People in greater Portland are suffering the consequences of more traffic. Heavy rush hour traffic increases pollution, delays and unpredictable travel times for everyone. Time spent stuck in traffic reduces time with family, community and at work.
Heavy traffic impacts other regional concerns like climate, equity and safety. It disproportionately affects communities of color and people with lower incomes who often need to travel long distances between their homes and their jobs. Busy streets affect not only those in cars — buses get stuck in traffic, too.
Congestion pricing involves charging drivers directly for their use of busy roads, bridges, or parking during the busiest times. It is a relatively new way of addressing heavy traffic that has made it easier for people to get around, reducing pollution in high-traffic cities around the world.
The study is specifically exploring how congestion pricing could improve how people get around, address equity and safety and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Historically, decisions about the transportation system did not consider or prioritize the impact on communities of color. Metro’s approach to this study is to understand the racial equity impact of options for regional congestion pricing, examining how congestion pricing can reduce congestion without worsening racial inequality or safety. The study is exploring if and where congestion pricing could be used as a tool to proactively improve racial equity and safety in greater Portland.
Metro is evaluating different types of congestion pricing for their potential effectiveness in greater Portland.
As the study is underway, Metro is providing updates and seeking feedback from Metro advisory committees and the Metro Council at regularly scheduled meetings. These committees include the Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee, the Committee on Racial Equity and the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation. A final report will be presented to Metro Council and JPACT when the study is complete.
Metro staff expects to publish a report summarizing the study findings in summer of 2021.
The study will not result in specific actions like rule or policy changes or proposed projects. Policy leaders will use the information collected to inform policy, current projects, and decide on next steps.
Others studying congestion pricing
The Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation are conducting their own studies of pricing, and Metro is coordinating with them, looking at the issue from a regional perspective.
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