The Atlanta Congestion Reduction Demonstration (CRD) project included the conversion high occupancy vehicles (HOV) lanes to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes (known as Express Lanes) on approximately 16 miles of I-85 in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to the development of Express Lanes, transit service in the area was expanded to include two new buses, three new bus routes, and four new and expanded park-and-ride lots.
A National evaluation was conduct to assess impacts and document lessons learned. Interviews and workshops were conducted with local stakeholders, enforcement personnel, bus operators, and service patrol personnel. Lessons learned are highlighted below.
The size and scope of the Atlanta CRD projects is reflected in the lessons learned from the project, which are also broad in size and scope.
Operation of HOT Lanes
- Frequently communicate Express Lanes performance to improve public opinion during the first few weeks of operation as anomalies are identified and resolved. Negative attitudes can persist if issues are not addressed early.
- Customer service representatives should work with violators to help them establish new accounts or clarify rules so as to turn them into customers of the system. Many toll violators were unclear or misinformed about the way tolling operations in the Express Lane worked.
- Consider carpooling and transit improvements when converting a HOV2+ lane to a HOT3+. The conversion of an HOV2+ lane that is already near capacity to an HOT3+ lane can generate only limited mobility improvements without additional supporting changes such as carpooling and transit. For example, the I-85 corridor still has an HOV2+ lane at the terminus of the Express Lanes approaching downtown Atlanta. Thus, local partners should still promote 2-person carpools on I-85 since they can still derive benefit from that HOV2+ section of I-85 even though they must pay a toll in the Express Lanes section or use the slower general purpose lanes.
Transit and Travel Demand Management
- Promote the advantages of Xpress bus services. Most travelers that did not want to pay a toll did not adapt their behavior by shifting to 3-person carpools or taking transit.
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