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CommuteCon 2018

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Riding With Collaboration: How Partnerships Can Help TDM Programs

Courtney Schultz
Senior Marketing Representative
Charlotte Area Transit System

Session Description

Courtney Schultz, a senior marketing representative with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) in North Carolina, joined us to share the insights she learned by forming partnerships with multiple organizations in her local area during the summer of 2017.

CATS operates buses, light rail transit, streetcars, and vanpools. The light rail transit system has a daily ridership of about 15,000 people, and about 22 million people used Charlotte’s public transit network during the 2017 fiscal year. The agency also runs its own transportation demand management program, including a “Clear the Air” campaign designed to encourage alternative commuting during the height of the summer ozone season.

To help raise awareness and encourage wider participation in the Clear the Air drive, CATS partnered with Charlotte Area Air Awareness and Sustain Charlotte. Charlotte Area Air Awareness is a state-level program that includes the Clean Commute Challenge program, which incentivizes smart transportation.

The 2017 challenge ran from June 1 to July 31, and offered participants the opportunity to win prizes by logging at least 10 round-trip clean commutes. Residents of eight surrounding counties were eligible to take part.

It proved to be a strong success, thanks in large measure to partnership efforts:

  • CATS handled the creation of marketing and promotional materials, helped spread the word through its relationships with over 100 local businesses, and hyped the program on social media
  • Sustain Charlotte hosted and managed the website where participants logged their commutes while increasing the program’s reach through local partnerships
  • Charlotte Area Air Awareness also leveraged its partnerships to help increase public awareness, and it furnished the prizes for challenge winner

The model worked very well. By working together to raise awareness, yet dividing up administrative tasks, the partner agencies were able to operate an efficient, far-reaching program that yielded strong results:

  • 260,570 miles of clean commutes
  • 67.8 tons of carbon monoxide reductions
  • 1.16 million calories burned
  • $68,579 in fuel expenses saved

Schultz identified several positive takeaways, but also noted that her experience taught her some valuable lessons about collaboration. It proved to be challenging to sustain the program for a full two months, and there were some communication and troubleshooting issues to address.

By going through the process, CATS will be better able to launch and manage future commuting challenge partnerships as it works to achieve its goal of encouraging more Charlotte residents to choose smart commuting alternatives.