The art of easing a city’s traffic gridlock | Smart Cities Dive

One main framework — which will be used in New York — involves charging a flat toll during peak times; in some areas the toll is simply higher than at off-peak times, and in other areas no tolls are collected at all during off-peak times. The other main congestion pricing tactic is to incorporate variable pricing, in which technology is installed on roadway infrastructure to provide real-time traffic feedback and automatically raise tolls during periods of high congestion.

Although free high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes used to be viewed as the answer to ease traffic gridlock, “congestion, particularly on the urban highways, has gotten to the point where it’s extremely difficult to manage,” even with HOV lanes, said Ken Philmus, senior director of global business development and transportation at Conduent. Now, transportation agencies are beginning to “take a look at those HOV lanes or other lanes that they have the ability to widen, and [converting them] to ‘managed lanes’ or ‘express lanes’ or ‘high-occupancy toll lanes.'”

The variable pricing toll systems measure traffic levels with “intelligent transportation systems … either by loops in the roadway or video cameras that can determine the congestion,” Philmus said.

In Minneapolis, which uses dynamic pricing in its toll lanes during peak times, loop detectors are installed in the roadway every half mile to “monitor the traffic in the [MnPASS] lane … [The system] raises or lowers the price every three minutes depending on how much traffic is in that lane,” said Bobbie Dahlke, MnPASS and congestion management communications coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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The art of easing a city’s traffic gridlock | Smart Cities Dive.