Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Reduction Webinar (Text Version)
This is a text version of the video for the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Reduction webinar presented on February 24, 2011, by Caley Johnson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Dolores Rebolledo, Granite State Clean Cities; and Dan Kaempff, Oregon Metro.
COORDINATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer session of today's call, and at that time, you may press star one on your touch-tone phone to ask a question.
Also at this time, I would like to inform all parties that today's call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
I would now like to turn the call over to Caley Johnson. Thank you. You may begin.
CALEY JOHNSON: Hi, everybody. It's Caley Johnson. I think I know most of you, but for those of you that I don't, I'm a market technology analyst at NREL and for the Clean Cities program. Sandra's letting me emcee this webinar because it's a topic that I am so excited about. And so before I introduce our speakers today, I would just like to introduce in a little more depth the topic of vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, reduction.
As the name would indicate, it's basically any project that reduces the number of miles that motor vehicles travel and, therefore, reducing the petroleum use and greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions.
And so in the United States, we have a huge potential for reducing vehicle miles traveled. This is a chart showing the vehicle miles—actually, kilometer miles—traveled per person. And you can see that in the United States that we are at about 13, which is about twice as much as that clump that represents western Europe at the right-hand side. And in the United States, we're at about three times as much as Japan.
So you can see these are all countries where the standard of living is high, and yet we travel far, far, far more than the rest of them. So there's a lot of potential for us to reduce our vehicle miles traveled.
I also want to talk about some of the co-benefits of VMT projects. It has the three main benefits of any Clean Cities project that are in black at the top. They reduce petroleum consumption. They reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And they reduce air pollution. This is because, if a vehicle is not traveling or traveling less, it's going to consume and emit less of all these.
But these co-benefits in the blue are relatively unique to VMT projects and definitely worth pointing out. One, they reduce stress. Everyone knows how stressed out you get from sitting in traffic and commuting long distances. Studies have found that it's particularly stressful because you feel—because it's so unpredictable, and you feel so out of control whenever bad traffic sneaks up on you. It really starts your day off wrong and adds a lot to your stress level.
Reducing VMT also has been proven to increase family and friend time. It increases your exercise and health, particularly if you end up doing active transport, which one of our speakers will be talking about more later on; like if you're biking or walking to work, that's a major benefit to your health. And it improves community. Rather than getting in your car and having your only interaction be to yell at or honk or send other unseemly signals to the cars around you, you can walk, overlap, perhaps wait at a bus station together—things like that that improve the community.
And all of these kind of add up to an improvement in happiness. Now, I know that this sounds fluffy, but there's a new field of study that's actually really exciting called happiness studies. It goes by a few other monikers as they've tried to get more—well, make it sound as "unfluffy" as it is. There's the psychology of well-being. There's quite a few different names for it, but essentially, it's become a well-established field of study with good metrics, good statistics, and they've developed some really good ways of surveying overall happiness.
And so here I have two of the major journals in the field, and quite a few well-respected universities have started programs on these happiness studies. And there's a handful of books written about them that are pretty good.
And recently, I don't know how many of you guys read David Brooks, The New York Times op-ed guy, but he did a bit of a review of these happiness studies and this new field, and perhaps his most potent point, at least for me and my purposes, was after assessing quite a few studies and that book, Happiness Around the World, he said that the daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. That seems pretty potent, and happiness seems to be a pretty big co-benefit of VMT projects.
I also want to mention that Clean Cities is very well positioned for VMT reduction projects. Its mission is to support local decisions and adopt practices that reduce petroleum use, and clearly, VMT projects are very localized. They're very location sensitive, and they definitely reduce a lot of petroleum. Clean Cities covers most urban areas, and urban areas have more opportunities for VMT-reduction projects.
And then Clean Cities also has a consistent and lasting local presence, which is a huge help to these VMT-reduction projects. It can't just be set up and then left on their own. Clean Cities has nearly 100 coalitions throughout the U.S.—so very localized programs as you know and also as a bit of an introduction to those of you that are not familiar with Clean Cities.
Furthermore, many of the Clean Cities stakeholders are in a position to reduce VMT. These include fleets, local governments, employers. And then Clean Cities has a lot of experience with outreach and behavioral change, which is essential to getting people out of their cars and reducing their vehicle miles traveled.
And then finally, the mini-creative projects that are required to reduce VMT and that are available for VMT reduction increase the need to kind of collaborate and share what's working in the different locations, and that's exactly what Clean Cities is set up for.
I also want to point out that, to date, the VMT projects are very underutilized by the Clean Cities coalitions. You can see this pie chart shows the petroleum displacement by technology type in 2009. And you can see that VMT reduction only accounts for 1.8% of the petroleum displacement. It does count for 4.8% of the greenhouse gas reduction, and that's just because it's so good for—basically, for every gallon of petroleum that you reduce, there's a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to alternative fuels and fuel blends. So there's much room for growth in VMT-reduction projects in Clean Cities.
And now I'd like to introduce our speakers. I'll introduce them both now, and then we'll hold our questions until the end. First up is Dolores Rebolledo. She's a coordinator of the Granite State Clean Cities coalition. And she's going to talk about the VMT-reduction project that Granite State is doing and kind of the role that they play in her fuel reductions, especially during times of a rough economy. And she's going to talk about surveying the stakeholders and how to report the VMT projects.
Then next will be Dan Kaempff. He's a principal transportation planner for the Metro Regional Government in Portland, Oregon. And he's been integral in Metro's very successful VMT-reduction program and projects.
So with that, I would like to turn it over to Dolores.
DOLORES REBOLLEDO: Thanks, Caley. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Dolores Rebolledo with Granite State Clean Cities coalition. That's the coalition for the State of New Hampshire. I actually am a state employee, and we have some great programs including Clean Cities coalition. Caley had asked me to talk a little bit about our Clean Cities survey. We tried to eek out all the information we can from our stakeholders, and to do this, we made the survey more appealing in our view.
A few years ago, we reduced the survey to two pages on a Word document, and we give it to our stakeholders as an attachment and also in the body of an e-mail. This was to try to keep them from getting scared of having lots of questions. The questions are all basics. They talk about fuel use and alternative vehicles. They also talk about idle reduction and vehicle-miles-traveled reduction. On the back is a series of questions that asked about fuel economy programs, mass transit, bicycling, telecommute.
Quite often, we would get these back, and whether it's the economy or our stakeholders aren't sure if this applies to them, quite often, there'd be "No, no, no, blank, blank, not applicable, not applicable." And whenever we get these back, because they're reduced to two pages, we have to contact the stakeholder to get more information. We can't possibly put all of the information on those two pages.
So we would call or e-mail the stakeholder, and particularly those stakeholders who answered "No and non applicable"—they may have felt that maybe this didn't apply to them; no, they're not a big fleet. No, they don't use compressed gas. No, they're not propane. They don't have biodiesel. And the—after a little conversation, I would find out that, you know, maybe economic reasons—maybe for cleaner air reasons. Whatever their motivation is, they did a lot of vehicle-miles-travel reduction.
First question would be: Do you or does your company promote telecommuting? Do you have anyone in your office who telecommutes? Who rides the bus? We have—in our urban areas, we have mass transit. Do any of your workers carpool? Is there anyone who consistently works from home? And the answers were amazing. The e-mail would go back to them or the phone would go back to them, and it would come back with an example.
I would say: Does anyone in your office telecommute? And they would go back: Yes, we do have a few people who work from home, especially in the bad weather. And I would fire back: What, three people? Maybe once a month? I'd get a very conservative estimate out there. Perhaps a ten-mile, one-way commute? And they would come back with hard data. No, it was much more than that.
Five people—and I happen to know, you know, you had to eek the information out, but it made them feel like, "Wow, I didn't realize that I am working hard at trying to clean the air, reduce petroleum use, you know, make things less expensive."
The popular vehicle-mile-travel reductions: of course, ride sharing, telecommuting, and, you know, taking the bus, mass transit. We are rural. We are sometimes a poor state, so we're taking advantage of people, perhaps their frugal sense of trying to conserve and condense to save money on petroleum. And many of them, of course, you know, are concerned about emissions and, you know, being in the Air Resources Division that works for us, too.
Now the more resourceful vehicle-miles-travel reduction: I got quite a few of them, which I thought were quite ingenious. Department of Environmental Services, my agency, had launched last year 2% reduction in miles. They didn't care how you do it. The fleet—our fleets have to have a 2% reduction, and we achieved that and will continue to reduce our vehicle miles traveled.
Many of our fleets changed their routing to save on miles, and it's amazing. The question is on our survey. They didn't answer yes, but once you talked with them, not only did they explain it, but they knew exactly how many miles they saved each day or each week. It was remarkable.
Consolidating of trips, of course, reducing fleet size. We have a few stakeholders who eliminated a vehicle and, you know, webinars, GoToMeetings. They conduct them. They participate in them all in an effort to get cars off the road and to reduce the miles. I would have to say my most creative stakeholder was Northern Bus Sales.
They used to have two guys go in a car over to the site, pick up the bus, one would drive the car back, one would drive the bus back. They'd service the bus. They'd do the same thing. The bus would go back, the guy would follow, and the two of them would go off. Now they have a truck that can service the bus on the sites, and they also have one service mechanic driving down, leaving the car there. And he knew exactly how many miles he saved.
Next slide. We have two real prevalent programs in New Hampshire. I'm quite proud of them. One of them is New Hampshire Rideshare. This is a picture of our website. The State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation has a program manager for this site.
It is a software application that allows you to plug in your information and get matched up with someone who lives near you and works near you so you can carpool. This has been very popular. They're getting new software soon. There are 16—I'm going to have the information here—1,700 active participants right now. It's estimated that each car saves about $8,000 a year.
Next slide, Caley. Okay. Here is a part of the Rideshare website. It's our park-and-ride. The Department of Transportation has park-and-rides. I'm sure your states do, too, but the key is, if you're interested in carpooling and you're not sure where to leave your car, there are 25 locations in New Hampshire that you can have a safe place that no one's going to bother you car, and you can carpool with other people who are going your way. It's widely successful. It's actually on the website—a calculator to show how much money you are spending by commuting alone, and the numbers are pretty scary.
Another program we have is—it's a State of New Hampshire program, and the gentleman in the red T-shirt happens to be our governor. It is a partnership with the state and the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning. It started off as Bike to Work Day. Then it was Bike to Work Week, and now it's turned into the Six Week Challenge.
The point of this effort is to get people to get into the habit of not taking their car every day—of finding other ways to get to work. There are incentives. There are other businesses that partner in. It's a regional effort, so there are regional events going on throughout the state at different parts during the six weeks. It keeps the air cleaner. There's a lot of awareness that goes with it. And it reduces a lot of miles. I think where I got the word was that it was estimated the reduction for that six-week period—in just one region—46,000 miles.
So these are really great efforts. To me, I believe, for economic reasons, people are just trying to reduce their miles to save on gas, and it keeps the air clean, and the trick is trying to eek it out of your stakeholders—the information. You'd be surprised.
CALEY JOHNSON: All right, thanks a lot, Dolores. We're going to save questions for Dolores until the end, and we'll go right on to Dan Kaempff, who is with Oregon Metro.
DAN KAEMPFF: Thank you very much, Caley. I'm glad you asked me to speak to your group today. I'm looking forward to telling you a bit about what we've done here in the Portland region to try to encourage people to use their cars less. Waiting for my slide to come up here—I don't know why the slide is not there.
CALEY JOHNSON: It seems on our view.
DAN KAEMPFF: Okay, now I've got it. Okay, there we go. Okay. Well, let me tell you a little bit about what Metro is and what we do because we're a bit of a unique beast in governments in the United States. Metro is a regional government for the Portland urbanized area. It's unique in the sense that it's the only form of government in the United States with elected councilors representing districts across the region.
So we have six elected councilors plus a council president who's elected across the region. So we actually have the ability to make policy and to, you know, enforce laws like cities or counties can do. Our region covers 25 cities and parts of three counties here in the Portland region.
Our responsibilities include not only transportation and land-use planning, but we also oversee the Regional Parks and Natural Areas Acquisition and Maintenance Program. We also manage the Solid Waste and Recycling Program for the region. And we manage a series of regional facilities, such as the zoo, the convention center, and our performing arts center for the region.
So what we're—everything that we do is really focused on sustainability and building towards the goal of making the Portland region a great place to work, to play, and just to live. And you can see our purpose statement—this is really what we focus on every day no matter what our job might be here at Metro.
To move on to showing where the RTO program fits in—RTO is Regional Travel Options. I'll use that abbreviation a lot. But this kind of shows our planning hierarchy. We have a regional plan, which is focused on making a great place that oversees our land use and our transportation plans. Out of that comes our regional transportation plan, and a component of that transportation plan is the transportation systems management and operations functions. And the RTO's strategic plan, as you can see here, fits into that.
So talking a little bit about the infrastructure we have here in Portland. You've probably heard quite a bit about Portland's light-rail system. We currently have four light-rail lines built. We are just starting construction on a fifth one. Our street-car line—we're expanding that. We have a new extension down to Lake Oswego that's currently in the planning phase. We have a short commuter-rail line that's also being studied for expansion down to Salem, Oregon.
The first slide you saw showed our aerial tram that connects the South Waterfront District with Oregon Health Sciences University. We've built over 600 miles of bike infrastructure, including off-road trails and on-street bike lanes as well as bike boulevards. And then we have an extensive network of walking trails, including the largest forested park in an urban area in the country.
Metro's role in all of this is to really lead the transportation-system planning for the region. Once projects are identified, the project planning and development actually goes to the agency that's going to build that. So if it's a light-rail line, TriMet, our transit agency, is responsible for the actual planning and construction of the line—same with any bike lanes or any other infrastructure improvements.
So that kind of gives you a little bit of the context of how the Regional Travel Options Program fits into the regional goals. Now, I'll start talking a little bit more about the program specifically. At its very basic level, it fulfills federal and state planning requirements that regions have—transportation demand management programs—but we've really tried to broaden our reach to the public beyond just that kind of basic, check-the-box level. We see our program as really being the owner's manual for the region's active transportation network.
You know, what we've found is that if you build it, they will come, but if you let people know really how things connect and how to use certain systems, you'll get more people using those transit investments, and those investments in bike ways and paths, and those types of things. So we've really seen—we see it as a leveraging of those investments to really educate and encourage people to use them. We get more bang for the buck out of that.
We've developed a marketing and an outreach campaign that I'll go into a little bit more detail in a few minutes, but it's called Drive Less. Save More. And it basically gets that message out that driving your car less can save a lot of things. It can save you money. It saves you time. It saves you energy—saves the environment. And even as Caley was referring to, it can even help save your sanity. So it's pretty simple, and it's a powerful message. And it's been really effective, but we'll go into that more in just a few minutes.
Guiding our work here in the region is a strategic plan. We have a large collection of regional partner agencies that we work with, and collectively, we worked together to develop a plan that guides our work, sets out the mission and the policy framework for our regional program, guides our specific budget investments.
We spend about $2.2 million annually on this program. The bulk of that funding comes from federal DOT CMAQ funding. And our plan covers a five-year timeframe. We're right in the middle of that. Our current plan expires in the end of fiscal year 2013, and we've already started ramping up the planning process for our next program.
And this is just a quick view of some of the agencies that we work with. There are three different transit agencies that serve our region as well as three counties, 25 cities, a variety of state agencies we partner with. We have six transportation management associations in the region—I'll talk more about those in a few minutes—and then a variety of other institutional and non-profit organizations that we also partner with.
So that gives you an idea of the structure of the program. I'm going to spend the next few minutes now talking about the specific programmatic strategies that we use and how they work together to help reduce VMT in our region.
First program I'd like to talk about is our collaborative marketing program. During the strategic planning work we did for our first plan, we really identified that we didn't have a brand for our various program efforts. There was nothing to show that events and programs and projects that we were doing were really tied to a broader theme and they had a set of goals we were really trying to fulfill.
And about that same time, the 2005 Oregon legislature passed a bill that required our state department of transportation to create a marketing campaign that was aimed at reducing VMT in the Portland region. So we kind of had this serendipitous collision of events that helped us create this regional umbrella campaign called Drive Less. Save More.
We launched the campaign in 2006, and it's reached the public on multiple levels, including television and radio spots, billboard and transit ads, earned media, and we do a lot of outreach at public events. So it kind of goes from the very high level to the more individual one-on-one talking with people levels.
We also partner with local TV stations to conduct competitions between families to reduce auto trips. We've created partnerships with local businesses to help promote the campaign's goals. Our regional partners use this Drive Less. Save More. tagline on virtually all of their websites, their materials, their media messages, and anything else that they're using to communicate with the public ties back into this regional message.
Initially, we focused the message at people living in the suburban areas of the region by encouraging them to use their cars less just by thinking ahead and combining trips. We didn't really push the idea that they ought to be using transit or riding their bikes that much because we just wanted to give them kind of an easy entrée into this idea.
But in the last couple of years, we've evolved our message more to start encouraging them to use cycling and walking in transit. And then this fall, we're going to be expanding this message even more to focus on the launch of a new ride-matching system that will hopefully help more people in the region carpool, either to their jobs or to events in the region.
So far, we've spent, through ODOT, about $5 million on this project, and the state continues to provide funding for this program. They're expanding it now to cover the whole state. So the other metropolitan areas of this program will be picking up this project in a more meaningful way. It's always difficult to quantify the results of a project like this, but we've done a series of surveys, and we've determined that this campaign has encouraged about 19% of our region's population to reduce auto trips.
And the estimated reduction of vehicle miles traveled as a result of that has been about—almost 22 million vehicles miles traveled since we started this program in 2006. That's a total, not an annual figure, but it still represents a pretty significant impact that this project has had on the region's travel.
So while Drive Less. Save More. has done a great job at raising awareness and getting people thinking about reducing auto trips, we've still found that there's a lot more work that needs to be done to really encourage people to change their behavior. The City of Portland was the first city in the United States to implement an outreach method known as individualized marketing. And as the name suggests, individualized marketing focuses on providing each person's specific need for information and encouragement that they require to change trips to another mode.
So the way these projects work is specific neighborhoods are targeted with anywhere from five to 20,000 households per neighborhood. The residents are contacted via phone or e-mail, and they're given opportunity to get information that is specific to their interest regarding transportation.
And we find about 30% of the people that we contact initially just have no interest in this at all. And if we get that kind of response from them, we just thank them for their time and hang up and move on. We really just focus on people that are interested in making change. But we find 60% to 65% of the people we contact really are interested in some level in this project.
So we conduct before and after surveys of the sample of the target area so we can determine what the mode change has been as a result of the marketing. And as, I'm sorry, so what we find from before to the after survey is that we generate about a 10% reduction in the number of trips taken by automobile, and the cost is about $0.03 to $0.07 per vehicle mile reduced of these projects.
We've conducted a total of nine individualized marketing projects around the region, and we currently have two more that are underway right now. We'll get results from those by the end of next year. And we spend about $250,000 a year on these types of projects alone. We've targeted a portion of our funding towards these individualized marketing projects because they are very successful and very measurable in the types of travel behavior change that they achieve.
Moving on to active transportation, we have a number of ways that we encourage people to ride their bicycles or to walk—both for exercise as well as for transportation to work or to school or to events. We've published a bicycle map called Bike There! for 25 years around the region. We just published—it's the 25th anniversary edition—last year.
It covers the entire region, showing all of the various bike routes and the connections to get around the city by bike. We've also created a book called Walk There!, which includes 50 guided walks around the region showing landmarks and historical points of interest. All the walks begin and they end at transit connections, so there's no need to drive a car to take any of these walks no matter where you might be in the region.
So these are tools that we use to provide people with information and some encouragement to get out and walk.
On a larger scale, what we've found is that one of the main reasons people do not ride their bikes around the region in particular is out of concern for their safety. We still have—a large percentage of our bicycle infrastructure is on streets. So it's a three- or four-foot-wide bike lane with just a strip of paint between you and the cars, and a lot of people do not find that to be a very safe or encouraging place to ride a bicycle.
So we are undertaking a plan called the Intertwine Alliance to create a network of 950 miles of off-road regional trails, grade-separated, similar to a freeway system but just for bikes and pedestrians. And it will crisscross our entire region and connect virtually all major points and centers of our region together with bicycles. We've only got about 300 miles of that built currently, and we have a long way to go, but there's a growing interest in this.
People realize that we're not going to be able to continue to build freeways. We need to be able to provide ways for people to get around, and bicycling is something that people who live here really enjoy doing. And if there are safe places to ride, we've seen from the investments that we've already made that people will get out there and ride even more.
And one other area that we're helping to address is in the area of bicycle and transit connectivity. Transit use is pretty high in this region as well as bicycling, and a lot of people want to take their bikes with them on the bus or on our trains, and there's not often room for them to do that, particularly at rush hour.
So what we're trying to do is increase the number of places where people can bike and park their bikes at a transit station like you'll see with this bike locker here in the picture. We—the RTO program helps to provide funding for some of that bike parking and to encourage people to use these modes to get around.
Moving on to our commuter program. The Portland region is under the effect of the State Department of Energy's Employee Commute Options Rule. This basically says if your business has over 100 employees at a work site, you need to create a plan for reducing SOV trips to your business by 10%. So we have a variety of our partners work with these employers to encourage them to use transit or carpool.
We focus, particularly our ride-sharing efforts, on these commuter trips. We manage an online ride-matching database and a regional vanpool program to help people find connections either by carpooling or vanpooling to work. But again, talking a bit more about bicycling, in the City of Portland in particular, we have about a 6% mode split for bicycling to work, which I believe is the highest or maybe the second highest in the country at this point.
One of the unique features about Portland is that the city is cut in half by the Willamette River, so the downtown area lies just on the west side of the river, and there's a series of bridges that connects the east side. So it becomes kind of a funnel where you easily count bicycle trips. We've spent a lot of effort putting good bicycle facilities across these bridges so riding your bike to the downtown area is a pretty easy thing to do.
What we've found is that over 17,000 trips are conducted during the peak hours annually to Portland's downtown area. Since 2000, the city's reporting a 189% increase in the number of bicycles trips to the downtown area.
And while we're talking about our commuter program, this is probably a good time to talk about our ride-matching database. We're part of a three-state coalition that's led by the Washington State Department of Transportation to implement a shared ride-matching system that covers all three states.
The website, if you want to look at it, is RideShareOnline.com, but we'll be moving into this new system some time later this year. It will include not only ride-matching services for the entire tri-state region, but it will also include incentives and trip calendaring functions so people can log their trips onto a calendar and qualify for incentives. It provides us with a much more robust way of measuring people's travel behavior and providing them with incentives to make behavior change.
And then I referenced Transportation Management Associations a bit earlier. Like I said, we have six of these organizations throughout the region. These are non-profit organizations that are really focused on working with businesses in their specific areas getting commute trips reduced. Metro established a policy some years back where we help provide funding to catalyze these organizations and to keep them functioning basically. So we provide roughly $50,000 per organization to each TMA to help them create these trip-reduction goals.
One of the planning elements of the Metro region is that we've identified regional centers, town centers, regional centers, and employment centers. And these TMAs focus on trying to reduce trips in those areas in particular to help us meet the trip-reduction goals we've established for each center.
And then our last program element is in the area of traveler information. We found that there's an increasing demand for transportation data from the public—particularly that's driven by an increase in the use of the Internet and smartphones. People want—they need information on demand. They want it when they need it, not before they go out traveling.
So having that data available on the fly really makes it more valuable than any other format. And so we're focusing on getting more data out to people electronically because that's when they want it. And it's also cheaper and easier to do it that way than it is to create a bunch of printed materials. So our intent over the next few years is to reduce or eliminate as many printed items as we possibly can.
A couple of specific areas that we're working on to bring down the—to provide this information—is to bring down the cost of online transit trip planning and to also make our bicycle routing network data available to the public.
I'll talk about those two things in a little bit more detail. We've just awarded a second grant to TriMet to lead the development of an open-source, multi-mode trip planner. This will replace TriMet's current online trip planner with a more robust tool that's been developed by the open-source development community. This trip planner provides directions for door-to-door trips using transit in conjunction with cycling and walking. So it plans an appropriate route for each phase of the trip.
So if you want to ride your bike to a transit center, it shows you the safest bike route to ride there. Then it gives you your transit information. Then if you've taken your bike with you, it shows you where to ride from when you get off the bus to your final destination. And it can provide similar types of trip planning for walking as well.
The planner is entering beta testing this spring, and it's going to be going live either later this year or early next year if the current development schedule holds up. And the development costs are a fraction of what proprietary software—that does this type of planning—would cost. We've put about $150,000 into this project over the two grants we've given TriMet. Between TriMet and in-kind contributions from other partners, there's been about a similar amount put into the project, so it's at about $300,000 total in development costs.
Systems similar to this bought from proprietary providers can cost over $1.5 million or more, so this is a really cost-effective way to provide this type of information.
In the Portland region, the number-one search on Google consistently is TriMet's trip planner. It's the number-one thing people are searching on the Internet for in this region. So we feel this is a really good investment of our money to get this information out to the people that really are looking for that.
And then just talking a little bit about our bicycle-route data, as I mentioned, our bicycle map has, you know, bike-routing information across the region. That data layer—we're now making it available to the public, and the hope is that we will see app developers take that data and create applications for it to show people what's the best way they can get around on their bike but have that information available to them on a smartphone, be able to plan routes on the fly, and know where people are at currently so they can plan a route from their current location.
We've just put that data out there, so we haven't really seen a big return on that yet, but I'm certain that we're going to be seeing applications developed from that in the next year or so.
So those are the high-level programs that we're responsible for leading. I want to talk now a little bit about how we administer those programs and, most importantly, how we measure and evaluate them. We are just in the process of finishing up a travel and awareness survey where we've basically been looking at our programs, what the public's interest is in those, what their awareness is to them—just seeing what's really working and what's not.
And basically, we're taking that information, and we're creating focus groups that we're going to be working on this spring to get more-in-depth information out of members of the public to really help guide our planning efforts. And we'll have a final report on that due in the summer.
That report will help inform our strategic planning efforts. We're also undertaking a policy study this year for our Transportation Management Association Policy. We've had our current policy in place for about eight years, and a lot has changed in that time, so we're taking another look at that to see how we can improve that, make a better use of our funding, and target that money towards areas where it really is going to be effective.
Like I said, we're starting our strategic planning process in the next fiscal year, after July, but we are already laying the groundwork for starting that planning process.
And then every two years, we hire an independent program evaluator to look at our programs, talk to our partners, look at the data we've generated, and to just evaluate how well our program is doing. Not just how many trips did we reduce but how effective are the programs based on a cost-per-vehicle-mile-reduced basis?
We've hired Portland State University to do our last five evaluations. The most current evaluation covered data that we've collected through the end of 2008, so what we had determined from that 2008 evaluation is that our program is reducing an estimated 19 million vehicle miles traveled annually. And that's a low, conservative estimate.
PSU actually gave us a range, and they said that it would be possible to claim up to 30 million vehicle miles traveled that have been reduced by our program, but we choose to report more on the conservative side for a number of reasons, and it's a number that we feel a little bit more—we feel better about that number—it's just a little bit more solid—a little bit more defensible.
And that 19 million VMT reduction is over and above what we've claimed with the Drive Less. Save More. campaign like I mentioned earlier. So we've generated quite a lot of vehicle miles reduced in the region as a result of these programs.
This chart just kind of gives you an idea of our commute program in particular. This shows data ranging from 1996 on the left side through 2008. Basically, our non-SOB commute trip mode split went from 26.2% in 1996 to 34.6% in 2008. If you compare that with the American Community Survey Data for the region looking at commutes, they're reporting a 29% non-SOB mode split, so essentially, comparing that RTO program with just general census data, we've generated about a 6% additional reduction in commute trips.
So I've included just a couple of websites here that will be available in the archives for you to be able to reference if you're looking for any more data or input from our program documents, and that's my contact information. And here we are with more contact information. So that's basically the end of my presentation, so I'm willing to take questions and looking forward to a good discussion.
CALEY JOHNSON: Thanks a lot, Dan. Go ahead.
COORDINATOR: At this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press star one on your touch-tone phone and record your name clearly when prompted. Again, that is star one on your touch-tone phone, and it does take a few moments to see if any questions come through, so please stand by.
CALEY JOHNSON: We have a few that came in over the Internet while we wait for phone questions. One of them was, "Can you please explain what the percentage of VMT reduction is on an annual basis?"
DAN KAEMPFF: The percentage of VMT on an annual basis?
CALEY JOHNSON: This came in before that final slide you had of the various, like, the change in commuter patterns.
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, I can show you that for commute trips. Honestly, I haven't done the math to determine what are percentages of the entire region VMT. I just don't have that data with me today, but I can, if somebody wants to send me an e-mail, I can generate that and contact them offline.
CALEY JOHNSON: All right, I have another one online here. Will the open-source trip planner be specific to the Portland region, or will the program be transportable to other geographical regions?
DAN KAEMPFF: No, it's totally transportable. Other transit agencies that are either starting to use it or helping develop it or have shown interest include New York MTA, DART in Dallas, the UTA in Salt Lake, King County Metro Transit in Seattle. Those are the ones that are immediately coming to mind, but there are others. There's also some interest from European communities as well. So this will truly be an open-source, transportable tool to be used by anyone.
CALEY JOHNSON: Okay, are there any questions over the phone? I have more on the Internet here but kind of prefer to take them over the phone first.
COORDINATOR: I do have a few questions on the phone. Our first question is from Dina Maron. Go ahead, your line is open.
DINA MARON: Hi, thanks for taking my call. I'm a reporter with Climate Wire. It's really interesting to hear about your successes, Daniel. I'm wondering if you could elaborate, or one of you could elaborate, on how many efforts like yours are currently occurring across the country. And also, I wanted to clarify the independent analysis you took with the 19 million VMTs reduced—that's total, right? Not annually.
DAN KAEMPFF: No, that's an annual reduction.
DINA MARON: That is annual reduction. Okay, great. And the first question about how many efforts like this are around the country, thinking of a—sort of a broader perspective here?
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, I couldn't give you an exact number. I know most major metropolitan areas have some level of Transportation Demand Management Program. I think ours is probably one of the more extensive ones, but I couldn't give you a number.
DINA MARON: And in total, how much have you spent on this entire education program?
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, our annual budget now is $2.2 million. The program's been around for 20 years and it's evolved to that level of funding and complexity.
DINA MARON: Okay, thank you.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from Mackay Miller. Go ahead—your line is open.
MCKAY MILLER: Hi, this is Mackay Miller from the National Renewable Energy Lab. Just wondering if we might learn a bit more about the evaluation methodology that PSU uses for the program?
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, there's quite a lot of information at our website on that. We have a library that covers all of our previous evaluations, including the most current one, and the evaluations are heavily appendices and give that information. So if you want to shoot me an e-mail, I can send you that directly, or we can make sure it gets available to the whole group.
MACKAY MILLER: Thanks.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from Daniel Aussie. Go ahead—your line is open.
DANIEL AUSSIE: Hi, this is Daniel in Omaha Nebraska with the Metropolitan Community College here. And I was wondering two questions. First one, can you share your RTO survey tools so that, like, some of the questions that you asked to get the mode splits and the type of data that you're asking of people?
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, no problem.
DANIEL AUSSIE: Should I just e-mail you for that?
DAN KAEMPFF: Just send me an e-mail, and I'll shoot it to you.
DANIEL AUSSIE: And then the second question is what type of baseline data are you looking at? Are you, I mean, obviously, you're looking at vehicle miles traveled, and that's what you're kind of measuring over time if it's going up or down. Are there other baseline kind of numbers that everybody gravitates towards trying to raise or lower?
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, what we're trying to establish—and we're doing this with this travel and awareness survey that we're in the process of conducting right now—is not just numbers but try to get a sense of people's recognition and response to these various programs. So trying to understand, you know, if we're talking to people in a way that makes sense to them—if what we're telling them makes them want to change. You know, basically, trying to get their feelings and their opinions about travel-behavior change as well as just their actual vehicle miles reduced.
DANIEL AUSSIE: Okay.
DAN KAEMPFF: And also with the new ride-matching system that we're implementing, that's going to give us a way to capture trip data beyond what we're already doing. People will be able to report trips that they're making in a non-SOV mode. And so that will give us another set of data over time that we can use.
DANIEL AUSSIE: Okay, great, thanks.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from Francis Fogul. Go ahead—your line is open.
FRANCIS FOGUL: Thank you, operator. Francis Fogul, Wisconsin Clean Cities, and my question then would be regarding, Dan, if you're doing then also with eco-driving as an everyday option or if you're mostly just looking at VMT, or if you're taking eco-driving, too, as something else that you're looking at?
Particularly, for example, when you're doing the individualized marketing plans because I've always felt there are always going to be a certain number of people who won't be responsive to whether it's doing bicycling or walking or green driving, but those that might be amenable would be then open to different techniques. So your data then, the 65% were open, was interesting because I'm thinking there is a majority that would be interested, but some just are not interested at all.
DAN KAEMPFF: Right, well, what we do is the No Way, No How group as we call them. We do follow up with sending them just a brochure in the mail. We've done this with some of our projects that basically covers those types of things. You know, if you're going to drive, here's a way to use your auto more efficiently. We haven't measured any kinds of response, so I have no idea how much of an impact that that makes, but at least we do try to get that message out to them in some way. But we really focus the efforts on that 60% to 65% that's interested in making some changes.
FRANCIS FOGUL: Okay, and you don't really do anything specifically with green or eco-driving per se but rather with the various VMT methods that you've already outlined, such as mass transit commuting?
DAN KAEMPFF: Right, for our individualized marketing projects, that's true. Now our Drive Less. Save More. campaign does touch on eco-driving more, and it's really focused on more of the suburban parts of our region, you know.
The inner city, core Portland area, you know—they pretty much get it. There's bike lanes everywhere. There's good transit density. It's more out in the suburban areas of the region where we find that that program has more of an impact.
FRANCIS FOGUL: Great, and given what we're experiencing here in Wisconsin, we really congratulate your elected officials for being as open-minded as they are so that you can have a comprehensive effort such as you do.
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, we're pretty blessed I think. Good luck out there.
FRANCIS FOGUL: Thanks a lot and continued good luck with your efforts.
DAN KAEMPFF: Thanks.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from John McGovern. Go ahead—your line is open.
JOHN MCGOVERN: Hi, this is John McGovern from Clean Cities in Northeast Ohio. And I think this question is for all the presenters today, and I do want to thank them all for being here—very interesting stuff. But just talking about—thinking about successful VMT-reduction projects that do incorporate some level of enhanced pedestrian or bicycle use and thinking about—is there a correlation between that and some level of a complete street policy or ordinance? I guess it's a question kind of across the country—does anyone know if that correlation exists?
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, what I can tell you from Portland is that the number of bicycle trips has gone up exponentially in relationship to the number of complete streets and bike boulevards that we've built. So we—and at the same time, the accident rate has remained about level, so it's actually gone down per trip taken. So it's gotten safer. We've gotten more people on bikes. So yes, I think there's a definite tie-in between the two.
DOLORES REBOLLEDO: Yes, I agree, although we still have a problem in New Hampshire with trying to get the bike paths and the bike areas. And we have a regulation in New Hampshire that was passed a year ago January 1 that says if you're driving 30 miles an hour, you need to pass a cyclist at least three feet from them. If you're driving 40 miles an hour, at least four feet from them and so on. And that's a little difficult to do with some of our roads.
And I'm going to throw something in here that's unrelated, but texting has really caused people to start to consider whether or not they want to bike on the roads without some sort of bike lane.
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, that's definitely an issue here, too.
COORDINATOR: Are we ready for the next question? The next question is from Mari Hunter. Go ahead, your line is open.
MARI HUNTER: Hi, Mari Hunter from the San Francisco Department of Environment. I just had a quick question about the estimate of 19 million miles reduced. A fraction of those total trips are work trips, and I'm just wondering if you've been able to identify how many of those or how much of that can be attributed to your commuter outreach program as opposed to something like your individualized marketing program—and if so, how that influences how you allocate your resources?
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, that is a good question. The bulk of those trips are commute trips because those types of trips have been the bulk of where we've invested our resources in the past, so most of our programs are targeted at commute trips. But what we've found is that commute trips only really make up about 20% to 25% of people's trip behavior and that we're kind of hitting a limit in where we can go with that program.
You know, we're up against capacity issues in our transit system. We're finding our ride-sharing efforts have been kind of flat over the last few years. So we're certainly not abandoning commute trips at all, but we're definitely looking at how we can encourage people to use other forms of transportation for trips besides that are commute trips.
So I don't have a number that shows the percentage of our reported trip reduction as being commute trips, but it's probably 60% to 70% of those trips reduced.
MARI HUNTER: So as you level off with the effectiveness of your commuter outreach program, you'll probably refocus on this individualized marketing to target those other trips?
DAN KAEMPFF: That's a very likely outcome, yes.
MARI HUNTER: Okay, thank you.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from Bill Eaker. Go ahead—your line is open.
BILL EAKER: Yes, this is Bill Eaker with the Land-of-Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition in Asheville, North Carolina. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Dan, I thought I heard you say your overall budget for your program is $2.2 million and that the majority of that came from CMAQ. Are you getting 80% of your program funds from CMAQ? And how are you funding the rest? What are your other sources? Thank you.
DAN KAEMPFF: Yes, well, we have a variety of local match sources. I mentioned that Metro is responsible for the Solid Waste and Recycling Program in the region. We charge a tax on solid waste and reap some of that, so a portion of those local funds is used to provide our local match. A big chunk of our funding actually goes back out the door to our partners in grants, and so they're responsible for providing the match on their own grants, and that's provided either through city taxes or other forms of revenue that they have locally.
And then we generate a tax credit actually. We have a program in Oregon where you can generate tax credits, a business energy tax credit, but public agencies can claim those tax credits and sell them to businesses that have a tax liability and receive the funding from the businesses that are getting the tax credits. They're sold at a discount, so that's how the business is incented to participate.
So those are our basic forms of match for the program.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, our next question is from Dina Maron. Go ahead—your line is open.
DINA MARON: Thanks for letting me do a quick follow-up. I want to ask you a little bit more about what are the incentives that you could provide to have people input their information on to your ride-matching database?
DAN KAEMPFF: We're following successful projects in Atlanta, in Los Angeles, that have essentially provided cash to people for every day that they use an alternative mode. Programs such as these have provided $2 to $3 a day to people to use an alternative mode. It's done over a two- to three-month period of time and then at the end, if they've successfully completed the program, they get a card—a gift card or, you know, a Visa card that has that amount of money that they earned loaded onto it.
We haven't landed on a specific incentive program just yet. We're still in the planning phases on that, but that seems to be the direction that we're leaning. We're going to do it as a pilot project to see if it's really effective and try to learn some lessons from that. It may not be the ultimate way we provide incentives, but it seems to be the direction we're going to be headed in the short term.
DINA MARON: And quickly, what's the tri-state region that you're talking about? Which states are in that?
DAN KAEMPFF: Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
DINA MARON: Thank you.
COORDINATOR: Thank you, and I show no further questions at this time.
CALEY JOHNSON: All right, let's see. I have one more on the Web here. Let me bring it up. Let's see. Okay, it was, "How do you set goals for VMT reduction? And also, any success stories from cooperation with local businesses and commercial and retail enterprises?"
DAN KAEMPFF: Okay, well, the goals for our VMT reduction are really driven by our center's strategy. So it recognizes that every center in the region is going to be different in the terms of available transit or how walkable it may be. So the mode split goals are determined by those land-use centers—designations. And so they vary across the region. We're just basically trying to help those centers hit those goals.
In terms of successful business programs, well, a couple that really spring to mind—one is with Nike. They're headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, and they have had a great transit and employee commute program over the years. They are located near a light-rail line but not really within walking proximity to it, so they operate a shuttle that connects to the light-rail line and transports people over to the Nike campus and drops them off.
Another business, also in the shoe industry, is Adidas. Their North American headquarters is in Portland. They've kind of taken a little bit different approach to trip reduction. They put their building in an old converted hospital. They repurposed the building and located it right on transit—right in the city so they're right smack-dab up against the neighborhood so people could live, you know, three blocks from where they work and just simply walk there. So they've really chosen to locate in a more densely populated part of the city to help reduce trips that way.
So those are a couple of examples that I can give you.
CALEY JOHNSON: Great, thanks. Are there any more questions on the phone?
COORDINATOR: I show no further questions.
CALEY JOHNSON: Okay, let's see. That's pretty much it. I actually have one last one online. Are any of the presenters aware of analyses identifying ideal mixes of complementary, approximate land uses needed to reduce VMT? In other words, a formula of what specific uses—such as post office, grocery store, housing—and what proximity—such as number of miles without a local shuttle service—to provide community capture such that VMT is reduced?
DAN KAEMPFF: Well, another department of Metro—our Transit Oriented Development Section—I believe they have done some research on that very question because they're working to catalyze development in these centers. And so knowing what the right triggers are to really encourage people to move there, to reduce their travel behavior—that's really key to what they do.
So if somebody wants to send me an e-mail, I can track down some information and get that out.
CALEY JOHNSON: All right. I think that's all the questions. Thank you so much, Dan and Dolores. That was a really interesting webinar. I appreciate it.
DAN KAEMPFF: My pleasure.
CALEY JOHNSON: All right, bye, everyone.
DAN KAEMPFF: All right, bye-bye.
COORDINATOR: Thank you. That does conclude today's conference. Thank you for participating. You may disconnect at this time.