Cars on a highway, with a skyline in the background that is in Portland's Lloyd District.

 

Toll lanes are unfair! 

We hear this a lot, but it’s not necessarily true. In fact, there are many things happening on our streets and roads right now more inequitable than road pricing.

Road pricing systems are direct charges levied for the use of roads. These most commonly take the form of highway tolls, but can also be distance or time-based fees, congestion charges, or charges based on specific vehicle size or fuel types. 

Conversations about the implementation of road pricing systems are emerging across all levels of government throughout the Portland Metro region. From the demand-based parking model proposed by PBOT’s POEM Task Force to the Interstate Bridge Replacement Project and ODOT’s I-205 tolling project, our region is exploring various methods and strategies to implement charges for road use – pushing back on the normalized practice of subsidizing road use for drive-alone trips.  

The Street Trust supports road user charges that reflect the true cost of driving and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving travel for everyone. We’re excited about a future where the cost of driving more accurately reflects its negative impact on everything from the climate to public safety and individual health. However, we know that the primary objective of many road pricing models (even in the Portland metro) is to generate revenue  to cover the cost of new highway construction rather than to change behavior to improve traffic flow and help us reach our climate goals.

This is unacceptable and we’re working to change it.

We will continue to show up at decision-making tables across the region fighting to ensure that before any of these policies are put into place there’s a guarantee that they will improve equitable outcomes throughout our transportation system. 

If the future of road pricing is something that interests you we invite you to join us as we move toward a better future, together! 

 

Support Advocacy For Effective Congestion Pricing

Weigh In! Complete ODOT’s Pricing Survey by May 16th

 

Multimodal Transit Street

 

The Street Trust’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan calls for “a complete, safe, low-carbon, multimodal transportation system that contributes to equity in access, opportunity, health, and prosperity for people and communities across the Portland Metro Region and beyond.” It all sounds great, but what do we mean by multimodal?

 

For many people the concept and characteristics of a multimodal transportation system is new and sometimes unclear, which is why I, your new Street Trust Policy Transformation Manager, am here to offer some insight as to what we mean when The Strust Trust demands for a “multimodal” system and why we think it’s important. 

 

A multimodal transportation system is one that offers more than one way to move around. For example, in the Portland Metro region there’s already a diverse suite of modes people use to get around. People can drive, walk, ride the streetcar or bus, hop on a scooter or one of Biketown’s shared electric bikes. However, not everybody has equitable access to all these different modes, and the ease of use and efficiency of each mode is affected by a history of disproportionate investment in infrastructure centered on private automobiles. 

 

Having multiple modes at hand is only one small piece of the multimodal pie. Another critical (and historically underfunded) piece, is infrastructure that allows for convenient, safe and accessible use of other modes. The cost and impact of these investments vary tremendously from mode to mode, but in a complete multimodal system, a single investment or piece of infrastructure can have a positive impact on many modes. For example, look at mobility lanes, which benefit cyclists, skaters, scooterers, and people with limited mobility.

 

Street users deserve a robust and connected suite of transportation options that allow them to safely travel anywhere they need to go. After more than a century of dominating our streets we think it’s time for cars to make way for the future and share the road.

 

If you live in the Portland metro area and want to improve multimodal transportation in your neighborhood, become a member of The Street Trust or volunteer with us when we hit the streets to improve the road network.

 

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons