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Leverage the connectivity of new mobility and smart vehicles to manage and price our streets

With congestion only increaing, we can use connected vehicle technology to shift behavior by charging or paying vehicles of all types

Photo of Paul Salama
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The Challenge of Managing Our Streets

Miami, like so many large and growing cities across the country, is struggling to manage the ever-increasing traffic from an influx of new residents and businesses as well as new and old modes of transportation. Every square inch of the road is fought over. Each lost parking space or street hail is theft or betrayal while lobbying for a bike or bus lane often requires years of organizing, public pressure, and public process.

Every year it seems there’s a fresh, new mobility solution set to solve our transportation problems--bikeshare, BRT, high-speed rail, P3s, Hyperloop, or scooters! Reducing traffic and managing the limited space of the public right-of-way will not be an easy process and it might combine those solutions, but divining the perfect space allocation between them is a Sisyphean task.


Road Usage Pricing

There is now an elegant solution for governments to regain control of their streets, one that has been suggested for decades and which we now have the technology to implement. Road usage pricing is a system where each vehicle on the road pays a fair share for their actual use of and impacts on the road, similar to the model of an electric or water utility. The revenue raised from these fees can then be used to fund a wide range of mobility goals: public transit, zero-emission conversions, expansions of new mobility options, or subsidizing overnight freight deliveries.

In cities, the even more significant benefit is in the newfound ability to manage the flow, volume, and mix of traffic through pricing signals. Stockholm, with a variable fee to enter the city center, was able to reduce traffic by 20%, while San Francisco was able to reduce circling for parking by 40% with a dynamic, demand-based pricing model. In each case, higher or lower pricing signals-- between modes, at different locations, or at different times--become a way to nudge behavior.

Pricing Signals in Practice

Via a network of smartphone apps mounted on dashboards, Uber and Lyft demonstrate some possible pricing signals--charging passengers for ride time, distance, and their real-time impacts on congestion & demand, a.k.a. surge pricing. Similarly, dockless bikesharing systems use geofencing to charge riders additional fees for dropping off outside of designated parking and service areas.

It's possible to imagine many other variations: charging higher rates for neighborhood streets, penalizing taxis driving without passengers (zombie miles), or lower prices for efficient vehicles. We can even achieve a version of means testing, providing discounts for those from lower-income census tracts or fewer mobility options.

ClearRoad Makes Road Usage Pricing Simple

ClearRoad can implement road usage pricing systems, with pricing signals designed according to local needs, and dynamically adaptable to changing priorities, with connected vehicle technology. We leverage the GPS, cellular, and Bluetooth technologies that are built in or can be plugged into our vehicles as a distributed infrastructure, meaning it costs 1/10th of equivalent physical infrastructure systems.

As part of statewide per-mile fee projects in Oregon and Washingon, ClearRoad pulls data from several connected car companies through our open API. Open data standards, such as the General Bikeshare Feed, LA’s Mobility Data Specifications, or SharedStreets ensure that Miami-Dade can manage and charge any vehicles. Whether residents choose to commute by car, public transit, bike, Mobility-as-as-Service, autonomous vehicle, or some combination, they can be sure they're making the best choice for themselves based on the fair, equitable, and transparent prices.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

ClearRoad is primarily a tool for governments to simplify management of their streets, for example using dashboards to understand the potential impacts of different vehicle fees and policies. Vehicles and individuals would generally not interact directly with ClearRoad. However, they would perceive the results of governments working with ClearRoad, including fees or discounts on their Uber bills and bikesharing statements. But most importantly, they will experience less congested and more joyful trips; however they decide to get around.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario
  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

ClearRoad brings together a team of innovators focused on the next generation of management and funding of our mobility systems. Coming from backgrounds in deploying tolling and financial systems, alongside extensive experience working with governments, we're road usage pricing pioneers in the U.S. We're currently operating on 150,000 miles of roadways in Oregon and Washington. Find us at clearroad.io or clearroadlab.io

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $75,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

There are multiple ways to pilot ClearRoad's road usage pricing technology across vehicle types and policies. The first step of piloting would be to decide with Miami-Dade which segment(s) would be targeted--Uber & Lyft, dockless bikeshare & scooters, carsharing, or trucks--then the specific policy(/ies ) to be tested: geographies, timing, and pricing. We would lean heavily on existing data standards and existing reporting devices (e.g., ELD). ClearRoad and Miami-Dade would work with data providers or fleet owners to standardize the data connections and set the number of participants. Based on the policies previously decided, ClearRoad would convert the data from vehicles in simulated transactions, e.g., truck A traveled 2.5 miles Downtown during rush hour, which costs $0.15/mile, so the truck is charged 38 cents. ClearRoad's business model is based on charging for transactions, similar to online payment processors such as PayPal.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

The relational challenges of road usage pricing are more thorny than the technological, so our metrics should be based around how quickly we can ramp up. That includes how fast ClearRoad can work with Miami-Dade to decide on project parameters, vehicle types, count, and specific policies, as well as the speed with which data sharing with mobility companies is established. Being able to demonstrate this ramp means that other vehicle types and policies and be added to the system and tested in the real world.

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Photo of Wilda Previl
Team

Hi there Paul Salama 

I am Wilda, one of the local community facilitators here. Road Usage program has been a hot button topic for years now. I wonder how it would do in Miami and if it could scale... Thank you so much for contributing your idea!

Wilda

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