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Congestion pricing

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[[Image:hotlane.jpg|right|thumb|500px|High-occupancy toll lanes are one form of congestion pricing seen in the US. Source: [ Famartin (CC BY-SA 4.0)]]]
== Introduction ==
Congestion pricing is a concept applied Most roads are completely free to use. This leads to roadways experiencing high traffic volumes in order to motivate better economic decision making among drivers demand and improve traffic flow. When , as a roadway is carrying more vehicles than it was designed forresult, traffic becomes congestedcongestion. Congestion pricing attempts to reduce congestion, decreasing decrease travel times , and increase reliability of travelby forcing driving to pay for using roads. Applying a pricing scheme, such as a tollRather that simply levying flat tolls, which increases along with congestion (and likewise decreases), motivates some drivers pricing works by varying the cost of driving depending on traffic levels. When traffic is high prices rise in an attempt to adjust their travel behaviorcurb demand. Drivers unwilling to pay the higher high price will choose potentially adjust their travel behavior to drive at other timesavoid the congestion, thus maintaining or improving overall congestion conditionsleading to more efficient use of road space.
Congestion While congestion pricing is meant to reduce traffic, it also generates revenue. This money can be used to generate revenue in support of enhanced put towards improving public transit service. Recently implemented projects demonstrate transportation so that congestion pricing is an effective tool for raising revenue people have a realistic alternative to support improved transit options, although the success of managing travel demand and improving throughput is less cleardriving.
== Congestion pricing basics ==
Congestion pricing encompasses several different strategies for applying a price to heavily traveled road networks. The basic concept is to raise the price of travel as the number of travelers increases, especially when the level of traffic begins to decrease the time and reliability of travel. In the United States, the "high occupancy toll" (HOT) lanes lane has recently become one of the most common forms of congestion pricing<ref>Federal Highway Administration. "Congestion Pricing: A Primer". October 2008. [ Highway Administration. (2008). "Congestion Pricing: A Primer."]</ref>. HOT lanes are typically converted from existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, retaining the basic concept of free travel by carpools and buses, while adding the option for solo drivers to "buy in" to the lane. This strategy allows motorists who value a faster and more reliable trip on the highway to pay for such an alternative. HOT lanes do not replace the "general purpose" travel lanes, meaning people can continue to drive for free on the same roadway. True congestion pricing on HOT lanes requires that the price paid by solo drivers increase as the volume of cars increases. If so many vehicles are buying into the HOT lanes that traffic begins to back up, the price may climb significantly, or in some cases, the HOT lanes may revert temporarily back to HOV-only. There are several ways this can be accomplished, which are explored in the examples below.
Other congestion pricing tools besides HOT lanes include "cordon pricing", variable tolls across an entire roadway, and certain non-tolling strategies. Cordon pricing has been used in London since 2003, in which most vehicles entering the central city must pay a charge between 7:00am and 6:30pm Monday through Friday<ref>[ Litman, T. (2011). "London Congestion Pricing: Implications for Other Cities."]</ref>. The revenues from the cordon price were directed towards improved public transport, and together have reduced traffic by as much as 15% without significant increases on surrounding local roads. Cordon pricing is not currently used anywhere in the United States, although a plan had been developed to enact cordon pricing around Manhattan (CITE).
Variable Using variable tolls across an entire roadway is also not a common strategy in the United States. A newer and more innovative strategy was , piloted by the state of Oregon, which charges drivers based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as a replacement for the fuel tax. The fuel tax is rapidly becoming an ineffective source of revenue as newer cars become more efficient or entirely electric, meaning less fuel is sold and thus less revenues raised. (CONTINUE and CITE)
=== Equity questions ===
An oft-cited argument against congestion pricing, specifically HOT lanes, is that they disproportionately hurt low-income travelers. Many politicians in opposition to HOT programs call them "Lexus-lanes", claiming that the toll lanes will only be used by the rich and thus do not provide the equal opportunity for low-income drivers to reap the benefit of the improved travel time. However, this is a spurious argument on Supporters of HOT lanes defend them in several countsways. First, an HOT lane is always an ''HOV'' lane, allowing carpoolers to enjoy the reliably fast lanes for free. Carpooling is a proven and effective strategy for all commuters to save money, and the HOT lane should prioritize carpooling before toll-paying motorists. Second, studies of existing variable-priced lanes such as State Route 91 in Orange County, California, demonstrate that even low-income drivers take advantage of the HOT lanes when they have a highly time-sensitive trip. For many users, the penalty for being late to work or picking up a child from daycare would be more expensive than the one-way toll(CITE). Third, revenues from HOT lanes can be directed to public transit improvements along the same corridor. Increased frequency of service funded by HOT lanes can motivate solo drivers at all income levels to switch to a transit commute. Finally, as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) demonstrated, policies and programs can be enacted to support qualifying low-income users with toll credits, account fee waivers, or even direct subsidies<ref>LACMTA. "Metro ExpressLanes Project: Final Low-Income Assessment". 2010. [ (2010). "Metro ExpressLanes Project: Final Low-Income Assessment."]</ref>.
It is important to note that the 91 ExpressLanes were built as a tolled express alternative and not as a HOT facility, meaning that initially even carpoolers did not travel for free (although this has been changed under the ownership of the Orange County Transportation Authority). As discussed, even low-income drivers may take advantage of the tolled facility, and furthermore, anyone who carpools can still more affordably split the cost of the toll than driving alone, thus giving all passengers the advantages the ExpressLanes offer.
=== Directing revenue to transit ===
Congestion pricing has been used in several applications to fund enhanced complementary transit service. Examples in California include Los Angeles' Silver Line service and San Diego's Inland Breeze <ref>FHWA, "Transit and Congestion Pricing: A Primer". 2009. [ Highway Administration. (2009). "Transit and Congestion Pricing: A Primer."]</ref>.
== Examples of Congestion Pricing ==
* San Diego I-15 HOT lanes
* Bay Area
=== Elsewhere ===
"Congestion Pricing: A Primer on Institutional Issues".
"Transit and Congestion Pricing: A Primer".
== References ==
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