12th International HOV Systems Conference: Improving Mobility and Accessibility with Managed Lanes, Pricing, and BRT
BREAKOUT SESSION — UPDATES ON DIFFERENT USER GROUPS
Darren Henderson, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., Presiding
A Systems Approach for a Metropolitan HOT Network: The Case of Atlanta
Daniel Drake, State Road and Tollway Authority
Daniel Drake described the assessment of a potential HOT lane network for the metropolitan Atlanta area. He recognized the assistance of Michael Meyer in the study. He summarized the background of the assessment, the analysis process, and the study results.
- Georgia Senate Resolution 575 acknowledged the worsening traffic conditions in the Atlanta metropolitan area and requested the GDOT to study the feasibility of HOT lanes in the region. The study scope included the Atlanta region and the GA 400 corridor.
- A number of activities have been completed in response to Senate Resolution 575. First, a multi-agency steering committee was established to help oversee the various efforts. Second, market research was conducted to obtain a better idea of preferences for different options. Third, the impacts of managed lane operations were modeled. Fourth, the costs and revenues of different managed lane alternatives were estimated. Finally, the most promising corridors for further study were identified.
- As with most metropolitan areas, traffic congestion is a major problem on the freeway network in the Atlanta region. HOT and managed lanes represent one approach to addressing traffic congestion. HOT and managed lanes can achieve better utilization of limited highway capacity and increase the number of options to travelers. HOT lanes can enhance trip time reliability for transit vehicles, carpoolers, emergency management vehicles, special events traffic, and SOV drivers willing to pay a toll. HOT and managed lanes also provide another source of transportation revenue.
- The HOT corridor evaluation process included consideration of both long-term and near-term alternatives. Long-term evaluation scenario model runs for the year 2030 and near-term evaluation scenario model runs for the year 2015 were conducted and analyzed. A set of HOT corridor evaluation criteria were used in both the long-term and near-term analysis. The steering committee reviewed the results of the analysis and helped define the feasible HOT lane corridors. A report was prepared for the Georgia General Assembly, along with an HOT study final report.
- The market research results indicated that travelers would be willing to pay for a congestion-free toll lane on their way to work. The willingness to pay was highest when potential toll rates per trip were $0.50 to $1.00. The willingness to pay declined as toll reached $2.00 and above.
- The corridor screening methodology included a number of steps. Base HOV and HOT lane model runs were conducted first. Corridors with general-purpose lanes operating at LOS C or worse were examined further. Corridors with HOV-only volumes of less than 80 percent of the operating thresholds were examined and corridors with HOV and HOT lanes that carry greater than 500 trips per hour per lane were identified. The results from this analysis were used to define potential HOT lane corridors.
- For the 2030 analysis, HOT 2+, HOT 3+ and HOT 4+ alternatives were examined. Only HOT 2+ was considered in the 2015 analysis. The number of HOV and HOT corridors varied with each of the alternatives, as did the applicable fee assumptions. The VMT, trip time savings, weekday vehicle and person trips, and congestion levels were estimated for the different alternatives. The costs and revenues associated with the various options were estimated.
- The study results indicate that almost all of the freeway corridors in the region will be congested by 2030. Further, many of the proposed HOV lanes will be congested at bottleneck locations by 2030. Increasing vehicle-occupancy levels to 3+ will not resolve the congestion on some of the HOV lanes. As a result, some form of HOV lane management will be needed by 2030. Tolling of all vehicles, except transit, will likely be necessary by 2030 to keep the HOV lanes congestion free.
- The study results indicate that available capacity for HOT vehicles exists on all existing HOV lanes, with the exception of the I-75/I-85 downtown connector, in the short-term to 2015. The only corridors where new HOV lanes might exist by 2015 are already under design or will be shortly. These corridors generally correspond to the most promising corridors for HOT lane application. Most of these corridors are outside I-285 or are on I-285.
Role of Managed Lanes in Disaster Management
Raman Patel, Polytechnic University
Raman Patel discussed the role managed lanes can play in managing traffic during natural and man-made disasters. He reviewed both the traditional transportation requirements and disaster management transportation requirements. He also highlighted the emergency transportation response after the attacks of September 11.
- Traditionally, highways and roadways have served community needs. Goals of the transportation system have focused on mobility, community, and financial needs. More recently, homeland security goals have also become important.
- Potential user groups for managed lanes include HOVs, toll-paying motorists, buses and BRT vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, taxis, shuttles, vanpools, and inherently low-emission vehicles (ILEVs). When considering disaster management, however, other user groups include emergency vehicles, debris removal and repair vehicles, evacuation patrol vehicles, rescue vehicles, and military vehicles.
- Emergency management and transportation represent two separate communities, each with their own agencies and technology. Emergency management agencies include police, fire, medical-911, hazmat, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), public safety, the Department of Homeland Security — Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS-FEMA), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Transportation agencies include state and local departments of transportation, toll authorities, and transit agencies. Managed lanes can help bring these two communities together.
- Traditional transportation requirements focus on mobility, access, safety, and interoperability. These requirements may be addressed through demand management, additional capacity, traffic management, and providing information.
- Examples of traditional managed lanes user groups include HOV, HOT, BRT, trucks, ILEVs, taxis, vans, and motorcycles. Examples of potential benefits include trip time savings, trip time reliability, and improved safety.
- The nature and the level of response will depend on the type and the magnitude of a disaster. The larger and more far reaching a disaster, the more extensive the transportation response will need to be. The three dimensions of a disaster are space, magnitude, and time. Transportation response should anticipate disaster behavior.
- Managed lanes can help in responding to disasters. The size of the affected area will influence the type of response needed. Resources are brought to the site from all parts of the region. The type of emergency influences the magnitude of the situation. Loss of lives, damaged to property, restoration of infrastructure, and social and economic needs are all based on the magnitude dimension of a disaster. More resources and potentially different types of resources will be needed as an emergency progresses. More victims are transported and treated and the after effects may continue for days or weeks.
- Emergency transportation requirements include responders' access, unimpeded paths for emergency vehicles, and evacuation routes. Safety and security provisions will need to be provided, and information will need to be communicated to different user groups. Highway repairs may be needed in some cases, depending on the type of disaster.
- There is often a surge in transportation need and demand following a disaster. There may also be loss of transportation routes and closures of roads, bridges, and tunnels. Recovery and supply chain management will be needed.
- Emergency management focuses on providing access for a variety of vehicles. These types of vehicles may include first responders', repair and contractors, evacuation teams, rescue, and debris removal. Military vehicles may also need access.
- The traditional transportation planning objectives for managed lane projects have focused on corridor conditions, performance measures, and policy, legislative, partnership, and institutional issues. Considering the use of managed lanes in managing traffic during disasters introduces a new set of objectives focusing on homeland security, first responders, evacuation, and recovery and supply chain.
- Considering access, diversion, and evacuation issues in planning for the use of managed lanes in the event of disasters is important. Elements to consider include planning and design opportunities, evacuation routes, connectivity to centers, and operating policies with emergency management agencies. Considering how information will be shared among the various agencies, as well as the public, is also important.
- Consideration should be given to the potential needs of emergency vehicles in the design of managed lanes. Design modifications may be needed with existing managed lane facilities. The width of lanes, the turning radius at access points, and other design elements may need to be examined.
- The transportation response to the attacks of September 11 in New York City and Washington, D.C. point out the importance of planning and the role managed lanes can play in responding to disasters. While addressing efficiency, mobility, and accessibility have been the major goals of managed lanes, homeland security has become another important goal.
ILEVs, Hybrids, and HOVs
Katherine Turnbull, Texas Transportation Institute
Katherine Turnbull discussed research sponsored by FHWA examining the use of HOV lanes by ILEVs and hybrids without meeting the occupancy requirements. She summarized the federal legislation authorizing ILEV access, the states currently allowing ILEVs to use HOV lanes, and current utilization levels. She described California and Virginia case studies in more detail.
- The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments outlined the clean-fuel vehicle program, the specific requirements for ILEVs, and incentives for the purchase of ILEVs. Fleet vehicle ILEVs were authorized to use HOV facilities without meeting vehicle-occupancy requirements as one way of encouraging the purchase and use of these vehicles. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) allowed states to expand this authorization to include individually owned ILEVs. This provision was scheduled expired on September 30, 2003, with the expiration of TEA-21. This date has been extended with the extension of TEA-21.
- ILEVs were defined by the EPA in 1993 as vehicles meeting specific low-emission vehicle exhaust emissions standards and having low levels of evaporative emissions. Qualifying vehicles are primarily those powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, ethane, methane, solar, and battery-electricity. To date, no gasoline-powered vehicle has qualified as an ILEV. The ILEV program is no longer an active EPA initiative. Hybrid vehicles have a propulsion system that operates on both an alternative fuel, including electricity, and a traditional fuel, typically gasoline.
- At least 10 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Texas, Utah, and Virginia — approved legislation allowing ILEVs to use HOV lanes without meeting minimum-occupancy requirements. Although the terminology differs, most descriptions of ILEVs in the legislation either reference federal guidelines or appear to be in keeping with federal requirements. The legislation in Texas has not been implemented. Thus, nine of the 20 states with freeway HOV lanes currently allow ILEVs to use the HOV facilities without meeting minimum-occupancy requirements.
- Subsequent legislation in five states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia — added hybrids to the list of vehicles allowed to use HOV lanes without meeting minimum-occupancy levels if allowed or approved by federal law or federal agency regulations.
- In Virginia, legislation in 1993 established a clean special fuel license plate and defined the types of vehicles qualified to obtain the special plates. Legislation in 1994 allowed vehicles with the special fuel license plates to use HOV lanes in the state without meeting the minimum-occupancy requirements. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, in consultation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, allowed owners of hybrid vehicles to obtain special clean fuel license plates when hybrid vehicles became available in the early 2000s. Contrary to federal legislation, Virginia is the only state currently allowing hybrid vehicles to access HOV lanes.
- Information from the 10 states with legislation allowing ILEVs to use HOV lanes without meeting occupancy requirements indicates that the registration of ILEVs and the use of HOV lanes by ILEVs is low. In Maryland in 2003, only nine of 500 registered ILEVs had a permit to use the HOV lanes. In Utah there were approximately 650 active clean fuel license plates in 2004.
- The number of clean special fuel license plates issued annually in Virginia increased significantly once hybrids were allowed to use the HOV lanes. In the six years from 1994 and 1999, a total of 78 clean special fuel license plates were issued. In the almost five years from 2000 to October 2004, with hybrids qualifying for the HOV exemption, a total of 10,335 clean special fuel license plates were issued.
- Hybrid vehicles comprise the vast majority of the license plates issued, accounting for almost 95 percent of the total. Some 93 percent of the clean special fuel vehicle plates were issued in counties and cities in northern Virginia, which are served by the I-95, I-395, I-66, and Dulles Toll Road HOV lanes.
- The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (WASHCOG) has an ongoing program for monitoring and reporting on the use of HOV facilities in northern Virginia. Since the fall of 2003, the number of vehicles with clean special fuel license plates has been included in the counts. Counts from October, 2004 indicate that clean special fuel vehicles accounted for some 844 and 1,422 vehicles or between 11 percent and 17 percent of the vehicles in the HOV lanes on I-95 during the 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. peak-period in the northbound direction.
- An HOV Enforcement Task Force was established in 2003 by the Virginia Secretaries of Transportation and Public Safety in response to growing concerns from numerous groups related to enforcement of the HOV lane restrictions in northern Virginia. The Task Force issued reports in 2003 and 2005 examining a number of issues associated with the HOV lanes in northern Virginia. The 2005 report indicated that the number of clean special fuel vehicles using the I-95 HOV lanes was causing the lanes to operate at unacceptable levels of service. The report contains both short-term and long-term recommendations for the use of HOV lanes by vehicles with clean special fuel license plates. Short-term recommendations included adopting the super-ultra low-emission vehicle (SULEV) standard for eligible hybrid vehicles, opposing any extension after the July 1, 2006 expiration of Virginia's clean special fuel license plate HOV occupancy exemption, and allowing clean special fuel vehicles license registrations to be valid for one year only.
- The California Air Resources Board (CARB) first adopted low-emission vehicle (LEV) regulations in 1990. The SULEV standards became effective in 1999. Legislation approved in 1999, allows SULEVs to use HOV lanes without meeting minimum-occupancy requirements. Approximately 5,371 vehicles registered for the SULEV decal between July, 2000 and May, 2004. The majority of these vehicles are located in counties in the large urban areas of the state, with over half in Los Angeles County. These counties are also those with HOV lanes in the state. No major studies have been conducted on the use of HOV lanes by SULEVs in the state.
- Legislation approved in September 2004, extends the HOV exemption to hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles meeting the state's Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT PZEV) standard and have a 45 mph or greater fuel economy highway rating. Extending the exemption to hybrid and other vehicles meeting these criteria would only occur if the federal government acts to approve use by these types of vehicles.
- The legislation directs Caltrans to examine the HOV lanes when 50,000 decals have been issued to hybrid-related vehicles. Elements to be examined include reduction in level of service, sustained stop-and-go service, slower than average speed than the adjacent mixed flow lanes and consistent increase in travel time.
- The Administration's 2004 SAFETEA reauthorization proposal would provide responsible state and local agencies with the option of allowing low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles to use HOV facilities under specific conditions. Low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles are defined as vehicles that both meet EPA's Tier II standards for light-duty vehicles and have an EPA fuel efficiency rating of at least 45 mpg on highways. Agencies are required to establish programs that define how qualifying vehicles will be selected, certified, and labeled. The program must also include ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on the performance of the HOV lane and procedures to limit use by these vehicles to ensure operation of the lane does not become degraded. An HOV lane is defined as seriously degraded if it fails to maintain a peak-period minimum average operating speed of at least 45 miles per hour (mph) 90 percent of the time over a consecutive six-month period.