Several Commissioners Court members received calls and e-mail criticizing their decision Tuesday to double tollway fees during peak hours.
"My initial thought was to implement these changes and then review them," said County Judge Ed Emmett. "But my view may be changing on that."
But unless the court revisits the issue, the Harris County Toll Road Authority plans to move forward with the new fee schedule in September, said Peter Key, the authority's deputy director. The authority would study whether the peak-hour fees should be lower or higher after they go into effect, he said.
The court authorized the toll road authority to set peak-hour pricing from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. inbound and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. outbound.
Toll transactions along the main part of the tollway now cost $1. That fee will rise to $1.25 per transaction during nonpeak hours. And the rate during peak hours will be $2.50 per transaction.
"I don't think we need three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon," Radack said.
Congestion pricing is used elsewhere in the country to keep traffic flowing. It hasn't been tried before in Texas, but the future Katy Freeway toll lanes are expected to have peak-hour pricing. "What's going on in Houston will be a model for what people around the state can look forward to," said Christopher Poe, director of the Center on Tolling Research at Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.
The peak-hour prices on the tollway would raise the toll rate during regular hours from about 18 cents per mile to about 20 cents. The peak-hour rate would be about 42 cents.
Some rates are much higher in other parts of the country.
During peak hours on Friday afternoons, motorists on State Route 91 in the Los Angeles area pay nearly $1 per mile, or $9.50 for a 10-mile trip.
"The idea is not to discourage use," Poe said. "It's to get people to change their schedules to reduce the demand at peak hours."
Of course, according to this clueless letter writer, it's all actually Metro's fault.
Refund due to rightful owners
The punishing 150 percent toll increase on the Westpark Tollway proves that the Metropolitan Transit Authority was negligent when it decided to build a highway that was obsolete at the moment of conception.
This latest fiasco underscores the very urgent need to do away with Metro altogether and return the billions of tax dollars it wastes to their rightful owners.
One more thing: How much of the current Westpark woes do you think are cause by the construction on I-10? Seems to me Commissioners Court could have chosen to wait to implement congestion pricing after some of the excess traffic on Westpark had migrated north. Maybe they'd have found it's not that bad after all.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 21, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles