Research Projects

Aplication of Congestion Pricing to Improve Terminal Curb Operations and Enhance HOV Ground Access to Airports

Airport roadway and terminal curb congestion are fast becoming a critical constraint at many high-volume US airports. Despite much research on methods to improve HOV and transit ground access modes, geographically distributed local trip origins and the ubiquity of low-cost private vehicle modes of access continue to inhibit meaningful HOV access to congested airports. In recent years new express lane tolling innovations have provided congestion relief on some heavily used urban highways and congestion pricing is being applied at densely congested urban centers. Unfortunately, physical constraints on airport roadways and terminal curbs have, to date, precluded the use of congestion pricing to regulate curb access by low occupancy private vehicles. Private vehicles are the only access mode given unrestricted access to congested terminal curbs without incurring any charges. This project will explore alternatives to reduce terminal curb congestion and enhance HOV access to airports.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Airport roadway and terminal curb congestion are fast becoming a critical constraint at many high-volume US airports. Despite much research on methods to improve HOV and transit ground access modes, geographically distributed local trip origins and the ubiquity of low-cost private vehicle modes of access continue to inhibit meaningful HOV access to congested airports. In recent years new express lane tolling innovations have provided congestion relief on some heavily used urban highways and congestion pricing is being applied at densely congested urban centers. Unfortunately, physical constraints on airport roadways and terminal curbs have, to date, precluded the use of pricing to regulate curb access by low occupancy private vehicles. Private vehicles are the only access mode given unrestricted access to congested terminal curbs without any charges.

As one possible example of a solution, modern parking revenue control systems offer opportunities to remedy this situation. The advanced ticket re-coding capabilities of these systems allow private vehicle terminal curbs to be set up in designated areas of existing garages immediately adjacent to bridges connected to terminals by moving walkways. Existing terminal curbs can then be restricted by automated access control devices to HOV/Transit use, while private vehicles would be directed to the appropriate garage where signage would lead to either the existing long-term parking facilities or to the individual terminal curb facilities. Re-coding of the parking ticket would be performed by revenue control hardware at the entrance to the private vehicle curb inside the garage and any charges would be reconciled when the vehicle exits the garage. The in-garage curb facility would include short-term parking for pick-up/drop-off at rates decided by the airport operator. The rate structure might allow short-term free parking, a universal entrance fee for all vehicles, paid short-term parking for all users, or any combination of the options. The in-garage terminal curb areas would provide full-service amenities, temperature-controlled waiting areas, restrooms, minor concessions, handicapped assisted services, skycaps, remote bag check facilities, Flight Information Displays, remote check-in kiosks, and other amenities normally provided at a traditional airline terminal or curb. These curbs could also be used tor TNC or other ground access providers under terms and rates established by the airport operator

Parking revenue control systems are only one of the possible technologies that are amenable to congestion management approaches. Widely used vehicle toll transponders, WiFi-enabled smartphones, and other technologies can also contribute to solutions.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of this research is to prepare a guidebook to assist airport operators in identifying and evaluating alternatives to the traditional use of terminal curbs, potentially using advanced parking revenue control systems or other available technologies, designated in-garage terminal curb facilities, dedicated short term parking, and various forms of congestion pricing to influence low occupancy vehicle access to airport terminals.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Approach: The evaluation methodology should encompass a wide range of techniques to identify and evaluate alternatives to the current practice of unrestricted, free curb access. The approach should include access demand modeling of price elasticity of various airport access modes, traffic engineering of curbs and adjacent roadways, airport terminal planning of curb and related terminal facilities, parking facility design and operations, evaluation of public acceptance of highway HOT/tolled express lanes, and the developing experience with congestion pricing of downtown vehicle access.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

A research budget of $400,000 is required to undertake the development of a guidebook and associated ACRP research requirements.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

Although there have been many TCRP and ACRP research efforts to improve HOV/Transit access to airports, there has not yet been a comprehensive study of the potential for congestion pricing to reduce reliance on the private auto/low occupancy vehicle access mode. This has primarily been due to the difficulty of integrating an effective access control pricing mechanism into the congested airport roadways and terminal curbs. Modern technologies offer novel solutions to manage ground access choices that need evaluation in a comprehensive research effort.

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Idea No. 625