HNTB exec makes sharp case for toll managed lanes
2013-04-26: Matthew Click southeast division director for tolls for HNTB has written the most powerful case we've seen for toll lanes. It's short but sharp. Toll managed lanes he says are really the only feasible way that major urban areas can come to grips with the costs of congestion. Building extra free lanes will not relieve much congestion because latent demand in peak hours soon overloads them. So there's congestion in more lanes in rush hours.
Or the extra free capacity will see the congested period slightly compressed but not seriously reduced. More transit even if successful in attracting patronage by taking drivers out of their cars is another ineffectual policy, Click notes. Like adding free lanes leaving more roadspace with diversion to transit will leave latent demand that remains to be satisfied still congesting the free lanes.
He adds: "The only strategy that can solve for congestion is an operational strategy using the congestion pricing concept with deployment strategies like priced managed lanes. Not only do priced managed lanes provide a mobility option for automobile customers, they also provide a reliable transit corridor for buses at a much lower cost than traditional fixed-rail transit."
Need to cater to different values of time saved
And he argues the need to catering to different urgencies of quick reliable travel.
"All trips on a roadway are not the same, therefore, all lanes on a roadway should not be the same. Motorists value their time differently – whether driving to a job, getting to the airport to catch a plane or picking up a child at day care, versus more leisurely trips for shopping or movies. Urban corridors need to provide choices for motorists who can evolve into customers of priced managed lanes, a mobility option available to motorists when they need it."
This is the argument for priced lanes alongside free, or even higher dynamically priced express lanes alongside flat rate tolls - as planned by Florida's Turnpike in Miami and Tampa
From William Vickrey 1952 to 91XLs 1995
The concept it goes way back to Columbia U economist William Vickrey in 1952 but was only implemented from 1995. But he notes it is now proven and tested, and accepted, thanks to some states' bold pioneering efforts. (He might have acknowledged that the very first was a private sector initiative, the 91 Express Lanes - a proposal to Caltrans by the French company Cofiroute.)
And far from being just the odd corridor a number of metro areas are now working on whole networks of toll express lanes.
His conclusion: "Vickrey’s concept has been pioneered, tested and proven… Now is the time for more DOTs, regional authorities and metropolitan planning organizations to consider, expand and implement priced managed lanes strategies in other urban, congested corridors across the country."
Opinion survey $20/hr time saved
An opinion survey by HNTB finds about two thirds of people say they would pay "$5 on average to save 15 minutes." That $20/hour valuation of time saved is consistent with other surveys of average value of time saved, though there is some evidence people actually pay somewhat less than they say.
The survey finds there is a relatively low awareness of toll express lanes or "priced managed lanes" as the surveyors call them - 17% of people say they have "heard about" them. You wonder whether it mightn't be partly the funny term they're using. The better known terms are Express Lanes, Toll Express Lanes, Toll Lanes or HOT lanes.
But also there are some large metro areas without any at all - for example New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago. They're very new in the Washington DC area and in Los Angeles. Other places there is just one or two in operation. Several are implementing a bunch but they're not yet very visible.
74% say they'd use the toll lanes- 7% always, 15% frequently, 26% sometimes, 26% rarely and 26% never.
The most common destinations theya re favored:
- hospital 57%
- airport 40%
- on vacation 36%
- work related 35%
Congestion in the daily commute people said:
21 minutes or more 22%
16 to 20 mins 11%
11 to 15 mins 15%
1 to 10mins 29%
less than a minute 23%
The survey showed some reluctance however to sign up for a prepaid account with 44% saying yes they would, 56% saying no. Of those who said Yes two thirds said they'd provide a bank card number to replenish funds, while a third said they'd prefer to pay cash.
NOTE: There are errors in the HNTB map below:
- the 495ExpressLanes are in Fairfax County not Arlington County
- there is no I-95/395 express lanes project, just an I-95 project in northern Virginia. The planned portion on I-395 from the Capital Beltway to the Pentagon was excised from the project because of opposition from Arlington Co where I-395 is located