Transportation Demand Management - Frequently Asked Questions

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1) What is Transportation Demand Management (TDM)? 

TDM is the practice of providing residents, employees, and visitors information and incentives to walk, bicycle, ride transit, and carpool while discouraging drive-alone trips.

Some common examples of TDM are:

  • Providing subsidized transit passes for employees. 
  • Administering Emergency Ride Home programs for employees that bike, walk, take transit or carpool to work. 
  • Providing transit passes for employees to use for work-related travel. 
  • Instituting a commute reimbursement program, to pay employees who walk or bike to work. 

While most of these examples are for TDM incentives distributed by employers; TDM (or Multimodal) financial incentives can also be distributed at the place of residence, like a multi-family apartment buildings for people to use for all trips. This TDM Plan requirement for the Mixed-Use Zones is focused on TDM at the place of residence, and to target all trips, not just the commute trip. 

2) Why do we need TDM? 

Portland is a growing city and with that growth, usually comes more congestion, unless strategies and tools are implemented to help people change their travel behavior and use modes other than driving alone. TDM is one of the many tools the City of Portland is using to address the impacts of growth on our transportation system. 

TDM is one of the quickest, least expensive and most effective strategies to reduce traffic and parking problems. 

A study from St. Paul and Minneapolis, implemented in a mixed-use setting, showed that TDM programs could reduce vehicle trips by 8 to 27 percent at specific work sites. 

3) Purpose of the TDM Plan Requirement? 

The 2035 Comprehensive Plan directs a lot of future growth and development in the newly designated, mixed-use corridors. These areas will see a lot of new residents and businesses. A TDM Plan and the inclusion of TDM strategies are one of the many strategies for thoughtfully accommodating this new growth. These TDM plans are meant to implement strategies to help prevent, reduce, and mitigate the impacts of the new development on the transportation system, neighborhood livability, safety, and the environment, while providing safe and efficient mobility options. 

In December 2019, City Council adopted Zoning Code changes through the Better Housing by Design project, which focused on updating the development standards for Portland's multi-dwelling zones, to extend the TDM requirements in specific new development to mitigate new development impacts on the transportation system and enhance neighborhood livability. 

4) What are my options for fulfilling the TDM Plan requirement?

There are two options for a developer to meet the TDM Plan requirement:

  1. Pre-approved TDM Plan:

    • Multimodal financial incentives equivalent in value to an annual TriMet pass per unit, due at building permit issuance. PBOT is proposing one rate for market rate dwelling units and one rate (based on TriMet's Low-Income Fare Pass) for affordable dwelling units. The current market rate is $1,100 per unit.

    • Dissemination of transportation options information.

    • Participation in an annual transportation options survey.

  2. Custom TDM Plan:

    • Approved through a Transportation Impact Review (TIR) process.

      • The TIR is a Type II Discretionary Land Use Review, which requires public notice and is appealable.

    • Must meet all the TIR requirements outlined in 17.107.020 and 33.852

      • This includes developing a TDM Plan and the implementation of approved TDM strategies.

    • Approval criteria:

      • The custom plan must ensure “Proposed transportation and parking demand management actions are contributing to the City sufficiently achieving the relevant mode share and residential auto ownership targets established by the Transportation System Plan for the uses and development on the site.” (Chapter 33.852.110(B))

5) Are the two TDM Plan options comparable? 

The intent is that the two options to fulfill the TDM Plan requirement are comparable in their contribution to achieving the City's mode share and residential auto ownership targets. Unlike the Pre-Approved Plan, the Custom Plan route requires the applicant to conduct a Transportation Impact Review and create their own TDM plan. 

6) What are examples of Multimodal Incentives (TDM incentives)? 

Possible multimodal incentives in Portland include:

  • BIKETOWN (bike-share) membership/ ride passes
  • TriMet Hop Pass
  • Streetcar Pass
  • E-Scooter-share ride credit 
  • Car Share Incentives

Other TDM Strategies could include:

  • Information and Communication:

    • Real time transportation information displays

    • Tailored transportation information and marketing services

  • Parking Management:

    • Unbundle parking cost from rental costs

  • On-site Infrastructure:

    • Bicycle Parking (above and beyond existing code requirement)

    • Bike Share station (still must be accessible and open to the public)

    • Bicycle repair station and tools

    • Car Share parking spaces (and fleet)

7) What resources are available to help develop a TDM plan?

There are a number of consulting firms that specialize in TDM strategies and developing TDM plans. Additionally, the PBOT Active Transportation and Safety Division can offer advice and point you to online resources. 

8) What are other TDM initiatives at PBOT?

PBOT offers a wide range of TDM-related programming and strategies, ranging from programs to target new movers to additional code requirements for developments in Campus Institutional Zones. The bureau is also about to undergo work on a TDM Action Plan to outline the overarching picture of TDM work in the city and to provide a near-term action plan for the bureau's work. The following are some of the current TDM programs offered by PBOT:

SmartTrips - for new movers

Transportation Options for Employers and Employees

TDM and Parking Districts

     - NW Parking District

     - Central Eastside Industrial District

TDM in Campus Institutional Zones

Sunday Parkways

9) How does the TDM plan requirement fit with the City of Portland's Policy Goals?

The Transportation System Plan sets a policy goal that by 2035, 70% of trips, citywide, will be made by non-drive alone modes (i.e. walk, bicycle, transit, carpool). The TDM plan and subsequent strategies are one tool to help reach this policy goal. 

10) Do other cities require TDM plans for new development? 

There are a number of other cities that require TDM plans for new development, including:

11) Is there an exemption for affordable dwelling units? 

The exemption for affordable dwelling units ended on June 30, 2020 (Ordinance 188956). However, there is a reduced Multimodal Financial Incentive Fee rate for affordable dwelling units based on the current rate of an annual TriMet  Low-Income Fare pass.

The definition of an affordable rate unit is: 

Dwelling units that qualify for the affordable unit multimodal incentive fee rate are dwelling units in a development that are regulated as affordable by an affordability covenant or regulatory agreement, for a period of at least 60 years following the date of construction of the residential housing, with the Portland Housing Bureau.