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CHAPTER 3 Guidelines for Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects This chapter provides detailed recommendations and key considerations on initiating per- formance evaluation programs and selecting specific performance measures for congestion pric- ing projects. Section 3.1 discusses important considerations common to the three forms of con- gestion pricing when establishing a performance evaluation program. These include · Issues of coordination and timing (such as who will perform the data collection and when as well as what are the available resources to do so) · Confirming goals set for a facility and expected service standards · Identifying measures for evaluating and managing project performance · Performance measures used in practice Sections 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 are devoted to performance measurement and the selection of per- formance measures for the three forms of congestion pricing: variably priced managed lanes, toll facilities with variable pricing, and cordon or area pricing, respectively. Each of these sections focuses on their distinguishing characteristics and presents detailed recommendations on select- ing the most relevant, cost-effective measures based on goals, identified constraints, and other factors--organized by eight evaluation areas. 3.1 Initiating Performance Measurement Programs 3.1.1 Coordination and Timing Once the decision has been made to move forward with implementation of a congestion pric- ing project, project sponsors should also formulate plans to evaluate and measure the performance of the project. These plans should involve input from a multidisciplinary team of public-sector technical experts responsible for such areas as project outreach, traffic engineering, transit, plan- ning and environment, and environmental justice--together with other stakeholder agencies involved in supporting the project. Stakeholder agencies would depend on local institutional structures but could likely include the local transit authority, state or local law enforcement, and municipal governments. Once the membership of the performance monitoring team has been established, it should convene and discuss performance monitoring needs for the project, with the expectation that different agencies and technical disciplines are likely to have their own unique needs and inter- ests in terms of performance goals and measures. The discussion should identify the universe of issues task members are interested in tracking and rationalize them with the overall goals estab- lished for the congestion pricing project and the funds available to support the performance monitoring program. The discussion should also focus on existing data including surveys, counts, and automated reports that could be used to establish baseline conditions and provide a good precedent for ongoing performance monitoring. 18
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Guidelines for Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects 19 As different measures are discussed, the team should consider the following issues: · How is the measure collected--with real-time detection equipment, regular counts or surveys, or one-time surveys? · Is the data already collected, or would a new effort be needed to do so? · Which agency is best placed to collect the data? · What is the cost of collecting the data? · Should the data be collected internally or by an outside vendor or contractor? · What is the benefit of having the data? · How would the data be used? · What level of resources is available to support collecting the data? · Are cooperating agencies able to provide data within their existing budgets or would they require additional funding to be able to do so? · Will construction activities or other externalities be likely to skew or otherwise influence the data collected during the baseline period, and, if so, how should this be reconciled? By considering these issues, the team will develop an understanding of which potential perfor- mance measures are "have-to-have" items that will deliver essential information for the man- agement and validation of the congestion pricing facility and which of them are "nice-to-have" items that do not necessarily provide the same level of utility. If new information will be needed, it should be collected in the most efficient manner possible. Responsibility for any data that could be gathered electronically should be delegated to the system operator responsible for toll collec- tion or captured by existing ITS installations and included in automated reports. Responsibility for manual counts and surveys should be kept in house if the sponsoring agency has the capability and staff availability to collect the information. Otherwise it is normally more efficient to out- source more specialized data collection needs such as stated preference surveys or aerial photo- graphy to private vendors or firms specializing in those areas. The performance monitoring team's deliberations should then be summarized by a smaller subset of its members or a consultant into a Draft Performance Evaluation Plan, which could be reviewed and approved by the larger group. The draft plan could also be circulated to other agen- cies or vetted through the project's ongoing public consultation efforts to obtain input and buy-in from as large a cross section of the local community as possible. When completed, the plan could be posted to the project website in order to enhance transparency and awareness of the perfor- mance monitoring efforts. As discussed in Chapter 1, baseline data collection should extend for one full year prior to the opening of the congestion pricing facility. Having a full 12 months of traffic data and other information allows the sponsor to document normal seasonal trends, as well as the effects of external events such as a large, prolonged snowfall, a spike in the price of gasoline, or changes in transit fares or service. It should also be recognized that the construction of the pricing facility is likely to pose an externality in and of itself, with the potential to degrade travel conditions and divert traffic to other corridors. If this is the case, then the baseline data may need to include historic traffic data prior to construction or possibly involve collecting similar information in a control corridor elsewhere in the region. Accordingly, planning for performance monitoring must be completed far enough in advance of the 12-month baseline period to be able to procure and install any detection equipment that may be required. Similarly, it is also likely that one-time attitudinal surveys will be completed prior to the activation of the congestion pricing project. Planning for these efforts must also be completed far enough in advance to undertake them during the baseline period. While schedul- ing specifics will differ from project to project, it would be best for project sponsors to complete their performance monitoring plans 2 years prior to the opening of the project. This would allow
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20 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects a full 12 months to prepare for the beginning of monitoring activities during the 12-month base- line period prior to the project's opening. 3.1.2 Goal Confirmation and Identification of Service Standards As described above, one of the performance monitoring team's first activities should be to confirm the goals established for the congestion pricing project. Goal confirmation could also involve revisiting particular needs or concerns that may have arisen from the public consulta- tion process. Primary project goals for congestion pricing projects are likely to include congestion reduction and/or revenue generation. Other likely goals may include system utilization targets, strengthening transit service, and maintaining or improving safety. In certain cases, goals for congestion pricing projects may also extend to the environment, local economic conditions, and even land use. As they summarize and confirm the project goals, the performance monitoring team should recognize that different stakeholder groups are likely to be interested in different goals. As such, the group should seek to agree on a broad set of goals that will resonate with the widest possible constituency. At the same time, the performance monitoring team should also identify a comprehensive set of service standards established for the project. These will include system performance require- ments established for installation of ETC equipment and for a system operator, if chosen to run them. These requirements would be identified in the procurement documents prepared for these functions. Other service standards would involve standard maintenance activities (such as snow removal, sweeping, or guardrail repair) and would likely be established by the maintenance or operations division of the agency sponsoring the project. Still others would likely involve incident management, which normally falls under the purview of the local police or state highway patrol. The team, or a smaller subset thereof, should identify the various performance standards that have been identified for all relevant aspects of the congestion pricing project's operation, together with existing protocols for tracking them. It should then identify which of those standards should be included in the performance monitoring program for the congestion pricing project, which agency would be best placed to monitor them, and whether new procedures would be required to do so. 3.1.3 Identifying Performance Measures and Their Use Once the performance monitoring team has identified project goals and areas with perfor- mance specifications, it should proceed with the identification of individual performance metrics to be used in the performance monitoring plan. The optimal set of metrics will enable the proj- ect sponsor to have a clear understanding of how well the congestion pricing project is perform- ing and to what extent it is meeting its various goals and standards without being overly costly or requiring an inordinate amount of staff or consultant time to collect. The performance monitoring team should consider each project goal individually and then identify the different performance measures that would be useful in quantifying the extent to which it is being met. As they do so, the team should identify how the data for each metric would be collected, the frequency of collection, the ease of collection, and overall cost. They should also determine whether or not the data is already collected or if it duplicates any new information that will be collected through the monitoring program. If the data is not duplicative, then the team should assess the costs of collecting the metric against the overall utility of having the infor- mation. In order to make the most effective decisions, the team should review all candidate metrics associated with a given goal concurrently to identify the optimal subset of measures that will meet its needs. Project sponsors should track the performance of a large enough comple- ment of metrics to have a full understanding of the overall performance of their priced facilities. This is particularly helpful if certain measures indicate notably different performance trends.
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Guidelines for Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects 21 Sponsors also will need to be intelligent about the conclusions they draw from their monitoring data and look into any changes in performance that the data reveals. The overall scale of the performance monitoring program should also be commensurate with the scale of the pricing application it is tracking. Individual factors influencing the performance monitoring needs for the three forms of congestion pricing are discussed in later sections of this chapter. For example, performance measurement for cordon and area pricing applications should be done at a regional level. This is accomplished by monitoring conditions at strategic locations and then extrapolating the findings to the regional level. The influence that pricing on individual lanes or facilities has at the regional level will depend on the size of the region, the scope and scale of the regional highway network, and the propor- tion of it that is actually priced. As regions move from implementing individual priced facilities to developing regional networks of priced lanes--as is envisioned in the Bay Area, San Diego, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Atlanta--there will be an increasing need to monitor the performance of these systems at a regional level. It will be many years before such regional systems are in place, and performance monitoring and evaluation for regional pricing systems will likely warrant addi- tional research in the future. 3.1.4 Social Equity and Congestion Pricing The use of congestion pricing often raises concerns regarding effects on different elements of society, particularly low-income individuals and other marginal groups. Equity is a broad topic subject to many interpretations. Economists often group people based on income levels or where they live and work, while urban planners often use broader categories such as age, disability, gen- der, or language abilities to identify populations that may be disadvantaged in some way by trans- portation facilities and services.1 Equity analysis seeks to address how facilities affect marginal groups. Rather than involving unique performance metrics, it focuses on how outcomes among marginal populations compare to other user groups and the public at large across a standard set of measures including utiliza- tion, acceptance, affordability, and overall satisfaction. The findings of equity analyses depend on how equity is measured, the way in which user groups are defined, the specifics of different locations, and to what congestion pricing is compared.2 Priced managed lanes are likely to generate fewer equity concerns compared to other pricing forms since they provide drivers with a new priced travel option without taking away the free parallel lanes; they may also involve transit improvements. With respect to toll facilities with variable pricing or the use of cordon or area pricing, equity impacts largely will be driven by where lower income people live and work and the extent to which people have no choice but to drive on priced routes or are forced to forgo certain trips because they are too expensive. In all cases, the differences in the direct benefits and costs between income groups are fairly small. Regardless of one's economic status, the time saved by using a priced facility will be the same. However, while the absolute cost of using the facility does not change by income, the rel- ative cost compared to an individual's budget does vary widely. Therefore, when considering the issues of equity, it is important to monitor how different groups benefit from the use of the revenues, rather than just the use of the facility. Whether any discounts or exemptions are avail- able for target populations should also be considered. When revenues are used to support new or enhanced services that benefit target populations, pricing can be found to be progressive. 1Liisa Ecola and Thomas Light; Equity and Congestion Pricing: A Review of the Evidence, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA: 2009, pp 89. http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR680.html 2Ibid, pp 1112.
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22 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects However, if regions use the revenues in ways that benefit all individuals equally, such a policy could be considered regressive. Revenue use actions likely to have positive equity impacts could include · Increased transit service New transit routes serving low-income neighborhoods Additional platform hours dedicated to existing runs serving low-income neighborhoods Additional seats on existing transit runs serving low-income neighborhoods · Reduced fares on selected transit routes · Rebates or credits for trips made by members of target groups · New or improved security at existing park-and-ride lots · Additional spaces at existing park-and-ride lots · New park-and-ride lots Equity assessments for pricing projects generally begin during the planning phase with the identification of populations with potential equity concerns. This is usually done through con- sultation with local community boards and neighborhood groups as part of the public outreach process. Target populations could include low-income residents, residents of specific geographic areas or neighborhoods, transit riders on given services, or possibly speakers of certain languages. Once the target populations have been identified, potential impacts are vetted through dis- cussions with local planners and community and advocacy groups, together with possible strate- gies for mitigating them. Ultimately these strategies--which are likely to be combinations of the actions in the bulleted list above--are incorporated as part of the pricing project and assessed in the environmental approval process. Performance monitoring efforts for congestion pricing projects should be designed to track equity impacts and the efficacy of the programs developed to mitigate them. This is accomplished by distinguishing disadvantaged populations from other travelers and then comparing their overall utilization and satisfaction rates to users at large. This can be accomplished in different ways ranging from tracking trip and travel behavior of transponder account holders residing in target zip codes or those who self identify as being a member of a target group. Surveys are normally designed to capture income information and other demographic and socioeconomic data that can be used to identify respondents from target groups, thereby facilitating compara- tive analysis. Additionally, follow-on meetings or focus groups with members of target popula- tions including residents of given neighborhoods, members of community groups, transit rid- ers, and people enrolled in project-related credit or rebate programs may be held, enabling project sponsors to gain additional feedback from these groups and measurement of the overall performance of any equity mitigation programs. Ideally this information can be used to promote equitable outcomes in measurable terms and garner support for congestion pricing from the public and elected officials.3 3.1.5 Performance Measures Identified in Practice The following sections of Chapter 3 present tailored analyses of the particular performance measures identified by the research supporting these guidelines. Section 3.2 examines perfor- mance measurement for variably priced managed lanes, Section 3.3 looks at toll facilities with variable pricing, and Section 3.4 evaluates cordon and area pricing. The full set of performance measures identified among the supporting research's 12 project case studies and used in these analyses is shown in Table 3-1, organized by evaluation area. Evaluation areas represent a logical 3 Ibid, p. 33.
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Table 3-1. Congestion pricing performance measures identified in practice. Evaluation Area Performance Measures Speed & Travel Time LOS Speeds/ average speed Speed differential (GP vs. HOT lanes) Travel times Travel time savings Cost of delay/ VOT Volume Vehicle volume (hourly/daily/weekly/monthly) Person volume (hourly/daily/weekly/monthly) Tolled trips/ untolled trips Traffic Performance VMT/VKT VMT/ VKT Congestion Delay/ wait times Congestion coefficient Queue length Mode Share Mode share (SOV, HOV, transit) Occupancy Avg. vehicle occupancy (auto) Bike/Ped Bike/ped traffic counts Parking Park-n-ride activity (lot counts) Off-street parking activity (counts/occupancy) On-street parking activity (counts/occupancy) Cost of parking/parking revenue # of resident permits/permit cost Violations/ revenue Awareness Of the facility/general/how much? Specific features Toll adjustments Future plans Acceptance General/fairness/equity Specific questions Satisfaction General/perceived value/how well? Public Perception Traffic conditions/ reliability Perceived time savings Perceived safety Signage Agency performance/ customer service Enforcement Effectiveness Congestion reduction Social Impacts Specific activities/populations Media Coverage No.of articles/ reports (positive or negative) Marketing Volume/success Transaction Method Transponder/video/by-mail/cash Accounts Total, open/closed No.of transponders issued User Characteristics Vehicle classification Vehicle make Vehicle registrations (HOV, vanpool, hybrid) Home zip code Facility Users Demographics/ socioeconomics Trip Characteristics Frequency of use Time of day/ departure time O-D/ travelshed determination Toll spending/price paid (self-reported) Trip length Trip purpose (continued on next page)
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24 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Table 3-1. (Continued). Evaluation Area Performance Measures Finance Total transactions Revenue (toll/ charge) Average toll/ highest toll Revenue (fee) O&M Cost Enforcement Total traffic stops/ responses Violations/citations/fines System Operations Safety Collisions/ accidents Incident response time/ duration Speed differential Customer Service Inquiry activity (call, email) Performance (quantitative measures) System Function Incidents Facility availability Equipment availability Mean time to respond/ repair Air Quality NAAQS criteria pollutants/ VOCs Environment GHG/ CO2 Noise Noise levels Performance Travel time/on-time/excess wait Average speed Occupancy Ridership/ boardings Transit Average vehicle occupancy Finance Farebox revenue O&M Cost Service Quality/satisfaction/reliability General Gross regional product/ economic indices Benefit-cost analysis Business Impacts General performance/openings/closings Specific sectors/services/populations Economics Business costs and prices Retail traffic & sales Tourists/ visitors Property Residential sales/rentals/values Commercial sales/rentals/values Residential Housing decisions Land Use Commercial Business locations means of organizing the vast gamut of measures found among operating facilities. They relate directly to goals established for a particular facility--that is goals can be framed within the con- text of an evaluation area. Whenever possible, these assessments also identify which measures are used frequently. Although it is possible to identify trends in some cases, each congestion pricing project is unique and is advanced to address a unique set of goals. Moreover, local concerns, legislative requirements, institutional relationships, and performance monitoring precedents also vary from location to location and project to project. These unique dynamics are the driving force that will deter- mine which particular performance metrics are used on different projects. So rather than pre- scribing particular metrics for particular situations, these guidelines provide a framework for