Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How Well is Congestion Pricing Accepted?

How Does Congestion Pricing Affect Household Behavior? (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Mat. 4, 2015)

Also discussed here: Effects of Full-Facility Variable Tolling on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the SR-520 Corridor in Seattle (115 page pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Mar. 2014)

And here: Effects of an HOV-2 to HOT-3 Conversion on Traveler Behavior: Evidence from a Panel Study of the I-85 Corridor in Atlanta (187 pg pdf, Report for Federal Highway Administration, Apr.11. 2014)

Today we review before and after reports from two large American cities (Seattle, Atlanta) following introduction of congestion pricing on a bridge (Seattle) and on a HOV lane (Atlanta). Results indicate a decline of trips by 15-18%, a greater use of tolled segments by drivers with high incomes, a greater acceptance (40%) for tolling after introduction compared to before (25%) and a large drop in concern about the impact of tolling on low income users (from 74% to 57%). The key to successful implementation appears to be clear prior communication to the public on the need for congestion pricing. tolling bridge  
Key Quotes:

“The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in turn tapped Volpe to conduct before-and-after household travel surveys in two of those cities, Atlanta and Seattle, to capture a dynamic picture of how congestion pricing shapes household travel choices.”

  • How do households respond when congestion pricing is applied on their roadways? Do they pay the toll? 
  • Do they seek alternative routes or travel modes to bypass the higher prices? 
  • does congestion pricing affect the number of miles that households drive? 
  • Are lower-income households disproportionately affected by tolling? Do lower-income households pay a disproportionate share of tolling?” 

“In Seattle:
  • Recorded trip segments fell 43 percent on the 520 bridge.
  •  Travel reductions tended to fall into discretionary categories, such as shopping and dining. 
  • Nearly 25 percent of regular 520 bridge travelers switched to.. a parallel, free roadway four miles south .. primarily motivated by avoiding the toll. 
  • Respondents reduced their overall vehicle-miles traveled by 15 percent” 
“In Atlanta:
  • Trips on the I-85 corridor fell 18 percent, 
  • More than 80 percent of drivers using the express lane were solo travelers; 9 percent were drivers with three or more people.
  •  More than 40 percent of express lane users reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their trips on I-85 after tolling had commenced, compared to about 25% prior to tolling. 
  • was a significant decrease in the belief that highway tolls are unfair to people with limited incomes, from 74 percent to 57 percent.” 

“pricing has a significant impact on route choice and affects the timing of trips, that attitudes on pricing change with direct experience, and that pricing has differential impacts on corridor users.”

“the more that agencies provide the public with ongoing, clear communication that explains the need for congestion pricing, the more their congestion pricing programs will be well-received.”

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