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70 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 women have opted for the HOT lanes because of the travelers with technological options that will become pressure of trips from work to child care locations and more acceptable over time. have reported benefits from the increased range of travel choices. Growing Traffic, Financial Pressures, and an Emphasis on Management Proving the Effectiveness of Electronic Toll Collection Throughout the United States there is a widely shared perception that traffic congestion is worsening. While Another important trend during the decade since Curb- the reality varies greatly by location, it appears that this ing Gridlock has been the widespread adoption of elec- perception is generally accurate. Average daily vehicular tronic toll collection technology throughout the United volumes grew on urban Interstates by 43% between States. As recently as a decade ago, the lay public and 1985 and 1999. In a study of 68 urban areas the Texas elected officials simply did not believe that tolls were a Transportation Institute reported that the percentage of practical way of either collecting revenues or controlling daily travel taking place under congested conditions traffic congestion, because they envisioned manually increased from 32% in 1982 to 45% in 1999 (Schrank operated tollbooths at which expensive employees made and Lomax 2001); typical motorists faced 7 hours per change and delayed traffic. While electronic toll collec- day of congested roadways in 1999 compared with 5 tion using simple transponders has been most widely hours in 1982. The Federal Highway Administration applied to bridges and roads that had flat tolls that do similarly reported that road delays, defined as travel tak- not vary with the level of congestion, their use by mil- ing more time than it would under free-flow conditions, lions of Americans is proving that electronic tolls can be increased by 8.5% between 1993 and 1997. user-friendly and are technically feasible at acceptable There are several reasons to believe that highway operating cost. congestion will continue to grow. I indicated earlier There is no doubt that the dramatic national adop- that highway-related revenues are growing far more tion of FasTrack and E-ZPass and other electronic toll slowly than volumes of travel, and there is widespread payment systems is making road pricing more feasible unwillingness by elected officials to raise user fees in and promising than ever. Familiarity with the operation proportion to increasing costs. In addition, unit costs of electronic toll collection is reducing opposition to of construction and maintenance are increasing faster road pricing. Gradually, by relying on electronic toll than the general Consumer Price Index. Higher propor- payment instruments, some heavily traveled facilities, tions of state transportation budgets must be spent on including New York City toll bridges and the New Jer- maintenance and rehabilitation, which limits the avail- sey Turnpike, have introduced modest price differentials ability of funds for new capacity. In addition, many based on time of day. While these fall short of full con- metropolitan areas are spending higher proportions of gestion-based pricing, they are clearly a transition their transport funds on transit investments, which lim- toward it on a scale that I would not have envisioned to its the availability of funds for highways. Where new be feasible just a decade ago. highways are built or existing ones widened, it is more In Europe a number of countries have already necessary than ever to invest in mitigation measures adopted and others will soon adopt systems of that lessen the undesirable impacts of highways on weightdistance fees for trucks based on electronic communities but reduce the funds available for new tolling and vehicle tracking systems that incorporate capacity. Despite this, highway traffic is growing faster Global Positioning Satellite Systems (GPSS). Similarly, than transit use, and urban goods movement--which several states in the United States are implementing or cannot be accommodated by transit--is growing at a considering the implementation of such road user faster rate than passenger travel. charges for goods movement (Forkenbrock and Kuhl For all of these reasons, more and more public offi- 2002). Experiments are either already under way or in cials are accepting that America will be expanding high- the later stages of planning in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and way capacity much more slowly than highway use for Seattle that apply GPSS technology to the monitoring of the foreseeable future. This leads to the suggestion that urban passenger travel to price automobile insurance or we must do more to manage the capacity that we do road use in more direct proportion to use and cost. While have. This, in turn, is gradually leading to increasing-- the general implementation of electronic road user if still grudging--acceptance of pricing for the purpose charges for passenger cars based on time and location of of managing flow, especially where the management travel is obviously not yet under consideration, increased strategy is aimed, as it is on HOT lanes, at the efficient experimentation and accumulated experience with use of new capacity and the provision of new travel trucks will continue to familiarize public officials and options.