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Congestion pricing

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[[Category:Investment and planning]][[Category:Finance and revenue]]
[[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 ==Most roads are completely free to use. This leads to high demand and, as a result, traffic congestion. Congestion pricing attempts to reduce congestion, decrease travel times, and increase reliability by forcing driving drivers to pay for using roads. Rather that simply levying flat tolls, congestion pricing works by varying the cost of driving depending on traffic levels. When traffic is high prices rise in an attempt to curb demand. Drivers unwilling to pay the high price will potentially adjust their travel behavior to avoid the congestion, leading to more efficient use of road space.
While congestion pricing is meant to reduce traffic, it also generates revenue. This money can be used put towards improving public transportation so that people have a realistic alternative to driving.
== Congestion pricing basics 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) lane has recently become is one of the most common forms of congestion pricing<ref>[ Federal 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" pay to use 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 general 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 increases 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 zone pricing", variable tolls across an entire roadway, and certain nonarea-tolling strategieswide driving charges. Cordon * '''Zone pricing ''' - In a zone pricing system, motorists must pay to drive into a certain area. This has never been used implemented in North America, but can be seen in some European cities. It was introduced in London since in 2003, in which ; most vehicles motorists entering the central city must pay a charge between 7:00am and 6:30pm Monday through Fridaymust pay a fee to do so<ref>[ Litman, T. (2011). "London Congestion Pricing: Implications for Other Cities."]</ref>. The revenues from the cordon price were zone pricing have been directed towards improved public transport, and together have reduced traffic by as much as 15% without significant increases on surrounding local roads.* '''Tolls across an entire roadway''' - The concept of a toll road is not unfamiliar to Americans, but these tolled facilities usually have a fixed fee. More modern systems adjust the charge to meet demand, which can encourage off-peak travel.* '''Area-wide charges''' - The most experimental system of congestion pricing involves charging drivers on a per-mile basis for all driving within a certain area. Oregon is currently piloting a project that would use this sort of pricing to replace the fuel tax, which is becoming less and less effective as a funding mechanism as fuel efficiency increases.
Using variable tolls across an entire roadway is not a common strategy in Of all the United States. A newer strategystrategies for congestion pricing, piloted converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes is by far the state of Oregon, charges drivers based on vehicle miles traveled as a replacement for the fuel taxmost common and best-studied. The fuel tax is rapidly becoming an ineffective source of revenue as newer cars become more efficient or entirely electricAs such, meaning less fuel it is sold and thus less revenues raisedwas the one we will focus on going forward.
=== Equity questions =Implementing HOT Lanes==An oft-cited argument against congestion pricing, specifically Getting a HOT laneslane project off the ground can be difficult. Motorists are used to driving for free, so any new plan to charge them for it is likely to be challenged. Starting a project requires strong leadership that they disproportionately hurt low-income travelerscan carry implementation through setbacks. Many politicians The organization pushing for the lane needs to find allies in opposition to three groups: the legislature, other organizations, and the public.* '''Legislature''' - Because HOT programs call them "Lexus lanes"are relatively new, claiming that they are vulnerable to legal challenges. Working with the toll lanes will only legislature to build trust is an important step to getting permission to move ahead. This can be used done by clearly outline the rich authority structure and thus do not provide the equal opportunity for low-income drivers to reap the benefit goals of the improved travel timeproject. Supporters of * '''Other organizations''' - Plans for HOT lanes defend them generally have multiple stakeholders. Successful implementation requires clear coordination, often in several waysthe form of legal agency agreements. First, an HOT lane is always an * '''Public'HOV'' lane- In order for the public to accept any congestion pricing plan, allowing carpoolers they need to enjoy know what the reliably fast lanes for freemoney is going towards. Carpooling is a proven and effective strategy for all commuters to save money, and Educational campaigns can help explain 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 benefits of the HOT lanes when they have a highly time-sensitive tripprogram. For many usersIn addition, the penalty pledging to use money for being late to work or picking up a child from daycare would be more expensive than the one-way toll. Third, revenues from HOT lanes can be directed to public transit or other 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. (2010). "Metro ExpressLanes Project: Final Low-Income Assessment."]</ref>beneficial.
It Once a project has been approved, it is time to actually implement it. It’s important to note that the 91 ExpressLanes were built have a thorough plan in place at this step, as a tolled express alternative any issues can be very costly and not as eliminate forward momentum. Pilot projects are a HOT facilitylow-risk way to start. Before the full project begins, meaning that initially even carpoolers did not travel for free make sure to clarify what vehicles are exempt (although this has been changed under the ownership of the Orange County Transportation Authority). As discussedemergency, transit, even low-income drivers may take advantage of the tolled facilityHOV, etc.) and furthermorecoordinate with law enforcement on their responsibilities. If using mitigation strategies like improved transit, anyone who carpools can still more affordably split roll them out before tolling starts. Once the cost of the toll than driving aloneproject is moving, thus giving all passengers the advantages constant monitoring is necessary to keep it on the ExpressLanes offerright track.
=== Directing revenue to transit HOT Lane Technology===Congestion pricing has been used in several applications to fund enhanced complementary transit serviceUnlike traditional toll roads, HOT lanes typically do not involve tollbooth payment. Examples Instead, drivers pay the toll with electronic transponders placed in California include Los Angeles' Silver Line service and San Diego's Inland Breeze <ref>[ Federal Highway Administrationtheir cars. The transponders are loaded with money (2009online, over the phone, or at an office). "Transit and Congestion Pricing: A Primercommunicate with overhead electronic scanners on the roadway."]</ref>Cameras are often used alongside the scanners in order to record the license plate numbers of drivers trying to use the lanes without paying.
== Examples of Congestion Pricing ===== California Equity questions===* Los Angeles Metro ExpressLanes (IOne of the most frequent arguments against HOT lanes is that they disproportionately hurt low-10 and I-110)* SR-91 ExpressLanes* San Diego I-15 income motorists; the term “Lexus lanes” has been used to paint the lanes as being only for the rich. While it is true that the lanes can be expensive to use, studies have shown that drivers of all income levels use them. And because HOT lanes* Bay Areado not replace general travel lanes, they should not have a negative impact on free traffic. Lastly, road pricing is a less regressive way to pay for road maintenance than fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, or sales taxes<ref>[ “Income-Based Equity Impacts of Congestion Pricing.” Federal Highway Administration.]</ref>.
This is not to dismiss equity concerns, however. There are certainly equity issues that must be addressed. Credit card-based transponders are inaccessible to the unbanked, so some programs are starting to accept cash payment. In cases where pricing is deemed to be unreasonable for low-income drivers, toll exemptions and rebates have been enacted<ref>[ LACMTA. (2010). "Metro ExpressLanes Project: Final Low-Income Assessment."]</ref>. Lower tolls for low-income drivers are especially important if entire roadways are tolled and easy alternatives do not exist, such as in the case of a toll bridge. Congestion pricing is fundamentally aimed at reducing demand for driving. Some of this reduction comes from eliminating trips, but people do still need to get around. One way to deal with some of the equity problems arising from HOT lanes is to use a portion of the revenue to fund transit improvement.  ==Case Studies==* '''San Diego''' - San Diego’s I-15 moved to a congestion pricing system in 1998. City of Poway Mayor Jan Goldsmith championed the project, rallying support in the region. The toll varies as often as every six minutes and raises about $2 million a year, half of which is spent on transit. Bus ridership along the corridor has risen 25% since the program started. * '''Los Angeles''' - Metro initially struggled to get legislative approval for HOT lanes on I-10/110, but succeeded with the support of State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas. The project got off the ground when Metro promised to study the effect on low-income commuters and closely monitor the program.* '''Orange County''' - Four variably priced express lanes were opened on State Route 91 in 1995. The tolls are changed every three months to account for traffic volumes. Average peak-hour speeds on the express lanes is 60-65 miles per hour, as opposed to 15-20 miles per hour in the general lanes. Not only has the project been financially successful, but it has allowed drivers to travel much more quickly. == References ==
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