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Metro proposal would let motorists pay to share lanes with buses, carpools


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The Metropolitan Transit Authority is proposing to convert its High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to High Occupancy-Toll lanes, where buses and carpools ride for free alongside toll-paying solo drivers.

Under a proposal from Metro to the Texas Department of Transportation, tolls would be collected electronically and increase with congestion to keep traffic moving, said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT director of traffic operations.

"When the two-plus lanes become crowded, you go to three-plus, and then you have this huge drop in volume, and the lane's capacity is not being used," he said.

Lopez said the proposal does not appear to be based on revenue expectations, since Metro estimates a net return of between $95,000 and $2.3 million a year from all the lanes.

Lopez and local TxDOT spokeswoman Janelle Gbur said Tuesday that the proposal is only a draft and has a long way to go before being adopted.

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"Metro removes incentive for drivers to use buses, carpools"

I wouldn't say that, more like lowered it. You still have an incentive: free use vs. toll.

I like the plan. If the lane is underutilized, do something that will fill the excess capacity rather than have it sitting empty while the main lanes are a parking lot.

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I wouldn't say that, more like lowered it. You still have an incentive: free use vs. toll.

I like the plan. If the lane is underutilized, do something that will fill the excess capacity rather than have it sitting empty while the main lanes are a parking lot.

For once we agree.

There ought to be more use of under-utilized lanes. But, I agree the charge for it should be at least the cost of the toll lanes on the Belway.

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For once we agree.

There ought to be more use of under-utilized lanes. But, I agree the charge for it should be at least the cost of the toll lanes on the Belway.

Quick, we must disagree on something to restore the natural order of the universe! :lol:

The toll charge should be low enough to where some people will use the lane, but high enough to where the lane maintains free flow.

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I wondered how long it would take you to make it over here, Tory. :lol:

I agree with CDeb, it may lower incentives to take the bus a bit, but frankly, I think the people that use the Park&Ride do so to save money. Paying a toll certainly will not be a money saver. I think the overwhelming number of toll payers will be current solo drivers who cannot or will not give up their ride.

(I'll bet even Tory agrees with me on this.)

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I think the people that use the Park&Ride do so to save money. Paying a toll certainly will not be a money saver. I think the overwhelming number of toll payers will be current solo drivers who cannot or will not give up their ride.

I'll agree with that for folks going to downtown. Parking downtown is costly and using the P&R saves that.

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I don't know if I would pay the toll, becuase the traffic is not bad from my Park and Ride (Eastex). Now further out it may be a differnet story.

I know most downtown employers offer either free parking or a free monthly bus pass. Mine does, and I always just took the free bus pass to ride the bus and relax.

My wife works downtown now so we ride the HOV together and I take the free parking.

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Bottom line is Metro has to set the toll high enough to keep free flow. It'll be what it'll be to clear the market. Could be $0.50+ per mile. There's really not that much spare capacity in the lane, so, in this particular case, I have a feeling it will get mostly used by relatively highly paid executives, lawyers, etc. - plus maybe some service providers (plumbers, electricians, etc. that can fit in an extra well-paid service call) as well as a few parents running late to daycare pickup with late fees (that's the experience in other cities). So, yes, I agree with Red - the people who pay will, for the most part, not be switching from the buses, but will be switching from the main lanes, which is a good thing because it opens up at least a little more capacity in those lanes.

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So supposedly you would get a special tag to use the lane as a solo driver - but how then do you not get charged if you are carpooling in the same vehicle? Do you hide the tag?

Maybe we could stop each vehicle and count the number of passengers, assess the MPG for the vehicle, and calculate a customized appropriate charge factoring in the current traffic flow!

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Other than upsetting the eternally reflexive Church of the Anti-Auto, this really should be a win-win solution. If there is a noticeable reduction in bus riders after this opens, Metro can simply raise the price until ridership rebounds. At that point the HOV will be operating in a way where no riders were lost, but Metro found a way to get money from those who are not going to use transit. So instead of having just X riders, Metro will end up with X riders + Y extra money to hasten transit expansion. Every little bit adds up. Like it or not, at any given point there is a limit as to how many persons will use a particular transit line, and wishing or utopian proposals are not going to change that any time soon. In the meantime, why not coax money from that other subset of persons who aren't going to choose transit, as long as Metro doesn't cannibalize itself? A little monitoring and adjustment can keep the price high enough so that the latter won't happen.

(Or you can think of this proposal as a voluntary new "TAX", or better yet a "TAX ON THE RICH", if those terms are more soothing to you, since I realize that some can only evaluate policy in bumper sticker keywords. "Tax, transit, organic, Target, diversity, Europe" = good, "Auto, meat, church, suburb, Bush, fast food, Walmart, Texas (excepts sometimes here), lawn, gun, business, warmth, SUV, rich, toilet paper,...etc" = bad)

And once this experiment proves itself, then Metro can use it (and hopefully similar conversions of other HOV routes) as another funding stream to cite when apply for federal funds. The more local funding matches a proposal has, the better its chances of overcoming the hurdles when applying for limited federal transit money. If we really want to speed up transit expansion, we should pursue every avenue available for such, instead of rejecting some out of ideological purity.

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So supposedly you would get a special tag to use the lane as a solo driver - but how then do you not get charged if you are carpooling in the same vehicle? Do you hide the tag?

Maybe we could stop each vehicle and count the number of passengers, assess the MPG for the vehicle, and calculate a customized appropriate charge factoring in the current traffic flow!

Why not just have a lane at the start of it (wherever it starts ... downtown somewhere? Woodlands to the north?) just like on the toll roads.

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So supposedly you would get a special tag to use the lane as a solo driver - but how then do you not get charged if you are carpooling in the same vehicle? Do you hide the tag?

Just like the toll booths. There are two entrance lanes. One an EZ tag lane, another for HOVs with enforcement.

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Other than upsetting the eternally reflexive Church of the Anti-Auto, this really should be a win-win solution.

HCTRA's poorly handled attempt at congestion pricing for the Westpark Toll Road suggests that there is an additional group that will scream bloody murder. That group would be the one that wants government services, but is unwilling to pay for them. The transit crowd is beginning to realize that toll roads are not paid for by those who do not use them. Most of the outrage comes from those who move farther and farther from their jobs, often to escape "high city taxes", but insist on free highways.

Since I do not use either HOVs or Park&Rides, I do not have a dog in this hunt. However, I would not want to see a highly successful Park&Ride service hampered by slower speeds due to crowding of the HOV by solo drivers. As long as METRO can control the capacity, I welcome the additional transit revenue.

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The transit crowd is beginning to realize that toll roads are not paid for by those who do not use them.

Yes, BUT, many of them will scream bloody murder over just about anything that they believe encourages auto use over transit. That was one of the primary reasons that NJ removed many of their HOV lane-miles.

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However, I would not want to see a highly successful Park&Ride service hampered by slower speeds due to crowding of the HOV by solo drivers. As long as METRO can control the capacity, I welcome the additional transit revenue.

Agree 100%. The P&R bus system is a well oiled machine and METRO does a great job with it. It's just effective as rail, so I don't want them to mess it up.

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So this morning in the HOV we were stuck for 12 miles behind an old geezer driving 50 mph.

A better solution in that case may be to implement more strict controls on elderly drivers, perhaps requiring them to renew their license annually and to pass tests that are more able to reveal individuals' driving capabilities and reaction speeds. That'd help everyone, main lanes, HOV, surface streets, and even pedestrians and bicyclists on sidewalks and crosswalks.

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I think strict enforcement of the Hov rules would be fine, plus elimnating tour buses also. There are plenty of times I get stuck behind an A**hole who is driving alone and drives slow as to think he or she is not brining attetion to themselves while backing up the lane for a mile, also I hate when I get behind a tour bus who drives 45 MPH. I find Metro busses usually drive the same speed as the rest of the traffic. A s many times I ride Hov I can not think of many times I got stuck behind an old person who was driving slow.

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