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Dynamic Road Pricing

Another set of options often raised to address transportation funding shortfalls include road pricing strategies. Road pricing, or tolling, charges users of the highway system directly base on their use of the infrastructure. Some tollways use static or fixed pricing to charge users a set fee every time they pass certain checkpoints. Other tollways rely on dynamic or flexible pricing to vary toll fees depending on the time of day or congestion levels. Priced lanes that use variable tolling are often referred to as HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes, as they charge tolls to users driving alone, while allowing high-occupancy vehicle users to use the lanes without paying. MnPASS is an example of HOT lanes. Although mileage-based user fees have been studied in Minnesota, there has been little desire for road pricing beyond the MnPASS system.

Dynamic pricing strategies are not new. Many parking facilities use dynamic pricing to adjust rates based on nearby events, time of day, and other factors. Uber and Lyft (ridesharing companies) use dynamic pricing to increase fees during periods of high demand. Other ticketed travel providers like airlines, passenger trains, and intercity buses use dynamic pricing to adjust ticket fees based on the demand for trips on a given day.

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