Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Getting Started with Congestion Pricing: A Web-Based Workshop for Local Partners

Part 2

Slide 1

Getting Started with Congestion Pricing
A Web-Based Workshop for Local Partners
Part 2

Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations

Photos. Collection of photos having to do with HOT lanes.  For visual interest.

Slide 2

Recap of Part 1

  • Congestion pricing comes in various forms, with lane pricing the most common application in the U.S.
  • Congestion pricing can provide benefits to a variety of users and stakeholders
  • Federal programs related to pricing are available to support
  • There are a number of unique implementation challenges associated with lane pricing; in the last session we covered
    • Public and political acceptance
    • Funding and financing

Slide 3


  • Part 1 – Overview and Introduction to Six Challenges
    • What is Congestion Pricing?
    • The Case for Congestion Pricing
    • Six Implementation Challenges
    • 1 – Political Support and Public Acceptance
    • 2 – Funding and Financing
  • Part 2 – Continuation of Six Challenges
    • 3 – Equity
    • 4 – Technology
    • 5 – Enforcement
    • 6 – Long-Range Planning Integration
    • Wrap-up and Summary

Slide 4


Slide 5


  • Equity concerns in transportation policy are founded on the principles of environmental justice
  • Types of equity concerns
    • Income-based
    • Modal
    • Geographic
    • Fairness (paying twice)

Slide 6

Income-Based Equity

Social Justice Advocacy Groups’ concern:

This will be a regressive tax on those who can least afford it.

Slide 7

New Priced Lanes: Equity Concerns

  • Tolls require a larger share of the income of low-income commuters
  • So lower-income drivers use priced facilities less often
  • This creates an equity issue (“Lexus lanes”)
Bar graph indicating relationship of income to frequency of use of the SR 91 Express Lanes.  The first bar indicates a 45 percent frequency of use by those in high-income brackets.  The second bar indicates an 18 percent frequency of use by those considered to be low-income.

*Source: Edward Sullivan, Continuing Study to Evaluate the Impacts of the SR 91 Value-Priced Express Lanes, Final Report, December 2000 (p.87)

Slide 8

Figure from the SR 167 first annual performance summary.  Shows a bar graph breaking down facility usage by income level, as determined from an online user survey.  The majority of the drivers had an annual household income between $50,000 and $125,000.  Just under two percent of the drivers from the survey indicated an income level of under $20,000. Figure from the SR 167 first annual performance summary.  Bar graph breaking down facility usage by vehicle make.  Drivers of Chevys and Fords use the lanes more than anyone else.

*From SR 167 HOT Lane first annual performance summary (2009)

Slide 9

Addressing Equity Concerns

Addressing income-based equity:

  • Improved and/or lower cost transit service
  • Toll credits or discounts for means-tested drivers
  • Reimbursements of the amount of toll above the transit fare (NYC)
  • Convenient ways for the “unbanked” to pay

Slide 10

Modal Equity

Transit Advocacy Groups’ Concern:

Congestion relief will encourage choice transit riders to abandon transit and go back to their cars.

Slide 11

Transit and Congestion Pricing

Diagram illustrating how congestion pricing and transit service can be mutually beneficial in expanding mobility.  The diagram consists of two interlocking circles, labeled 'Congestion Pricing' and 'Improved Transit Service.'  Where the two interlock, there is a smaller circle labeled 'Expanded Mobility.'  These are the Opportunities for New Capacity.  To the left of the circles, is the beginning of a flow diagram showing how the use of congestion pricing can initiate a repeating pattern called 'The Virtuous Cycle.'  The diagram starts with the institution of “congestion pricing.”  This leads to an 'increased price for peak period highway use.'  The higher cost of traveling should translate into a 'higher transit ridership.'  The Virtuous Cycle starts with the diagram box for 'higher transit ridership.'  Higher transit ridership should result in 'less highway congestion,' one effect of which is 'higher transit speeds and more reliable transit service.' In turn, this leads to 'Higher transit ridership; lower costs for transit providers' and results in 'more frequent service and lower fares.'  At this point, the diagram flows back to 'higher transit ridership' and begins to cycle.

Slide 12

Case Study: I-95 Express
Miami, FL - HOV to HOT Conversion Project

Project Description

  • Phase 1 - 10 miles project in Miami/Dade County, FL
  • Opened in Dec. 2008
  • Converted extremely congested 1-lane HOV to 2-lanes HOT each direction
  • Went from 2+ HOV to 3+ Registered Carpool HOT
  • Flexible plastic pole separation
  • Limited midpoint access locations
Photo of the I-95 Express in Miami, FL, showing the two HOT lanes alongside the general-purpose lanes, with pylon barriers.  Above the HOT lanes is a sign: 'Do not stop.  No exit for 6 miles.'

Slide 13

I-95 Express
Miami, FL - HOV to HOT Conversion Project

Pricing Parameters

  • Full time operation with dynamic tolling
  • Toll free for registered HOV 3+/transit buses/motorcycles
  • Toll rate - $0.25 - $7.10
  • Must have Sunpass transponder
  • No 3+ axle trucks allowed in Express lanes

Slide 14

Modal Equity – 95 Express Miami

  • The 95 Express Bus Service benefitted significantly from the conversion of the HOV lanes into HOT lanes
    • Increased speeds and reduced travel times allowed Miami-Dade Transit to reduce the scheduled travel times for the 95 Express Bus Service
    • I-95 Express buses were on-time 76.2% of the time in 2008, 75.5% in 2009, and 81.1% in 2010
  • Average weekday ridership on the 95 Express Bus Service increased 57% between 2008 and 2010 while the three control groups in the study experienced a ridership decrease

Slide 15

Modal Equity – 95 Express Miami

  • Between 2008 and 2010, person throughput from transit increased 23% in the a.m. peak period and 36% in the p.m. peak period
  • Of riders that only began using the 95 Express Bus Service after the Express Lanes were opened in December 2008, 53% said the opening of the Express Lanes influenced their decision to use transit.
    • Of these new riders, 38% said they used to drive alone, but 45% said they used to use some other transit service. Within that 45% figure are 34% who used to take Tri-Rail and Metrorail

Slide 16

Addressing Modal Equity Concerns

Addressing Modal Equity:

  • Dedicate some of toll revenue to transit (San Diego, Minneapolis)
  • Provide free or discounted service for carpools (HOT lanes)

Slide 17

Geographic Equity

Local residents’ concerns:

Why do I have to pay for my road, when my tax dollars went to pay for the other guy’s road?”

Slide 18

Addressing Geographic Equity Concerns

Region-wide Approach

  • Long-range planning
    • Incorporate road pricing into LRP
    • All regional residents share in the burden
  • Affordability
    • Lower tolls can be charged since financial burden is spread over more drivers
Map of a managed lane road system.  The Puget Sound area. Map of a managed lane road system. The Capital Beltway and other area connectors.

Slide 19

Fairness: Paying Twice

Motorist Advocacy Groups’ Concern:

Why impose tolls on existing free roads already paid for with taxes?

Slide 20

Construction Cost of New Lanes

  • Providing “free” new capacity is financially unsustainable
  • Fuel tax receipts from peak trips are less than 6% of capital cost for constructing a new lane
Bar graph showing the public cost per trip versus the fuel tax generated per trip for a 20-mile highway trip, during the peak period.  The public cost in the diagram is seven dollars, while the fuel tax generated is 42 cents.

Slide 21

Equity Observations

  • Payment plans may be structured to be more convenient for low income travelers.
  • High income travelers bear the payment of user costs associated with managed lanes facilities, as most facilities are located in high income areas.
  • Managed lane facilities can provide for additional modal options that are more attractive to lower income commuters
  • Low income customers often value time savings at higher than the prevailing toll, and managed lane facilities provide a reliable travel time saving option.

Slide 22


Slide 23


Tolling (traditional)

One of three images, representing traditional tolling options.  Map of the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. One of three images, representing traditional tolling options.  Photo of a bridge. One of three images, representing traditional tolling options.  Photo of a toll plaza on a highway.

Road Pricing (new)

One of three images, representing newer road pricing options available due to advances in electronic tolling technology.  Photo of a sign indicating the toll cost on the 91 Express Lanes. One of three images, representing newer road pricing options available due to advances in electronic tolling technology.  Schematic for a highway with a HOT lane. One of three images, representing newer road pricing options available due to advances in electronic tolling technology.  Map of the London Charging Zone.

Slide 24

Toll Technology Options

  • Toll gates with cash collection where everyone stops
  • Cash lanes with dedicated electronic toll collection lanes where electronic customers slow down but only cash users stop
  • Open road tolling (ORT) where electronic tolls are collected at highway speeds and cash tolls are collected at pull-out locations
  • All-electronic toll collection (AETC)
    • All tolls are collected at highway speeds
    • There is no provision for cash collection
    • Toll tag transponders and video tolling provide toll collection

Slide 25

Technical Feasibility

  • Toll collection
  • Enforcement
  • Occasional users
  • Administrative costs

Slide 26

Enforcement Technologies

Toll Violation Enforcement Systems (VES)

Diagram of a toll violation enforcement system, indicating the various pieces of technology required and their placement along the roadway. Graphic indicating how the overhead cameras with optical character recognition work.

Slide 27

Difficulties with Automatic License Plate Readers

  • License plates are complex
    • Multiple plate-type codes
    • Duplicate & vanity plates
    • Contrast between characters and backgrounds
    • Colored characters cause problems (i.e., red)
  • Data Accuracy
    • Change of addresses not submitted by owners in a timely manner
    • Data entry variations
  • Rules Vary for Entering Plate Information
    • What plate characters must be entered
    • How to interpret data on the plate
Image of 98 different license plates from around the U.S., illustrating the complexity of license plates.

Slide 28

Traffic Management/Toll Integration

  • Proactive management
    • Setting variable tolls to control demand
    • Life-cycle operations
  • Other operations functions
    • Traffic/performance monitoring
    • Incident management
    • Enforcement
    • Maintenance
Photo of wreckage from an incident in a managed lane.

Slide 29

Traffic Management/Toll Integration

“Concept of Operations” that integrates…

  • Pricing
  • Traffic management functions
  • Signing/driver information
  • Incident management
  • Enforcement
  • Toll operations
Photo of a man sitting at a computer terminal with several screens monitoring traffic flow.

Slide 30

Concept of Operations

  • Current system/conditions
  • Concept for proposed system
    • Operational parameters (description from user perspective)
    • Variable pricing system (congestion calculation)
    • System architecture
      • Central processing system
      • Variable toll message sign (VTMS) system
      • Electronic toll collection system
      • Pricing system
      • Communications system
    • Enforcement
    • Incident Management
    • Central system (back office)
      • Customer Service Center (CSC)
      • Account management
      • Revenue management
      • Reporting, financial controls, processes
      • Security
      • Hardware configuration
    • Marketing

Slide 31

Case Study: I-35W MnPASS
Minneapolis, MN – HOV to HOT Conversion

Project Description

  • Northbound: 14 miles; Southbound: 11.5 miles
  • 1 lane each direction
  • Striped buffer separation
  • Opened Sep. 2009
  • Midpoint Access
    • Northbound: 9 entry/exit locations
    • Southbound: 7 entry/exits locations
Photo of traffic passing under a sign gantry on the I-35W MnPASS facility.

Slide 32

Minneapolis, MN – HOV to HOT Conversion

Pricing Parameters

  • Dynamically priced based on demand
  • Toll free for HOV 2+/transit/motorcycles
  • Toll rate – varies between $0.25 and $8.00 (average peak period toll between $1.00 and $3.00)
  • Must have MnPass transponder (if solo driver; $1.50/month leasing fee)

Slide 33

Minneapolis, MN – HOV to HOT Conversion

Project Features

  • Priced dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL) equipped to operate as a MnPASS lane during peak periods to maximize capacity on existing roadways
  • Electronic signs alert drivers whether the PDSL is open or closed
  • Variable speed limits in the adjacent non-tolled lanes
  • Coordination with business in the corridor to offer flex schedules and telework
Photo of nighttime traffic on the I-35 W MnPASS facility, showing a sign gantry with a sign indicating that the dynamic shoulder lane is open.

Slide 34


Slide 35


  • One of the greatest challenges associated with HOT lane operations
  • Multiple activities involved
  • Enforcement continuum
    • Field enforcement
    • Violation processing
    • Legislative and judicial considerations
      • Fine levels
      • Adjudication process

Slide 36

HOT Enforcement Methods

  • Geometric design methods to aid visual check
  • Technology-assisted methods
  • Policy and administrative approaches
  • Supporting regulatory measures
  • Future HOT enforcement considerations
Photo of a law officer standing next to his vehicle conducting a visual check for HOT enforcement.

Slide 37

Occupancy Verification

  • Verification currently depends exclusively on manual methods
    • Roving patrols
    • Stationary verification
    • Team patrols
  • Designated enforcement areas (ideal conditions)
    • Low speed
    • Enough space to verify and cite violators
    • Hidden from view

Slide 38

HOT Technologies – MnPass Example

  • Handheld and Mobile Systems
    • Transponder verification equipment in hand-held form or mounted to law enforcement vehicles
    • Allows officers to remotely verify transponders from inside their car, alongside or behind vehicles in the HOT lane, or when violator apprehended
    • Switchable transponders
Photo showing the technology associated with the MnPASS I-394 HOT lanes.  The in-vehicle display indicating the tag status of any vehicle passing the patrol vehicle. Photo showing the technology associated with the MnPASS I-394 HOT lanes.  The device attached to the vehicle's roof-mounted light bar.

Slide 39

Long-Range Planning Integration

Slide 40

Long-Range Planning Integration

  • Road pricing often has come about through pilot projects and demonstrations, separate from the traditional MPO process
  • Case studies of four regions:
    • Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
    • Puget Sound Region, Washington
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
    • San Francisco Bay Area, California

Integrating Pricing into the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process: Four Case Studies. Final Report. FHWA

Slide 41

Lessons Learned

Regional road pricing policy grew from federal policies

  • NCTCOG (DFW region)
    • Funding constraint from ISTEA in 1991 is realized. As a result:
      • All new highways shall be evaluated for tolling possibility
      • All reconstructions shall include priced express lanes
  • Metropolitan Council (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
    • Pricing to leverage future federal funds
      • More specific to multimodal investments

Slide 42

Lessons Learned

Regional road pricing policy grew from individual projects

  • Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)
    • Tacoma Narrows Bridge brought support for tolling for financing
    • Route 167 HOT Lanes introduced congestion pricing
    • Now have a 30-year vision to allow pricing to evolve and support revenue and demand management
  • San Francisco Bay Area
    • Early proposals for pricing Bay Bridge defeated
    • Success of HOT lanes nationally, federal support ultimately led to Bay Bridge pricing, and opening of first HOT lane on I-680

Slide 43

Lessons Learned

Regional road pricing policy grew from individual projects

  • Once individual projects were committed or underway, and gaining favorable response, regions adopted them into long-range plans and developed supportive policies
  • Need for consistency was a driver
    • Project development
    • Revenue allocation policy
    • Design and technology policies

Slide 44

Lessons Learned

Developing the right tools for the job

  • Basic 4-step travel demand models not well suited to complexity of pricing
    • D/FW – Results of outputs feedback into model
    • Twin Cities – emphasis on “how many people would choose managed lanes at what price” resulted in simple modifications to traffic assignment routines
    • Bay Area – use travel survey data for elasticities
    • Puget Sound – developed new travel demand modeling and benefit/cost analysis techniques, supported by wealth of data from Traffic Choices study (per-mile pricing demonstration)

Slide 45

Lessons Learned

Communication of road pricing concepts is a challenge everywhere

  • Especially difficult when concepts are unknown and untested
    • D/FW – logical outgrowth of history of toll roads
    • Bay Area – how HOT lanes benefit transit, address “Lexus Lanes”
    • Twin Cities – continued public communication for 10 years after failure of original HOT proposal
    • PSRC – pricing is one element of a larger plan; Pricing Task Force formed; project champion

Slide 46

Lessons Learned

Pricing is one element of a cohesive transportation plan

  • All four regions found that making road pricing one element among many was effective at gaining acceptance
    • Integrating project lists, road pricing concepts and decisions about use of potential revenue
  • Pricing as it supports regional goals
    • Puget Sound – revenue, GHG emission reduction goals
    • D/FW – highway expansion
    • Bay Area – revenue to support effective use of existing and planned HOV lanes
    • Twin Cities – mix of strategies: bus-only shoulder lanes, priced dynamic shoulder lanes

Slide 47

Recap of Part 2

  • Priced lanes involve more complexity than traditional highway projects in areas of public outreach, funding, design, and operations.
  • Six implementation challenges were explored in this webinar, with examples from successful projects in operation.
  • As pricing is introduced, the distinctive conditions associated with the corridor and the community will make it a wholly unique endeavor, but lessons learned from other projects and regions can offer guidance.

Slide 48

Questions and Discussions