Why is this important?
Congestion pricing offers many benefits to both individuals and the general public. Individuals choosing to use the express lanes benefit from reliable travel times, and all drivers have the choice to avoid congestion when needed. The general public actually saves money due to more-efficient use of expressways. Congestion pricing can also allow for enhanced transit service.
Concerns about congestion pricing include potential equity issues and traffic spillover. However, the experience of other cities shows that these challenges are manageable and usually less significant than they first seem.
Overall public acceptance
Previous surveys in the Chicago region suggest that the public would accept congestion pricing. In an Illinois Tollway survey of its existing users, 54 percent said they would pay an extra toll if it would ensure congestion-free travel. In that same survey, 58 percent of individuals given information about express lanes were in favor of the Tollway building them.
Support for congestion pricing generally increases as the public becomes familiar with it. Approval rates for the SR-91 Express Lanes in Orange County, California, climbed from about 40-45 percent before the project was completed to 59-72 percent after completion. A recent SR-91 Express Lanes survey found that 90 percent of users were satisfied with the facility, and 97 percent felt safe using the express lanes. The San Diego I-15 Express Lanes exhibited a similar pattern, with public approval climbing from 28 percent before the project opened to 55 percent during the second phase of the project. Two-thirds of respondents approved of a proposal to expand the express lanes in 2002 – the ultimate test of whether the public sees value in congestion pricing.