(July 7, 2022) The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Transportation Wallet has been helping Portlanders choose more sustainable travel options since 2017, by lessening demand for car usage and vehicle storage while encouraging users to bike, walk, roll, or take transit. At a time with high inflation and gas prices, this program is more important and valuable than ever. In particular, the Transportation Wallet: Access for All, which developed from the Transportation Wallet for Residents of Affordable Housing pilot serving people living on low-incomes, will expand starting in early 2023, giving Portlanders who need it most a chance to take advantage of the program’s savings.
Transportation Wallet programs are designed to encourage people to drive less, try new travel modes, manage on-street parking demand, and lessen cost of transportation especially for people and households living on low-incomes.
Currently, the universe of Transportation Wallets is made up of three sub-programs:
Transportation Wallet in Parking Districts
Transportation Wallet: Access for All (Formerly known as Transportation Wallet for Affordable Housing pilot)
Transportation Wallet for New Movers
Transportation Wallet: Access for All: All the benefits at no-cost for income-qualified Portlanders
In 2019, PBOT launched its own Universal Basic Mobility program, known as the Transportation Wallet for Affordable Housing. The two-phase pilot program offered a limited number of free Transportation Wallets for people living in partner affordable housing sites. Due to the success of the pilot and funding coming from the new the Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee, this program is expanding to Transportation Wallet: Access for All launching in early 2023 to offer more (but still a limited number of) free Transportation Wallets for people and households living on low-incomes to reduce the burdens of transportation cost and increase the ability for people to get where they need to go.
Beyond helping people try new ways to get around, like BIKETOWN bike share and shared e-scooters, the participants from the Transportation Wallet for Affordable Housing pilot reported that they save money on their transportation costs and that managing their monthly budget was less stressful because of the Transportation Wallet – “It [Transportation Wallet] gave me confidence when travelling that I’d always be able to get there and back.”
Transportation Wallet in Parking Districts: Making it easier to choose sustainable transportation options
The Transportation Wallet in Parking Districts has proven to be an effective incentive to get people out of their single-occupancy vehicles and instead use transit and shared mobility options including e-bikes, e-scooters, and car-share services. Since fall of 2017, the program has distributed nearly 7,000 Transportation Wallets, of which 48% of those represent people trading in parking permits, one of many strategies PBOT uses to manage parking demand and reduce congestion. While gas prices and inflation have increased, the Transportation Wallet in Parking Districts has expanded its benefits but remains at the same great price; $99 for qualified people in the Northwest and Central Eastside Parking Districts to purchase or free to people living on low incomes or those who trade in a parking permit.
A fall 2021 survey found Transportation Wallet holders were three times more likely to commute by public transit and bike than by driving. PBOT’s 2021 Transportation Wallet in Parking Districts report highlights how this program encourages people to choose lower-carbon transportation options, such as TriMet, Portland Streetcar, and BIKETOWN. For just $99 people can purchase a 2022 Transportation Wallet valued at $775 (Northwest Parking District) and $800 (Central Eastside Parking District) in transportation credits and vouchers. These offers are provided at no cost to people who qualify based on income or who trade in parking permits.
Survey results also show these commuters are 30 percent less likely to drive their car and are approximately 40 percent less likely to call a cab or ride-hailing service.
Are you moving soon? The Transportation Wallet: New Movers could be for you!
When someone moves into a new apartment, it’s likely they’re about to experience a new commute to work or school. PBOT’s New Mover Program aims to help people make sustainable transportation choices as they move into certain multi-unit buildings constructed in Portland. Funding for the New Movers program comes from a Multimodal Incentive Fee, paid for by housing developers to help new residents choose alternatives to car-dependent travel patterns.
Small price change, widespread benefits
On July 1, 2022, PBOT’s Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee went into effect. Drivers using Portland’s metered street parking spots may have noticed the addition of a 20-cent transaction fee, which will help support sustainable transportation options for all Portlanders. This small fee is collected through parking meters and PBOT’s Parking Kitty mobile app and sends an initial price signal about the costs of parking.
PBOT anticipates this transaction fee will collect $2 million in revenue annually, some of which will directly support the Transportation Wallet: Access for All program as well as programs and projects that reduce carbon emissions and prioritize equitable outcomes while reducing traffic demand. Read more about the Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/equitable-mobility-taskforce/transaction-fee-overview
Even more is on the way! Web-based and mobile App aims to make Transportation Wallet easier to use
To more seamlessly allow people with a Transportation Wallet to use their credits, in 2023 PBOT will team with RideShark to launch a Transportation Wallet mobile and web-based app. This technology will allow users to more precisely track their credits and more easily redeem them. The additional user data will provide program planners with useful information to better tailor the program to customers’ needs and deliver more targeted outreach to drive program engagement. Sign up for updates about the Transportation Wallet. Subscribe to the following newsletters for updates on our Northwest Parking District program and our Central Eastside Parking District Program.