DATE:   March 23, 2023

TO:         CMP Committee and Boston Region MPO Board

FROM:   Seth Asante and Ryan Hicks, MPO Staff

RE:         Identifying Roadway-Pricing Programs for Interviews



1          Purpose

Roadway pricing has been implemented through several methods in the United States for the primary goals of reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, generating funds to maintain highway and public transportation infrastructure, and managing travel demand by encouraging motor-vehicle drivers to shift their trips to alternative travel modes or travel routes, or to travel on off-peak periods.


The Boston Region MPO elected to fund a study called Learning from Roadway Pricing Experiences with its federally allocated metropolitan planning funds during federal fiscal year (FFY) 2023. The purpose of this study is to identify the political, institutional, and technological challenges, including barriers and opportunities that arise from implementing roadway-pricing strategies.


Task 1 of this study is to identify and select roadway-pricing projects for further evaluation. MPO staff identified 13 roadway-pricing programs in the United States that could be further reviewed as part of this study.  Figure 1 is a map that shows the locations of the 13 programs. Table 1 presents information on each program including the program description, purpose or goals, roadway-pricing policy, challenges, and considerations for incorporating congestion pricing in the planning process.


MPO staff will select five of the 13 programs for further evaluation and interviews. MPO staff are requesting input from the members of the Congestion Management Process (CMP) Committee of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization and other MPO board members to help select the five programs.

2          Roadway-Pricing Methods

Roadway-pricing methods fall into two broad categories: road tolls and congestion pricing. Road tolls are a common way to typically maximize revenue to pay for highway and bridge improvement costs. Road tolls do not vary by time-of-day and are not intended to reduce congestion. It is possible to update an existing toll facility so that it meets the criteria of congestion pricing. 

Congestion-pricing policies set variable road tolls so that higher prices are charged under congested conditions. The intent is to reduce congestion, shift demand to other modes of transportation, diverge trips to off-peak times, and reduce air pollution. The following are the various forms of congestion pricing:

Roadway-pricing strategies typically provide discounts to address equity issues and promote clean air. Free usage on congestion-pricing facilities is permitted for certain vehicles, depending on their role in society and their impact on the environment. In addition, discounts are considered for low-income populations that may be adversely burdened by the costs on certain congestion-pricing facilities.        


Figure 1
Location of Roadway Pricing Programs


Figure 1Location of Roadway Pricing Programs



Table 1
Identifying Roadway-Pricing Programs for Interviews



Table 1
Identifying Roadway-Pricing Programs for Interviews


Implementing Agency

Program Description


Roadway-Pricing Policy


Considerations for Incorporating Congestion Pricing in the Planning Process



Reduce Congestion/

Increase Person Flow

Improve Air Quality/Reduce GHG/Improve Quality of Life

Improve Safety

Improve Reliability/ Predictability of Travel

Generate Revenue [1]

Support Economic Growth





Cordon Pricing










Tri-borough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City, New York


The Central Business District (CBD) Tolling Program would toll vehicles that enter Manhattan CBD and would include a zone that would cover 60th Street in Manhattan and all the roadways south of 60th Street.



Status: Environmental Assessments completed in August 2022, and it is anticipated to go into operation in 2024.







       Cordon tolls


       Charge users once per day


       Variable tolling


       New York State tax credits for residents of the CBD making less than $60,000


       Free for emergency vehicles and vehicles transporting people with disabilities

       Opposition from elected officials, trade and civic associations, and the public.

       Concerns about:

o    disproportionate harm to working and low-income people

o    negative environmental and financial impacts

o    increased traffic in outer borough communities

o    increased cost of business

Analysis of:

       potential shift to other travel times and modes of transportation

       how roadway pricing will impact equity populations

       how it will help support climate goals and target

       potential congestion reduction from roadway pricing


Lessons to be learned from this program include:

       environmental impact assessments

       engagement with business chambers and residents

       concerns related to equity populations

       establishment of tolling policies


Cordon Pricing/Targeted Road User Tolls (TRUT)










City of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The City of Chicago operates the Transportation Network Providers (TNP) Congestion Pricing. TNPs such as Uber or Lyft, which operate within the designated downtown cordon during peak-period pay surcharges. The designated downtown cordon includes the Chicago Loop, West Loop, South Loop and the neighborhoods of River North, Streeterville, Near North, Gold Coast, Old Town, and Goose Island.


Status: In operation since 2020.







       Cordon pricing style with tax


       Designated peak period is weekdays between 6 AM and 10 PM.


       $1.75 downtown zone surcharge for any single TNP trip that has an origin-destination in the downtown zone during peak period.


       $0.60 surcharge for any shared TNP trip that has an origin-destination in downtown zone during peak period.


       $5.00 surcharge for any trip that begins or ends in a special zone citywide (includes Airports, Navy Pier and McCormick Place Convention Center).

       Opposition from TNP companies persist. There is also some opposition from the public.

       Chicago Department of Transportation continues to work with all stakeholders from ride-hailing companies to transportation advocates on long-term congestion policies that will further support goals ensuring affordable, accessible and reliable transportation options serving all areas of the city.


       The TNP congestion pricing presents an opportunity for Chicago to both reverse the inequities embedded in its existing transportation system and to improve access to opportunities.


       There have been discussions about expanding this program to additional neighborhoods.


Lessons to be learned include:

       targeted pricing strategies focusing on specific problems and areas

       engagement with stakeholders on policy changes


Express Lanes










Colorado Transportation Investment Office, Colorado Department of Transportation, Denver, Colorado

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) operates and maintains a network of CDOT's Express Lanes within the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area.


Status: In operation since 2006, some express lanes are currently in development or construction.







       Variable priced express lanes


       Variable tolling (tolls will vary at set times and days)


       Free for HOV 3+, motorcycles, buses, and transit vehicles


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Achieving interagency collaboration


       Ensuring that transportation equity communities receive an   equitable distribution of the benefits of transportation activities without suffering disproportionately high and adverse effects

Stakeholder engagement was a key facet in developing recommendations for a future network of express lanes. The main communication goals were to educate and engage stakeholders and the public on:

       the purpose and benefits from the use of express lanes

       how the results from the express lanes may benefit their local communities

       how to build a network of informed decision-makers to support the development and implementation of the projects


Lessons to be learned include:

       innovative financing schemes

       program benefits and accomplishments

       federal and state oversight

       public engagement and acceptance of the program

Bay Area Infrastructure Finance Authority (BAIFA), a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco, California

The Bay Area Infrastructure Finance Authority (BAIFA), a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), operates and maintains the MTC Bay Area express lanes. The growing Bay Area express lanes network is made up of more than 155 lane-miles, including: I-580, I-680 southbound, I-880, State Route 237, US 101, State Route 237, and State Route 85.


Status: In operation since 2010, developing vision and scope for future express lanes network.









       Variable priced express lanes


       Free for carpools, vanpools, commute buses, motorcycles, and clean air vehicles


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Required consensus among many stakeholders.


       Environmental groups raised concerns about the HOT network as contributing to more travel and emissions.


       Income equity issues were brought up early in the planning process and were addressed by devoting significant revenues to transit patronized by low-income groups.

The MTC Transportation 2035 plan evaluated the HOT lane network with express bus enhancements, regional freeway operational improvements, and regional rail expansion. The evaluation included:

       congestion and vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) reductions

       greenhouse gas emissions

       crash reduction


MTC also developed a legislative framework for the express lane network that addresses issues such as:

       the roles and responsibilities of the key players

       use of revenue

       project development processes

MTC carefully framed its public engagement materials (web site, press releases, etc.) on the topic of HOT lanes for the public


Lessons to be learned include:

·       MTC experiences from existing express lanes

·       Renewed scope and vision for future express lane network

Texas Department of Transportation, Dallas, Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) operates and maintains express lanes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area called TEXPRESS lanes. The TEXPRESS network is made up of more than 100 miles on eight roadways including, I-35E, I-30, SH 114, I-635E, SH 183, and LOOP 12. TxDOT has several public-private partnerships (P3) with the LBJ Infrastructure Group, NTE Mobility Partners, and NTE Mobility Partners Segments 3.


Status: In operation since 2015, some projects are currently in construction or development.







       Variable priced express lanes


       Discounts for HOV 2+ and motorcycles


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Environmental Justice has been a significant regional issue for decision-makers and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) worked extensively with FHWA, TxDOT, and others to address this.


       More work was needed on communication and consensus building as the public and policymakers had difficulty understanding all nuances of the concept.


       Complaints about "double taxation" as many feel that federal, state, and local taxes already pay for building and maintaining the transportation system.

       NCTCOG staff’s strong analytical foundation through improving modeling tools facilitated analyzing a wide range of managed lanes options for consideration.


       NCTCOG considered innovative financial strategies including setting toll rates, use of comprehensive development agreements, use of revenue, and disposition of excess revenue.


       NCTCOG’s consistent messaging with respect to the benefits of pricing and policy coordination with elected officials facilitated the planning process.


Lessons to be learned include the benefit of building:

       a strong analytical foundation through modeling tools

       consistent message with respect to benefits

       a sustainable transportation system

Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) partnered with Transurban to create faster travel options including the express lanes on I-495, I-95 and I-395. VDOT operates the express lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. The I-66 Express Mobility Partners operates and maintains the I-66 express lanes outside of the Beltway in a public-private partnership with VDOT.


Status: In operation since 2012, some projects are in development.







       Variable priced express lanes


       Free for buses, motorcycles, carpools, vanpools, and HOV 3+


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Drivers unfamiliar with congestion pricing may initially have questions and concerns.


       More work was needed to establish early communications and engagement with state and local agencies, elected officials, stakeholders (roadway or transit users) and the public.

       The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ (MWCOG) travel demand model and regionally adopted land use forecasts were used to project travel demand for the near-term and long-term timeframes in the corridor and on major arterials.


Lessons to be learned include:

       how VDOT's congestion-pricing strategies are working to achieve the objectives for the program

       how to structure early engagement efforts


The Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, California

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) operate and maintain the California State Route 91 (SR 91) express and I-405 express lanes.


Status: In operation since 1995, some express lanes are in construction or development.








       Variably priced express lanes


       Free for HOV 3+, zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and motorcycles, and vehicles with disabled and disabled veterans plates


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Public has very little familiarity with roadway pricing to understand all nuances of the concepts


       Negative initial reactions to road charges

       Utilizing roadway-pricing strategies to develop targeted capacity improvements enabled the State and regions to fund more mobility options within these targeted corridors and recognize social equity issues.


       “Fairness and Equity” themes resonated with the public


       Transportation choice was important to the public.


       Potential impacts on urban versus rural residents


       Building required consensus among many stakeholders.


Lessons to be learned from OCTA Express Lanes include:

       how to plan, operate, and finance express lanes

       development of toll policies

       public engagement process

Washington State Department of Transportation, Seattle, Washington State

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) operates and maintains toll roads and bridges in the state. WSDOT's toll facilities include I-405 express lanes, SR 167 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, SR 520 Bridge tolling, SR 99 Tunnel tolling, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolling.


Status: In operation since 2011, some express lanes are in development.







       Variable priced express lanes


       Free for motorcycle, carpools, vanpools, and HOV 3+


       Free for transit and emergency vehicles


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Assessing equity impacts of distribution of benefits and revenue allocation policies


       Communicating how pricing will reduce congestion because the public and policymakers did not understand it

A comprehensive tolling study that:

       considered a broad range of policy motivations and applications

       evaluated institutional and technical considerations

       considered a variety of case studies and resulted in eight policy recommendations


A traffic choices study that examined how travelers change their travel behavior (number, mode, route, and time of vehicle trips) in response to time-of-day variable charges in a congestion pricing program. Using behavioral information to feed travel demand models for better analysis of road pricing.


Treating pricing as an integral part of regional transportation plan development was important to the success of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) process.


Lessons to be learned include:

       how WSDOT plans, selects, and builds toll facilities especially the evaluation process, public engagement

       incorporating pricing in MPO plans

       public engagement

       environmental impact studies

       building consensus

       financing schemes

Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) operates and maintains express lanes on several high traffic areas throughout the state such as on I-295 in Jacksonville, I-595 in Broward county, I-75 and I-95 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, I-4 Ultimate and Beachline Expressway in Orlando, and Veterans Expressway in Tampa.


Status: In operation since 2014, some express lanes are in development.







       Variable priced managed lanes


       Free for vanpools, carpools, hybrid and electric vehicles, buses, transit buses, school buses, motorcycles, and emergency vehicles


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Achieving interagency collaboration.

       Several regional planning models from MPOs and Council of Governments were used to forecasts traffic and analyze a wide range of managed lanes options for consideration.


       Many of the FDOT express lanes were envisioned in long-range transportation plans.


Lessons to be learned include:

       community engagement and stakeholder/industry participation and workshops

       planning and analyzing managed lane facilities

       tolling policies and operations

Maryland Transportation Authority, Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland Transportation Authority operates and maintains the I-95 Express Toll Lanes (I-95 ETL). There are currently two express toll lanes in addition to 3 to 4 toll-free general-purpose lanes in both directions. I-95 ETL Northbound Extension is a planned extension of the existing express toll lanes. There will be transit connections at the proposed park-and-ride facilities.


Status: In operation since 2015. The full extension of this project is under construction and will be completed in 2027.







       Variable priced express lanes


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Building agency partnerships to facilitate communications and consensus building.


       Obtaining and incorporating public feedback into express lanes development and tolling policies

Roadway pricing is incorporated into Baltimore Metropolitan Council's Long-Range Transportation Plans and Transportation Improvement Program. The MPO holds public meetings to take comments on the TIP amendments for new Express Toll Lane program.


Lessons to be learned include:

       public engagement

       environmental impact studies

       how to incorporate into MPO plans



Variable Pricing










The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Woodbridge, New Jersey

The New Jersey Turnpike opened in 1951. The current length of the New Jersey Turnpike mainline expressway is 117 miles. Variable pricing began in the fall of 2000. This enabled a discount to travelers who use the facility during off peak hours and use an EZ-Pass.


Status: Variable rate pricing has been in operation since 2000.








       Variable priced tolling


       Discounts are available for senior citizens, electric and hybrid vehicles with 45 miles per gallon (mpg) or better


       The discount is not applicable if a user pays by cash

Addressing safety, customer satisfaction, resilience and sustainability, and connectivity issues


Addressing potential environmental issues


Building agency coordination to facilitate project development.

       The introduction of variable tolls has improved traffic flow and provided associated air pollution and energy consumption benefits.


       Preliminary data show that value pricing is working to shift traffic out of the peak period to off-peak period.


Lessons to be learned include:

       collaboration with other organizations (many tolled bridges and tunnels are operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

       revenue sharing for transit projects


HOT Lanes










Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation operates and maintains the E-ZPass HOT Lanes.  Minnesota’s HOT lane system includes I-35E, I-35W South Metro, I-35W North Metro, and I-394.


Status: In operation since 2005.







       Variable priced HOT lanes


       Free for buses, motorcycles, and HOV 2+


       General-purpose lanes are free

       Potential public acceptance hurdles associated with roadway pricing


       Lack of sufficient consensus, especially among legislative and local decision-makers, combined with lack of public support, led to failure of early proposals.


       Identifying key target audience for specific roadway pricing projects


       Building agency partnerships to facilitate communication and consensus building

Pricing is one of the five “key components” of the Twin Cities’ Long-Range Plan to cope with “limited resources” and is cast as fully consistent with stated transit and HOV strategies.


Lessons to be learned include:

       partnerships and agency roles

       policy development

       general consensus building and public engagement

       how to incorporate into MPO plans



Parking and Curb Management Pricing










District Department of Transportation, Washington, District of Columbia

The District Department of Transportation operates the Penn Quarter/Chinatown Parking Pricing Pilot program. The program was implemented to better connect parking availability with demand by providing real-time parking information to motorists.

Status: In Operation since 2016, expansion under consideration.








       Demand-based parking pricing


       Variable priced parking (peak vs. off-peak)


       Parking price adjustments occur every three months


       By the end of the pilot program, the parking prices varied from $1.00 to $5.50 per hour depending on the time of day and demand.


       Longer parking time limits were permitted on evenings and weekends when parking demand was lower.


The nature of curbside uses is changing considerably and the demand for that use is changing considerably. Demand-based parking could lead to important safety outcomes by reducing double parking and blocking bike lanes and crosswalks.


Lessons to be learned include:


       public engagement

       parking strategies to address congestion


GHG = greenhouse gas. HOT = high-occupancy toll lane. HOV = high-occupancy vehicle lane. HOV 2+/3+ = vehicles with 2/3 persons in HOV lane.



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