Using vehicle value as a proxy for income: A case study on Atlanta's I-85 HOT lane

In the two previous decades, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes have been used to provide shorter and reliable travel option utilizing congestion pricing. To investigate the disproportionate distribution of the HOT lane benefits among demographic groups, previous studies have conducted surveys from a small portion of the travelers. Considering the high cost and time-intensiveness of surveys, this study proposes the application of vehicle value as a proxy for income on the Atlanta I-85 HOT corridor. More than 300,000 license-plate records were collected across all the lanes during peak periods of spring and summer 2012. The State vehicle registration database was employed to obtain vehicle characteristics from license-plate observations, which were then processed to estimate vehicle value. The results show that there is 23% difference between average vehicle value across HOT lane and general purpose lanes. To support the proposed methodology, the research team used targeted market income data which demonstrates notably similar trends of differences across the lanes. This study once again rejects the concept of “Lexus Lane” by illustrating that significant amount of low-income users are using the HOT lane; however, very high income travelers are using HOT lane twice as frequent as low-income travelers.


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  • Accession Number: 01530843
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 23 2014 3:46PM