Bus Toll Lanes

Complementing recent discussions about transit systems, RF passes this along about Bus Toll Lanes. The idea is basically a HOT lane  (e.g. MnPass) where the transit agency helps finance the lane and gets an equity stake in the BTL, so revenue (profit) is dedicated for the bus service. Obviously, whether this pencils out depends on local conditions, demand patterns, costs, etc. This might work where a bus lane by itself would not have sufficient buses per hour to fully utilize the capacity, but coupled with a limited number of toll users it would, and it has enough toll users to justify installing ETC equipment.

Transit advocates may perceive that this is a highway use raiding what are seen as scarce transit funds. This is particularly an issue with grants; at least loans would get paid back. Sadly we are very silo-ed in the  transportation sector, so achieving multi-modal solutions like this is challenging. Ideally with a Transportation Bank, the mode would not matter, just whether it could pay back the loans.

Some reports from Tampa are here. They write:

Imagine a transit solution that reduces traffic congestion and pays for itself

By combining the individual strengths of transit and tolling, Bus Toll Lanes gives travelers a real choice by providing sustainable, competitive options.  This public partnership will fund the construction and operations of this transit solution.

“BTLs offer premium transit service on dedicated lanes added to local highways.

These dedicated transit lanes allow private vehicles to pay a toll to travel in the lanes.

With tolls collected electronically, (no toll booths, no toll booth congestion) all vehicles in the lane will maintain free-flow operating speeds.

Construction and operation of the Bus Toll Lane would be funded with a combination of public transportation sources (such as federal grants) and tolls collected from users.

Toll revenue collected from private vehicles are re0invested into the transit agency to at least cover the operational and maintenance expenses.

Combining short-term public transit capital project funding with long-term toll revenue and  real-world business practices, BTL is an innovation that creates a financially feasible, self-sustaining public transportation solution.”