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CommuteCon 2017

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Clear the Air Challenge Eliminates 4,234 Tons of Emissions

Angelo Papastamos
TravelWise Program Engineer
Utah Department of Transportation

Session Description

The Utah Department of Transportation’s TravelWise program has recently posted some major successes, including a Clear the Air Challenge that resulted in the elimination of 4,234 tons of emissions and pollutants. Utah has been suffering from reductions in air quality resulting from increases in the number of vehicle miles traveled, and the Clear the Air Challenge was designed to draw attention to the problem and help commuters and travelers find environmentally friendly alternatives.

The Clear the Air Challenge was run on a voluntary basis, and was underpinned by a primary objective of improving Utah’s air quality. Two years ago, the initiative partnered with RideAmigos, implementing the RideAmigos platform to administer, manage, and promote the program while providing participants with quick, easy trip planning tools and resources. The final results were very encouraging:

  • A total of 11,749,361 vehicle miles were saved
  • 907,359 single-occupancy vehicle trips were eliminated
  • Single-challenge participation levels peaked at 8,916 participants
  • Participants burned 22,914,700 calories — enough to burn off over 6,500 pounds
  • Cost savings of $5,480,515, including fuel, maintenance, and everyday wear-and-tear
  • Total reductions of 4,234 tons of emissions and pollutants

Over the course of the Clear the Air Challenge, a few trends surfaced that provide strategic clues that will help organizations implement similar programs. Some of the most important lessons were:

  • Delegate a single partner to lead each participating team; this creates organizational efficiency
  • Try to engage entities (businesses, government organizations, etc.) over individuals
  • Start the business outreach program early on
  • Draw on recent research to inform program development
  • Evaluate progress on an annual basis, and shift tactics and strategies on an as-needed basis
  • Be flexible to change, and agile enough to implement adjustments quickly

By adopting these principles, the Clear the Air Challenge was able to continually draw in more and more participants, with 74.8 percent of those who participated indicating that they were likely to sustain their behavior changes after the end of the program. All in all, the initiative was highly successful and made meaningful contributions to improving Utah’s air quality.