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Yildo

Clear traffic pricing

Empty roads pricing

Peter Martinez

How about Dynamic Pricing? Amazon does it.

Edward Re

I like San Francisco's name for parking: Demand Responsive Pricing. It sounds very free market. Maybe the "you get what you pay for" tollway.

Linda

Market-based driving? I also like Dynamic or Demand-Responsive pricing as suggested above.

Ben G

I've always heard it called an Express Toll/Fee. This is for the dynamic priced (usually former HOV) lanes where you pay to drive in the uncongested left lane. I'm of the opinion that most HOV lanes should do this, at least if they are severely underused such as Hwy 101 in Sonoma county.

The HOV lanes here actually cause congestion because they essentially remove a traffic lane when it's needed most. You can time the start and end of congestion with the start and end times of the HOV lane. It just doesn't work because nobody here carpools (and usually it's a mom with a kid in the car -- who isn't driving age, so they're not taking a car off the road, which is the intent of the law... This should be banned.)

Ben

allurban

Reminds me of the story of the daycare that started fining parents who were coming late to pick up their kids...the parents started coming in even later
, since they saw the fine as an acceptable cost with reasonable benefit. .

Ross Williams

Jarret -

I think you are actually making the case for class conflict a lot clearer. How are we "decongesting" the road? By forcing people who are unwilling (or unable) to pay an extra fee off the road, leaving more space and faster trips for those who can and do pay.

The problem is that there is no real carrot here for good behavior, like using transit,car pooling or living closer to work. Instead the focus of congestion pricing is on forcing people off the road at certain times of the day based on ability/willingness to pay. In fact, we are creating an incentive for people to drive.

Which is how you end up with the term "Lexus Lanes". These are luxury lanes managed to make driving more convenient for those who can afford it. There may be some benefit to society at large, like less pollution, but it is rather small compared to the benefit to the users from mitigating the consequences of their own choices.

Ross Williams

"they're not taking a car off the road, which is the intent of the law"

That is one way to see the laws intent, as an effort at social engineering. But HOV lanes move people more efficiently by giving vehicles with more people in them priority over those with only one person. That may take cars off the road, it may not. But it will certainly reduce the amount of congestion the average person will experience.

One of the major intellectual problems with developing solutions to our transportation problems are the twin focuses of traffic engineers on vehicles, rather than people, and mobility, rather than access.

Aaron Priven

Yes, "demand-responsive" is good. How about: demand-responsive toll (lane, road, street, whatever).

Paul Minett

Having spoken at a few conferences where I also called for 'decongestion pricing' for exactly the reasons you set out, I support what you propose.

What I think we are failing to do is work out how to make it easier for people to form carpools, so that the 'force people off the road' angle is defeated. We want to force 'vehicles' off the road.

You only have to look as far as the casual carpooling in SF, and slugging in DC, to see a simple solution that makes it easier for people to share. At almost no effort, 3-person carpools are formed for the most congested portion of the trip (most congested in the GP lanes, no congestion but great usage of the HOV lanes).

Funny to think that if we could solve the problem of making carpooling easier, we would not need the decongestion pricing to get better traffic flows.

For more on the casual carpooling/sluglines have a look at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/advancedresearch/pubs/12053/12053.pdf

Interurbans

We recently started "congestion pricing in Los Angeles and that term sure applies. Not only have the former HOV lanes slowed down considerably, so have the regular freeway lanes. I now avoid this section of freeway since it is so much slower. How many others avoid this also and yet it still moves much slower especially at rush hour.

Zoltán

Ross Williams,

The carrot can easily exist, in the form of hypothecation of funds to transit- as per London's congestion charge, which was accompanied by a considerable increase in bus supply and an impressive rate of investment in new rail lines and more frequent trains. That alongside naturally improved transit - more demand means higher frequency, and decongestion means faster transit service in mixed traffic.

Any class issue more or less disappears in my mind if road pricing is used as part of a package of measures to make transit (which the poorest use anyway, and those struggling to pay for a car would rather use) just as convenient as the cars that the wealthier can continue to drive.

Ben

Ross said:

That is one way to see the laws intent, as an effort at social engineering. But HOV lanes move people more efficiently by giving vehicles with more people in them priority over those with only one person. That may take cars off the road, it may not. But it will certainly reduce the amount of congestion the average person will experience.

You're going to have to explain this to me. I do not see why a car carrying two people, of which one is an unlicensed passenger (such as a child), is reducing the congestion. This would only happen if the passenger could choose to drive an additional car instead of pooling. To take your argument to the extreme, people should be able to HOV with a dog or a fetus, both of which have been ruled illegal here in CA. There's no difference that I can see.

Moving on to the express lanes, I find it interesting that Interurbans sees increased congestion with the express lanes in L.A. I'm not a transit professional but it has always been my perception (though I've never actually used them) that the pricing is supposed to change in response to demand. It's monitored in real time (with cameras) and if the lane is becoming congested, then the price increases until enough people leave the lane to relieve congestion. Ideally this would happen before the congestion even started. But apparently it doesn't work so well in real life, or either I have the concept entirely wrong.

I noticed today here in the North Bay on 101 with the HOV lane in effect the center and right lanes were completely stopped. I counted several times to see what the interval was between cars in the HOV lane. As I sat stopped in traffic, 30-60 seconds passed between HOV cars. This to me says that it is HIGHLY underused. It's almost like the lane is not even there. I'm a supporter of carpooling and reducing traffic, but if nobody uses the HOV lane, then it should be turned into a regular 3-lane highway again. I'm fairly sure if they did this then there wouldn't be a congestion problem (said another way, the HOV lane is CAUSING the congestion it's supposedly trying to alleviate!)

This isn't L.A. or S.F. up here, so I'm kinda confused why we have HOV lanes to begin with.

Ben

Mark

I'm inclined to go with "variable road pricing", since the price varies based on the demand/time of day etc. It's a neutral term, so it avoids the negative connotations of "congestion".

Dexter Wong

One proponent of this called his version "road pricing," and said that it keep those who shouldn't be driving at that time off the highway. But I think it just forces those who can't afford the charge to either start earlier and end later or take slower transit. His version would favor wealthier bosses over poorer workers.

John

"Value pricing"

Implies that that the lanes are priced according to their value and that there is value to the people paying the price.

Ross Williams

"You're going to have to explain this to me. I do not see why a car carrying two people, of which one is an unlicensed passenger (such as a child), is reducing the congestion. "

Because the child is a person and there are now two people in the car experiencing less congestion.

"people should be able to HOV with a dog or a fetus, both of which have been ruled illegal here in CA. There's no difference that I can see."

No difference between a dog or a fetus and a child? I guess I see some differences. I have never heard either one ask "How long 'til we get there?"


Ross Williams

"The carrot can easily exist"

Yes, making using transit a more attractive option is a carrot. But if congestion pricing is supposed to pay for a carrot, pricing needs to be high enough to create transit that is attractive to users.

Of course, if you make it attractive enough, you don't need congestion pricing at all. You can just charge people a high enough fee at all times of the day to pay for it.

But lets be honest. Congestion pricing is designed to make driving unattractive for people who are motivated by price. It only makes transit attractive by contrast.

Perhaps we ought to change the name from "congestion pricing" to "transit encouragement fees". The money is spent to encourage people to use transit and reduce the number people using the road, allowing free flowing traffic for those that pay the fee.

John

"But lets be honest. Congestion pricing is designed to make driving unattractive for people who are motivated by price. It only makes transit attractive by contrast."

Not at all. The intent is to maximize traffic flow. When the density of vehicles exceeds a certain level, the speeds slow down so much that flow actually decreases. This is the purpose of ramp meters too. They reduce the density on the freeway, delaying the onset of jam density and allowing a little more time of near-maximum flow traffic conditions.

Riccardo

A lot of missing the point. If we use London or Singapore models, we are talking cordon pricing, in other words, whether you are rich or poor, avoid the AREA. If you can, go around it. If you need to go in, we ALREADY have high quality transit alternatives and your fee is subsidising them more.

Why Californian cities, still some distance from acceptable transit alternatives, are experimenting with diversionary pricing escapes me.

The rich versus poor stuff is nonsense. The rich get the other 99.9% of their needs and desires relatively cheaper than the poor, why should roads be exempt? Really, this jst comes back to poor quality transit.

I doubt in Hong Kong or Switzerland, anyone would care about the equity idea.

Transit Riding Transit Planner

That is one way to see the laws intent, as an effort at social engineering. But HOV lanes move people more efficiently by giving vehicles with more people in them priority over those with only one person. That may take cars off the road, it may not. But it will certainly reduce the amount of congestion the average person will experience.

It will only reduce the average amount of person-congestion if there are enough people carpooling.

To throw out a purely back-of-the-napkin hypothetical example, suppose a 1-mile section of freeway sees 2000 cars per hour, 1900 with one passenger and 100 with 2. It is congested, the cars only go 40 miles per hour. So it takes the 2100 people an average of 1.5 minutes to traverse this section. Now you change one lane to a carpool lane. The 100 cars with 200 people sail by at 60 mph, while the the other 1900 cars with 1900 people are slowed down to 30 mph, due to losing a lane. So it takes 200 people 1 minute to traverse that mile and it takes the other 1900 people 2 minutes, for an overall average of 1.9 minutes per person. On average, congestion-per-person increased.

This is completely hypothetical but it is just meant to show that your statement that carpool lanes will "certainly" reduce congestion-per-person needs to be backed up with actual numbers, not just hand waving.

Jase

"Free flow fee"

"Dynamic traffic pricing"

"Congestion management toll"

"Traffic dissipation charge"


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