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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 99 2. Florida Department of Transportation 95 Express The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) operates a total of 1,471 centerline miles of Interstate highway out of a statewide network of 121,526 miles of roads. There are a total of 44 standalone toll facilities in Florida, the largest number of any state. Toll revenues represented approximately 12 percent of FDOT total revenues in 2007, or nearly $1.1 billion out of $9.2 billion.1 FDOT is converting and expanding 21 miles of HOV lanes on I-95 between I-395 in Miami and I-595 in Fort Lauderdale--known as 95 Express--with the support of a $62.9 million Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) grant from USDOT. It is also implement- ing a $1.8 billion expansion of I-595 on a public-private partnership basis. The expansion will feature a new three-lane reversible flow, 10.5-mile, variably priced HOT lane that, with the con- verted I-95 facility, will create the beginning of a network of priced lanes in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region. The impetus for the 95 Express conversion was congestion on the existing I-95 HOV lanes, which no longer offered reliable trips during peak travel periods. Working with multiple partners-- including the metropolitan planning organizations of Miami-Dade & Broward Counties, Miami-Dade & Broward County Transit, Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, and South Florida Commuter Services--FDOT took advantage of USDOT's UPA program to gain funding for the conversion and implement transit enhance- ments in the corridor. The goals established for the I-95 Express Lanes are as follows: 1. Maximize throughput 2. Maintain free-flow speed on the Express Lanes and travel time savings 3. Increase trip reliability 4. Incentivize transit and carpooling 5. Reduce congestion by diverting traffic to non-peak periods 6. Meet increasing travel demand in the future 7. Facilitate trip-reducing carpool formation A conscious decision was made by FDOT to maximize the throughput and operational effi- ciency of the 95 Express, rather than optimize revenues. However, it is not guaranteed that the express lanes will be congestion-free during peak hours, even with the payment of a toll. Nonetheless, motorists are provided a high level of reliability to expect free-flow conditions. 2.1. Overview of the FDOT's Congestion Pricing Program The 95 Express involves the conversion of the existing HOV lane to HOT operation and addi- tion of a second HOT lane in each direction within the existing I-95 right-of-way made possible by narrowing the existing travel lanes slightly. The project is being developed in two sections. The first is a 7-mile segment at the southern end of the corridor from SR 112 in downtown Miami to the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami Gardens. Phase 1 of the 95 Express has been completed with the northbound lanes in this section opening to operation on December 5, 2008 (Phase 1A), and the corresponding southbound lanes (Phase 1B) opening on January 15, 2010, together with both north and southbound lanes between SR 112 and I-395 near Miami. Phase 2, expected to be completed in 2011, extends the facility 14 miles north to Fort Lauderdale from the I-395 Interchange to a point north of I-595 in Fort Lauderdale. The completed 21-mile facil- ity will have eight access and egress points. 1 AASHTO Center for Excellence in Project Finance
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100 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects In addition to providing a second HOT lane in each direction, FDOT has also increased the occupancy requirement for free use of the 95 Express from two to three people per vehicle mak- ing work-related trips. These vehicles must also be registered with the South Florida Commuter Services--a regional commuter assistance program established by FDOT--in order to use the lanes at no cost. As part of the registration process, carpoolers must document that they have at least three commuters traveling to and from work in one vehicle. Each participant is provided with a 95 Express decal that allows them to use the facility without incurring toll charges. The 95 Express decals are valid for 6 months, after which registrations must be renewed. Hybrid vehicles are also allowed to use the 95 Express at no cost. To do so, hybrid owners must first have a valid State of Florida HOV decal in order to register for 95 Express. Qualified regis- trants receive a 95 Express decal which is valid for a year. Hybrid vehicle must have both decals in order to use the 95 Express without paying tolls. Motorcycles, transit vehicles, and registered vanpool vehicles may also use the 95 Express at no cost. Toll rates for all other vehicles on the 95 Express are dynamically priced and updated every 15 minutes based on the traffic conditions of the express lanes only. Detection equipment pro- vides continuous information on the number of vehicles in the express lanes, their speeds, and distance of separation. An algorithm compares the real-time information to historical data and generates toll rates reflecting traffic densities on the express lanes. Toll rates are designed to main- tain travel speeds of at least 45 miles per hour on the 95 Express while maximizing throughput. Typical toll rates for Phase 1 fluctuate between $0.25 and $4.00 and may rise to $7.10 under extreme conditions. Toll rates are displayed on the variable message signs upstream of all entrance points to the 95 Express, providing drivers with time to decide whether to use the lanes. 2.2. What Is Monitored? The full spectrum of FDOT's performance monitoring activities is provided in the accompany- ing Facility Performance Monitoring Summary Matrix for the 95 Express. The matrix is a com- prehensive record of all current, known metrics used to monitor performance 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 characterizations of the met- ric that relate back to agency/facility goals or applications. An expanded version of the matrix pro- viding 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 FDOT's complete mon- itoring effort, easily comparable with other HOT-lane facilities with similar matrix summaries. A more qualitative discussion of how these metrics are applied in practice and which ones are the most significant is provided below. Not all metrics noted in the matrix are discussed here. FDOT collects a comprehensive set of monitoring parameters for the 95 Express. It had a for- mal monitoring in place prior to the opening of the 95 Express. The plan has been updated numerous times, with most of the changes consisting of repackaging the data to enable better management. The monitoring plan requirements drove the selection of the systems and equip- ment used to collect data. Battelle, which is responsible for monitoring the performance of all UPA and CRD projects, was involved in the formative stages of the monitoring plan. All moni- toring requirements were vetted through workshops with the different stakeholders involved. One recurring challenge was tracking the performance of a facility being opened in phases, which meant that monitoring would begin when the facility was only partly opened and affected by ongoing construction. FDOT's monitoring activities have been so intensive that they have hired a dedicated staff person to coordinate requests and have developed a master matrix to track the different pieces of information measured. FDOT also makes performance data available to the public on a weekly basis through the 95 Express website.
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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 101 Speed information on the 95 Express is collected by 31 vehicle detection sensor sites through- out the corridor, processed by the ETC software. Speed data for each site can be averaged across a specified number of detectors or made at a single location. Speed data are tracked in both the express lanes and general-purpose lanes, with comparisons made for the A.M. and P.M. peak peri- ods, as well as weekday, weekend, and monthly averages. FDOT has also made before-and-after speed comparisons on both the express and general-purpose lanes. FDOT calculates reliability on the express lanes by documenting the amount of time they operate at speeds above a mini- mum threshold of 45 miles per hour. Data on vehicle volumes are collected at toll gantry locations and synthesized by the ETC software. FDOT's philosophy is to use as much instrumentation as possible to collect speed and volume data because it can be better managed. For example, data can continue to be collected even when a particular detector is disconnected. In addition, data can be cherry-picked using information by the most reliable detectors to produce standard reports. Traffic volume data are compiled for the same time analysis periods as speed data described above. FDOT also calculates person throughput on the I-95 corridor using average vehicle occupancy (AVO) rates and volumes by type of vehicle for both the express and general-purpose lanes. Express bus ridership is added manually. Before-and-after comparisons were made of person throughput during the peak period, in accordance with the UPA framework. FDOT tracks safety conditions on state roadways using police crash reports. Two years' worth of crash data will be needed for the 95 Express before definitive safety information is available. However, initial evaluation of incidents has not provided any indication of safety concerns. FDOT also has installed video monitoring equipment on the 95 Express that operates around the clock. This may enable FDOT to capture incidents that might not have been recorded in the past. In addition, FDOT monitors incident clearance times. Revenue and toll data are tracked by Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE). FTE summarizes all the applied tolls, tolled and toll-exempt trips, and gross revenue into monthly performance measure reports and delivers them to FDOT. FDOT tracks monthly revenue trends and revenue receipts during different time periods--P.M. peak, weekend, or weekday, for example--from month to month. FDOT compiles similar information for toll rates. In addition, it tracks max- imum tolls. FDOT's systems also allow it to identify the express lane travel speeds that occurred at any period of time, which enhances the ability to understand the relationships between toll rates, traffic volumes, and speeds on the 95 Express. In addition to revenue data, FDOT tracks both toll-exempt registrations and actual toll- exempt trips by vehicle class. Although toll-exempt trips only represent 1 percent of the total trips on the express lanes, they have important implications for project goals such as a mode shift from SOVs to transit and ride sharing. FDOT also tracks the overall availability of the 95 Express, meaning the amount of time that the lanes are open and available to motorists, making a distinction between planned closures (due to construction) and unanticipated closures (due to traffic incidents). In addition to the number of traffic incidents, FDOT documents the average duration of lane blockages as a result of such incidents. FDOT also monitors enforcement data compiled by the Florida Highway Patrol, which tracks HOV occupancy warnings and citations, toll violation citations, and other infringements (e.g., speeding, seat belt use, and driving while intoxicated). Information on toll violations is generated automatically by the SunPass ETC system. However other enforcement activities rely on visual enforcement by the Florida Highway Patrol. FDOT monitors the performance of the different ETC and detection equipment installed on the 95 Express. These include closed-circuit television cameras, dynamic message signs, and microwave
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102 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects vehicle detection system sensors used to measure spot speeds, volumes, and lane occupancy. Mal- function of any pieces of equipment is noted, along with downtimes. FDOT uses this information to calculate the percentage of time that the different systems are operable and available. FDOT monitors the performance of express bus services operated on the 95 Express by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT). An evaluation of the impacts of the 95 Express, Phase 1A, on tran- sit services was conducted by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the Uni- versity of South Florida. The evaluation was based on the comparison of transit operations from January to March 2008 (Pre-Deployment) with January to March 2009 (Post-Deployment) using data provided by MDT. In addition, onboard surveys were conducted by FDOT in May 2008, May 2009, and June 2010 to gauge the effect of the project on user perceptions. The tran- sit evaluation report also draws on information from FDOT's I-95 Lane Monitoring Reports in order to assess the effect on transit mode share. FDOT and its partners will continue to monitor transit performance as additional components of the 95 Express become operational. Lastly, FDOT tracks public perception of the 95 Express. In May 2009, a survey was distrib- uted to commuters in the South Florida Region to gauge feedback on the I-95 Express Lanes (northbound). The survey was sent to 160,000 SunPass account holders in Broward and Miami- Dade Counties; 30,000 South Florida Commuter Services database participants; 28,000 Miami- Dade County government employees via their newsletter; and 126 employers along the I-95 cor- ridor. A total of 9,156 individuals participated, of whom 8,986 traveled on I-95 in Broward or Miami-Dade County in the prior 6 months. Participants were queried on their overall use of the I-95 Express, the purpose of their trips on the facility, their familiarity with the express lanes, the reliability of trips on the 95 Express, and whether they would favor the development of express lanes on other roadways in southeast Florida. 2.3. Other Essential Data Gathering Activities Prior to the opening of the 95 Express, FDOT conducted various public outreach activities. FDOT held two public hearings, numerous presentations to local municipalities and elected officials, and two public meetings within the areas affected by the project. In addition, FDOT organized a webinar on the 95 Express and launched a project website providing detailed infor- mation on all aspects of the facility. FDOT held public hearings during the rulemaking phase prior to project implementation. There was extensive discussion about the expected performance with all the groups mentioned above. FDOT informed stakeholders that HOT lanes would provide users with travel options and that the facility was expected to improve overall travel times on I-95. Most queries focused on congestion reduction. 2.4. Why Performance Evaluation Takes Place and How Performance Monitoring Data Is Used FDOT uses the monitoring data it collects on the I-95 Express for various purposes described in further detail below. Maintaining Traffic Service and Speed Levels on the HOT Lanes. As described earlier, FDOT uses dynamic tolling on the 95 Express, whereby toll levels are adjusted every 15 minutes in order to maintain traffic service and speed levels on the express lanes using real-time information on travel conditions in the corridor. The application used to calculate toll rates collects real-time traffic data from the express lanes (including speeds and volumes), compares it to historical data, and analyzes this information to dynamically generate tolls based on traffic density within the express lanes. FDOT has made some minor adjustments to the pricing algorithm after reviewing
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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 103 monitoring data. However, the only outcome that the algorithm is expected to achieve is the Fed- eral requirement to maintain a minimum speed of 45 miles per hour (LOS C) 90 percent of the time. Other than this requirement, the process of setting tolls is flexible and can be adjusted based on FDOT's judgment as well as feedback from the public. Fulfilling Federal UPA Performance Monitoring Requirements. One of the primary rea- sons behind USDOT's decision to provide over $850 million in dedicated funding for conges- tion pricing projects through the UPA and CRD programs is to gain a better understanding of the effects of congestion pricing in its different forms on congestion levels and travel behavior. As a result, UPA and CRD grants require recipients to meet rigorous and standardized perfor- mance monitoring requirements. The information obtained through this process is part of a national effort to assess the effects of the UPA/CRD projects in a comprehensive and system- atic manner across all sites. The intent of the national evaluation is to generate information and produce technology transfer materials to support deployment of the strategies in other metro- politan areas. The national evaluation requires recipient DOTs to track the following perfor- mance monitoring categories: · Highway Performance · Transit Performance · Public Acceptance · Safety Performance · Enforcement Performance · Revenue and ETC System Performance · Greenhouse Gas Emissions The national UPA and CRD evaluation is being conducted by a team led by Battelle. The Battelle team has worked closely with FDOT and its fellow sponsors of the 95 Express to ensure that the monitoring program for the facility is consistent with needs and overall structure of the national evaluation. Improving Operational Performance. The performance monitoring and user satisfaction data FDOT collects enables it to assess the operational performance and safety of the 95 Express and identify potential adjustments to them, which since opening has only resulted in several "tweaks." Validating the Case for Congestion Pricing. The monitoring plan also reflects issues of concern to local stakeholders identified through the project public outreach efforts. There has been an unanticipated level of interest in the effects of the 95 Express in Miami--so much so that FDOT has had to hire an additional staff person to coordinate responses and provide information on the project. This level of interest within the local community and the fact that FDOT is respon- sive to it provides FDOT with an excellent opportunity to document the benefits of the project and the ways in which it influences and ameliorates local concerns. It also allows FDOT to build cred- ibility with local stakeholders both in its own abilities to implement congestion pricing and in the ability of pricing to help reduce traffic congestion and meet other needs. FDOT has articulated a vision of implementing a network of managed lanes in southeast Florida and the credibility it has established through the 95 Express will be an essential tool in advancing that vision. 2.5. What Additional Performance Metrics or Data Would Be Helpful to FDOT or Other Agencies Considering Congestion Pricing? FDOT staff remarked that they would have liked to have had more "before" data from prior to the facility's opening, but maximized the volume of "after" data through extensive collection efforts and instrument deployment to provide the flexibility to analyze their operations and performance
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104 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Congestion Pricing Case Studies 105 Table 2-1. Florida Department of Transportation 95 Express summary matrix.
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106 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects metrics. The 95 Express is well equipped with detection equipment throughout the corridor, pro- viding it with extremely rich raw data. FDOT's systems enable it to collect data on vehicle vol- umes and speeds at multiple locations along the facility, rather than at tolling points alone. Working with FTE, FDOT has developed sophisticated software to manage and synthesize the information received from its field equipment in order to set toll rates. Reviewing the data that it receives from the different detection points along the 95 Express, FDOT has witnessed vari- ability in the data reported and has ascertained that the information obtained from certain detec- tors is more accurate than others. Through continued monitoring and analysis, FDOT has learned how to select the best data collected from its detection equipment and then how to process it in order to identify accurate and comprehensive performance monitoring data. FDOT's ability to do so reflected the fact that the 95 Express needed to be equipped with detec- tion equipment at multiple locations along its entire length. It also reflects FTE's hands-on expe- rience with ETC systems and the fact that the I-95 corridor was highly congested both before and after the conversion. Together these different factors have encouraged FDOT to explore new ground in monitoring and operating the 95 Express. FDOT's experience is far different from that of other agencies operating less complex priced facilities, many of which have only one point of access and egress. As other longer and more complex priced facilities are built, their operators would benefit from FDOT's experience with the 95 Express. Another issue of note mentioned by FDOT staff is the unanticipated level of interest in gen- eral information on the 95 Express and its performance. This can be attributed to issues ranging from FDOT's outreach efforts, which have raised awareness and interest in the 95 Express, to concerns over congestion levels in Miami, to skepticism regarding the introduction of pricing on I-95. Whatever the genesis of the interest in the 95 Express, FDOT's comprehensive moni- toring data allows the facility's performance to speak for itself. Given the strong interest in the facility's performance data, FDOT staff recommend that a process be put in place for centralized data dissemination so that requests are handled in a coordinated and consistent manner. Pro- cessing raw data prior to its release should also be considered in this process. One last issue is the recognition that with the implementation of the 95 Express, FDOT was successful in increasing the occupancy requirements for free use of the managed lane from HOV2 to HOV3, while limiting eligible HOV3 trips to work-related carpools who must re-register every 6 months. SOV low-emission vehicles are still allowed on the lanes free of charge, but they too must go through an annual registration process. It would be interesting to explore the circum- stances that enabled FDOT to introduce these restrictions, particularly given that other cities implementing HOT conversions of congested HOV lanes--most notably Los Angeles--have avoided the liability of increasing occupancy requirements because such a change was thought to have the potential to generate extreme opposition. FDOT's experience in this area could be extremely helpful and informative to other urban areas with congested HOV facilities.