Tolls have been used to advance an economic rationale for funding roadways, bridges, and tunnels in the United States since its founding. Additionally, tolling is advocated as a means of allocating scarce roadway capacity among users and achieving an array of other policy and environmental objectives. Toll facilities can improve traffic flow along congested corridors and facilities and raise new revenue for investment in transportation infrastructure and services. However, significant concerns remain among key stakeholders regarding the value of tolling.
Goods movement businesses (trucking companies, shippers, and receivers) represent some of the most ardent critics of using tolls to address the nation’s congestion, environmental, and roadway transportation infrastructure needs. As the national discussion of transportation investment and financing needs progresses, particularly in light of recent congressionally established commissions to address such issues, research is needed to understand how goods movement businesses assess tradeoffs in using or avoiding tolled facilities. Recent TRB forums that brought advocates and analysts of tolling together with trucking industry representatives highlighted the lack of understanding by advocates and analysts of the business of trucking. Some interviews with freight stakeholders have been conducted through FHWA and are documented in Issues and Options for Increasing the Use of Tolling and Pricing to Finance Transportation Improvements, Final Report, Work Order 05-002, prepared for FHWA Office of Transportation Policy Studies, June 9, 2006. Additional research is needed to foster a further understanding of industry tradeoffs when using or avoiding toll facilities.
The objective of this research is to identify the value that goods movement businesses seek from the transportation roadway network and their willingness to pay tolls for that value.
(1). Review pertinent literature on goods movement decision-making processes relative to using (or avoiding) existing and future toll facilities (e.g., routing decisions, cost pass through, productivity gains). Documents reviewed should focus primarily on public and private sector reports and surveys in the United States (including border crossings). (2). Develop a preliminary list of factors and associated rationale that goods movement businesses value when making decisions to use or avoid toll facilities. Prepare a working paper providing the results of Tasks 1 and 2 to the NCFRP within 2 months of the contract award. Conduct a conference call to discuss the working paper with the project panel. (3). Develop a detailed data collection plan and methodology to determine under what conditions goods movement businesses will use or avoid existing or future tolled facilities. The plan should cover the full range of freight users of the transportation roadway network (e.g., national, regional, and local operations; for-hire and private fleets; carriers, shippers, and receivers of various sizes). The plan should include data collection instruments and describe quality control procedures to ensure the instruments’ accuracy and completeness. (4). Five months after contract award, prepare an interim report that provides the results of Tasks 1 through 3. Meet with the project panel to review the interim report. Modify the interim report based on the panel’s comments. The research agency shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without NCFRP approval. (5). Execute the Task 3 data collection plan as approved by the project panel. (6). Analyze the results of the information collected in Task 5 and develop preliminary findings. Within 10 months of contract award, prepare a report with supporting documentation that provides the results and conduct a conference call with the project panel. (7). Identify and discuss opportunities and constraints (e.g., jurisdictional, operational, technological) for addressing the Task 6 findings. (8). Fifteen months after contract award, submit a final report that describes the willingness of goods movement businesses to pay tolls, the factors that each segment considers, their rationale for avoiding tolls, and the opportunities and constraints for addressing the goods movement businesses’ concerns. Develop a PowerPoint presentation and an article for publication that highlights the key findings of the report.
STATUS: The final report has been published as NCFRP Web-Only Document 3 and NCHRP Web-Only Document 185, Truck Tolling: Understanding Industry Tradeoffs When Using or Avoiding Toll Facilities .