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465620-1 Report Abstract

User’s Response to Pricing in a Transit Network

Jorge A. Acha-Daza and Hani S. Mahmassani, University of Texas at Austin, May 1999, 259 pp. (465620-1)

Annual increases in automobile ownership, vehicular traffic and vehicle miles traveled have resulted in congestion problems, which in turn impact mobility, quality of life and air quality as well as waste fuel. The Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 and ISTEA provisions have encouraged the exploration of alternatives to traditional capacity expansion approaches, such as demand management and congestion pricing. Congestion pricing involves charging for the use of the facility only during heavy congested periods. This encourages motorists to use the facility when costs are lower (less congested), use other modes such as transit, or to forego the trip completely. In addition to its potential as a source of new revenue, congestion pricing could contribute to reductions in fuel consumed. It would be compatible with the provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act, because it would assist non-attainment areas to comply with stipulated standards. Technical feasibility has been established in Norway and Singapore, however, little is known regarding current levels of acceptability in the United States. Therefore, more information is needed to assess the viability of this alternative in Texas and determine its effectiveness and impact on congestion and fuel consumption.

This work builds on efforts to characterize travel attitudes and response to different congestion pricing schemes. A critical issue being addressed is that of public acceptability. Models of user response were developed based on survey data as well as behavioral experiments. These models have been incorporated in a methodology built on a unique dynamic traffic assignment capability developed at the University of Texas to predict network level impacts on congestion and fuel consumption.

This study provides an analysis of current attitudes and behavior of travelers in Texas, and provides useful data to characterize public acceptability and user response. The methodology is designed to identify candidate locations for congestion pricing in Texas and the associated energy savings at these locations.

Keywords: Congestion Pricing, Energy Reduction, Congestion Mitigation

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Reference Report #465620-1