Portland’s Transportation Funding in Flux

While CalBike and other advocates in California are working to increase transportation funding by attaching it to cap-and-trade revenues, the City of Portland is considering a controversial move to shore up money with a Transportation Users Fee – a flat monthly fee charged to households and businesses to pay for pavement maintenance and safety improvements. City Council will vote on the fee on June 4th, and it is expected to pass.

While funding for transportation is undeniably important, the controversy lies in equity issues. Because the fee is only minimally tied to income (it will cost $11.56 a month for most households and $8.09 for low-income households), some have blasted the fee as being a regressive tax. Others question why bike riders should have to pay disproportionately for the significant damage incurred to roads by cars and trucks.

Dwindling transportation funding in Portland has been a problem for more than a decade, and this fee is projected to raise $40-50 million a year, some of which will directly benefit active transportation. The money is expected to be distributed in the following ways:


In California we are working to direct $50 million from cap-and-trade revenues to the Active Transportation Program (ATP), a dedicated fund for biking and walking that is severely underfunded. In the future, CalBike would like to ensure that 10% of future cap-and-trade revenues are invested in the ATP, which could provide anywhere from $200-500 million for active transportation. To reach our goal of tripling bicycling by 2020, CalBike is helping California invest in bikes.