Enhancing managed lane equity analysis

Managed lanes are often criticized as “Lexus lanes” that benefit mostly the rich. Planning and environmental studies on managed lanes still have difficulty determining how to effectively evaluate the alternatives from an equity and environmental perspective. Studies on managed lanes in several states, including Minnesota, have found that these lanes are used by the population representing all income levels (HNTB Corporation, 2010; Leung et al., 2014; FHWA, 2020). Higher income households, however, tend to use the managed lanes more often than lower income households, and are also more likely to use the managed lanes as a paying single driver than mid- and lower-income households (HNTB Corporation, 2010). The study area of this research comprises a diverse demographic including low-income, minorities, or other transportation disadvantaged populations, which are likely to encounter severe barriers in using MnPASS. This research project will be divided into two phases. The first phase will compare the demographics of MnPASS lane users to the overall demographics of those using corridors where MnPASS lanes are located. In the second phase, this information will be used to evaluate methods for improving equity and environmental justice during planning and environmental studies that involve managed lane alternatives.