HOT Lanes Slow to Catch on With Users

High-Occupancy Toll lanes have become a popular tool to help reduce congestion and raise revenues. But recent projects in cities throughout the U.S. have failed to meet expectations. Eric Jaffe investigates the reasons why.
June 24, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"The poor revenue performance of express tolls, while perhaps not universal, has certainly formed a disturbing trend," writes Jaffe. "According to news reports, Virginia's new HOT lanes on Washington, D.C.'s Beltway lost $11.3 million in their first six weeks, Houston's I-45 and U.S. 59 express lanes haven't covered their costs, and Atlanta's I-85 tolls fell short of the lowest fiscal forecasts. The most egregious offender may be SR-167 in metro Seattle, whose actual earnings fall consistently and astonishingly below revenue expectations..." 

Austin Gross, who's studying SR-167 for his doctoral dissertation in economics at the University of Washington, has looked into the reasons why Seattle's HOT lanes have failed to meet expectations. "Gross says there are a multitude of reasons SR-167 hasn't met its revenue goals, but broadly speaking his work reduces things down to two main conclusions: poor traffic planning and a lack of driver familiarity with HOT lanes," explains Jaffe. 

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Published on Monday, June 24, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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