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Published on January 22, 2008

Author: Rinald

Source: authorstream.com

Traffic Congestion: Potential Solutions:  Traffic Congestion: Potential Solutions CRP 445/545 October 2007 Next Two Classes:  Next Two Classes Answers to traffic congestion What are they and how well do they work? Various issues related to transportation and quality of life Sustainable communities (development that supports alternative modes of transportation), walkable communities, access management, traffic calming, context sensitive design, modern roundabouts, etc. What Lies Ahead:  What Lies Ahead Lectures Two classes on Environmental Justice and Equity “Fairness” issues in transportation Impacts of the transportation system on people and communities Services provided to different groups of people One class on an issue of current concern: Transportation Security One class on freight transportation (Guest lecture) One class on future transportation trends and issues (Guest lecture) What Lies Ahead:  What Lies Ahead Discussions and Short Papers Student presentations on economic impact issues Student presentations on QoL and EJ issues (if applicable) Role play on environmental justice Role play on security Your project presentations Final Exam Today’s Material:  Today’s Material Various Solutions to Traffic Congestion What are they? Do they make sense if we think of traffic congestion as a market failure, a pricing problem or a negative externality? Under what circumstances do they seem to be effective? A shameless marketing discussion of the College of Design Rome Program for Summer 2008 What Is Congestion, Really?:  What Is Congestion, Really? A pricing problem--”peaking” demand Highway capacity is a scarce resource under some conditions, yet we always charge the same price for it via user fees and taxes Other utilities and transportation modes (e.g. telephone, electricity, and airlines) charge peak and off peak rates An externality As you enter a congested highway facility, you impose additional delays on all the other motorists In other words, a form of “market failure” Types of Congestion:  Types of Congestion Repetitive or chronic congestion Occurs at the same places every day at about the same time (usually on weekdays) Examples: rush hour congestion on I-235 in Des Moines; congestion at a major air hub on Friday afternoons Tends to be an urban phenomenon and to be worse the larger urban areas get Event-related congestion Occurs due to an event, such as a crash, vehicle fire, weather, sporting event, construction zone, concert, etc. Examples: “rubbernecking” at a crash scene, aircraft delays at a hub due to thunderstorms Can be urban or rural Some Generic Approaches:  Some Generic Approaches Build more highway capacity Build public transit capacity Encourage higher rates of vehicle occupancy (more persons per vehicle, PPV) through means such as HOV lanes or formal ridesharing programs Use ITS to provide better information to motorists and to improve operations Pricing of the roadway and/or parking The Market Failure Test:  The Market Failure Test Adding More Highway Capacity:  Adding More Highway Capacity This is the “traditional” approach to traffic congestion Adding roadway capacity will reduce congestion provided that an urban area’s roadway program can keep pace with local travel demand growth The problem is, most urban areas have already fallen behind so that new road growth now has to be faster than traffic growth This is very difficult to accomplish It is also very possible to overbuild capacity Adding More Highway Capacity:  Adding More Highway Capacity If an urban area has fallen behind, any new road will almost magically “induce” new traffic to move from other roads and from off-peak to fill up the new capacity Planner Anthony Downs observed this phenomenon decades ago Urban areas, no matter what their size, are only adding on average 50% of the new lane-miles needed to keep up with traffic growth Some new capacity will be needed and will be built, but this is very unlikely to be the only answer in most places We’d have to more than double spending on new urban projects to catch up and then stay ahead This approach will work best in smaller, slower growing metro areas Adding Public Transit Capacity:  Adding Public Transit Capacity The problem with adding public transit capacity is that it starts from very low base in most small and medium-sized urban areas In smaller urban areas, public transit and ridesharing only capture 1 to 2 percent of the market for work trips In order for this strategy to impact congestion in most urban areas, the occupants of at least 3 or 4 out of every 100 vehicles need to switch to transit or become a carpool or vanpool; this would be difficult to accomplish in most metro areas This solution will work better in larger metro areas with well-established transit systems This is probably a strategy that can only succeed when done in concert with others Encourage Higher PPV:  Encourage Higher PPV This strategy normally involves the use of strategies such as HOV lanes during rush hour HOV lanes require that vehicles carry at least two occupants Experience indicates that in most places, HOV lanes are a poor use of limited highway capacity; they generally operate far below their useful capacity and don’t appear to reduce overall demand much at all Enforcement is a must with HOV lanes since if there is no enforcement, there will be poor compliance (SOVs will use the lanes) Better Use of Information/ITS:  Better Use of Information/ITS Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) play two roles in battling congestion Improving our ability to efficiently operate transportation systems Traffic signal interconnection and optimization System performance monitoring via sensors and cameras Incident detection, response and clearing Ramp metering Better Use of Information/ITS:  Better Use of Information/ITS Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) play two roles in battling congestion Improving information to travelers, ideally in “real time” Through variable message signs Via Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) Via Transportation Management and Information Centers and kiosks Over the Internet Via “511” telephone services Over traditional media (radio, television, cable) Effectiveness of ITS:  Effectiveness of ITS ITS appears to be the best solution right now for dealing with “event-related” congestion Weather problems Traffic-crash related delays Special events Some ITS applications like ramp metering and traffic signal interconnection do positively impact chronic congestion Twin Cities ramp metering “experiment” In the longer term, “smart highways” and smarter cars may help us get more capacity from our highways Congestion Pricing or “Value Pricing”: The Final Frontier:  Congestion Pricing or “Value Pricing”: The Final Frontier According to economic theory, congestion pricing should be the single most effective answer to congestion Pricing of parking is a related policy lever We know the concept works based on experience in other industries: electricity, telephone, airlines, hotels Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest concept to gain acceptance of Hence, the recent attempt to come up a more positive “spin” (“value pricing”) This is because variable pricing of highways requires a fundamental change in how we think about them How Congestion Pricing Works:  How Congestion Pricing Works A variable price for using the road is charged based on the level of congestion (or time of day as a surrogate) Ideally, automated collection technologies are used to avoid queuing at toll booths People are thought to be willing to pay tolls of 25 to 40 cents per vehicle mile to avoid congestion in major urban areas (this is the revenue maximizing toll) Congestion is eliminated through route shifting, mode shifting, ride sharing, temporal shifting of trips, trip avoidance, etc.—some motorists are “tolled off” Revenues can be used to finance capacity or to make alternative transportation investments in the same corridor An Operational Test:  An Operational Test The first US test of congestion pricing was done in California by a private company operating a state highway The California Private Transportation Company uses the toll revenues to finance extra roadway capacity A 16 kilometer (9 mile) portion of Route 91 near Anaheim in Orange County Variable tolls are charged on four express lanes (two in each direction) to keep speeds high and congestion low SOV cars pay up to $2.50 during rush hour and as little as 25 cents off peak to use the express lanes Carpools and vanpools with three or more occupants travel toll free anytime All tolls are paid electronically using transponders in the vehicles An Operational Test:  An Operational Test So far, Route 91 is working well: Violators are automatically caught with cameras and are mailed fines of $100 to $300 The new express lanes drew so many commuters that congestion on the old parallel, free lanes declined to levels not seen in 15 years Carpooling has increased dramatically in the corridor Air pollution emissions are down in the corridor as a whole The number of transponders in use is many months ahead of the projected level (the project is popular) The state DOT made complementary investments in rail public transit in the same corridor; this service is also well-used The private company that owned it already sold it back to the public sector Sticking Points:  Sticking Points Getting the public to understand and warm up to the concept of congestion pricing--this is the purpose of demonstration projects such as Route 91 The equity or fairness issue--what to do about people who cannot afford the congestion toll The answer to this is in how the revenues from the congestion toll get spent, what level high occupancy tolls (HOT) are set, and what other investments are made (e.g. in public transit) Conclusions: Battling Congestion:  Conclusions: Battling Congestion Can we build our way out? Only partially and only in some places. Can we use public transit investments instead. To a limited extent. Are non-toll HOV lanes the answer? Apparently not. They do not seem to work well. Will better information and ITS work? Very well for “event-related” congestion, but not as well for “chronic” congestion. Is pricing the answer? It looks promising but is hard to sell to the public and decision-makers. We need to try it more places. Conclusions: Battling Congestion:  Conclusions: Battling Congestion Congestion is an issue that is very likely to be with us for a long-time; it will likely get worse before it gets better We need to more carefully consider how we plan our cities in terms of development density and mixing land uses. It may be that we could eliminate many auto trips in the long-run this way. Next Time: Other topics related to quality of life and transportation:  Next Time: Other topics related to quality of life and transportation Sustainable communities (development that supports alternative modes of transportation and that avoids urban sprawl) Walkable communities Access management Traffic calming Context sensitive design Modern roundabouts

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