Implications for the United States
Edited by Harry W. Richardson and Chang-Hee Christine Bae
Chapter 16: The Puget Sound (Seattle) Congestion Pricing Pilot Experiment
16. The Puget Sound (Seattle) congestion pricing pilot experiment Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Alon Bassok 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter reports on a federally-sponsored pilot project on road pricing in the Seattle metropolitan area. This is one of several such experiments in the United States (for example, in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon), and it takes place against a backcloth of much more attention being paid to road pricing than some years ago. While it is true that the primary driver is the transportation funding problem, road pricing in urban areas would have substantial congestion-reduction eﬀects. The most interesting aspect of the Seattle experiment is its use of GPS (global positioning system) technology rather than the more standard transponder plus road sensors. Although the experiment is small scale, it oﬀers opportunities to judge the feasibility of the GPS approach. If it works eﬀectively, it is more suitable for a system-wide approach (that is, freeways plus arterials) than the alternatives. 2 RECENT TRAFFIC TRENDS The recent traﬃc experiences of the Seattle metropolitan area were summarized in a Washington State Department of Transportation report (WSDOT, 2006). The WSDOT bases its analysis on the empirically supported assumptions that a speed of 51 miles per hour (mph) maximizes traﬃc throughput, while congestion increases below 40 mph and becomes severe under 35 mph. In the two years (2003–05) of the WSDOT study, travel times increased on 34 out of major 35 commute routes in the peaks (deﬁned somewhat traditionally...
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