Converting Central's HOV Lanes to Managed Toll Lanes a "Possibility" Down the Road

Categories: Transportation
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Photo by Justin Cozart
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit board's meeting today, and top o' the agenda is the FY 2012 Budget and Twenty-Year Financial Plan, which factors into this news brief concerning Fitch's decision to downgrade DART's sales tax revenue bonds. Says the rating agency, the small dip from AA to AA- "reflects the increased financial stress experienced by DART due to a sharp downturn in sales tax receipts and rising spending requirements from system expansion."

Course, that news comes the day after DART celebrated one-day record ridership stemming from Thursday's Mavericks parade. And there's even just-posted time-lapse video -- though, sorry, no look-see at the 200 riders who ditched their dead train at Cityplace and hiked it to Mockingbird Station, much to the chagrin of DART board chairman William Velasco, president Gary Thomas and other transit-agency higher-ups. No doubt that'll come up at today's meeting too.

That's a look at today's to-do list. But freshly posted minutes from last month's meeting provide an interesting look into the possible future: converting the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on U.S. 75, between Dallas and McKinney, into managed toll lanes a la those going in as part of the LBJ Express project. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons tells Unfair Park this morning this is related to the $5.3 million federal grant DART received in '09 "to help them make better decisions about how to travel in that corridor," as we wrote back then.

Matter of fact, Lyons says, there's a Regional Managed Toll Lane Task Force in place consisting of members from the North Texas Tollway Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and DART. Says Lyons, managed toll lanes on Central "have been talked about as a possibility -- there are discssions about doing them throughout the region -- but it's not going to happen any time soon."

On the other side you'll find a recap of DART's Planning Committee's discussion about the HOV lanes from the May 24 meeting. Read it now, before it costs you 14 to 33 cents a word.
Mr. Danish stated if 1 in every 10 people are violating the HOV rules and there is a $100 charge for each violation there is great potential for revenue to be generated. Mr. Olyai replied that the potential is there if all violators are caught and ticketed.

Mr. Cheney asked what the price to maintain the HOV system is. Mr. Olyai replied that $6.8M annually. Mr. Plesko, Vice President of Planning and Development, interjected that the full cost of operating the HOV lanes is close to $11 M. The vision is to use pricing to offset the cost of the operation with some return to TXDOT. Any net revenue left would be divided between DART, TXDOT and NCTCOG. Savings of the operational cost from the HOV lanes could be used elsewhere.

Mr. Noah asked if the money received from the NCTCOG would continue. Mr. Plesko replied that the $2.8M given by the NCTCOG covers the outside service area and they may request their share of it in return. Mr. Noah then asked how the proposed mileage rates compare to those used by NTTA. Mr. Olyai replied that the NTTA charges $14.5 cents and an option the Regional Transportation Council has suggested is as high as $.33 cents per mile for managed lanes.

Mr. Chrisman asked how enforcement would work. Mr. Olyai replied that enforcement hasn't been confirmed and there are options on the table. Mr. Chrisman asked for an update of NCTCOG reimbursement. Mr. Olyai replied that DART has been reimbursed through 2009 . Years 2010 and 2011 have been allocated, approved and the agreement has to be signed by both parties. Mr. Plesko stated that an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) will need to be drafted that states funds will be for Operating expenses instead of Capital. Mr. Chrisman asked if the original ILA stated that we would be paid in Capital dollars only. Mr. Plesko replied that originally the NCTCOG was only able to pay Capital dollars and DART would now like to receive Operating dollars.

Chair Carlson asked if vehicles with multiple passengers still travel for free in the HOT lanes. Mr. Olyai replied that this would not affect anyone with two or more passengers in the vehicles. Additional space would be sold to single occupancy vehicles.
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19 comments
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Deep-Sigh
Deep-Sigh

I'm not sure how this is working for Katy and houston drivers, but on I-10 they added two inside lanes one is a Toll and the other HOV.  The toll fee changes depending on time of day and day of the week.  The cops every now and then do a string to catch motorists jumping from toll to HOV to avoid the toll cameras.  I read they caught like over 200 cheaters one day.  I do know that as a sometime Htown driver, driving I10 in Houston is much better...still crazy plenty of times but better and you could seriously land and take off a Boeing 747 on that part...

Justin C
Justin C

you used one of my flickr pictures without credit, again.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Dang it, certainly didn't intend to. It was in the system, and without proper credit. I'll certainly add it. My apologies.

Justin C
Justin C

the city would be dead without this blog, you can use all you want, just attribute

The Dallas Morning News does it at least once monthly, sometimes even printing them, without credit. You'd think they couldnt afford photographers the way they scour flickr.

Nunya
Nunya

Pretty soon, convenience will only be a luxury for the rich.

scottindallas
scottindallas

If the justification for HOV lanes is the environment, then why would we leave them exclusive during rush hour, when having them open, or open during wrecks or other extraordinary traffic conditions would save gas and get everyone home sooner?  Didn't that money come out of our tax dollars?  Why then is it reserved for a privileged few?

Jay
Jay

Mr. Danish's estimate of only 1 in 10 HOV users being in violation, at least as to number of vehicle occupants, is a joke. In Richardson and Plano, I estimate only 1 in 10 HOV users are not in violation.

RW1961
RW1961

I'm still confused as to why they made it so darn difficult to even USE the 75 HOV lanes.

Also, why are all the HOV lanes here 24/7? It's insane that on a Sunday those lanes sit there practically deserted. When I drive in California, many of the HOV lanes are HOV during rush hour. After that and on weekends, they are just regular lanes. 

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

You aren't supposed to use those HOV on Central, they are purely decorative. You may not have noticed but those white barriers are solid down the entire stretch, each one extended up in the air like a middle finger to drivers everywhere right from the NTTA.

Will R.
Will R.

Wow, I didn't think there was a way to make the 75 HOV lanes any less useful.

How about we give up the "managed" HOV lane concept, and let cars enter and leave the lanes as needed, like every other city?  Oh, right, because that doesn't leave any handy places to set up tolltag readers in the future.

Thomas
Thomas

What if we used money to promote mass transit and expand the rail system and less on toll roads and complex HOV lanes?  I mean being that we have a fancy bridge and are trying to be a world destination city or something like that... seems we should have a way for people to get around after they get here.  Seems most of the other major cities have rail systems that don't blow...

MattL1
MattL1

Just as an aside, has anyone ever run over those sticky-uppy things (depicted above) that separate the HOV from the regular lanes on Central?  I've always wondered how much damage they do to a car going 80, err... 65 mph.

EDM
EDM

I have never run over the "sticky-uppy things" but I have been caught in the shower of debris created when someone else does.  The rubber poles seem to survive the impact quite well but the plastic bases shatter into large, irregular chunks that left nice, deep dents in my car's front bumper.

Nachoman
Nachoman

How about this..

STOP FUCKING WITH THE ROADS

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Regional Managed Toll Lane Task Force?  Made up of people from North Texas Tollway Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and DART?  Gee, with so many elites guiding us I am just waiting for the limo only lanes!

John Tyler
John Tyler

Notice not one group represents the commuters. I never use the toll roads period. In fact, when I call a co-worker  who does I always beat him to the office. Think about it. that $8 bucks a day is more than I use in gas. By not using the tolls, I drive for free!I honestly wish more people would think that way and avoid the toll roads as much as possible. But, that's just me.

TimCov
TimCov

Here's an odd idea. If the HOV lane thing isn't working out, how about just turning them into free lanes. Oh wait, that wouldn't put money in a bunch of unelected beauracrats' pockets. So, they would never go for that.

Montemalone
Montemalone

The obvious solution is just turn Central into a full time toll road.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

DART hasn't figured out how to enforce the current (much simpler) HOV structure; how would they be able to enforce this significantly more complicated system that envisions a mix of non-paying HOV traffic and toll-paying single-occupancy vehicles?

I guess if it fails, they can just blame the users.

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