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CHAPTER 5 Conclusions 5.1 Providing a Framework to Approach Performance Measurement for Congestion Pricing Projects These guidelines provide a framework for measuring and evaluating the performance of con- gestion pricing projects. The findings presented in the guidelines are informed by case studies focusing on actual performance measurement practices in use on 12 congestion pricing programs in operation in the United States and abroad. The overarching findings from the research as captured within these guidelines are as follows: Performance measurement for pricing projects should reflect the goals that underpin them. Although the most common goals behind pricing projects are congestion reduction and revenue generation, the rationale for implementing congestion is different from project to project. Local issues and concerns regarding the use of congestion pricing also vary, and the performance measures used to evaluate pricing projects should illuminate the different issues in play. With a vast number of possibilities in terms of physical configuration, toll rates and collection technologies, operational policies, and transit components, no two pricing projects are alike. Similarly the performance measures used to track pricing projects vary from project to project and individual metrics are often tied to specific features of a facility. No single prescribed set of performance measures should be incorporated into performance monitoring programs. Rather, project sponsors should tailor performance programs to align with project goals, community concerns, agency needs, project configuration and operational policies, and the resources available for monitoring purposes. To facilitate the identification of trends and best practices, the guidelines have grouped existing congestion pricing applications into three forms: Variably priced managed lanes involve charging variably priced tolls along designated highway lanes, such as HOT lanes or express toll lanes, in order to provide improved travel conditions to eligible users. Toll facilities with variable pricing incorporate "full facility" pricing, where all lanes of a facility are tolled at variably priced rates in response to time of day and travel demand. Cordon and area pricing strategies are designed to mitigate traffic congestion in urban envi- ronments by charging vehicles as they enter a designated zone or travel across a set boundary, potentially with higher prices during peak periods. The research has found that the goals underpinning congestion pricing projects tend to have somewhat different focuses, depending on the form of pricing involved. With variably priced managed lanes, goals are often focused on improved traffic performance in the priced corridor. This objective can be expressed in terms of person and vehicular throughput, travel speeds, and other highway operations metrics. Performance monitoring usually involves 81

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82 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects tracking the same parameters on the managed lanes and the general-purpose lanes and demon- strating that conditions do not deteriorate with the introduction of additional vehicles on the managed lanes. Changes in the general-purpose lanes may also be measurable but are not generally obvious to motorists using them. With projects that add major capacity to a highway corridor, revenue generation may also be included as a fundamental goal, like any other toll road, with the understanding that revenue generation and improved traffic performance are not mutually exclusive. With variably priced toll facilities, goals normally involve meeting critical revenue thresholds while reducing congestion without compromising revenue requirements. Given that most toll facilities are financed with bonds leveraging toll revenue and involve conservative reserve and coverage ratio policies, it is essential that the introduction of variably priced tolls does not reduce revenue generated. However, the rationale for using variably priced tolls is to manage congestion during peak periods, so performance monitoring programs for priced toll facilities must document traffic performance in the corridor as well as revenue generation. With cordon and area pricing, goals normally involve enhancing regional sustainability and quality of life, which can be expressed through such metrics as congestion reduction, vehicle emis- sion levels, and economic competitiveness. Given that cordon and area pricing affects travel behavior across an entire metropolitan region, rather than individual corridors, the physical scope of performance measurement programs for this pricing form is more expansive than with other pricing forms focused on specific corridors. Revenue generation is also a common goal with cor- don and area pricing applications, and a key parameter in this area is net revenue or financial performance expressed as gross revenue minus operating costs. Although no two pricing projects are the same, similar issues and concerns do arise with all three forms of pricing. One issue is achieving political consensus on who is tolled, who is not, and what maximum toll rates should be. Another common concern is how the proceeds from congestion pricing will be used. Both of these issues affect equity concerns, which are often mit- igated by using some of the revenue generated by these projects to support transit improvements and enhance travel options in areas where pricing is used. Performance monitoring programs for congestion pricing projects must also address these important issues by documenting base- line conditions prior to the implementation of pricing and demonstrating how conditions change once the pricing project is active. Although no formal or prescribed process is identified in the guidelines, the research indi- cates that it is helpful to assemble a multidisciplinary team composed of relevant staff from the agency sponsoring the congestion pricing project and other concerned stakeholder groups to guide the development of performance monitoring programs for pricing projects. The research also finds that the level of detail for congestion pricing project performance monitoring pro- grams should generally be commensurate with the level of public interest and concern with the use of pricing. These guidelines identify an array of different performance measures that have been used to monitor the performance of congestion pricing projects across eight broad analysis areas. The guidelines review these measures and identify those (1) used most commonly and (2) generally perceived to provide higher value and useful information on different aspects of the performance of congestion pricing projects. In addition, the guidelines discuss which types of stakeholder groups would likely be interested in the different performance indicators, as well as the comparative cost and ease with which the information may be obtained. With these different components, the guidelines provide potential sponsors of congestion pric- ing projects with a contextual framework for approaching performance monitoring programs for pricing projects. The guidelines offer a menu of performance measures arrayed across a broad set