It’s no secret that participants in ATP’s Champions are doing great things when it comes to promoting transportation options to employees, tenants and residents. Programs such as free bike tune ups, transit benefit subsidies and real time digital transportation displays all show a high level of commitment and investment from Champions, who also understand the benefit they have on their bottom line.
But how can our partners go even further in incorporating transportation into sustainability, wellness and financial goals?
One great way is to track the impact of these transportation programs and how effective these types of initiatives are at encouraging commuters to switch from driving alone to other modes of transportation such as transit, biking, carpooling, etc – or as we call it, “mode shift.”
Research has shown that driving alone to work can have significant negative impacts on the driver and the environment - namely an increase in emissions and poor air quality, increased stress, lack of exercise and much higher transportation costs such as gas, tolls, parking and maintenance.
This year, ATP has put more focus on mode shift through Champions as we aim to gain a better understanding of how these initiatives affect current commute options and the local transportation system.
What is mode shift?
The most recent data shows that around 55% of workers in Arlington drive alone to work while the remaining 45% use some other commute options such as transit, carpooling or walking for their commute. With many major highways and arterial roadways already at their peak capacity during rush hours, and little space to expand or add roads inside the beltway, there really isn’t any more room for additional cars without causing significant traffic delays.
That is why the primary goal of Arlington Transportation Partners, Arlington County Commuter Services and Arlington’s Department of Transportation is mode shift – shifting single occupancy drivers to other transportation alternatives, including Metrorail, buses, biking, carpooling and vanpooling. Through transportation demand management (TDM) strategies, such as those described in this recent article about Metro’s upcoming SafeTrack program, workers, residents and visitors can take advantage of a more balanced and efficient transportation system, ultimately saving time and money.
Planned new development in Arlington, including over a million square feet of office space and several thousand new residential units, will draw many new employees and residents to the County, making mode shift a critical component of keeping Arlington a great place to live, work and visit. Traffic congestion currently costs commuters and businesses over 80 hours a year in lost time and millions of dollars in lost productivity.
Without TDM initiatives and programs to encourage commuters to shift to other modes of transportation, these costs will only increase, impacting the economic competitiveness of the Arlington/DC Metropolitan region.
How to encourage and evaluate mode shift
ATP assists companies and properties with implementing a variety of programs that can shift commute trips from driving alone to other modes. These are often customized and recommended based on an individual client’s profile – such as current benefits or amenities offered, population demographics, as well as work and home locations.
Some initiatives that can have a notable impact on mode shift include a transit benefit subsidy, parking fee or parking cash out, carpool/vanpool matching and bike friendly amenities and programs such as secure bike parking, showers, and events such as Confident City Cycling cycles or free bike tune ups.
ATP can also help businesses determine the impact of these programs by creating surveys that ask employees, tenants or residents about commute patterns and live/work relationships. This data can determine the current mode split as well as potential programs that could encourage a shift in transportation modes.
As mentioned earlier, with ATP’s focus on mode shift in Champions this year, participants could earn up to Platinum Level credit for tracking and evaluating the impact of transportation programs on mode shift.
By reducing the number of single occupancy drivers at your company or building, your business can see improvements in the bottom line while setting an example for sustainability standards, health/wellness goals and overall satisfaction among your staff.
Think about how your employees and tenants travel to and from work and start incorporating mode shift into your overall sustainability programs. Contact ATP to learn more.
Photo credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com