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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 113 4. Minnesota Department of Transportation MnPASS Lanes The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is responsible for 137,700 miles of roads; 13,000 of which are state highways. County highways and municipal roads make up another 40,000 miles. There are four toll facilities in the state of Minnesota: two non-Interstate toll bridges, which are not operated by MnDOT, and two Interstate HOT lane facilities described in further detail below. Toll revenues represent far less than 1 percent of MnDOT's total rev- enues of $2.65 billion in 2007.2 However, MnDOT is assessing the possibility of implementing new highway improvements as tolled facilities through its innovative financing program, as well as through expansion of MnPASS lanes. Following several years of study and off-and-on support for congestion pricing, the Minnesota State Legislature passed enabling legislation (160.93, Sec. 7) in 2003 authorizing MnDOT to implement user fees on HOV lanes. The enabling legislation required MnDOT to document the performance of any HOT-lane facilities implemented in the state and established four main goals for congestion pricing: Maintain travel speeds and level of service for HOVs and carpools Improve the efficiency of the converted HOV facility Provide new travel options Demonstrate the use of dynamic pricing 4.1. Overview of MnDOT's Congestion Pricing Program MnDOT has developed two operating HOT-lane facilities in Minneapolis. The first is the 11-mile, I-394 HOT-lane facility on the primary travel corridor between downtown Minneapolis and the city's western suburbs. The facility provides two reversible-flow, barrier-separated HOV lanes on a 3-mile section between I-94 in downtown Minneapolis and Trunk Highway 100 (TH 100), together with one non-barrier-separated lane in each direction between TH 100 and I-494. Originally developed as an HOV system, the I-394 managed lanes were converted to HOT service, opening on May 16, 2005. Single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) using the MnPASS lanes pay a toll, depending on congestion levels and the distance traveled, with a different rate paid based on whether motorists travel on the reversible section, the diamond lane section, or both. The facil- ity provides inbound (east) service from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. and outbound (west) service from 2:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. MnPASS provides 11 access points (five eastbound and six westbound). With the support of a $133 million Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) grant awarded by USDOT, MnDOT opened a second HOT-lane facility in September 2009 on I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and the city's southern suburbs. The 12-mile HOT lane is being opened in two major phases and will be fully operational in fall 2010. The I-35W corridor improvements include the following elements: Priced dynamic shoulder lanes on I-35W from 46th Street to downtown Minneapolis Addition of a HOT lane in the Crosstown reconstruction project from 66th Street to 46th Street Conversion of the HOV lane to HOT lane on I-35W from 66th Street to Burnsville Parkway, similar to the I-394 MnPASS lanes Construction of additional park-and-ride lots along the I-35W corridor north and south of Minneapolis Construction of additional dedicated bus lanes in downtown Minneapolis Partnerships with major employers along the I-35W corridor to promote telecommuting programs Use of additional Intelligent Transportation Systems technology 2 AASHTO Center for Excellence in Project Finance

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114 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Both HOT-lane facilities use dynamic pricing, with the average peak-period fee varying between $1.00 and $4.00, depending on the level of congestion in the MnPASS Express Lanes. Minimum toll rates are $0.25 per segment, but can rise to a cap of $8.00 during periods of peak congestion. Dynamic pricing ensures that traffic in the managed lanes flows at least 5055 mph. 4.2. What Is Monitored? The full spectrum of MnDOT's performance monitoring activities is provided in the accom- panying Facility Performance Monitoring Summary Matrix for the I-394 and I-35W MnPASS. The matrix is a comprehensive record of all current, known metrics used to monitor perfor- mance on the facility, organized by evaluation category. Provided in the matrix for each metric used are frequency of collection, purpose, a simple indication of importance, and particular char- acterizations of the metric that relate back to agency/facility goals or applications. An expanded version of the matrix providing sources of information and other notes is included in the Final Report for NCHRP 08-75, which is available on line. The matrix is intended to be a visual overview of MnDOT's complete monitoring effort, easily comparable to other HOT-lane facilities with similar matrix summaries. A more qualitative discussion of how these metrics are applied in prac- tice and which ones are the most significant is provided below. Not all metrics noted in the matrix are discussed here. MnDOT's monitoring program for its two MnPASS facilities are identified in reporting requirements expected of Cofiroute, the MnPASS HOT-lane operator. With the recent addition of I-35W MnPASS, MnDOT has also established performance monitoring requirements associ- ated with the state's UPA grant. In response to the legislative requirement of maintaining traffic service levels on converted HOV lanes using a benchmark of minimum speeds of 50-55 miles per hour at least 95 percent of the time, speed is the most important monitoring metric on HOT-lane facilities in Minnesota. HOT-lane speeds are monitored 24 hours a day by MnDOT's system operator using a series of loop detectors. Speed data is available to MnDOT electronically at any time and is also summarized in quarterly reports prepared by the system operator. These reports also provide comprehensive information on such parameters as Traffic volumes, including Trips by hour Trips by day of week Eastbound and westbound trip comparison Toll revenue statistics Information on new ETC accounts and transactions A summary of call activity and other performance indicators for the MnPASS Customer Service Center Information on the performance of the computer systems and servers used to operate the MnPASS system The measures reported by the system operator were identified by MnDOT's technical con- sultant at the time the systems operations procurement was prepared and were then negotiated directly with Cofiroute, which was awarded the system operator contract. In addition to these metrics, MnDOT tracks other performance parameters, including crash and enforcement information maintained by the state police. MnDOT also monitors transit rid- ership and carpooling activity and compares trends in these areas on its priced corridors to other non-priced "control" corridors in the Twin Cities region. Utilization data involves field or video counts of vehicles using the corridor, together with assumptions on average occupancy rates for

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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 115 different vehicle types. Although there is no specific measure of reliability in Minnesota, given that acceptable speeds are always maintained and the HOT lanes are always operational, they are perceived by all stakeholders as being reliable. MnDOT has also conducted comprehensive user satisfaction surveys for MnPASS account holders covering a wide range of issues. The surveys were conducted in three waves: (1) starting prior to opening in fall 2004; (2) 6 months after opening in fall 2005; and (3) 1 year after open- ing in spring 2006. The effort involved interviews with a panel of 1,200 individuals who were pre- recruited and participated in telephone and in-person discussions. Over 340 of these individuals participated in all three phases of the survey. The survey effort covered such issues as satisfaction with the following: HOT-lane concept by income group All electronic tolling Traffic speed in the lanes Dynamic pricing Safety of merging MnDOT's survey work indicated that there is widespread support for congestion pricing on the I-394 corridor among people of all incomes and that favorable opinions of the HOT-lane concept and the I-394 facility specifically grew following the implementation of MnPASS. 4.3. Other Essential Data Gathering Activities Prior to deciding to implement congestion pricing on I-394, MnDOT completed numerous feasibility pricing studies both in the Twin Cities region and the I-394 corridor specifically. Through those studies, MnDOT developed different travel demand forecasts and assumptions on how travel behavior would be influenced by variably priced tolls. In addition MnDOT had a good understanding of public perceptions of congestion pricing in the Twin Cities. In addition, while it was converting the I-394 MnPASS lanes, MnDOT established an Imple- mentation Committee composed of legislators, other public officials, and stakeholders to pro- vide feedback and advice on a wide range of technical and policy issues, including Hours of operation Transponder technology Safety and enforcement Toll rates Dynamic message signs Public outreach Expected revenues Type of vehicles allowed Access points/traffic operations In addition, MnDOT held open houses to elicit feedback on the same issues from the public at large. Attendance was not high, but the media was present. MnDOT also met at least twice with all city councils in both corridors prior to implementation so that council members could learn about pricing, provide feedback, and become champions. 4.4. Why Performance Evaluation Takes Place and How Performance Monitoring Data Is Used MnDOT uses the monitoring data it collects on its HOT-lane facilities for various purposes. These are described in further detail below.

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116 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Maintaining Speed, Efficiency, and Operational Standards on HOT and General-Purpose Lanes. Arguably, the most important function that MnDOT's performance data facilitates is ensuring that the HOT lanes meet their travel speed requirements, while maximizing the over- all performance and efficiency of the two priced corridors. During their first year of operation, some important changes were made on the I-394 MnPASS lanes based on the performance data collected by MnDOT. In particular, the algorithm used to set the dynamically priced tolls was modified to be less sensitive to changes in traffic volumes and speeds on the HOT lanes. When it first opened, dynamic toll rates increased rapidly, and these large increases priced many motorists off the HOT lanes, leaving them underused. After a series of adjustments to the algorithm, it remained unchanged for 4 years when a decision was made to adjust it to enhance toll revenues. This was accomplished by lowering toll rates during shoulder periods, a change which resulted in a healthy increase in MnPASS utilization, increasing net toll revenues and allowing more effi- cient use of both the managed and general-purpose lanes. Fulfilling Legislatively Mandated Reporting Requirements. Under the UPA program, state legislation enabling the implementation of the I-35W HOT lanes requires that MnDOT submit annual reports on their performance to the State Legislature. These reports must document whether travel speeds on the HOT lanes have met the requirement of operating at speeds above 50-55 mph at least 95 percent of the time. MnDOT is also required by the legislature to include information on toll revenues collected, safety conditions, and the operational efficiency of the two highway corridors. The metrics for which MnDOT collects monitoring data have been specifi- cally selected to enable the Department to fulfill its reporting requirements. Improving Operational Performance. The performance monitoring and user satisfaction data MnDOT collects enables it to assess the operational performance and safety of the HOT lanes and identify potential adjustments to them. This has included a major operational adjust- ment on the I-394 MnPASS lanes soon after they opened. Rather than operating the westbound HOV lane as a HOT lane in the A.M. peak period as initially intended, MnDOT reversed this pol- icy and made it available as a general-purpose lane in response to initial confusion and severe congestion in the westbound travel direction. Documenting Changes in Travel Behavior. Performance monitoring data documents changes in travel behavior by different user groups, including SOV motorists who pay to use the HOT lanes, carpoolers and transit riders who use the HOT lanes, and HOV violators. MnDOT has also compared conditions in the MnPASS corridors to other "control" corridors in the Twin Cities region in order to determine how transit ridership and carpooling have been influenced by the HOV-to-HOT conversions. Validating the Case for Congestion Pricing. Lastly, the collective data derived from the per- formance monitoring program enables MnDOT to validate all aspects of the performance of the MnPASS lanes to stakeholders to whom it answers. The positive response to the I-394 HOT lanes has been an important factor behind MnDOT's decision to pursue a HOT conversion on I-35W and consider pricing on other facilities in the state. 4.5. What Additional Performance Metrics or Data Would Be Helpful to MnDOT or Other Agencies Considering Congestion Pricing? The primary metric that MnDOT uses to monitor the performance of its two HOT-lane facil- ities is travel speed. While all pricing projects are different, MnDOT staff believe that it would be helpful to identify other types of metrics used to monitor the performance of priced facilities, such as travel reliability and travel time savings. Having a better knowledge of the relative mea- sures of success helps pricing proponents do a more effective job communicating the purpose and benefits of pricing projects.

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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 117 If MnDOT had time and resources they would increase their outreach activities. One measure not formalized is public perception and user satisfaction. MnDOT surveyed transponder users on the I-394 MnPASS facility in 2006, but that effort did not include HOV or transit users. Transponder users only represent 25 percent of all trips on the MnPASS lanes, leaving MnDOT with an incomplete understanding of user satisfaction. The department would like to conduct more extensive surveys capturing this information, but they do not have the money to do so nor do they sense that there is dissatisfaction in the corridor. MnDOT staff also point out the difficulty they face in assembling meaningful before-and-after data on the I-35 corridor due to the MnPASS improvements being opened on a rolling basis and to travel conditions on the corridor being affected by the construction of the Crosstown recon- struction and the replacement of the Mississippi River crossing near downtown Minneapolis. These factors will result in a substantial time gap between comparable before-and-after conditions.

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118 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Congestion Pricing Case Studies 119 Table 4-1. Minnesota Department of Transportation MnPASS Lanes summary matrix.