Friday, May 10, 2013

Are HOT Lanes the Best Way to Introduce Congestion Pricing?

Metrolinx: HOT lanes should be used to break the ice for VMT charging(Grush Hour, Apr. 18, 2013)

Also discussed here: Politicians fear tolls will make them road kill(Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star, Apr. 19, 2013)

highway tolls

Today we review a post from Bern Grush, founder of SkyMeter, a GPS-based tolling company, analyzing the benefits of a focus on HOT [High Occupancy Toll] lanes as a first and relatively economic step toward full-scale VMT [Vehicle Miles Travelled] pricing across the Greater Toronto Area in the search for ways to reduce congestion and generate $50 B revenue for public transit over the next 20 years. Resistance by the public to increased taxes without direct and visible benefits has been a major obstacle in the US and Canada to road and congestion pricing, unlike some cities in Europe, such as London and Stockholm, where congestion pricing has been successfully implemented with public support. The introduction of GPS-based tolling lowers the overhead significantly and, as Grush points out, could allow introduction of HOT lanes across southern Ontario (and elsewhere) in the very near future.

Key Quotes:

“VMT charging on a wide area basis has not been achieved anywhere in the world”

 “Until we remove the frightful taboo on road tolls — and congestion charges that ration the use of scarce road space — all the pious talk about easing gridlock will remain a dead end”

“[HOT lanes are] a stepping stone. …[they] get people acclimated to paying a fee for use of a section of roadway at a peak period of time. I believe that eventually … we will go to a vehicle miles traveled form of pricing.”

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Ontario’s 400-series highways can be readily metered for use as HOT lanes without capital cost to the Government. This is done with wireless in-car location technology and without the use of gantries as are used on the 407 or similar RFID/DSRC installations, such as E-ZPass.”

“This wireless technology, developed in Toronto, uses several sensors including GPS, digital maps of the roadways that are toll-enabled and a body of algorithms to determine which lane a participating vehicle has traveled in each road segment”
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