Compensating Community Members for Participation in Transportation Decision-Making: Emerging Best Practices

The prospect of compensating participants for public transportation involvement, once a novel idea, has become a serious consideration in recent years. Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) has implemented a pilot program and is in the process of creating agency policy and guidance. Washington State DOT is implementing a new state law allowing low-income and community members with relevant lived experience to be compensated for their work as volunteers because “state employees and representatives of advocacy organizations receive compensation from their respective agency or organization for their time and experience.” Oregon DOT maintains an Equitable Engagement Payment Program that pays participants for time spent in activities such as advisory committees and workshops. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has also implemented an outreach compensation policy. The need for this research arises from conflicting direction state DOTs receive on public engagement. There is an industry push through federal initiatives such as Justice40 and the USDOT Equity Action Plan to achieve more meaningful, equitable participation in transportation decision-making, and many state DOTs have similar state-level direction. Compensation for engagement is a logical approach to address this need, one that has proven effective in other sectors such as in market research. However, state DOTs and other agencies face barriers to implementing compensation, including state and federal laws, regulations, and policies that limit opportunities for compensation. As an emerging area of practice throughout the country, this topic is prime for national research to help clarify and recommend direction. The objective of this study is to develop an understanding of the state of practice for participant compensation, assess its broad potential as a strategy for achieving more representative participation, and develop practical recommendations for agencies on the most promising approaches and means of implementation. Research questions for consideration include: What constraints (real or perceived) do existing federal and state funding sources place on the use of compensation, and what types of compensation can be provided within those constraints? Should there be eligibility requirements for compensation? If so, how should they be determined? What form should compensation/reimbursement take? What types of internal controls, documentation, and other procedures are necessary? What is the effectiveness of participant compensation in achieving more inclusive engagement of underserved and overburdened communities?


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-137

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Weeks, Jennifer

  • Start Date: 20240520
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01919138
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-137
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 20 2024 7:59PM