Provide early outreach and education to elected officials, decision makers, key stakeholders, and the public about managed lanes and variable tolls.

Lessons from a domestic scan of ten metropolitan areas.

Date Posted

A Domestic Scan of Congestion Pricing and Managed Lanes

Summary Information

The FHWA sponsored a scan of selected Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) to determine how they are planning for congestion pricing and managed lanes. The scan was performed by conducting a survey of agencies that had been directly involved in consideration of these options in ten metropolitan areas:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas
  • Los Angeles-Orange County, California
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Miami, Florida
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Washington, DC

There was considerable enthusiasm for the concept of congestion pricing and pricing of managed lanes among the agencies in the metropolitan areas surveyed. The number of studies, and in particular, the consideration of congestion pricing on a regional network basis suggest that interest in and acceptance of congestion pricing and managed lanes is growing.

Lessons Learned

To gain stakeholder and public acceptance and support,

  • Provide early outreach and education for elected officials, decision makers, key stakeholders and the public. Regional agencies should not be afraid to put the concept of congestion pricing out for consideration. Acceptance of new pricing concepts by decision makers and the public may take some "digestion" time. Many issues will be raised that can be addressed with technical analysis or information from other successful operating systems.
  • Implement an education process that emphasizes that congestion pricing is a tool that a metropolitan area can utilize as one component of reducing traffic congestion in a metropolitan region. Congestion pricing projects can assist metropolitan areas in developing a balanced transportation system for their regions.
  • Identify a project champion or a "concept champion" during the planning process. Buy-in from local and state-level elected officials will go a long way in gaining positive (or at least not negative) support for the concept or a specific project utilizing the concept.
  • Initiate a marketing campaign during the planning process to inform the public/stakeholders about the concepts and benefits of managed lanes and/or congestion pricing. Public buy-in on the concept is essential for it to move forward and be successful.
  • Conduct on-going communication with potential users, adjacent communities, transportation providers, policy makers, local governments and elected officials before, during and after project implementation.
  • Consider how you refer to the aspects of congestion pricing (toll, price, fare, fee, etc.) as that can have an influence on public and decision maker support.
  • Increase public and political support by showing there is some benefit for everyone. This often means that some portion of revenue from tolls should be used to enhance other modes of travel, such as transit, and that transit service be integrated into the project design so that transit passengers benefit directly.
  • Emphasize that congestion tolls alone usually cannot fully fund construction of new highways or complete reconstruction of existing highways. The expectations for revenue generation by decision makers and the public are often over-inflated.
  • Plan carefully the make-up of an advisory task force when trying to achieve informed consent on complex and controversial projects. Legislators working alongside community representatives, citizens, interest groups, and technical experts can provide a productive and meaningful deliberative opportunity.
  • Conduct site visits to other high occupancy toll (HOT) lane and express lane projects as these can play a critical role in increasing stakeholders' or decision makers' understanding of how value pricing works.
  • Translate an initial success in a region into support for other projects.
Goal Areas

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