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THE PRICE IS "RIGHT": PERSPECTIVES ON FINDING IT 55 EXPERIENCES WITH ACTIVE PROJECTS: consistently more support than simply adding toll-free INTERSTATE 10 regular lanes. Ed Regan INTERSTATE 680 AND OTHER As congestion pricing moves from theory to practice, CALIFORNIA PROJECTS new opportunities for providing higher-quality trans- portation through the use of managed lanes and, Jim Bourgart potentially, bus rapid transit are emerging. Two prime examples of managed lane facilities are ( a ) the new By charging single-occupant vehicles for the opportu- Interstate 10 managed lanes project in Houston, which nity to use freer-flowing HOV lanes, HOT lanes offer a is being implemented as part of a major Katy Freeway number of benefits: more efficient use of HOV lane and improvement program and which provides an excel- freeway capacity, revenue generation to support trans- lent illustration of the opportunities offered by blend- portation improvements, and the opportunity to sustain ing the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane concept with public support for existence of HOV lanes at all. bus rapid transit, and ( b ) the existing Interstate 15 A prime example of the HOT lane concept is the managed lanes project in San Diego, soon to be more planned 14-mile Interstate 680, which emerged as a than doubled in size. strong candidate because of the following characteris- The Interstate 10 expansion program involves expan- tics: (a) sufficient distance with heavy congestion and sion of an existing seven-lane highway [six general- strongly directional commute traffic, (b) relatively few purpose and one high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane] to interim on/off users given the concentration of Silicon eight general-purpose and four value-priced managed Valley jobs at the south end and residences at the north lanes. The managed lanes are being financed by the Harris end, (c) sufficient right-of-way and the preexisting plan County Toll Road Authority. Under a multiagency agree- to include HOV lanes on the facility, and (d) real finan- ment, transit buses will be able to use the managed lanes cial needs. The anticipated alignment will include three toll free, and the toll agency has committed to charge suf- general-purpose lanes in each direction and an HOV- ficiently high prices to ensure free-flowing operations in HOT lane in each direction as well. the managed lanes even during peak periods. The tolls will be adjusted up or down periodically on As a result, the Interstate 10 managed lane solution the basis of demand, which will ensure that the com- essentially creates a two-directional, free-flowing "vir- bined HOV-HOT lane does not become congested. The tual" busway, shared with (and paid for by) passenger specific approach for the fee structure is being devel- car motorists willing to pay a toll to obtain the same time oped through use of an optimization model that inter- savings advantages afforded to the buses. In this way, acts with the regional transportation model and solves HOT lanes and bus rapid transit will be able to work for prices that meet efficiency, revenue maximization, better together, a "win-win" scenario for both the high- throughput, and other desired goals. Because the key to way side and the transit side. Twinning these features has value pricing is motorists' desire to trade off time versus the potential to result in an integrated high-quality trans- cost, one of the keys to making an accurate variable portation solution that can manage demand while gener- pricing forecast is the distribution of users' value of ating revenue and providing a built-in incentive for time. At first, we anticipate a peak toll rate of between increased use of transit. $3 and $4 for the full 14-mile distance. There will also Another managed lane application meriting attention be an off-peak price and a "shoulder" period price. At is the successful Interstate 15 project in San Diego, which this level, tolls in both directions would generate stands as the world's first and only use of fully dynamic between $6.3 million and $14.7 million in revenues in variable pricing. Single-occupant vehicles are allowed to 2006 and between $12.3 million and $31.9 million in "buy in" to previously constructed HOV lanes, and one 2025. Revenues will be used to pay for HOT lane oper- noteworthy feature of this project is the extremely posi- ations, improved bus service on the I-680 corridor, and tive results generated from extensive public opinion capital improvements to the I-680 corridor. polling. The surveys have shown strong support for the One of the most interesting parts of the analysis was variable pricing approach, with overwhelming approval the impact of the definition of "HOV" (two versus three registered by both users and nonusers of lanes as well as or more vehicle occupants) and the availability of inter- carpoolers and transit patrons. In fact, the most frequent mediate access into the HOT lane. Not surprisingly, an response to a question about the single most effective HOV-3 policy generated significantly more revenue. way to reduce congestion on other portions of Interstate The following table shows the anticipated 20-year net 15 was to extend the tolled express lanes, which showed present value of operating incomes at a 4% discount