Hot lanes proposed to bust congestion

RACQ has warned a new concept to build express lanes and allow drivers to pay a premium to skip traffic may not be the best solution to help ease congestion across Australia.

News.com.au reported Transurban has pushed to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on Australian arterial roads following a trial in the United States.

The toll operator called for tolled express lanes, which would use dynamic pricing that changed depending on traffic speed and density, allowing vehicles with more than three occupants, motorbikes and buses to use them for free.

RACQ Head of Public Policy Rebecca Michael said while the Club did not support tolling existing lanes, building additional lanes could be an option at some locations.

“If you toll an existing lane, you risk exacerbating congestion in the other lanes which may filter back through the network,” Dr Michael said.

“Extra lanes which are delivered earlier than traditional road projects could reduce delays for all vehicles by taking traffic off the general-purpose lanes, and if free travel is offered for vehicles with three or more occupants it could also encourage carpooling.”

Dr Michael said factors like location, road function and cost of express lanes needed to be carefully considered to ensure they delivered maximum benefit to motorists.

“Express lanes traditionally cost more to deliver, maintain and enforce as they’re commonly separated from general purpose lanes, requiring more space and additional supporting infrastructure,” she said.

“Costs to the end user are also important, and if the price is right, drivers will opt to use the road rather than sitting in traffic, but we don’t want to see an empty lane because it’s too expensive to use it.”