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. Evaluation data were collected prior to and one year after the deployment.
The first year of the Express Lanes produced mixed results.
- During peak periods, travel times and speeds improved in the Express Lanes but declined in general purpose lanes, with a travel time advantage of three minutes in the Express Lanes.
- Travel time savings were greater during the height of peak hour traffic.
- Travel reliability in the Express Lanes improved in the PM peak but not the AM.
- Overall peak period vehicle throughput in the corridor declined, as did vehicle miles traveled.
- Average vehicle occupancy levels declined in the Express Lanes.
- Despite an increase in transit riders, peak period person throughput declined. Surveys and focus group findings showed a perception that congestion had not improved in the corridor, though Express Lane users tended to be more satisfied with their trips.
- Between 2010 and 2012, peak period Xpress bus ridership increased by 21 percent in the AM and 17 percent in the PM, with much of the increase occurring as CRD transit enhancements came on-line prior to tolling. With the exception of the I-85 CRD-funded routes Xpress bus ridership in the region declined during the evaluation period.
- Xpress bus riders expressed very high satisfaction with the bus service, although post-tolling surveys suggested that some riders perceived slower bus travel time despite actual travel time being better or unchanged.
- Approximately 49 percent of new I-85 riders said tolling influenced them to start taking the bus.
- Peak period occupancy data indicated carpools of all sizes declined in number in both the Express Lanes and general purpose lanes, while a survey of households showed some increases in carpooling for all trip purposes throughout the day.
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