For the third leg of my North American tour, I will be presenting about HOT Lanes: Lessons from the USA at a Road Pricing and Parking Workshop in Toronto on November 24 and 25.
Road Pricing and Parking Workshop
Traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) continues to increase despite unprecedented funding of regional and local transit. With its majority win at the polls in June 2014, the Liberal government has promised to invest another $15 billion over the next 10 years so the GTHA can catch up to other world-class cities. While this new money derived from general and “re-purposed” taxes is very welcome, Canadian and international studies demonstrate that, in the absence of comprehensive mobility pricing policies, new transit and road capacity induce more travel which ultimately leads to more gridlock.
Eric Jaffe at The Atlantic Cities says: Road Fees Don’t Hurt the Poor as Much as You Might Think – :
“Altshuler bases his position on a couple surveys conducted in metro areas that have adopted HOT lanes in the recent past. One was done in San Diego circa 2001. At that time, about 80 percent of low-income respondents agreed with the concept that people should be able to use an express lane on Interstate 15 for a fee — a greater percentage of agreement than people from high-income brackets (70 percent). Additionally, two thirds of people who didn’t even use the lanes still supported them.
A similar survey was done in 2006 in Minnesota. That work showed a 60 percent approval rate for HOT lanes on Interstate 394. A stronger analysis of this corridor, done by Tyler Patterson and David Levinson [PDF], found that income levels did predict use of the express lane (with higher-income drivers using them more often), but that lower-income drivers could also benefit from the shift of traffic out of the free lanes (as well as always having the express option in a time crunch).
(And a far more recent survey, released in April, showed that two-thirds of people making less than $50,000 a year said they’d use express toll lanes — the same percentage as people making more than that.)”
My comprehensive review of the topic is: Levinson, David (2010) Equity Effects of Road Pricing: A Review. Transport Reviews 30(1) 33-57.
The NCHRP had a report on this as well: Equity of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms.
A key point is that HOT lanes also enable freeway BRT where it might otherwise be unaffordable to construct. The express lanes are uncongested and can be used by buses to maintain speed. An example is the I-35W corridor (Orange Line) south of downtown Minneapolis, which is not complete (Lake Street Station is still missing, e.g.), but has a BRT station at 46th.
“That led some people to try to hitchhike their way into Manhattan, with drivers eager to pick them up to make the three-person-per-car quota.
‘Some folks offered me a ride,’ said Melanie Bower, 30, who lives in Fort Greene. ‘I was touched by their kindness at first. But then I realized they just needed me so they could have three in their car.’
Bower walked into Manhattan instead, and then caught a bus uptown.”
It seems casual carpooling is running into some moralizing. The gain from trade (I give you a ride, we both save time) appears wrong to at least some travelers. People in other parts of the country have gotten over this, I am surprised New Yorkers, living in the home of capitalism, are having trouble.
Streetsblog on the HOV-only bridges and tunnels in NYC will really help buses: Bloomberg Announces Carpool Rule for Manhattan-Bound Drivers : “After a morning and afternoon when car traffic completely clogged NYC streets and river crossings, Mayor Bloomberg announced new restrictions for drivers entering Manhattan via bridges and tunnels on Thursday and Friday. On most crossings, only cars with three or more people will be allowed to enter Manhattan.”
I hope Casual Carpooling takes off.
Brookings Institution will be hosting an event on State Roads to Economic Recovery: Policies, Pavements, and Partnerships – Brookings Institution.
When Friday, February 25, 2011 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where Falk Auditorium
The Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW
As the U.S. economy begins a slow climb to recovery, state and local governments are still reeling from the impact of the Great Recession. Revenues have plunged while the demand for key state and local services has soared. Meanwhile, unemployment remains stubbornly high.
On Friday, February 25, The Hamilton Project and the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings will host a forum on state strategies that can help close budget deficits while also growing state economies and creating much-needed jobs. Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz will moderate a panel of policy experts and state leaders, including former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now a senior fellow at Brookings, and Michael Finney, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The panel will discuss a range of fiscally responsible policy ideas to build the foundation for the next economy.
A second panel of economic experts, moderated by Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone, will discuss three new policy proposals to help state and local governments invest more efficiently in infrastructure to promote their long-term economic competitiveness. These papers provide a new approach to arranging public private partnerships to create greater public value and reduce risks; a reorganization of our national highway infrastructure priorities; and the establishment of a not-for-profit, independent advisory firm that would help reduce borrowing costs for municipalities and increase returns for investors. Former Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation Tyler Duvall will serve as a discussant for the proposals.
I will not be at the event in person, though I will be there in spirit and online, while Matt Kahn presents our joint paper, which is almost ready to be released.
(This is probably the most important work ever to be written on highway finance by two authors who walk to work).
Drivers offered a route out of traffic snarl-ups as firms roll out new idea
BEIJING – With more Chinese people getting behind the wheel every day, traffic jams are a major headache in most cities but the gridlock has become an opportunity for some entrepreneurs who are offering an escape route – for a price.
Drivers who get stuck in traffic in some cities can now get on their mobile phones and call for a substitute to take their cars to their destinations while the frustrated drivers are whisked away on the back of a motorcycle.
“One important source of our customers is female drivers, some of whom feel physically uncomfortable if they wait in cars in traffic for too long,” said Huang Xizhong, manager of a company that offers the service in Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province.
“Other customers are those with urgent dates or business meetings to go to, and those who have flights to catch and can’t afford to wait in a traffic jam for too long.”
Huang said he started offering the service last year after receiving a number of calls from people who were stuck in traffic.
The service has also hit the streets in Jinan, capital of East China’s Shandong province. There, drivers can be bailed out of a back-up for upwards of 400 yuan ($60), according to a report in Guangzhou Daily.
But some businesses that offer driving services in other cities are hesitating to jump on the bandwagon.
“There is a demand for the service, but it’s risky,” said a manager surnamed Zhang at a Beijing automobile service company.
Zhang said his employees would face hazards if he started to offer the service, such as having to drive motorcycles into crowded areas and carve their way through traffic, possibly on freeways, in order to pick up clients.
Under current traffic regulations, it is illegal for motorcyclists to use the freeway, he explained.
“As far as I know, no company in Beijing has started that kind of business,” Zhang added.
And while the idea has taken off elsewhere, car drivers in the capital have their reservations, saying they could not trust a stranger to look after their vehicles.
Lei Ting, an office worker with a multinational software company in Beijing, said: “I’d rather wait in my car in a traffic jam if I did not feel that the company or the driver was trustworthy.”
But as one of the world’s most congested cities, it’s easy to imagine that there will be room for such a service in the capital.
According to a global survey conducted by IBM last year, Beijing is tied with Mexico City as having the “world’s worst commute”. Some 84 percent of respondents said they spent an hour on the road each day on average in each direction.
In a major effort to tackle the gridlock in the capital, the municipal government launched a new set of traffic measures on Dec 23, including sharply limiting the number of new cars it will allow on city streets. In the coming year, the capital will only approve the registration of 240,000 new vehicles – about one-third of last year’s number.
The limitations in a city of more than 19 million residents sparked a frenzy of activity among would-be car buyers who scrambled to register their names with the online lottery system that will decide which residents will get to buy a new car.
Throughout China, congestion is becoming a major problem, not only in mega-cities such as Beijing and Shanghai but smaller ones and even some county seats in coastal provinces.
Cao Yin contributed to this story.
See also Marginal Revolution
P.S. IBM on world’s worst commute must be biased, since my guess is most travelers in Beijing do not use an automobile.
Monitoring the Effectiveness of HOV-to-HOT Conversions
Speaker: Randall Guensler, Ph.D.
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Date: September 18, 2009
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Civil Engineering Building Room 210
+ Live Webcast Link
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A critical element of the planning process is the ongoing evaluation of consumer response to transportation strategy implementation. Ongoing evaluation is especially important for high-cost intelligent transportation system (ITS) deployments and value pricing initiatives involving economic incentives that may impact user groups disproportionately. For pricing strategies to be sustained economically and politically in major metropolitan areas, policymakers need hard evidence as to the actual costs and benefits of such strategies. Too often in the debate over converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes, sweeping generalizations are made by advocates in favor of and against pricing initiatives without sufficient evidence to back their positions.
To date, studies have provided pretty clear and convincing evidence that variable toll pricing on congested freeway facilities can reduce congestion on the priced facility. Studies also indicate that managed lane facilities are used by all income groups (although not at the same levels). Previous research efforts have focused primarily on the commute trips. However, the use of HOT lanes affects mode choice, departure time, and travel time for the journey to work, as well as supplemental trip-chaining activities and even the long distance travel made by a household. Ongoing value pricing studies in Atlanta and elsewhere have yet to provide solid evidence as to the impacts of congestion pricing on total household travel and emissions. The data collected to date are inadequate to draw solid conclusions. Ongoing household panel data collection efforts that would provide a detailed look at changes in household travel behavior and emissions before and after congestion-priced facilities are opened have not been implemented concurrent with managed lane introduction due to cost. In the proposal for federal funding support for the HOV to HOT conversion in Atlanta, Georgia committed to implementing a comprehensive study to quantify the effects of the implementation on congestion, travel behavior, emissions, and equity.
Dr. Guensler will provide some background on the Commute Atlanta Value Pricing study in which more than 1.8 million vehicle trips were monitored on a second-by-second basis. He will discuss the major research issues that the team identified in assessing consumer response to pricing and the problems encountered in conducting long term panel studies. He will also demonstrate some of the new instrumented fleet monitoring systems and online electronic travel diary tools developed for various research efforts. Finally, he will provide some information on the planned Atlanta deployment designed to quantify the impacts of HOV-to-HOT conversion.
Refreshments will be served in the rotunda following the seminar.