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.
This study explored 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 impacts on communities of color. Metro approached this study aiming 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 explored if and where congestion pricing could be used as a tool to proactively improve racial equity and safety in greater Portland.
Metro evaluated different types of congestion pricing for their potential effectiveness in greater Portland.
Throughout the study, Metro provided updates and sought 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. The final report was presented to Metro Council and JPACT in fall of 2021.
As directed by Metro Council, staff will incorporate the findings and recommendations from the study in the 2023 update to the Regional Transportation Plan. The findings and recommendations will inform planning, policy and investment priorities in the 2023 plan update and ongoing efforts to manage congestion in a way that advances equity, improves safety and reduces greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region. Work on the Regional Transportation Plan update is underway and will be completed by December 2023.
Others studying congestion pricing
The Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation are conducting their own studies of pricing, and Metro coordinates with them to look at the issue from a regional perspective.
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