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.