Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon


New mobility services using public streets and sidewalks should help pay for the infrastructure they use, as well as provide the resources needed to help manage the transportation system.

The concept of the ‘user pays’ has been around for a while, and applies to new mobility, urban delivery, and autonomous vehicles that are (or will) operate on publicly funded roads and sidewalks. Transportation planners can be flexible when deciding what kind of fares to charge, from flat fares to dynamic pricing, however there are elements/considerations transportation planners should always consider when designing a pricing system for new mobility and urban delivery modes. New trends in transportation including robust data collection and pilot projects can assist transportation planners in how to set up a pricing system that works for all members of the community.

Issues & approaches

Manage the service. To have a successful deployment of a new transportation mode, it is important that the public agency dedicates one or more employees to manage the service. The number of employees required to manage the service differs by mode. Examples of employees public partners (e.g. local governments and/or transportation departments) might need include employees to analyze the data collected from the vehicles,  enforcement of improper parking or use, review permits and requests for proposals, and conduct outreach and receive feedback from users and the public as well as respond to complaints. Working together, these employees can ensure that the service is being provided as intended.

Manage demand. Fees can be levied on transportation companies or on users to manage demand. Higher fees often result in lower usage of a mode. Examples of fees to manage demand include fees imposed on TNCs that arrive or end at airports, congestion surcharges, and per-vehicle or per-device fees imposed on micromobility operators.

Build or maintain necessary infrastructure. To effectively integrate new mobility modes into the existing transportation system, adjustments to infrastructure are often required. Some cities, including Seattle and Santa Monica, added e-scooter parking corrals on streets or in furniture zones to reduce improperly parked e-scooter and bicycles. It is expected that AVs will require additional ramps for people with mobility devices like wheelchairs and signage along curbs to facilitate use.

Achieve community goals. Both public and private partners can adjust fares to achieve community and company goals. To achieve the goal of providing equitable service and supporting vulnerable populations, partners can reduce fares for low-income individuals, seniors, or youth. Partners can work towards sustainability goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by reducing fees for drivers of energy-conscious vehicles including hybrids and electric vehicles.

Examples/case studies

Portland Bureau of Transportation's 2018 E-Scooter Findings Report

View - Portland Bureau of Transportation

The Portland Bureau of Transportation detailed the revenues they gained from issuing e-scooter permits and the expenses they incurred while conducting their pilot in this pilot evaluation report.

Shared Micro-Mobility Device (Pilot Program) Permit Requirements

View - City of Chula Vista

The City of Chula Vista collected permit fees from e-scooter operators at an amount that would allow the city to recover all costs of conducting the pilot, including oversight by City staff and contracting with a third-party partner for data analysis.

Related topics

Congestion, VMT Reduction & Mode Choice

Charging for road use according to usage helps better calibrate congestion and demand.


How will the impacts of emerging technologies impact vulnerable and low-income populations? What opportunities are there to improve services and reduce inequities?


How can we take advantage of emerging technologies to improve sustainability and environmental outcomes?

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