Legislative action mandated the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to form a task force to study value pricing (putting a price on the miles people drive, or when they drive) in the Portland metro area and make policy recommendations. While the task force was investigating options, ODOT contracted with a consultant team including DHM to engage with residents about value pricing. They wanted to know what Oregonians knew and didn’t know, their motivations to support value pricing policies, and their perceptions of fairness.
DHM conducted survey and focus group research to provide a deeper understanding of the public's commuting habits and explore how residents think about transportation funding, value pricing, and solutions for traffic congestion. The research revealed the best way to start conversations about value pricing. Key communication challenges that emerged from this included the public’s outdated understanding of tolls and a lack of understanding that the purpose of the tolls would be to manage traffic congestion rather than to raise revenue.
The research findings allowed the consultant team to help ODOT develop a clear set of core messages to effectively educate and engage diverse audiences as the program moves forward.