Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bus toll lanes coming your way?

The Trib is reporting Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority hopes to test bus toll lanes.
The Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority is proposing a pilot project to create a bus toll lane on a segment of a local limited access highway.
"We'd like to make a proposal in Washington by the end of summer," Joe Waggoner, THEA's executive director, told the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday.
THEA would seek a partnership with the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation to test the concept, whose location has not been determined.
It could take another 24 months for planning and design once pilot project funding is obtained from federal and possibly local sources.
Sounds like this is headed in the right direction to us here at the Eye. South Florida has been successful with something similar, with congestion pricing "Lexus lanes" on I-95, which has improved the traffic flow on I-95.
I-95 Bus tool lanes in Miami
Those who can pay the toll, get a faster ride.  Those cars are off the main I-95 traffic flow, so those who don't pay, also benefit with a better ride as well.  Win win.
The bus toll lane is a dedicated lane for transit that also allows other vehicles to use the restricted lane by paying a toll.
A price-management system adjusts toll costs for nontransit users to increase or decrease based on traffic flow to prevent traffic congestion.
We like the basic idea -- price management, or congestion pricing is fine with us.  We don't like the notion of dedicated transit only lanes, which will impede non-transit traffic so this seems to be in the right direction.  Hopefully they will implement the new bus toll lanes as net new capacity, and not cannibalize existing roads.
Bus toll lanes would be owned by the transit agency, which provides the agency with a revenue source.
Does the transit agency (HART), receive all the toll revenue?  With about a $3B backlog in road safety, maintenance and improvements in Hillsborough County, we think the drivers who pay the toll would rather their money go towards road improvements, that the buses, and 98% of use every day, not just transit.

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