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Evaluating Regional Pricing Strategies in San Francisco - Application of the SFCTA Activity-Based Regional Pricing Model


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This paper evaluates the performance of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s recently-enhanced Nine-County Regional Pricing Model (RPM-9), which is being used to study congestion pricing alternatives in San Francisco as a part of the Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study. This study sought to evaluate comprehensive pricing and mobility-enhancing packages to improve access and offer more sustainable travel choices to and within San Francisco. The Study tested various pricing scenarios including cordon, area, and gateway designs; various toll levels; and a range of shoulder pricing/time of day profiles. Pricing scenarios were coupled with strategies for improving accessibility for all modes of travel to, from, and within San Francisco including, but not limited to, local and regional transit investments. RPM-9’s structure as a tour-based microsimulation model allowed several enhancements for this study that would not have been possible in a trip-based framework. These include the use of value-of-time distributions, rather than averages across groups; the feedback of mode and destination choice logsums to make auto ownership and tour generation sensitive to price; the explicit tracking of travelers who have paid area tolls; and enhanced peak spreading models. The disaggregate nature of RPM-9 facilitated summaries of key measures of effectiveness at various levels and types of aggregation including income level, residential location, and work location. These flexible summaries were critical to evaluating alternatives and answering questions about who was paying versus who was benefiting.

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Evaluating Regional Pricing Strategies in San Francisco - Application of the SFCTA Activity-Based Regional Pricing Model

  1. 1. Evaluating Pricing Strategies:Application of the San Francisco Regional Pricing Model Jesse Koehler, Transportation Planner TRB Annual Meeting 2010 SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY January 12, 2010
  2. 2. OverviewThe Project San Francisco’s Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study (MAPS)The Tool SFCTA Nine-County Regional Pricing Model (RPM-9 / CHAMP 4.0)The ApproachThe Upshot Lessons learned for modeling and planning practice
  3. 3. The Setting – San Francisco Bay Area  9 counties  101 cities  7.2 million people (2006)  Highest per capita income of any metro area in the US  7,000 sq mi (1,120 urbanized)
  4. 4. Bush St, midday (Jan 2009)
  5. 5. Bush St, 8 am (Jan 2009)
  6. 6. 3rd St, 8 am (Jan 2009)
  7. 7. Stockton St, 5 pm (Jan 2009)
  8. 8. Franklin St, 9 am (Jan 2009)
  9. 9. Divisadero St, 8 am (Jan 2009)
  10. 10. Stanyan St, 9 am (Jan 2009)
  11. 11. View from Treasure Island | Skyline todayCourtesy, SF Planning Department
  12. 12. View from Treasure Island | Approved PlansCourtesy, SF Planning Department
  13. 13. View from Treasure Island | According to the Transbay PlanCourtesy, SF Planning Department
  14. 14. MAPS – Context and RationaleCountywide Transportation Plan Forecast increasing motorization; declining transit performance Called for further analysis of pricing to manage demand, raise fundsRegional and national trends and support for pricing policiesLocal, regional, and state goals for: Transportation system management Economic competitiveness Core-focused regional growth Greenhouse gas reductions
  15. 15. MAPS – Key QuestionsIs congestion pricing feasible and appropriate for San Francisco? System performance and network improvements Public acceptance and education Program costs and economic impactsWhat are the characteristics of a potential pricing program? Geographic extent (zone boundary) Charge type (area vs. cordon) Pricing policy (fee level, time-of-day variance, discount policies)Who pays?How are individual travel behaviors forecast to change (or not)?
  16. 16. SF-CHAMP 3.0Previous version of the SFCTA travel demand modelOne of the first activity-based models used in practice Major investment studies Countywide planning New Starts forecastingLacked key capabilities required by the MAPS team Geographic extent Pricing representation and sensitivity
  17. 17. The Tool: Regional Activity-Based Pricing ModelRPM-9, aka CHAMP 4.0Model improvements: Added feedback loops Expanded geography Explicit toll choice model Accessibility (mode choice logsums) Time-of-day choice (peak-spreading) Values of time (stated preference survey) More rigorous highway assignment; region-wide transit path building Charge type (area vs. cordon) and discount logic Computing power (“Can I have this tomorrow?”)
  18. 18. Approach to Model Development and ApplicationDevelop the model in parallel with the planning study Three-phase model development process Deployable tools of increasing utility Iterate in tandemSingle team of planning and modeling staff Modelers invested in planning outcomes Planners knowledgeable regarding capabilities and limits of modelCustomized output summaries and processing tools Run results available to planners in a consistent (but growing) format Planners understanding of activity model encourages tough questions Planners develop tools to further analyze/process model outputs
  19. 19. Disaggregate Results – Power and PerilFacilitate key summaries at various levels/types of aggregationModel directly informs multiple elements of feasibility analysis: Toll policy: what is the preferred shape, size, and fee structure? Revenue: transaction volume; impact of discounts Equity: who pays? how are low-income and zero-car HHs affected? Congestion mitigation: system performance (corridor, zone, city, region) Reinvestment: what is the impact of network improvement packages?Every model has its limits, and sound planning judgment always applies Fully disaggregate results tempered by awareness of model’s capabilities Planners must keep in mind that outputs are not “data” in the strict sense
  20. 20. Scenario Comparison A good toll policy: Obtains mobility objectives Minimizes impacts Many policies we examined had major pros AND major cons and were eliminated from consideration.
  21. 21. Potential Scenarios for SF   Congested Transit Segment Congestedwith Gateway Downtown Northeast Double (travel speed below 8 mph) Streets in SF Parking Pricing Cordon Ring Congested Auto Segment (highway speed below 30 mph road speed below 10 mph)  
  22. 22. Scenario ComparisonPercent Difference in PM Volume Is somewhere in the middle just right?
  23. 23. Conclusion and Lessons LearnedIntegrated team of planners and modelers integral to successSub-24 hour run-time crucial to extensive scenario testing approachUnderstanding of model prompts planners to ask important questions Residential location, income level, geographic variations, modal impactsFlexible/tailored summaries are of enormous value to all on teamPlanners always want more from models These questions/requests help guide future model improvement efforts
  24. 24. Status of Congestion Pricing Summer/Fall 2009 Finalize study analyses Refined transportation improvements Pricing policy, discount policy Economic analysis Coordination with related efforts Study Timeline, Next Steps Fourth round of public outreach (winter) Board action (spring) Potential next steps Design & System Planning Legislative Authority Environmental Clearance
  25. 25. Thank you Jesse Koehler, Transportation Planner Co-Authors: Elizabeth Sall, Zabe Bent, Billy Charlton – SFCTA Greg Erhardt – PB SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY January 12, 2010