Also discussed here: Where Are My Cars: SR-167 HOT Lanes -Revenue has fallen far short of expectations(Sightline, Clark Williams-Derry, May 21, 2013)
Today we review an article on how to implement HOT lanes to reduce congestion and raise revenue, a “hot” item in Ontario because of the recent decision to implement them in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and, after a year, extend them to the remaining 400 series of highways across Ontario (notably to the Queensway that bisects the City of Ottawa as the 401 bisects the City of Toronto). The author notes that experience in several states in the US show that both the traffic flow and revenue are much less than even the lowest scenario planned. The solution seems to in deciding on prime objective: either to raise revenue or reduce congestion but not both, at east until drivers get used to optimizing their experience with tolls so that they save time at the appropriate price, noting that the dynamic toll amount does not always direct link with congestion levels for drivers deciding whether to use a HOT lane or not.
“Virginia's new HOT lanes on Washington, D.C.'s Beltway lost $11.3 million in their first six weeks, Houston's I-45 and U.S. 59 express lanes haven't covered their costs, and Atlanta's I-85 tolls fell short of the lowest fiscal forecasts.”
"We're selling these things hard — at least the public sector — as congestion relief and revenue generation….These are still a good tool for us, but we need to use that tool better, because we're missing out on some of the opportunities."
“If you can't estimate how many drivers will use a road, then obviously any revenue forecasts are going to miss their mark”
“The price of using the HOT lane, which ranges from 50 cents to $9, updates every five minutes to ensure a speed of 40 m.p.h. But while the formula has been effective for congestion, sometimes saving drivers 12 minutes on a 10-mile stretch of road, it hasn't been tweaked to generate more revenue”
“actual HOT lane revenue in 2012 was about one-third of the “low case” projection that WSDOT made before the lanes were opened.”
“Price as a signal of congestion is rather noisy, It's not perfect."
“They should also enter projects with a clear sense of whether they want their express lane to offer congestion relief or generate revenue — and shift toll formulas accordingly. And they should factor a period of driver adjustment into fiscal forecasts”