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13th International HOV/HOT Systems Conference: Partnerships for Innovation - Conference Proceedings
September 7-9, 2008
Minneapolis, MN

BREAKOUT SESSION – WHAT’S THE HOV/HOT NEWS ACROSS AMERICA?
John Doán, SRF Consulting Group, Inc., Presiding

I-95 HOT Lanes in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale

Debora Rivera,
Florida Department of Transportation

Debora Rivera discussed the 95 Express project, which is one of the Miami UPA projects. She described current conditions in the I-95 corridor, the other UPA project elements, and the experience implementing the first phase of the 95 Express. Debora covered the following points in her presentation.

  • South Florida has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. Travelers in the region experience long commute times, low operating speeds, and trip-time unreliability. The I-95 general-purpose freeway lanes average 13 to 16 mph and the HOV lanes average 20 to 31 mph.

  • The region’s population is projected to increase by 45 percent from 2000 to 2030. That increase equates to approximately 360,000 more vehicles per day on the region’s freeways and roadways. In 2005, commuters experienced 50 hours of delay per year. Traditional solutions have focused on increasing the transportation supply. Agencies in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale region responded to the USDOT UPA initiative to reduce congestion in the I-95 corridor.

  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is the lead agency on the Miami UPA. Other partnering agencies include the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), the Miami-Dade MPO, the Broward MPO, Miami-Dade Transit, Broward County Transit, and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise.

  • The Miami UPA projects combine added capacity, value-priced express lanes, transit improvements, bottleneck removal, and complementary operating strategies. The value-priced express lanes on I-95 are called the 95 Express. They replace the existing HOV lanes on I-95. The transit elements include BRT, carpools, and vanpools.

  • The projects focus on a 21-mile section of the I-95 corridor, which connect numerous regional facilities. The HOT conversion includes expanding single HOV lanes in each direction to two HOT or express lanes in each direction. Variably-priced tolls will be used to optimize traffic flow. The BRT element will enhance reliable public transportation in the I-95 corridor.

  • The freeway cross-section included four general-purpose freeway lanes and one HOV lane in each direction of travel. The new cross-section includes four general-purpose lanes and two HOT express lanes in each direction of travel. To accommodate the additional express lanes, all travel lanes are 11 feet wide. Delineators are being used to separate the express lanes from the adjacent general-purpose lanes.

  • The BRT element will expand or extend transit services in the corridor. The current transfer at the Broward/Dade County line will be eliminated. Miami-Dade 95 Express bus service will be enhanced. Bus service into Miami will also be provided on US 441 and University Drive in Broward County. Additional new routes and extensions to existing routes may be implemented in the future.

  • The current 95 Express lanes represent the first of three phases. Phase 1A, which includes the northbound lanes on I-95 from SR 112 to the Golden Glades Interchange is almost complete. Traffic is using the facility but the tolling element has not been implemented. Phase 1B, which includes the full system northbound and southbound from I-395 to the Golden Glades Interchange, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009. Phase 2, which includes the full system northbound and southbound from Golden Glades Interchange to I-595/Broward Park-and-Ride, is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2011. Lane closures are currently restricted to night time and weekend hours to minimize negative impacts on travelers in the corridor.

  • The 95 Express lanes are separated from the general-purpose lanes by delineators. Variable toll rates, based on the level of congestion or demand, will be used on the 95 Express lanes. The existing SunPass electronic toll collection will be used. Toll-free customers include registered 3+ carpools and vanpools, transit buses, hybrid vehicles, and motorcycles. The Florida Highway Patrol is responsible for enforcement during the initial phases, with citations issued to carpools with less than three persons, and trucks.

  • The 95 Express lanes are estimated to have a number of benefits. A 50 percent travel time reduction from using the 95 Express lanes from the Golden Globe Interchange to SR 112 is projected. For transit riders, the transfer delay at the Golden Globe Interchange will be eliminated. The 95 Express lanes did not require any additional right-of-way and minimal construction was necessary. The project allows rapid delivery of improved mobility in the corridor. It also offers benefits that traditional freeway widening alone cannot provide, including encouraging ridesharing, providing incentives for transit use, implementing demand management, and reducing or eliminating trips.

  • Some issues were encountered with the opening of the initial section of the 95 Express lanes, even though the tolling element has not been implemented yet. Driver confusion resulted in crashes, generating negative publicity for the project. A number of measures were taken to quickly address these issues. Physical improvements implemented included extending the delineators on I-95, reducing the spacing between delineators, and replacing white delineators with orange delineators to improve their visibility. Other changes included adding warning signs advising drivers of the distance to the next exit, pavement markings advising “express only,” and removing references to I-595. Beginning the ramp signal project was also delayed. Additional public information has been provided through additional electronic message boards, highway advisory radio, billboards, public service announcements, and press releases.

  • The experience with the implementation of the initial segment of the express lanes highlights a number of important lessons. First, performing an operational analysis early in the process to identify potential problems is important. Second, it is important to anticipate needs in contract documents. Third, conducting more public outreach is necessary, with an emphasis on operation not construction. The outreach should focus on milestones critical to the public, not the project. In addition, the rate of work should not outpace the ability to communicate changes to the public. Developing a strong, simple, and consistent communication plan is important. Driving tips, press releases, and marketing are all important. The signing and marking plans should consider signing for build-out and intermediate phases. It is important not to sign for elements that do not yet exist. Developing a risk management plan for opening day and beyond is important. The process on I-95 identified 32 risks. The top two were delineator spacing and signing. Including the contractor as a risk owner in these efforts can be a good strategy. Comprehensive contract documents are also important.

Congestion Pricing in Los Angeles County – Providing Choices as a Solution to Traffic Congestion

Stephanie Wiggins, Los Angeles Metro and
Darren Henderson, Parsons Brinckerhoff

Stephanie Wiggins and Darren Henderson discussed congestion pricing activities in Los Angeles County. They described the traffic congestion problem in the county, the elements of the CRD, and current activities. Stephanie and Darren covered the following points in their presentation.

  • Los Angeles has a reputation for some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. Traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution in Los Angeles County has attained legendary status. The population in Los Angeles County is forecast to increase from approximately 10.0 million to 12.3 million by 2035. Without major improvements, traffic congestion expected to increase by over 50 percent.

  • Despite the increase in travel demand, transportation revenues are shrinking. As a result, transportation agencies in the area are exploring new ways to maximize efficiency from existing facilities and future investments.

  • In the fall of 2007, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) released a request for proposal (RFP) for a Countywide Congestion Pricing Plan. Metro also applied for USDOT funding through the UPA/CRD program. In April of 2008, Metro awarded the development of Countywide Congestion Pricing Plan to a consulting team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff. Metro was also notified of its selection to receive funding through the CRD.

  • Partners in the CRD include Metro, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and other regional and local transportation agencies. A total of $210.6 million is available to implement the demonstration project.

  • The Los Angeles CRD Plan focuses on implementing “FastLanes” demonstration projects. The HOV lanes on the I-10 El Monte Busway and the I-110 Harbor Transitway will be converted to HOT lanes. Investments will also be made in transit services in the I-10 and the I-110 corridors. The “FastLanes” are intended to test innovative strategies to alleviate congestion, to maximize freeway capacity usage, and to help finance additional transit options.

  • Examples of specific projects that may be funded through the CRD include new buses, expanded vanpool programs, enhanced park-and-ride lots, increased local bus access, and traffic management strategies.

  • A Concept of Operations (ConOps) plan is being developed as part of the Countywide Congestion Pricing Plan. Steps in developing the ConOps plan include analyzing current conditions and alternative concepts, and assessing the performance of each alternative. This performance assessment includes analyzing traffic volumes and speeds, toll optimization, and revenue estimates for the alternatives. Technical, institutional, and enforcement requirements are also being examined. An extensive community and legislative outreach effort is underway as part of the project.

  • The HOV lanes on I-10 and I-110 are near capacity during peak hours. Pricing and other congestion management strategies can help better manage demand throughout the day on these facilities. Increasing transit services, enhancing vanpool options, and improving park-and-ride amenities are being proposed to assist in inducing a mode shift. A mode shift of up to 7 percent is being targeted. Additional HOT capacity would be available for priced lower-occupancy vehicles with this mode shift.

  • The preferred demonstration concept for I-10 includes retaining the current free use among eligible HOV 3+ during the peak periods and eligible HOV 2+ during the off-peak periods. All other users currently allowed free access, such as hybrid vehicles, would also continue. Single-occupant vehicles and HOV2 would be tolled at the same rate during the peak periods only, as space permits. The lanes would revert to HOV 2+ operations only during the off-peak periods. In addition, the opportunity exists to add one additional HOT lane in each direction along a segment of I-10. Design exceptions would be required to avoid right-of-way acquisition for this option.

  • The preferred demonstration concept for I-110 includes retaining the current free use among eligible HOV 2+ carpools and single-occupant hybrids vehicles. Single-occupant vehicles would be tolled during the peak and off-peak periods, as space permits.

  • Traffic conditions at select locations are currently being examined. These locations include northbound I-110 at Adams Boulevard and the northern termini of the I-110 Harbor Transitway. The impact of the Expo LRT line currently under construction is also being examined.

  • The ConOps plan includes the use of all electronic open-road tolling. All vehicles will likely be required to have transponders. Dynamic, segmented pricing will be used. The potential application of differential payment classes with self declaration using a switchable transponder is being examined.

  • The ConOps plan is also examining enhanced enforcement for HOV/toll violations. Requiring transponders in all vehicles simplifies toll enforcement. Enforcement areas at select locations will be provided, and roving enforcement patrols using mobile transponder readers are being explored.

  • Next steps in the planning and project development phases include securing state legislative authority by October and refining the ConOps plan to establish HOT implementation plans for I-10 and I-110. Caltrans will conduct simultaneous environmental clearances for both corridors. A low-income economic impact assessment will be conducted. Extensive community outreach will also continue.

  • Other future activities include evaluating a full range of congestion pricing options for Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Intelligent Parking Program incorporates demand-based pricing for parking. Additional corridor congestion pricing opportunities will also be explored. A related effort in southern California is the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Congestion Pricing Study.

Freeway HOV Lanes in the Toronto Area: A Case Study in Successful Planning and Operation

Stephen Schijns,
McCormick Rankin Corporation

Stephen Schijns discussed the freeway HOV lanes in the Toronto area. He described planning, designing, implementing, and enforcing the HOV lanes. He also reviewed the performance measures used to evaluate the HOV lanes and the communication techniques used with outreach efforts. Stephen recognized the assistance of Mike Oliveira, McCormick Rankin Corporation, and Rebecca Li, Ministry of Transportation, with the preparation of the presentation. Stephen covered the following points in his presentation.

  • The HOV network concept and policy was developed in the late 1980s. The HOV/bus lane functional plan was completed in 1998. Consideration of bus bypass shoulders began in 1995. The widening design was completed in 2002, and HOV adoption followed in 2003. Construction occurred in 2004 and 2005, with the HOV lanes on Highway 403 and the southbound HOV lanes on Highway 404 opening in 2005. Performance monitoring was initiated in 2006. The northbound HOV lanes on Highway 404 opened in 2007.

  • Observing and learning from the experience with HOV facilities in other areas, especially in the U.S., has been an important part of the planning process. A best practices for Ontario applications was developed along with new design guidance. Similar to other areas, changes in elected officials have influenced transportation priorities and the development of HOV facilities in the Toronto area. Based on political direction, designs for general traffic lanes were adapted for HOV use. The potential of reverting to general traffic lanes if the HOV lane did not work out provided a back-up plan for decision makers.

  • A number of planning and operational design principles were established. These included the use of buffer-separated HOV lanes with designated access/egress zones. A 24/7 operating scenario is used, along with a 2+ vehicle occupancy designation. Buses are allowed to operate on the shoulders of Highway 403. Both Highway 403 and Highway 404 were six-lane freeways, with three lanes in each direction, before adding a general-purpose freeway lane or HOV lane was considered.

  • New design standards for HOV lanes were established for use in Ontario. These standards address the layout, signage, pavement markings, enforcement, bus-on-shoulder infrastructure, and direct HOV ramps. Bilingual signing in English and French is used. Enforcement design elements include median and shoulder observation areas and enforcement areas on ramps.

  • The widening of both highways was originally designed for adding a general-purpose lane in each direction of travel. The cross section was adapted to include an HOV lane in each direction, rather than an additional general-purpose freeway lane. Other HOV features include access/egress areas, signage, and enforcement pockets.

  • The bus bypass shoulders were implemented on Highway 403 in 2001. The HOV lanes were opened in 2005. The southbound HOV lane on Highway 404 was opened in December 2005. The northbound HOV lane opened in July 2007. The resulting cross section includes the bus bypass shoulders, three general-purpose lanes, and the HOV lane in each direction of travel.

  • The approach to enforcement recognizes the key role of the Ontario Provincial Police. A liaison was established with the Ontario Police to identify operational needs. Standards for enforcement infrastructure were developed. A memorandum of understanding was established to define the level of effort for enforcement. Funding was identified to support the initial enforcement program. The legal basis for enforcement was established through legislation. Media relations were undertaken to advise the public of the enforcement program.

  • The performance-monitoring program included collecting and analyzing data before construction, one month after opening of the HOV lanes, six months after opening, and after 16 months of operation. Performance measures include HOV lane utilization, travel times and speeds, vehicle-occupancy levels, and mode share. Other performance measures include HOV lane violations, HOV lane operations, and collisions.

  • Use of the Highway 403 and Highway 404 HOV lanes grew over the first 16 months of operation. Volumes on the Highway 403 HOV lanes at Maryland during the morning peak hour in the southbound direction increased from approximately 920 vehicles one month after opening to 1,200 vehicles after 16 months of operation. The AM peak hour HOV lane use on southbound Highway 404 increased from 1,000 vehicles after one month to approximately 1,280 after 16 months of operation.

  • Users of the HOV lanes on Highway 403 and Highway 404 realize travel-time savings over vehicles in the general-purpose freeway lanes. The travel times in the HOV lanes have remained relatively constant, while travel times in the general-purpose freeway lanes are now longer due to increased congestion. The vehicle-occupancy rates for Highway 403 and Highway 404 are higher than freeways in the area without HOV lanes. Transit and carpooling mode share increased after the HOV lanes were opened.

  • The operation of the HOV ingress/egress segments was examined. The results indicated uncongested vehicle movements entering and exiting the HOV lanes most of the time. A few instances of speed reductions and stop-and-go traffic during these maneuvers were identified.

  • The violation rates in the HOV lanes were in the range of 3 percent to 7 percent in the initial months after opening. The most recent information indicates the violation rates have been lowered to 1 percent to 2.5 percent. Approximately 250 tickets are issued each month for occupancy violations and crossing the buffer illegally.

  • Collision data have been mixed. The collision rates on Highway 403 increased slightly after the opening of the HOV lanes. On Highway 404, the collision rates declined slightly after the HOV lanes opened. Rates on both facilities remain within the average range for Ontario freeways. An increase in lane change collisions and a decrease in rear-end, side-swipe, and single-vehicle collisions have been recorded.

  • The results from the performance-monitoring program highlight some interesting observations. In terms of demand forecasting, the HOV demand on Highway 403 eastbound is twice the initial estimate. The HOV lane speeds appear to be higher than speeds on HOV lanes in other areas. The buffer and shoulder width allow higher speed differentials, which may be a concern at exit points. Platooning does occur in the HOV lane. This may be beneficial in creating gaps for HOVs entering HOV lane, but it may cause concerns in long corridors due to lack of passing opportunities. The experience in Toronto indicates that occupancy data collection between November and March should be avoided due to darkness during normal commute hours.

  • A strategic communications plan was developed and implemented as part of opening the HOV lanes. The plan focused internally on staff, executives, the Minister, and the police. It also included media relations focusing on traffic reporters and transportation columnists. Key elements of the media relations program included Ministerial announcements, photo imagery, and promotion of the HOV network map. The Ministry of Transportation Website included information on using the lanes and frequently asked questions. An educational video was developed and disseminated. Finally, the results from the performance-monitoring program were widely distributed.

  • Watching a video of the HOV lane in operation highlights a few points. First, HOV lane motorists respect the buffer, and even in the HOV lane, drivers tend to shy away from the buffer. The buffer and shoulder width combine to ease concerns about speed differentials. Entering the HOV lane from the general-purpose lanes is usually not a problem, although some motorists cross the buffer illegally. Exiting from the HOV lane in a congested area can be problematic. It appears to work reasonably well in the location shown, even though the general traffic lanes are congested. If it becomes worse, there is always the option of introducing a speed change lane between the HOV lane and the general-purpose lane to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions in the HOV lane as vehicles slow to exit. The 400-meter gap provides adequate room for everyone who wants to find room to change lanes. The presence of a wide median shoulder is very useful. Some drivers use it to smoothly bypass an HOV slowing to exit.

MnPASS Users – Who Are They?

Lee Munnich,
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Lee Munnich discussed the use of the I-394 MnPASS lanes. He highlighted trip and toll characteristics and summarized the results of panel surveys conducted of travelers in the I-394 corridor and the I-35W corridor. Lee covered the following points in his presentation.

  • The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.6 million people. The Twin Cities has a diverse and vibrant economy. The region continues to experience growth. Traffic congestion is increasing as well. I-394 is a major east-west radial route, linking the western suburbs to downtown Minneapolis. The ADT is approximately 150,000 vehicles, with 5 percent heavy commercial vehicles.

  • Funding from the Federal Value Pricing Pilot Program was used to conduct panel surveys of travelers in the I-394 corridor, including MnPASS users, carpoolers, and bus riders. A similar panel survey of travelers in the I-35W corridor was conducted, which acted as a control corridor. Three waves of surveys were conducted.

  • There was an overall reduction in congestion in the I-394 corridor, not just the HOT lanes, with the introduction of the MnPASS program. Travelers in the general-purpose freeway lanes realized a reduction in congestion, although travel conditions were better in the HOT lanes.

  • The average toll paid by MnPASS users for the 12-month period from May 2007 to April 2008 was $1.15. Approximately 70 percent of MnPASS trips begin or end in the reversible section. Longer trips are the norm for use of the HOT lanes. The highest use of the HOT lanes occurs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The lowest weekday use occurs on Fridays. Approximately 52 percent of MnPASS trips are made in the eastbound direction, toward downtown Minneapolis, which accounts for some 65 percent of the revenue. The addition of an auxiliary lane west of Highway 100 reduces westbound use and revenue. Speeds in the MnPASS lanes are above 50 mph 95 percent of the time.

  • A valid MnPASS transponder is required to use the HOT lanes. Individuals may register to lease a MnPASS transponder at the MnPASS Service Center or on the MnPASS Internet site. Approximately 4,000 transponders were leased by the first day of MnPASS operations. Within a year, this figure had increased to 9,000 transponders. The growth has slowed somewhat, with approximately 12,000 transponders currently leased.

  • On a typical day, approximately 30 percent of all transponders are used. The average user makes two-to-three tolled trips per week. The survey results indicate there are a wide range of users. The survey results indicate that MnPASS usage is higher among full-time workers, homeowners, individuals between the ages of ages 35 and 55, individuals with incomes over $50,000, and women.

  • Before-and-after panel surveys were conducted of commuters in the corridor and in the I-35W corridor, which was used as a control corridor. A second survey of MnPASS users was conducted, partly because only a small number of MnPASS users were captured in the panel survey. Another sample of transit users, who were also underrepresented in the panel survey, was also conducted. Carpoolers were adequately represented in the initial panel survey.

  • The responses from all the surveys indicate that all income levels use the MnPASS lanes, although use is higher among travelers in higher income groups. Approximately 75 percent of respondents in the high-income group (annual incomes over $125,000) reported using the MnPASS lanes, compared to 70 percent for the middle-income group (annual incomes of $50,000 to $125,000), and 55 percent for the low-income group (annual incomes less than $50,000).

  • Respondents were asked if they used the MnPASS lanes as a toll paying single driver, a carpooler, or a bus rider. Use as a toll-paying driver was highest among high-income group. A total of 40 percent of the respondents in the high-income group reported using the MnPASS lanes in the past year as a toll-paying driver, compared to 18 percent of the middle-income respondents, and 7 percent of the low-income respondents. Carpool use was highest among the low-income group, at 75 percent, compared to 66 percent for the middle-income group, and 52 percent for the high-income group. Reported bus use was 12 percent for the low-income group, 13 percent for the middle-income group, and 6 percent for the high-income group.

  • Respondents were also asked their opinion of allowing single drivers to use the HOV lanes by paying a toll. The responses were fairly similar across all income groups, although a larger percentage of individuals in the higher income group favored the idea. A total of 71 percent of the high income group reported support for the concept, compared to 62 percent of the lower income group, and 60 percent of the middle-income group. These responses may indicate that individuals with lower incomes value having the option available, even though they may not use it as often as individuals with higher incomes.

  • The impacts of MnPASS on transit ridership, carpools, and vanpools have also been examined. There was some concern that the MnPASS program would encourage people to change from an HOV mode to driving alone and paying a toll, as well as degrading the travel-time savings for buses, carpools, and vanpools. From 2006 to 2008 there was a 16 percent increase in the number of buses operating in the HOT lanes during the morning peak period and a 25 percent increase in transit ridership. The number of carpools and vanpools using the lanes during the morning peak period increased by 25 percent between 2006 and 2008. While the price of gasoline and other factors influenced these increases, MnPASS does not appear to have degraded HOV use.

  • The panel survey participants in both the I-394 corridor and the I-35W corridor were asked about being delayed by congestion. On I-394, 37 percent of the respondents reported being delayed by congestion in the fall of 2004, before implementation of MnPASS. Responses to the same question in the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2006, with MnPASS in operation, declined to 29 percent, indicating that fewer commuters were experiencing congestion. In comparison, 33 percent of the respondents in the I-35W corridor reported experiencing congestion in the fall of 2004. In the fall of 2005, 37 percent reported experiencing congestion. Individuals experiencing congestion of I-35W increased to 39 percent in the spring of 2008.

  • Enforcement of the MnPASS lanes was also examined. During the first year of operation, there were approximately 3,300 enforcement stops. Of these stops, 50 percent involved HOV violations or drivers crossing the double white line. The violation rate on I-394 is much lower than on I-35W. The violation rates on I-394 are different in the reversible, barrier separated segment and the concurrent flow segment. Prior to MnPASS, the violation rates in the reversible section were approximately 7 percent. The violation rate declined from 20 percent to 9 percent on the concurrent flow section before MnPASS and with MnPASS. In comparison, the violation rates on the I-35W HOV lanes increased from 23 percent to 33 percent over the same time period. There was no increase in enforcement on I-35W during the time period, however. The high violation rate on the I-35W HOV lanes was one of the factors influencing expanding it to HOT lanes as part of the UPA.

November 2009
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