ClimatePlan is joining the Pricing Conversations: Recap of Road Pricing Discussion in CAPTI workgroup

On May 25th we hosted a CAPTI workgroup meeting focused on pricing. The meeting had initially stemmed from the interest to track the pricing strategy in CAPTI. In the last few years ClimatePlan had not focused much on pricing and we wanted to assess the network’s interest. To preface the conversation, we invited two guest speakers, Stuart Cohen and John Gahbauer, whom have both published research on pricing of the transportation sector. If you are interested in learning more about pricing, we created this handy fact sheet about pricing

The meeting was set to answer two questions:

  • Is there interest in strategizing and tracking road pricing together?
  • If there was interest, is the CAPTI workgroup the space to effectively do so?

It was essentially a will we or won’t we situation. And it turns out, we will...

In answering both questions, the answer was yes. The next section below summarizes some of the key takeaways from the guest presentation, key takeaways from the meeting, and next steps. 

Photo of I-15 Southbound Express lane. Taken by Chevy111 on Wikimedia Commons

Key Takeaways from the Presentation

From John and Stuart’s presentation and Q and A: three things were apparent:

1. Different pricing strategies can accomplish the various transportation goals, especially when done equitably.

  • The table below highlights two examples of pricing strategies and how equity can be considered. 
  • Stuart’s presentation highlighted that dynamic pricing is an efficient charging system but could be regressive. Transportation planners should consider discounts or providing low-income and communities of color with prepaid devices to be less regressive

Example Goal

Strategy Example

Equity Considerations


Addressing Equity considerations: example

Reduce Congestion

Dynamic Pricing in Express lanes (fee would vary to keep average flow of 45 mph)


While efficient, it may be regressive.


Provide pre-paid devices to low incomes and communities of color.

Encourage transit use

Dynamic Cordon pricing


While efficient, it may be regressive. Low income and communities of color who have been displaced, and have no other option but to drive, may be burdened by the fee.


Study which communities would be the most affected and provide discounts.

*This table was based on Stuart Cohen and John Gahbauer’s presentation.


2. The Road User Charge (also known as RUC) is different from other roadway pricing strategies. As the venn diagram shows: the road user charge is primarily being discussed as a gas tax replacement and therefore won’t be as efficient in meeting other transportation goals like vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction or congestion management. 

Slide from John Gahbauer’s Roadway Congestion Pricing Presentation_May 25,2022.


3. The landscape around pricing is still being defined, so there is ample opportunity for advocates to shape conversations. 

Right now, it is still unclear how regional discussions around road pricing strategies will intersect with the state’s larger conversations around the road user charge and road pricing. Meaning, ClimatePlan’s CAPTI working group can lead in the developing road pricing strategies. 


Next steps: A Pricing Workgroup

Over the next few months, ClimatePlan will be hosting meeting and webinars dedicated to pricing. Potential topics for this meeting include:

  • Tracking state and regional pricing efforts
  • Researching and information sharing
  • Creating an equitable, climate-friendly framework for pricing 
  • Build regional capacity to engage in pricing conversations at a local level


In the meantime, for those unfamiliar with road pricing but wanting to participate in the conversations, check out ClimatePlan’s fact sheet. If you are not a part of ClimatePlan’s CAPTI workgroup, reach out to me, Nicole Cheng at [email protected].

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