satisfaction and support for HOT lanes, especially among women.
- The results from these three surveys indicate that HOT lanes do serve women's travel needs. The survey results indicated that HOT lanes appeal to both women and men, with more frequent use and higher satisfaction and support for HOT lanes among women.
- Additional research would be beneficial to further explore the relationship between HOT lanes and the travel needs of women. First, it would be of benefit to review survey data from outside California and overseas to determine if the trends found in California hold true. Second, research is needed to explore equity issues, such as working mothers and their ability to pay. Third, investigating possible differences in the use of HOT lanes among women by race and ethnicity is needed. Finally, conducting a detailed survey to explore differences in why women and men use HOT lanes is needed.
Beyond Lexus Lanes: Addressing the Equity Implications of HOT Lanes
Gian-Claudia Sciara, University of California, Berkeley and Asha Weinstein, San Jose State University
Asha Weinstein and Gian-Claudia Sciara discussed the results of recent research examining equity implications associated with HOT lanes. They described the research goals, methods, findings, and assessment of planned strategies.
- The research goals were to develop materials and tools that can inform community members, elected officials, and agency staff in assessing the equity of a HOT lane project. The research method included in-depth interviews with key stakeholders on 11 operating HOT, HOV, and toll projects, reviews of newspaper articles, and a review of the professional literature on equity and value pricing.
- A first issue to be considered is how equity is defined. For this research an equitable HOT lane project was one that distributed costs and benefits in an acceptable fashion across all relevant groups of people.
- One of the research findings was that equity concerns are omnipresent but varied. Equity issues have been raised in every project studied except Houston. Concerns over equity were raised in different forms and by different groups.
- Three primary concerns related to equity were identified. The most common concern was the low-income drivers. Stakeholders in some regions also raised concerns about geographic and modal equity. Equity concerns were addressed in the media. Newspapers frequently addressed equity, but usually in a superficial sensationalist way.
- The responses from transportation agencies to equity concerns were diverse. Approaches included educational efforts, integrating equity analysis into project planning, and designating the project as a pilot.
- The results from the interviews and the review of newspaper articles and available literature were used to identify five assessments strategies for addressing equity concerns. The first assessment strategy is to evaluation each project individually.
- The second assessment strategy is to sustain the evaluation of equity over time. This approach includes fostering community dialogue on equity during initial project conception, assessing likely equity impacts during planning phases, and continuing evaluations as needed after initial implementation.
- The third assessment strategy is to explore the multiple dimensions of equity. In addition to concerns related to low-income drivers, potential geographic and modal equity issues should be examined.
- The fourth assessment strategy is to evaluate income equity in detail. This evaluation should examine if low-income individuals will benefit as solo drivers. Potential barriers for low-income drivers are the ability to acquire a transponder and the ability to pay the toll. The potential for low-income individuals to benefit as users of modes other than solo driving, such as transit and carpools, should also be examined.
- The fifth assessment strategy is to compare HOT lanes to alternative strategies and projects. This assessment might compare the equity implications of a HOT lane project with those of reasonable policy alternatives, such as sales or fuel taxes as alternative revenue sources.
Results of HOV Lane Attitude Surveys in Southern California
John Billheimer, Consultant
John Billheimer discussed the results of surveys of HOV lane users and non-users conducted in different metropolitan areas in California from 1978 to 2003. He highlighted some of the key findings from the surveys and described trends in use and perceptions related to HOV lanes.
- The following surveys of HOV lanes users and non-users were examined:
- Santa Monica Diamond Lane Evaluation (1978), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Southern California;
- Transportation System Management (TSM) Project Violation Rates (1981), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Northern and Southern California;
- HOV Lane Violation Rates (1990), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Northern and Southern California;
- San Francisco Bay Area HOV Lane User Study (1990), carpoolers, Northern California;
- Origin/Destination Studies in Six Bay Area Corridors (1995), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Northern California;
- Origin/Destination Studies on Three Bay Area Bridges (1997), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Northern California;
- Origin/Destination Studies in Eight Bay Area Corridors (1997), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Northern California; and
- Regional HOV System Performance Study (2003), carpoolers and general-purpose lane drivers, Southern California.
- There was a good deal of negative reaction among drivers, the public, and the media to the Santa Monica diamond lane project in 1978. This project, which converted an existing general-purpose lane to an HOV lane, was terminated after only about 10 weeks of operation.
- A summary of the findings from the various surveys indicates that HOV lane support has grown over time. In southern California only about 14 percent of survey respondents supported the Santa Monica diamond lanes in 1978. Surveys in 2003 indicated some 75 percent of respondents supported the HOV lanes on I-405, SR 55, and SR 55/I-5. In northern California, 31 percent of the 1981 survey respondents supported the HOV lanes on Alameda 580 and some 60 percent of the respondents supported the HOV lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- The surveys conducted in 2003 in southern California indicated strong support for HOV lanes. Over three-quarters of drivers express support or strong support (43 percent) for bus/carpool lanes in southern California. Only 5 percent strongly opposed the lanes, while 6 percent opposed the lanes.
- The 1997 survey conducted in northern California found that many carpool lane users and non-users overestimated HOV lane time savings. Similar results were recorded in the 2003 surveys in southern California.
- The 2003 surveys in southern California identified a number of characteristics about carpoolers. First, most carpools, 54 percent, are formed with family members, while 36 percent are formed with co-workers. Second, carpoolers have longer trip lengths, an average of 23.8 miles, than SOV drivers, who average 19.8 miles. Third, carpool longevity has more than doubled from pre-HOV lane reports. Current carpoolers have been ridesharing regularly for 4.5 years. Before the HOV lanes were opened, drivers reported carpools existed for 2.0 years. Fourth, carpoolers sometimes drive alone and SOV drivers sometimes carpool. Only 41 percent of self-reported carpoolers share a ride every working day. Self-described solo drivers carpool roughly one day every two months.
- The 1997 survey results from northern California indicate that carpoolers reflect a diverse mix of people. Only 62 percent of self-reported carpoolers shared rides more than half the time. Self-described solo drivers carpooled about one day every two months. Roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of HOV lane users are self-proclaimed solo drivers who just happened to be carrying a passenger that day.
- A 1981 statewide survey provides information related to perceptions of occupancy violations. First, the results indicate that drivers tend to overestimate low violation rates and underestimate high rates. Second, drivers are likely to be insensitive to changes in violation rates between 10 percent and 20 percent. Third, drivers consider occupancy violations to be a minor problem, but over 70 percent of drivers perceive a need for more enforcement.
- The findings from the 2003 survey in southern California highlighted the impact of the HOV lanes on driving patterns. Approximately 10 percent of solo drivers and 43 percent of carpoolers said that the HOV lanes had caused them to change their driving patterns in some way. Approximately 7 percent reported changing the time they drove and 6 percent reporting changing their travel route.
- The 1995 and 1997 survey results in northern California also indicated that the HOV lanes have had an impact on driving patterns. Some 18 percent of solo drivers and 52 percent of current carpoolers said the HOV lanes had caused them to change their driving patterns in some way. Changing the time they traveled was reported by 11 percent of the solo drivers, while forming a regular carpool was the predominant change for carpoolers.
- Results from focus groups conducted in southern California in 2003 provide an indication of perceptions related to HOV lanes. Perceptions from the focus groups included that the lanes have had positive impact on carpool formation and save time for carpoolers. Other perceptions were that the HOV lanes have caused mainline breakdown at key exit point, and the HOV lanes make trips scarier and more dangerous. Other perceptions included the HOV lanes cost solo driver time, the barrier-free lanes are unsafe, and illegal entries and exits are more prevalent and dangerous. Additional perceptions were that the HOV lanes were fair and that illegal use by solo drivers is minimal.