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Ah, the Politics of Pricing Eric Schreffler, ESTC, San Diego, California John Albion, Lee County, Florida Jan A. Martinsen, Norwegian Public Roads Administration HOW POLITICS AFFECTS EVEN GOOD PROJECTS The evaluation of the pricing project showed that it improved the efficiency of the facility, did not seem to Eric Schreffler hurt carpooling, and cross-subsidized new transit ser- vice. However, the I-15 corridor bus service that pro- As part of the federally sponsored evaluation of the vided much of the political support for the HOT lane Interstate 15 Value Pricing Demonstration Project, approach did not necessarily fulfill expectations. The ESTC prepared the institutional assessment, which intent was to attract new bus riders in the corridor in involved interviews with some 40 stakeholders over the order to remove cars from I-15. Instead, the new bus 3-year pilot project. Among other lessons learned, this service attracted reverse commuters and riders who did review provides an interesting insight into how politi- not switch from driving alone. The service was split into cally driven decisions concerning the use of revenue can two routes, one a new commuter express service that lead to reasonably good but less than optimal results. now attracts about 130,000 annual boardings. Jan Goldsmith, Mayor of the city of Poway, Califor- How could the revenue have been spent to better fit nia, and the political champion behind the project, the project goals and address congestion in the corri- enabled the San Diego Association of Governments to dor? One promising alternative to subsidizing the oper- move the dynamic pricing concept from idea to reality. ation of new bus service would be to provide a direct His support for pricing grew out of his support for a subsidy to the users of any alternative mode, including monorail or other high-capacity transit service to solve carpooling, vanpooling, bus, and teleworking. This traffic congestion problems on the main arterial in would increase occupancy in the HOV lanes, which is Poway as well as for expansion of the light rail system still the primary purpose of the facility. The revenue into the I-15 corridor. When planners told him that the could be used for general HOV marketing and to sup- demand did not exist for this type of service, he port commute alternatives, such as the county com- embraced the pricing concept as a way to pay for new muter express services. Use of the revenue solely for new transit service in the corridor. After moving on to transit service may have been a case where opportunity become a state assemblyman, he sponsored the became expectation. enabling legislation to allow tolls in the I-15 high- I-15 is widely accepted as a U.S. pricing success story, occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which were effectively and properly so. The success is clearly due in part to the turned into into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. To presence of a champion in Jan Goldsmith. However, ensure that the funds would support the new bus ser- could the project have been even more successful? Per- vice along the corridor, the legislation limited the use of haps, had the revenue been used to subsidize all alterna- the revenue to transit capital and operating and HOV tive modes rather than just a new service that did not facility improvements. meet many of its expectations. 21