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Introduction 7 by time-of-day, by vehicle, and by entry point. The charge can be fixed on a particular schedule or vary dynamically based on real-time traffic conditions. The application of cordon or area pricing has occurred only internationally to date. The three most extensive uses (based on geographic extent and population served) are in London, England; Stockholm, Sweden; and Singapore. Common goals are to reduce congestion within urban centers often limited by finite roadway capacity, to improve access to urban destinations (cen- tral business districts, commercial establishments, cultural and civic institutions, etc.), to encourage the use of alternate forms of transportation (especially public transit), and to improve natural and urban environments (quality of life). 1.3 Context for Congestion Pricing Projects and Their Evaluation Evaluation and performance measurement programs for congestion pricing projects are most effective when their development extends across the overall planning, implementation, and operation lifecycle of the projects they assess. In an ideal scenario, this approach happens naturally: a congestion pricing project is identified, planned, and executed along an uninter- rupted timeline, with consistent agency sponsorship, such that the project's goals and objec- tives are clear throughout the process and a consistent approach to measuring and evaluating the project's outcomes can be applied to assess its ability to meet them. However, more often evaluation and performance measurement programs for congestion pricing projects are dis- crete efforts, especially if there has been a break in time between the planning and design and construction phases of the implementation process, or if these activities were completed by different agencies or teams. The relationship between project implementation and performance evaluation and measure- ment is shown in Figure 1-1. As with other types of transportation improvements, the imple- mentation of a congestion pricing project involves the following major phases: Planning Design and construction Operations Figure 1-1. Performance evaluation and measurement context and activities throughout the project development process.

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8 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Each of these phases is underpinned by an ongoing public involvement process to obtain input and feedback (from local stakeholder groups) which is used to shape the transportation project that emerges from the process. The public involvement process also enhances awareness, edu- cation, and marketing/promotion for the project. The following discussions provide further information on the different steps and the overall context involved in formulating and imple- menting evaluation and performance measurement programs for congestion pricing projects. 1.3.1 Planning Studies and the Development of Preliminary Evaluation and Performance Measures The first step in the implementation of a congestion pricing project is the completion of plan- ning studies that result in either a pricing project being advanced into design and construction or a decision not to continue. The planning process is essentially a decision-making framework through which regional goals are established and different improvement options are assessed for their ability to meet those needs.2 Ideally, it should include a preliminary identification of performance measures that demonstrate the extent to which the project meets its goals and addresses public and other stakeholder concerns. More often, however, planning studies for capacity expansion and operational enhancements, including congestion pricing projects, extend over several years and focus on need and feasibility, and less on ultimate execution. Other issues including securing funding and approvals for the project and the possible need to gain local or state legislative authority and/or Federal agreements to collect tolls, add further time and com- plexity to the planning process. As the transition to construction occurs, circumstances may have changed since the initial planning study--agency, institutional (legal, regulatory), or stakeholder priorities may have shifted--often making it more appropriate to wait until implementation is imminent to finalize the details of the evaluation program. 1.3.2 Project Design and Construction and the Review or Development of Evaluation and Performance Measures Although the development of performance measures and an evaluation program to assess them may not have been considered during the planning process, these needs become more critical during project design and construction. Comprehensive baseline data documenting conditions prior to the opening of the congestion pricing facility is essential to determine the incremental effects of pricing once it becomes operational. At the very least, as a project enters its design and construction phase, its goals should be con- firmed in conjunction with either the refinement of selected preliminary performance measures from the planning process or the development of an initial set (see the following section). If resources allow, it is helpful to use the public consultation process already established for the project to confirm regional goals and obtain an understanding of public and other stakeholder attitudes toward the pricing project and any subsequent issues that may have arisen since the completion of the planning process. Public involvement at this stage should educate the public on the project's purpose and benefits to make the case for its implementation. Specific perfor- mance measures can be identified that would best communicate the realization of these benefits and confirm that the project is meeting its intended goals. Performance evaluation programs will also need to include specific measures that may be leg- islatively mandated and any others that the project sponsor may have committed to during the 2 Volume 1 of NCHRP Project 08-57, Improved Framework and Tools for Highway Pricing Decisions, provides extensive analysis and case studies illuminating decision-making frameworks for tolling and pricing projects.

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Introduction 9 approval process. Such commitments may be made to obtain stakeholder buy-in and The Challenges of Determining Before-and-After Effects increase support for the project. Examples Amid Ongoing Construction might include commitments to monitor transit travel times to indicate improve- Due to the constraints of completing construction work within active ments or absence of degradation in service highway rights-of-way, construction periods for large HOT lane proj- or a commitment to measure effects on ects can extend for periods of several years, with the new improve- low-income users for those concerned with ments brought on-line on a rolling basis as they are completed. Simi- economic equity. By addressing these obli- larly, other unrelated construction projects in the corridor or adjacent gations, credibility and confidence in proj- areas before or after the completion of the HOT lane could also skew ect execution is built. Overall, performance traffic data and other performance parameters. Both situations com- measures selected to build the case for pub- plicate the ability of project sponsors to obtain useful before-and- lic acceptance, respond to stakeholder input, after benchmarking data needed to assess the performance of these and meet legislative requirements are those projects in terms of traffic operations and user perception. When this that will validate the project. is the case, sponsors may have to wait several years to gain a com- plete understanding of the effects of congestion pricing in their The other primary function of perfor- regions. The following findings from the Miami, Minneapolis, and mance measurement is to manage facility San Diego project profiles presented in the appendix provide further or pricing scheme operations. It is critical detail on how ongoing construction activity has affected performance to identify performance measures that will monitoring in three of the seven managed lane projects assessed in provide a reliable and consistent means to NCHRP Project 08-75. manage a facility's ongoing operations and define when changes in operation are nec- Miami: One recurring challenge with the opening of the 95 essary. For example, performance measures Express was tracking the performance of a facility that was being for operations often derive directly from opened in phases, which meant that monitoring would begin the facility's toll policy. Thresholds for toll when the facility was only partly opened and still undergoing adjustments are informed by assessing impacts from ongoing construction. ongoing performance measure data, such Minneapolis: Assembling meaningful before-and-after data on as hourly traffic volumes or travel times the I-35W corridor was complicated by the fact that the MnPASS between selected route points. Changes in improvements opened on a rolling basis and that they were facility policies (such as vehicle occupancy affected by ongoing project construction and the replacement of requirements or the specification of peak- the Mississippi River crossing near downtown Minneapolis. These period operation) may also arise as a result factors resulted in a substantial time gap between comparable of a performance evaluation program. before-and-after conditions. San Diego: The San Diego Association of Governments' (SANDAG) Facility operations also require that expansion of the I-15 Express Lanes is being completed over a equipment and service providers meet 5-year period. As these guidelines are being written the 8-mile, established performance standards. Such reversible-flow, two-lane segment continues to operate as it has standards would be likely to include the for the past 14 years, and a new much more complex five-lane accuracy of ETC transactions and billings, segment has opened to the north. At the same time, extensive the opening of new ETC accounts, wait construction activities in the I-15 corridor continue, affecting times and overall satisfaction with services the operation of the general purpose and managed lanes alike. provided by a customer call center, and Together these conditions have led to a lull in normal perform- incident response times. Performance ance monitoring activities in the I-15 corridor while SANDAG measures to assess whether these standards addresses constantly changing maintenance of traffic issues will be met should also be identified and during the construction period and gears up for full operations specified at this stage. of the completed facility. Similarly, subsequent survey work Finally, as part of the design phase, all after the opening of the first segment of the expansion has equipment needed to collect performance been postponed because of the extensive construction activities measurement data should be identified, fol- in the corridor. However, no one has questioned whether the lowed by the preparation of either detailed facility is providing benefit to the region. specifications or designs. Equipment used

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10 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects for performance monitoring purposes could include loop detectors, automated toll collection systems, and still and video cameras. Whether a performance measure's intended purpose is to validate the project or manage its operation (or both), it should also be structured to use any previously compiled data or statis- tics on facility performance and its users' behavior and attitudes. Making the case for achieving project goals and benefits can be enhanced by comparisons to past performance data and prior (likely worsening) trends. Growing peak-period traffic volumes or travel times and attendant effects on economic or environmental impacts are good examples of these types of data. The col- lection of similar data once the pricing project is operational would be most useful if it can be compared on an even basis with past collected results. The Unanticipated Benefits of a "Soft" After the preliminary performance measures have been Opening in Houston reviewed or revised or an initial set compiled for the first time, While travel demand modeling output provides a it is essential to establish pre-existing baseline conditions prior reasonable estimate of utilization levels for HOT to opening of the new congestion pricing project. The baseline lanes, there is always some uncertainty regarding conditions will provide the reference point for documenting actual utilization prior to opening. Before opening changes in the facility's performance. They will likely require the new 12-mile, four-lane Katy Freeway Managed the ongoing collection of objective data such as traffic param- Lanes, its operator, the Harris County Toll Road eters (e.g., volumes, speeds, and vehicle occupancies), transit Authority (HCTRA), did not know what the overall utilization, safety statistics, and others. It is also expected that utilization levels would be. While HCTRA's initial one-time, specially designed surveys will be required to collect intent was to open the facility simultaneously to subjective data, such as public perceptions. HOV and paying SOV motorists, as a result of Ideally, baseline data collection should extend for one full delays in completing the ETC installation for the year prior to the opening of the congestion pricing facility so reconstructed HOT lanes, the facility was opened in that recurring patterns are well documented and the quantity a phased sequence--first to HOVs only and then of data is robust enough to make comparisons with those col- later to paying vehicles. lected after operations begin. External factors, such as other In retrospect HCTRA found that this decision was construction projects, economic trends, and even weather extremely helpful on a number of fronts. Most events may skew the baseline data. Additional baseline collec- importantly, it provided the Authority with an tion time, data, or the use of a control corridor/facility/region excellent understanding of HOV utilization in may be necessary. the corridor, which was higher than expected at These factors can greatly affect the previously made strategic 1,400 vehicles during the peak hour, and the decisions regarding agreed on project goals. Accordingly, spe- opportunity to determine whether any operational cific performance measures included in a performance evalua- issues could be enhanced. The soft launch period tion program would be best selected at least 18 months prior to also gave the public time to become accustomed project construction completion so that the measurement of to the lanes and for HCTRA to conduct outreach adequate baseline data can be accommodated and carried out. activities. With local elections following the soft Consideration must be given to making these baseline measure- opening by one month in November 2008, a ments during construction and the potential phased schedule county judge who was up for election came out for opening the project to operations. Protocols for ongoing in support of the lanes and later assisted HCTRA performance measure reporting should also be agreed on prior in the development of television commercials for to the opening of the congestion pricing facility. the new facility. While they cite the soft launch as "dumb luck" necessitated by delays in imple- menting toll collection equipment in the corridor, 1.3.3 Performance Measurement and HCTRA staff believe a phased opening might be Evaluation during Project Operation beneficial to other operators launching new con- When a congestion pricing project goes into operation, gestion pricing facilities. project sponsors should anticipate that local stakeholders, elected officials, and the media will want performance data to

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Introduction 11 be available almost immediately. Making this data available provides project sponsors with the opportunity to demonstrate their responsiveness and gain the confidence of the congestion pric- ing project's stakeholders. Managing expectations is equally important, since many project set- tings may be targeted for longer-term benefits not readily seen on opening day. Moreover, it pro- vides the opportunity to share quantifiable project performance data that validates the benefits of the project and demonstrates how its performance is meeting its goals, as well as any specific community concerns that may have arisen during the implementation process. Although relatively few performance measures will be used to manage the ongoing operation of the pricing facility, these measures will be critical to the success of the project, especially at the beginning of its service life. The monitoring process will have to determine whether critical thresh- olds identified by supporting sponsors at the federal, state, or local levels are being met. These may include peak-period travel speeds or hourly vehicle volume thresholds, public support, safety, modal changes, compliance/violation rates, financial and revenue performance, and a host of other locally significant measures. If critical thresholds are not being met, operating requirements such as price levels or occupancy requirements will need to be adjusted until system performance meets the required benchmarks. In terms of data used to validate the project, project sponsors should also anticipate generat- ing regular monthly or weekly reports driven by electronically collected data on an ongoing basis, as well as press releases, individual milestone reports on the completion of major user survey efforts, or annual or biannual reports--which may also be a legislative requirement. There are also ongoing public involvement opportunities for information reporting during the operation of the congestion pricing facility. Stakeholders and the public are anxious to learn of the performance evaluation findings given their involvement in developing goals during the planning and/or design and construction phases. Information reporting should target these and other newer interests if the project is demonstrating success. For example, the outcome of an air quality measure can be highlighted at a local meeting of the Sierra Club or an outcome of enforcement elements can be highlighted through law enforcement channels. Project sponsors should continue performance reporting to all existing stakeholder groups with whom they have interacted during the implementation of the congestion pricing project, as well as to any newly identified stakeholders. One ultimate measure of success is to have built support for the con- tinued or expanded use of congestion pricing through a project's performance evaluation and measurement.