Ensure that privatization agreements for the management of toll lanes retain the right for the public agency to improve upon or build transportation facilities that may potentially compete with the privatized toll lanes.
Experience from California’s State Route 91 value -priced express lanes.
- Ensure that the contractual arrangement preserves the ability of the state DOT to expand upon, improve or build transportation facilities that may be perceived as competing with the privatized toll roads. The contract between Caltrans and the company that managed the express toll lanes on SR 91 restricted the ability of Caltrans to build or improve competing transportation facilities. This restriction became increasingly detrimental to the public interest as congestion levels built up over the course of the contract. Because conditions will change, it is important that non-compete clauses or clauses requiring the public agency to pay “just compensation” for a competing facility do not restrict the public agency’s ability to improve the transportation network to meet increasing or changing demand.
- Provide transparency during the decision-making process to privatize and include public vetting of the private sector proposals. The public image of the company operating the SR 91 express toll lanes was negatively affected by the perception that the company raised tolls unjustifiably and held a monopoly over transportation projects. Over time, public approval decreased significantly as more and more reports emerged alleging the firm did not properly disclose performance and financial information. To address public concern over fairness, the contractual agreement should strive to balance the right of the public to have access to financial information while also protecting company interests in proprietary information.
- Require that private-public partnerships adhere to state-of-the-art safety standards on toll roads. The contractual arrangement must require that the private sector entity adhere to the highest safety standards for toll lane operations. Over the course of the SR 91 project, reports emerged alleging that the safety of the toll lanes had been compromised for the sake of profit. An evaluation study revealed that these allegations harmed the initially high level of public approval for the facility, demonstrating that private operators must strive to live up to the public’s expectation for traffic safety and meet the highest safety standards.
Author: Edward Sullivan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Applied Research and Development Facility - Cal Poly State University
Published By: State of California Department of Transportation - Traffic Operations Program - HOV Systems Branch
Source Date: December 2000URL: http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/tolling_pricing/value_pricing/pubs_reports/projectreports/sr91_expresslanes.htm
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Lesson of the Month for September, 2009 !
high occupancy vehicles, carpool lanes, high occupancy vehicle lane, managed lanes, HOV, congestion pricing, value pricing, variable road pricing