Between COVID-19 and the economic downturn that has followed it, it’s become more critical than ever to get creative about how to provide solutions to the tough economic times our communities are going through.
According to recent Bureau of Labor statistics, the average American household spends roughly 16% of its monthly budget on transportation. Even before the recent rise in gas prices, this was on average the second largest expense per household. Now, as a result of the higher gas prices, we're seeing cases of monthly transportation costs rising beyond the 20% threshold for many budgets. The Northern Virginia region has been hit particularly hard, with AAA recently noting daily average costs up to a whopping $4.42/gallon.
To make sure local community leaders have all the information they need to bring solutions to the folks counting on them through these tough times, we've compiled some of our favorite low-cost transit recommendations.
Take Advantage of Public Transit Options
Public transit ridership tends to see an increase during periods of rising inflation, and Arlington stands ready to meet that uptick, boasting the highest public transit option density in all of Virginia.
Local public transit options are all compliant with COVID-19 health and safety protocols and uphold rigid sanitary standards at the moment. Additionally, despite the Metro currently running at an adjusted schedule, Metrobuses and ART buses are once again running at pre-pandemic efficiency.
Putting together a SmarTrip card distribution campaign for new residents is something we strongly recommend to local property owners, especially if their properties are located in high public transit density areas.
If you can't afford to provide SmarTrip cards, making public transit information kiosks prominently available on your property will help boost up-to-date awareness of it as an option for residents planning their commutes.
Capital Bikeshare/Bike Amenities
Biking has seen a resurgence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it is estimated that rising gas prices will only further this trend. Luckily, Arlington boasts one of the nation’s premier bike trails: The Arlington Loop. It connects all of Arlington's neighborhoods via a network of trails, making it an ideally suited for biking.
Don't forget that Arlington residents who live in market-rate housing qualify for a 50% discount in annual memberships for Capital Bikeshare. Codes are available upon contacting ATP and speaking with a Business Development Manager.
A rise in carpooling almost feels like an inevitability until gas prices come back down. In the meantime, there are incentives available that can help people in your community adjust to this mode of commuting more seamlessly. For people commuting to work, their employer's HR department should be able to work with them to set up a commuter benefit 132(f) program.
For property managers, establishing a designated carpool parking space or investing in Vanpool are both crucial to keeping residents able to get where they need to go and, in turn, convincing them to renew their leases.
Commute66's Sustain & Save program offers participants who commute to work on I-66 inside the Beltway a $100 monthly benefit. All they need to do (provided their employer is eligible and has signed up) is opt out of driving alone to work and instead use a sustainable option--like biking, carpooling, or public transit--to get to work.
Something ATP can offer right off the bat is an easy way to help folks plan their own commute. Business Development Managers are also ready to help property owners who reach out for more direct assistance in crafting commute strategies that best serve the communities they manage.
Contact us to talk more about how ATP can help you bring creative transit solutions to your community.
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners