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FHWA > Programs > Office of Policy > Office of International Programs  > Managing Travel Demand: Applying European Perspectives to U.S. Practice > Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Key Findings

Based on the case studies summarized in Chapter 2, the scan team developed a set of key findings. The findings are organized by the four types of measures-physical, operational, financial/pricing, and institutional-plus separate findings on performance measurement.

Physical Measures

Physical measures either restrict the use of cars in certain areas or during certain times of the day, or involve strategic improvements to the transportation network to enhance system efficiency or provide new capacity for public transport or high occupancy vehicles. The physical measures observed in Europe to influence demand include the following:

  • An access control system in Rome operates as a physical barrier by restricting vehicles from the historic core during much of the day. A limited number (150,000) of permits are sold that allow access by some vehicles. Rome also bans all cars without a catalytic converter from the core. The access control zone has resulted in a 20 percent reduction in traffic during the restricted part of the day, but has had an unintended effect of increasing the use of higher polluting motor scooters.
  • Several countries the scan team visited are making improvements to their public transport systems by building extensive park-and-ride facilities on the periphery of cities and offering express bus or rail service into city centers. Winchester, United Kingdom, offers parking price discounts for lower emission vehicles at its main park-and-ride facility. Rome has built park-and-ride lots outside its "green area" (it has designated transport services for each concentric ring around the center) and added 350 km of new urban rail lines. Stockholm is building a new rail tunnel for commuter rail trains and a new commuter train terminal in the city center.
  • Strategic road improvements to complete urban highway networks are being debated in Stockholm, which has already built a new tunnel to the south of the city center. The role of these improvements is being considered in light of congestion charging schemes that will push some traffic around the city.
  • HOV lanes are being constructed on the M1 in England between London and Luton to demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of such a facility to encourage ridesharing (2+ carpools). Bus lanes (using red pavement in the United Kingdom) serve buses and other high occupancy vehicles (HOVs) to Heathrow and Schipol airports.
  • The Dutch are using the hard shoulder as rush hour lanes and narrower plus lanes in the median to enhance capacity during the most congested periods. These are accompanied by slower speed limits and have not resulted in any fatal accidents since being implemented. However, some in the Netherlands see these as capacity improvements and are questioning their environmental impacts.

Operational Measures

At the heart of operational measures to manage demand are enhanced choices and traveler information about these choices. Among the interesting strategies the scan team observed were the following:

  • Demand management was differentiated from traffic management. This concept becomes reality at the traffic control centers as decisions are made on when, where, and how users are offered mode, route, and lane choices.
  • The traffic control centers provide user choices on route, time, and mode up to the point at which the system is in danger of breaking down. At that point, the German highway network traffic control system diverts traffic around bottlenecks with dynamic destination signs, rather than by solely providing travelers with information on the location and severity of congestion.
  • Traffic management centers use real-time, dynamic information to manage the system and provide users with route choices during their trip. The way they provide individualized and customized data from the centers to users varies among public, public-private, and private providers.
  • Newer innovations include the provision of door-to-door pretrip, near-trip and on-trip information on time, route, and mode choice. Integrated examples of real-time multimodal information systems include Stadtinfoköln in Cologne and SWINGH in The Hague.
  • In terms of mode choices, carpooling and vanpooling are not widely adopted in Europe, in spite of many pilot programs and the integration of these modes into mobility management initiatives. Most countries are improving public transport as an alternative to driving, particularly the implementation of supportive park-and-ride facilities and improved express bus and rail services.
  • Demand management is a key part of highway reconstruction to mitigate the impacts of the disruption. In the United Kingdom, the reconstruction and widening of the M25 near Heathrow Airport has included public information campaigns (also in France), ANPR enforcement of a 64-km/h (40-mi/h) speed limit through the construction zone, and vehicle recovery response teams to remove vehicles and reduce incidents. In the Netherlands, the reconstruction of the A10 and A9 near Amsterdam have included comprehensive mobility management programs to induce mode, time, and route shifting and have included information on and incentives to use public transport to get to work during the construction period.
  • Some European pilot projects have demonstrated various innovative demand management measures. In Cologne, the federally funded Stadtinfoköln project included many elements of real-time traveler information, most of which have now been deployed. One measure piloted but not fully deployed was an advanced parking reservation and payment system that built on Cologne's parking information system. Unfortunately, the use of photo billing in garages proved problematic in the pilot trial.
  • ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) photo billing and enforcement is being used in many of the demand management programs, including Rome's access control system enforcement, Stockholm's congestion charging pilot program, and the London Congestion Charging Scheme. The Dutch are using ANPR technology to enforce an 80-km/h (50-mi/h) speed limit on a motorway near Rotterdam that suffered as a carbon monoxide (CO) hot spot and had noise impacts on an adjacent neighborhood. The United Kingdom is using the same technique to maintain a 64-km/h (40-mi/h) limit on the M25 and M4 through a major reconstruction zone. While photo speed enforcement remains a debated issue in the United States, several European countries are using the technology to automatically enforce high-speed facilities.
  • Travel time prediction, based on recent (the past few hours) or archived (historic) data, is being developed in many countries. The national traffic information Web site (www.trafficengland.com/TCC) operated by the Highways Agency includes both real-time and predicted traffic conditions in terms of average speeds. The system in the Netherlands provides users with predictions of travel times on the highway at a given time of day. The system also informs the user of travel times during periods before and after the desired time. The system in Cologne, developed as part of Stadtinfoköln, predicts travel times on public transit and roads and provides a comparison to users via invehicle or hand-held information or signs near park-and-ride facilities. A system to predict onstreet parking availability and provide this to travelers was also developed. In all, travel time reliability is a significant issue and performance indicator in Europe, as in the United States.
  • Travel time and queue prediction are being used to meet safety regulations (ability to accommodate emergency vehicles) in a new highway tunnel south of the Stockholm city center (that require the tunnel to be closed if speeds are anticipated to go below 10 km/h). Traveler information via variable message signs (VMS, referred to as dynamic route information panels in the Netherlands) and cell phone service is assured in the tunnel as part of the management strategy. Traffic is managed during incidents by diversion to other specified routes via VMS and slowing or closing ramp meters to deter traffic.
  • Planning for demand and traffic management during large-scale events has been undertaken in a comprehensive, coordinated fashion using many management techniques. This includes traveler information (British Grand Prix race site at Silverstone), traffic flow and diverse strategies (Silverstone), use of closed highway segments as park-and-ride facilities (World Youth Day in Cologne), integrated event and public transport tickets (Rotterdam Marathon and soccer matches in Germany), and schedule changes to free buses for use in shuttling visitors (in Rome after the death of Pope John Paul II).
  • The Europeans have used overhead changeable signs for speed control for many years. Changeable speed signs and explanatory icons warn motorists before they reach queuing or incidents. The Dutch and British are even combining ANPR technology with speed control and enforcement on highways.
  • VMS and dynamic highway sign technology varied (dynamic route information panels (DRIPs) in the Netherlands and motorway incident detection and automatic signaling (MIDAS) in the United Kingdom) and was a central part of current research, including use of these displays with travel time and queue length prediction, variable lane widths, and use of the hard shoulder during rush hour or incidents.
  • Ramp metering has led to efficiencies on certain congested road segments (in the Netherlands and more recently in the United Kingdom) and in some cases to influencing route and departure time choices (when and where meter queues are consistently long).
  • New public transport services are being developed, such as taxi-sharing (Bristol, England) and car-sharing (Rome, Cologne, etc.). However, traditional carpooling, vanpooling, and teleworking are still not widespread, even though many countries are experimenting with programs, technology, and incentives to increase shared rides and trip substitution.

Financial/Pricing Measures

Congestion pricing is widely acknowledged as an effective demand management tool, but it is also being used to address environmental concerns, fund new public transport improvements, and preserve historic city centers. Key findings include the following:

  • One focus of the scan was to learn more about congestion pricing programs. Congestion pricing schemes are being implemented to reduce congestion (London) and emissions (Stockholm and Rome), not primarily to raise revenue for transport or other uses. The alternative to driving a car into the city center is mainly public transport, which carries 80 to 85 percent of peak-hour commuters in London and Stockholm.
  • The Roman pricing scheme is integrated with the access control system scheme, in which onstreet parking prices vary by time of day and demand and access permits are sold to residents (for a nominal fee) who live in the historic core, some employees who have dedicated offstreet parking, and other nonresidents (US$425 or €340 a year). Automobile volumes have decreased by 20 percent in the core as a result of the demand management system in Rome, but scooter use has increased during the same period (prompting consideration of restrictions on these vehicles).
  • In Stockholm, the national legislature enacted a law requiring the city to implement a congestion tax for cars entering the city center. The pilot program was scheduled to be implemented in early 2006 for 7 months, although the enhanced transit component (which amounts to half of the US$400 million budget) was implemented in August 2005. Users will have to pay the tax daily. A national referendum will be held in September 2006 to decide whether the congestion pricing scheme will become permanent. An extensive "before" evaluation effort was used to plan the pilot program and forecast a 10 to 15 percent reduction in traffic entering the core and resulting improvements in overall accessibility and air quality.
  • The London Congestion Charging Scheme has been in place since 2003. In July 2005, the daily charge was increased from US$9 to US$14 (£5 to £8). There are plans to extend the charging zone into the West End of London. Enforcement and payment are accomplished with ANPR cameras and license plate recognition software. Since implementation, traffic is down by 18 percent in the zone and congestion levels are down 30 percent. The major shift has been to public transport, mostly bus services, which have been improved using the revenue.
  • Much of the revenue from pricing schemes is being used to improve public transport. This is partially explained by the fact that both traffic and public transport are often controlled by municipal government in Europe, making the integration of traffic reduction and public transport enhancements easier to implement.
  • One source of anxiety with congestion charging and access control schemes is the impact on businesses in the zone. In Rome, some businesses are pleased that the access controls have made pedestrian movement much easier and people have returned to the core to shop and eat. In London, evaluations have concluded "broadly neutral impacts on overall business performance." In both cities, the attitudes of small businesses toward the restrictions are mixed.
  • Ease of payment and user acceptance are key issues in the implementation of many of these programs, affecting the nature of the efforts in Rome, Stockholm, and London. The treatment of the congestion charge as a tax in Sweden-and the resulting requirement to pay the tax every day the cordon is crossed-is being viewed as a potential barrier to user acceptance.
  • Truck pricing systems have been implemented for trucks over 12 metric tons (European law, with plans to lower the limit to 3.5 tons) in several central European countries, including Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. The German system is complicated in terms of payment and enforcement and was plagued by implementation delays, but is designed to reduce road damage resulting from wear and tear on the German autobahn network and to reduce environmental and energy impacts of the growth in truck volumes throughout central Europe.
  • The Dutch are once again exploring pricing as a solution strategy, given growing congestion and environmental concerns about road efficiency improvements such as rush hour lanes and ramp meters. They envision development of a set of pilot projects in the next several years, then adoption of cordon charging schemes (e.g., London), and finally implementation of distance-based charges on the highway network. The United Kingdom is also considering a distance-based pricing scheme for the national highway network in 10 years.
  • Financial incentives are also being used as a demand management strategy. As part of a highway reconstruction project near Amsterdam, free monthly transit passes were distributed to area residents and workers to complement transit service improvements and employer-based TDM initiatives.
  • In terms of financing transportation solutions, the Roman model includes the creation of a public corporation (ATAC) owned by the city of Rome that can borrow money in private capital markets and make decisions to reduce operating deficits.
  • In much of Europe, transport taxes on fuel, vehicles, and freight are not hypothecated for use in the transport sector, but go into the general fund. Thus, it is even more impressive that the British government spends a significant portion of its budget on transport and initiatives related to demand management.

Institutional Measures

Demand management requires new partnerships, planning processes, and approaches to address traffic congestion. The ability to institutionalize a demand management philosophy in supply-oriented organizations is a key factor in the success of the endeavor. The integration of many strategies into a cohesive, comprehensive approach is one key to maximizing intended effects.

  • Traveler information is often gathered and compiled by the public sector and disseminated by public and private operators. The Utrecht traffic control center, for example, manages the system on one side of the building and disseminates information to providers through the information center on the other side. Sometimes conflicts can arise when the private providers do not want to use real-time or predicted information that they fear will not be accepted by travelers. This is the case with the travel time prediction software developed by AVV, but not yet adopted by private travel information providers.
  • Rome reorganized its public transport and street management both to integrate services and information and to reduce the overall deficit (e.g., ATAC and STA). The public transport company, ATAC, contracts with various private-sector operators to provide public transport and related services (car sharing, electric scooters, etc.). STA, the city's department for private transport, is now responsible for the access control system and traveler information services, but this will soon be merged into ATAC.
  • One strategy to manage demand is to better coordinate the timing and nature of travel, even in goods movement. The British, among others, have experimented with consolidated delivery schemes in which a subsidized carrier assembles deliveries from participating delivery companies at a peripheral location and delivers them to downtown merchants. This has resulted in a 65 percent reduction in delivery vehicles in Bristol. Winchester has experimented with Collectpoint delivery pickup services at neighborhood convenience stores so that parcel delivery vehicles do not need to penetrate neighborhoods to deliver to homes.
  • The Swedes and British are integrating travel demand management planning into transport and land use plans. The Swedish Road Administration adopted a Four-Stage Principle that requires consideration of (1) demand management and mode shifting before considering (2) efficiency or systems management, (3) minor improvements, or (4) new investment or major rebuilding. The Dutch A-B-C Location Policy requires that new development near rail stations not build parking facilities for employees. New access contracts are offering preferential highway access to developments that agree to reduce car demand. Finally, the U.K. and Swedish governments have developed best practice and planning guidelines for integrating demand management into new development site planning and approval.
  • The United Kingdom and Italy require all municipalities and large employers to develop and implement travel plans or trip reduction plans at worksites. Both implement these regulations through local governments and provide funding and technical assistance to local agencies. The British government has a school travel initiative to develop travel plans for all school sites in the United Kingdom by 2010. The Dutch have decentralized their employer demand management programs to allow provinces, cities, and transportation management agencies to tailor programs to meet local needs and focus on accessibility.
  • Britain has developed national initiatives to integrate demand management into work, school, hospital, and town environments. The Department for Transport's Smarter Choices and the Highways Agency's Influencing Travel Behavior initiatives are consistent with the government's White Paper on the Future of Transport. The Smarter Choices program projects that high-intensity "soft" demand management measures could reduce overall traffic levels by as much as 11 percent and lower intensity measures by 2 to 3 percent. These soft measures include travel planning (sustainable travel plans) for towns, employer worksites, schools, hospitals, and new developments.
  • Comprehensive, sustainable transport planning has been successfully undertaken in Lund, Sweden, where travel growth (expressed as vehicle kilometers of travel) has been arrested while economic growth continued (decoupling traffic from economic growth). The integrated program (LundaMaTs) included transit service improvements (a new bus rapid transit line), traffic management, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and individualized marketing efforts to increase bus and bike use. The city of Lund bought land adjacent to the right-of-way of the bus line and is reselling the land to private interests for sustainable developments. The key to the success of the integrated plan was the involvement of stakeholders, including elected officials, early in the process. This is the same philosophy behind the Dutch sustainable traffic management planning and implementation process and a related user's guide.
  • EU is funding major urban pilot programs to test demand management and alternative fuel measures as part of CIVITAS. The CIVITAS Initiative is designed to develop integrated, sustainable packages of measures, including clean vehicles, access restrictions, and pricing to manage demand, new forms of vehicle ownership (e.g., car sharing), improved collective transport, efficient goods movement, innovative soft measures to manage mobility, and transport systems and information management. These initiatives include independent and comparative evaluations. So far, EU has invested €100 million in the CIVITAS demonstration program and in work to disseminate findings to other cities and the ascension countries.

Performance Measurement

Performance measurement was a key component of many of the programs, projects, and initiatives the scan team explored. Performance measurement was used to both monitor fulfillment of objectives to assure accountability to policymakers and set future policy objectives based on careful monitoring of the system.

  • Performance-based transport goals have been developed in several countries, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The Dutch targets (in the proposed Mobility Policy Document) are based on reliable and fast travel times. The policy targets are that average travel times on the highway network during rush hour should not be more than 1.5 times longer than nonrush hour times. The new U.K. policy is based on penalizing areas (in terms of targeted funding) where the average travel times are over the 90th percentile of delayed facilities on a designated network.
  • Performance monitoring has been used to enforce performance-based contracts, such as the public transport service contracts in Rome. ATAC penalizes contractors for missing ontime performance targets.
  • Evaluation has been an integral part of demand management programs at the European and national levels. EU developed a TDM monitoring and evaluation toolkit as part of MOST (MObility STrategies for the next decades). This has been adapted by the Swedes as the System of the Evaluation of Mobility Projects (SUMO) and their Mobility Management Monitor to benchmark program performance. Independent evaluation is a key part of the CIVITAS Initiative. Likewise, the large-scale pricing programs in Stockholm and London have included comprehensive pre- and post-evaluation efforts. The adoption of standard evaluation criteria provides a common basis for evaluating and prioritizing resources.
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