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Traveller response to congestion-based tolls on California route 91
Published June 14, 1999 by ISATA - Dusseldorf Trade Fair in United Kingdom
Event: ISATA 1999
This paper presents the principal findings of a U.S. and California DOT- sponsored study to evaluate the impacts of the variable-toll express lanes which opened on December 27, 1995 in the median of the Riverside Freeway (State Route 91) in Orange County CA.
Experience with the express lanes has demonstrated that providing new highway travel options, in this case, premium service for a premium price, can win public acceptance and produce significant travel changes. The optional toll lanes are carrying a substantial portion of peak hour travel and have been associated with measurable shifts in choices of route, time of travel, and travel mode, as well as increases in the amounts of peak period trip making for discretionary trip purposes in the corridor. Many travelers exercise considerable selectivity in their use of the toll lanes, with about half of commuters using the lanes once per week or less. Use of the lanes is highly sensitive, hour by hour and day by day, to the level of congestion in the parallel freeway lanes. Frequency of toll lane use was demonstrated to vary significantly with traveler income, gender, age, and trip length. However, many commuters in all income and other demographic groupings utilize the facility. Surveys show that persons who travel in the SR 91 corridor and local area businesses consistently regard most aspects of the project as more favorable than unfavorable.
In all, providing additional choices through creative pricing appears to be working well in its first major American implementation in California. Findings suggest that efforts to develop additional carefully structured experiments in congestion-based pricing should continue.