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40 I N T E R N AT I O N A L P E R S P E C T I V E S O N R O A D P R I C I N G Section 132(f)(5)(C): QUALIFIED PARKING--The term greater use. Nevertheless, many frequent users are low- "qualified parking" means parking provided to an income, and many high-income commuters are infre- employee on or near the business premises of the quent users or nonusers. Toll incentives were associated employer . . . if the employer offers the employee the with a long-term increase in 3+ ridesharing on the facil- option to receive, in lieu of the parking, the fair mar- ity, and high-occupancy vehicle users appear generally ket value of the parking. more likely to use the 91 Express Lanes. Benefitcost analysis shows that large travel time savings lead to a Commuters who voluntarily choose taxable cash in strong surplus of benefits relative to costs, which causes lieu of tax-exempt parking subsidies will reduce traffic the 91 Express Lanes to compare favorably with other congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption--and corridor improvement options. will increase income tax revenues. Requiring employers In spring 2002, after some controversy related to to offer commuters the option to cash out their tax- ownership and severe parallel freeway congestion, the exempt parking subsidies will reduce traffic congestion, public Orange County Transportation Authority conserve gasoline, improve air quality, increase tax rev- (OCTA) agreed to purchase the 91 franchise for $207.5 enues without increasing tax rates, and increase million. State enabling legislation allowed the OCTA employee benefits without increasing employers' costs. takeover to become final in January 2003. In November A minor tax reform can provide all these economic and of the preceding year, voters also approved Measure A environmental benefits simply by shifting from a policy to provide nearly $500 million in road improvements in of subsidizing parking to a policy of subsidizing people. the SR-91 corridor; these improvements had previously been blocked by the noncompete clause. Despite its recent deprivatization, the SR-91 project A LOOK BACK: CALIFORNIA STATE ROUTE 91 has been and remains successful in many dimensions. It was an innovative model that helped establish an open Edward Sullivan mind toward market-based road pricing in the United States. It also proved that publicprivate highway part- The California State Route 91 Value-Priced Express nerships can be financially successful. In my opinion, the Lane facility (91 Express Lanes) is a four-lane toll high- Achilles' heel of the private project turned out to be the way constructed in the median of an eight-lane urban noncompete clause included in the franchise agreement. freeway. The 16-kilometer express facility has no inter- The 91 Express Lanes have shown that innovative mediate access and permits no heavy vehicles. Tolls are road pricing can be economically attractive, win public time dependent and reflect demand, with electronic toll approval, and influence travel behavior. Increasing collection only (no cash). travel options is a subtle yet powerful outcome from The 91 Express Lanes were originally constructed such projects. One-size-fits-all approaches in road pric- and operated by a private company under a franchise ing have demonstrably failed. In contrast, increasing agreement with the state. The project came about transportation choices through pricing has clearly suc- because of legislation (California Assembly Bill 680) ceeded and should regularly be considered in future passed in 1989 by the California legislature to attract facility planning. alternative funding sources to meet state transporta- tion needs, gain private-sector efficiencies, and reduce congestion. URBAN TOLLS IN OSLO, NORWAY: An impact assessment study took place from mid- EXPERIENCES AND CONDITIONS FOR 1994 (about 1 year before opening) through 1999 to IMPLEMENTATION measure reactions to variable toll pricing and the other innovative features of the facility. Measured impacts Kristian Wærsted included highway traffic changes; effects on corridor bus, rail, and park-and-ride usage; effects on accidents The "Oslo Package 1," a user-fee-based array of proj- and significant incidents; origindestination (revealed ects comprising several urban main road tunnels, was preference) surveys; opinion surveys; emissions model- developed as a means to build 50 projects over a 10- ing; and behavioral choice modeling. It was found that year period. Fifty-five percent of the financing comes 91 Express Lane use strongly reflects hourly travel time from user fees, and the remaining 45% is composed of savings, and peak flattening is only weakly responsive to state grants. Had the system been funded entirely by tolls. Driving comfort and safety are often cited to justify the state, the same projects would have taken 35 years paying tolls when time savings are minimal. Income cor- to complete. The Oslo Package 1 is a joint venture relates positively with use frequency; being female, between Oslo (60%) and the neighboring county of middle-aged, and highly educated also correlates with Akershus (40%).
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E VA L U AT I O N O F A C T I V E P R I C I N G S C H E M E S 41 The toll ring covers all roads in three corridors that lead · Additional funding from the state was included as into the central part of the capital. The location of the cor- part of the plan. dons is a compromise balancing the highest possible · The plan involved relatively low toll rates. income and a low number of plazas placed in areas where · Eighty percent of all toll income is dedicated to land could be acquired most inexpensively. The following investment in road infrastructure; the remaining 20% is are a few statistics. Fifty percent of Oslo's population live earmarked for public transport infrastructure. outside the toll ring. Average daily trips in the payment · Opponents of road construction and automobile direction total approximately 250,000 vehicles. Annual use appreciated that the user-pays principle was being toll revenues come to approximately 1 billion NKr; oper- applied to motorists. ating costs consume about 10% of the gross revenue. · The opening of the Castle Tunnel, the major tun- Eleven of 19 toll plazas are minor, meaning that they com- nel in the Oslo Package 1, 2 weeks before toll collection prise just one lane for subscription members and one began provided a positive signal to opinion. This six- attended lane, while the other plazas have automatic coin lane tunnel removed Oslo's most severe bottleneck in machines to increase the capacity for manual payment. front of the Oslo city hall and demonstrated to drivers Lane capacity is approximately 1,600 vehicles per hour that they would get something back from the package. for electronic fee collection lanes and 300 vehicles per · None of the toll stations was expected to create hour for the automatic coin machine and attended lanes. bottlenecks, since their capacity was calculated to be The largest toll plaza has three dedicated electronic fee higher than that of the adjacent road network. This collection lanes, three lanes with automatic coin machines, proved to be true after the opening of the toll ring. and one attended lane. Average daily traffic at this plaza numbers approximately 50,000 vehicles. Toll collection in the Oslo Toll Ring expires in 2007, When the Oslo Package 1 was first proposed, trans- and the big issue now is whether it will be removed, portation officials faced significant public opposition; extended (as happened in Bergen), modified to accom- opinion polls indicated that 70% of respondents modate time-differentiated congestion pricing, or opposed the toll scheme. Many visitors ask us how we replaced by another type of road pricing scheme. A were able to implement the package in the face of such project group is now working on an Oslo Package 3, so opposition. We believe that the following are among the time will tell. New electronic fee collection technology most important reasons: (AutoPASS) is being introduced, and contractual and operational interoperability for all electronic fee collec- · Bergen had already implemented a successful toll tion lanes in Norway will be implemented in February ring in 1986. 2004. At that time fully automatic toll plazas enabling · Road traffic conditions had become congested to a free flow through the plazas will be introduced in choke point. Bergen and Tønsberg. In this new concept, drivers · The major political parties agreed to support the without an AutoPASS will be videoed and billed proposal. monthly for the exact fee. If the approach turns out to · The proposal involved a limited collection period be successful, it may form the basis for the future of toll of just 15 years. roads in Norway.