Cover: The Impact of Adopting Time-of-Day Tolling

The Impact of Adopting Time-of-Day Tolling

Case Study of 183A in Austin, Texas

Published Jun 18, 2015

by Thomas Light, Sunil Patil, Gregory D. Erhardt, Flavia Tsang, Peter Burge, Paul Sorensen, Mia Zmud

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Research Question

  1. Is it possible to reduce 183A tolls in pre- and postpeak periods so as to reduce downstream traffic congestion while maintaining or exceeding the current revenue level?
The Impact of Adopting Time-of-Day Tolling: Case Study of 183A in Austin, Texas evaluates the traffic and revenue effects of moving from a fixed toll rate on the 183A Turnpike in Texas to a toll structure that varies by time of day. To conduct the analysis, RAND administered a stated preference survey and developed discrete choice models to understand how motorists are likely to respond to alternative tolling arrangements. The analysis suggests that shifting to time-of-day tolling on 183A is not likely to meet the tolling authority's objectives of reducing congestion downstream in the transportation network, given other constraints facing the toll road operator.

Key Findings

Shifting to Time-of-Day Tolling on 183A Is Not Likely to Meet Traffic and Revenue Objectives

  • Reducing off-peak toll levels on 183A will reduce revenues, although the losses are likely to be small for modest reductions in off-peak toll levels.
  • Charging lower off-peak toll rates causes a very small portion of trips to shift from peak to off-peak travel. Rather than shifting departure times, motorists are more likely to shift from the parallel, untolled roadway (183) to the tolled 183A when off-peak toll rates are reduced. Consequently, reducing off-peak toll rates has little effect on peak-period traffic conditions on 183 or on downstream facilities.
  • To remain revenue neutral, modest reductions in off-peak toll levels will need to be accompanied by modest increases in peak toll rates.

The research reported here was conducted in the RAND Transportation, Space, and Technology Program, a part of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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