Congestion Pricing

Traffic congestion on highway

Congestion pricing is a type of tolling created to manage traffic congestion.

For almost 50 years, economists have been advocating Congestion Pricing (where toll prices rise and fall based on the number of cars on the road) as the most effective way to balance supply and demand on highways.

They argue the economic and social costs of congestion are far greater than costs associated with tolling.

Typical driver behavior (where many drivers enter highways at the same time, a.k.a “rush hour”) assumes all drivers have equal values of time.

However, this has been widely disproved. People are different, and they have different needs when it comes to driving.

Congestion Pricing works to accommodate these needs with varying toll prices.

It’s currently used on select highly congested highways in some states, including:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
Congestion pricing brochure
Download the brochure
(PDF, 399 KB)
Congestion pricing fact sheet

Download the fact sheet
(PDF, 399 KB)

It’s important to note congestion pricing is not about collecting money. It's more about getting commuters to shift the time they make discretionary (work-related) trips, so severe traffic congestion can be reduced or eliminated.

Another form of congestion pricing is High Occupancy Tolling (HOT).  HOT facilities focus on providing reliable travel times and, at the same time, incentivizing HOV travel choices.  Dynamic tolling, varying toll prices based on actual congestion levels, results in more consistent vehicle speeds in the designated lanes ensuring more reliable trip times.  If a vehicle meeting the posted HOV requirement is equipped with a Flex transponder, the vehicle can travel in these lanes, with the same travel-time benefit, toll free.  Non-HOV vehicles can choose to enter the HOT lanes and pay the posted toll rate based on how they individually value that particular trip.  The goal is to maximize the corridor’s capacity by moving more people more efficiently.

The 495/95/395 Express Lanes and 66 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia and 64 Express Lanes in Hampton Roads are examples of HOT facilities.

PDF files PDFs


Page last modified: March 27, 2023