The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in support of the project partners, TxDOT and METRO, is currently developing QuickRide program refinements that will accomplish these objectives:
- Increase usage
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Reduce net operating costs
- Smooth traffic flow
In addition to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the current QuickRide operations, TTI is assisting, TxDOT and METRO with two major challenges: 1) how to maximize effective use of the Katy HOV lane during an upcoming massive reconstruction project, and 2) how to use current and future program improvements on the Northwest HOV lanes as a model for expansion of QuickRide to other HOV lanes as congestion warrants.
The Texas Transportation Institute is developing recommendations for current and future use of the Houston HOV lanes through the following tasks:
Enforcement/User Compliance: Optimize the collection of fares and assure the lanes are being properly used
- Complicated Enforcement Task (Windshield, Violation letter, $200 fine sign)
- What measures are needed to assure adequate compliance?
Pricing: Design pricing scenarios that match user needs and preferences with sound traffic operations and HOV priorities using comprehensive surveys, focus groups and locally-calibrated price elasticity estimates
- What pricing structure will optimize the use of HOV lanes? (Graph 1, Graph 2)
- Do the current HOV lane operating conditions support changes in QR hours and single occupant vehicle eligibility? (Graph 3)
Signing: Improve the effectiveness of HOV and QuickRide static and dynamic signing to facilitate use and enhance safe and smooth traffic operations
Public Outreach and Education: Increase QuickRide enrollment, participation, and customer satisfaction through public awareness, education and feedback
- Who is the target market? What are the needs of potential users? Non users?
- What methods do we use to inform and influence public opinion and increase HOV usage and satisfaction?
QuickRide User and Former User Survey
A survey of QuickRide enrollees and former enrollees was conducted in the spring of 2003. The survey results supported the elasticity results. The primary issue limiting QuickRide use appears to be one of convenience rather than cost. Both current and former participants cited the inconveniences of carpooling as the greatest deterrent to QuickRide use while 73.4 percent of participants reported that the toll had little or no impact on their decision to use QuickRide. A survey of corridor travelers who do not use QuickRide is currently being conducted and will provide additional insight into driver behavior in order to optimize the pricing structure for the HOT lanes.
Main Reasons for Current Level of QuickRide Usage
Half Price Month Test
One important tool for use in predicting driver response to these potential toll changes is the price elasticity of demand for the HOV lane. For one month, April 2003, the price of QuickRide was reduced to $1 per trip. The resulting price elasticities of demand ranged from –0.11 to –0.26, with an average of –0.19. These results indicated an inelastic response to changes in the toll.
- Project began in September 2002.
- Completed comprehensive survey of all QuickRide users and tested effects of "half-price" month.
- Analysis of Houston motorist/non QuickRide users in progress.
- Technology and enforcement strategies to enhance compliance in progress.
- Analysis of alternative operating strategies, toll collection and account management options nearing completion.