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Forum LockedLooking for Allies to Battle HOT

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2004 at 4:12pm
Here is the Sierra Club article:

Not so fast on those Beltway HOT lanes
Northern Virginia Journal
September 4, 2003
By Roger Diedrich
Some of Virginia’s elected officials would have us rush to judgment on whether privately-run HOT lanes (HOV lanes that allow single occupant vehicles toll access) are the best solution to congestion on the Capital Beltway (“Time to fast-track HOT lanes on Beltway”, 8/27/2003). There are just too many questions surrounding the effectiveness of HOT lanes not to do a full and complete analysis of this proposal and allow time for a thorough public debate.

Will HOT lanes reduce Beltway congestion? Many studies have shown that simply adding more lanes does not solve congestion. Instead, the new lanes fill up with traffic as more people switch to driving, change their typical driving route, and move further away from population and job centers. While the HOT lanes are priced to keep traffic moving, the non-express lanes will quickly face increasing congestion. In the years following the construction of the SR 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, CA—one of four HOT lane systems in the US—the commute on the non-express lanes deteriorated into one of the worst in the state.

Can a private company successfully run HOT lanes? For SR 91 in Orange County, it took 31 months of operation, three toll increases, and new charges for carpools before any profit was made. In addition, the private company had a “non-compete” clause in its contract preventing the local transportation authority from upgrading—even for safety reasons—roads in the surrounding area. In 2002, amid complaints about non-express lane conditions and rising toll costs, the Orange County Transportation Authority spent over $200 million to purchase the lanes, and regain functional control of the highway.

What do we know about Fluor Daniel? We do know that this is the company responsible for the Pocahontas Parkway, a toll road south of Richmond, which has consistently failed to meet profit expectations. To protect the company from financial risk on the Beltway project, Fluor Daniel could ask the state to bear a portion of construction costs and provide tax-exempt loans, which would save the company millions of dollars. This would amount to a huge taxpayer subsidy to a private company.

Are HOT lanes good for transit? Proponents argue that faster moving lanes make express bus service possible, and that toll revenues will pay for it. But how will express bus service work on the Beltway? How much additional money is promised to transit services? Would VDOT require that Fluor Daniel devote a percentage of its profits to bus service operation? If the company fails to make a profit, as is the case with the Pocahontas Parkway, where would the money for bus service come from? A HOT lanes project near San Diego is often used an example of how tolls can be used to fund transit, but that was a much different project than is proposed for the Beltway. A public agency completed that project with federal dollars, and it was a conversion of HOV lanes to HOT lanes, which is much less expensive than constructing new lanes. The result was significantly more funds available for transit than should be expected on the Beltway project.

Furthermore, it is unclear how buses would access HOT lanes, or how riders would access the bus. If only three locations will have an on/off ramp directly to the HOT lanes, buses will otherwise be forced to cross four congested lanes of traffic to get to the HOT lanes, making express bus service impractical. And would bus stops be located adjacent to the Beltway? If so, would riders walk to those bus stops, or would large park and ride lots have to be constructed? These questions need to be answered before proponents can claim this proposal will improve bus service.

A Better Solution: Beltway Rail & Land-Use Changes: A new rail line in the Beltway corridor combined with compact development at the stations is a better way to provide transportation choices and improve livability. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation completed a Beltway Rail Study in 2001, which found that a new rail line would significantly improve mobility in the area. For example, the light rail alternative on Backlick and Gallows Roads was found to carry 73,000 trips a day. In fact, ridership levels would likely be much higher if more compact, mixed-use development is built in places like Annandale and Merrifield.

Strong public support for Beltway rail was demonstrated during the public comment period and public hearings for the Beltway EIS last year. VDOT received over 800 comments supporting the inclusion of a rail alternative in the study, and dozens of residents spoke in support of rail at the hearings. But VDOT has ignored this overwhelming public sentiment while instead focusing only on more lanes.

Thus far, we have only heard one side of the debate about HOT lanes. It is a new idea that many are excited about. But area residents need time to research the issue, and deserve the chance to air their feelings at public hearings. In addition, Governor Warner and Northern Virginia public officials should insist that a rail and land-use alternative be included in the Draft EIS, so that the public’s decision is fully informed.


Roger Diedrich is the chairman of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shirons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2004 at 3:19pm
I would like to see Corey's response to HOT lanes. He's a good friend of mine, but I've never discussed this issue with him before. He is one of the PWC Board members who commutes downtown everyday and I know before his election he often slugged.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2004 at 9:27pm
Adding capacity in the Shirley Highway corridor is like pouring gasoline on a fire in an attempt to put out the fire. Added capacity either in more highway lane miles or more rail miles, or more buses is a waste of money.

At one time about 35% of commuters shared the ride from northern Virginia to the Pentagon or DC. I don't know what the percentage is now, but the absolute numbers of carpoolers has grown. Just not as fast as the other methods. Also car pools lost some passengers to the VERY expensive VRE, METRO and several other local government bus system. DASH, DART, Fairfax Connector, etc.

Yes, VRE, METRO and the rest use fuel tax dollars. In addition they use taxes collected on property and taxes collected on restaurant meals and other items. Operating costs of "mass transit" are about three to six times what is collected in the fare box. Capital costs aren't even mentioned. Including capital (like rebuilding Quantico Bridge) would bring that ratio up to about twenty to one.

Auto companies spend somewhere between $500 and $5000 in "advertising" and "promotional" cost for every car they sell. Even a third or fourth hand used car costs about $50 in advertising.

How much do VRE and METRO spend on advertising for passengers? Or are they content with poaching slug lines and preying on the innocents that move to DC from New York City?

Should FHWA fund slug promotion? Should some of the METRO/VRE budget be dedicated to advertising slugs

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2004 at 9:28pm
The parts of VRE that are worthwhile are the least emphasized. VRE has passengers and VRE has parking. But those passengers are very expensive when compared to using the parking lots for commuters to form slug lines. There are more than enough empty seats in rush hour to carry ALL the VRE and METRO passengers as well as at least another 25% that would allow ALL roads to free flow.

For the money spent on VRE, taxpayers could pay commuters to ride in slug lines. Payment might be in improved security, improved pick up and drop off points.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Dec 2004 at 9:59pm
THEM AND US

Why should there be so much antagonism in commuting? Isn't the target to keep ALL the roads flowing? Not at capactiy, but free flowing.

Think of a glass of water which is full. Did you think of a glass sitting on the table with water crowned over the miniscus? Or did you think like a waitress with a half inch from the top so you could carry the glass without spilling.

Traffic engineers chase the holy grail of capacity. Capacity is evil. One more car and the flow is unstable, the road becomes a parking lot. Leading up to capactity drivers begin to interact with each other. Driving tasks increase. Motorists compensate by slowing down. What was a fifteen minute predictable trip becomes a half hour unpredictable trip.

Free flow is good. Capacity is evil.

If free flow is good for slugs, why isn't it good for everyone? Perhaps THEY don't know about slugging because WE fail to tell them about it.

And who are WE. Is "WE" our elected officials and paid transportation staff that continues to insist on HOV-3? Is it those that insist on capacity? Shirley was originally HOV-4 with plans to go to higher numbers of HOV to ensure free flow. Congressman Paris took care of free flow with a clandestine rider to the Julliette Lowe Bill. Guess what? Capacity!

Who wants to commute at capacity? Drive alones, that's who.

In numbers, a free flowing lane can carry about 1,800 vehicles at the posted speed. At capacity the flow is 2,400 vehicles per hour at about 70% (45 MPH vs 65 MPH) of posted speed. One day in twenty will see unpredictable flow.

If WE are the existing slugs, then I suggest it is our task to spread the good news. The target then is to get 600 people per lane per hour out of the drive alone mode and into a ride sharing mode. The alternate is to pursuade 600 people per lane per hour to drive at some other time.

If your commute takes half an hour on a regular lane and you don't switch lanes, there are 1,199 other people just like you. So rush right out and introduce yourself to those 1,199 people and get 150 of them to become passengers in the greatest way to get to work in the DC area. Slugging.

Then that one lane will free flow for the half hour you are using it. [:D]

OK, there are five lanes over six hours in rush hour. If the average trip is half an hour then it will only take 60 of you to recruit 18,000 people to become passengers. Sonds like too much work? Or would you rather spend your time sitting in traffic?

Last time I looked there were more people (in fewer cars) on the reversible lanes than in the regular lanes. People in the reversible lanes traveled at the posted speed and did not anticipate delay.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Dec 2004 at 6:36am
Dick,
Thanks for joining the forum and sharing your extensive knowledge of transportation issues!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goober Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2004 at 3:59pm
Dick, I'm curious as to where your numbers come from because you make no references. The numbers appear to be credible, so, I presume that some of your numbers came from news articles and elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your diligence in supporting your points on traffic -- you appear to be quite knowledgeable about the subject. So, are you for or against HOT?

Goober
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2004 at 6:35pm
Federal employees are "Hatched". They come under the Hatch act. That act prohibits certain political activity.

Another Federal law prohibits the use of Federal funds to directly support "commuting". The reference legislation used to be quoted on the front of the DOD phone books and on the inside cover of the phone books in other agencies.

You can expect slug support from the building managers. Building managers are either GSA or contractors in rented buildings. Slugs reduce the pressure on parking space demand. The more cooperative building managers will let you put up posters and advertising on the bulletin boards or in the Agnecy Newsletter.

As "price of admission", I suggest some of the slugs exercise the right of free speech. They can promote slug lines at the work space by putting up maps of where slug lines are located. They can advertise Dave L's website and they can personally thank Dave for the labor of love.

They can print some of the comments from this thread and make sure there is a new comment every day on the Agency bulletin board. Humor appreciated.

I for one think it is about time that Dave should get a salary for all that he has done to promote slugging. I think the drive alones should be the ones to pay.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Dec 2004 at 6:41pm
I don't think there should be an effort to fight HOT. Instead, I think there should be a more public discussion of how roads are to be operated.

Should roads be operated at capacity? Capacity means twenty percent longer travel times every day and one day per month of unpredictable travel time. Unpredictable travel time can take up to three days to clear.

Should roads be operated at free flow? Free flow means travel at posted speed limits every day at any hour and one day in ten years of unpredictable travel time. Unpredictable travel time can be cleared in three hours.

What does it take to get roads to free flow? More concrete or more passengers? More bus seats, more train seats? Or fill the empty seats of the drive alone?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Dec 2004 at 6:53am
dickboyd,
ever thought about being a contestant on Jeopardy?
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