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56 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 rate under various scenarios in 2002 (U.S. dollars in QuickRide is an innovative project designed to use millions): the capacity of the HOV lanes on the Katy and North- west freeways more effectively. Under this project, two- HOV2+ HOV3+ person carpools can pay $2.00 to use the HOV lanes during the peak period, even though the lanes are nor- No intermediate access 142 207 mally restricted to vehicles with three or more occu- With intermediate access 83 228 pants. This form of HOV lane is typically termed a HOT lane and can be an effective travel demand man- agement and congestion mitigation tool. Consistent with its design as a demonstration proj- This method of managing demand has worked well ect, the I-680 HOT lane approach has the capacity to since its implementation in 1998, with steady increases offer answers to some of the questions that continue to in usage and enrollment. However, with reconstruc- accompany the value pricing concept. Will drivers see tion of the Katy Freeway corridor under way, the Katy the HOT lane as worthwhile? How much will they be HOV lane could be an even more valuable asset in willing to pay? How many vehicles and people can move managing traffic, both peak and off peak. In addition, through this corridor, and at what speeds? Can smooth more HOV lanes in the Houston area are nearing traffic flow be maintained? How much revenue will be capacity during peak periods. Therefore, additional generated? And perhaps most difficult, will the system efforts are under way to increase the QuickRide proj- be perceived as fair? ect's effectiveness in utilizing the HOT lanes. This The project also presents its designers with some real could include increasing the hours of QuickRide oper- operational challenges and the opportunity to investigate ation, dynamic pricing of the HOT lanes on the basis such things as the effectiveness of enforcement policies, of congestion, variable pricing of the lanes on the basis the impacts on HOVs, and the impact of constraining or of time of day, and even allowing single-occupant vehi- increasing access to the HOV-HOT lane. Other pricing cles on the lanes for a higher toll than those paid by studies in the Bay Area have generated some helpful two-person HOVs. lessons; those studies include the I-880 commercial vehi- One important tool for use in predicting driver cle initiative, the SonomaMarin US-101 HOT Lanes, response to these potential toll changes is the price Santa Cruz Highway 1, and the Bay Bridge Congestion elasticity of demand for the HOV lane. For 1 month, Pricing Project. April 2003, the price of QuickRide was reduced to $1 per trip. The resulting price elasticities of demand ranged from 0.11 to 0.26, with an average of 0.19. PRICE DEMAND ELASTICITIES AND USAGE OF These results indicated an inelastic response to changes HOUSTON'S HOT LANES in the toll. A survey of QuickRide enrollees and former enrollees Mark Burris was also conducted in spring 2003. The survey results supported the previous elasticity results. The primary The HOV lanes in Houston were highly successful--so issue limiting QuickRide use appears to be one of conve- successful, in fact, that two of them (Katy and North- nience rather than cost. Both current and former partici- west) exceeded capacity during the morning peak period pants cited the inconveniences of carpooling as the when they were open to all vehicles with two or more greatest deterrent to QuickRide use, while 73.4% of par- occupants. However, after raising the occupancy restric- ticipants reported that the toll had little or no impact on tions to three or more persons during the peak periods, their decision to use QuickRide. A survey of corridor there was significant excess capacity. Therefore, to bet- travelers who do not use QuickRide is scheduled for fall ter utilize the lanes, Houston METRO and the Texas 2003; we anticipate that this survey will provide addi- Department of Transportation implemented a value tional insight into driver behavior to optimize the pricing pricing project named QuickRide. structure for the HOT lanes.