CommuteCon 2019

Creative Solutions in a City with Few Barriers to Driving Alone

Katherine Auge
Program Coordinator
Missoula in Motion

Session Description

Missoula in Motion program coordinator Katherine Auge joined us to talk about some of the creative solutions her team implemented in Missoula, Montana. 

Missoula has a population of just over 73,000, and sits at the so-called “Hub of Five Valleys.” This geographic location makes it prone to low air quality, as transportation-related pollution tends to get trapped and hang over the city like a cloud. It is also a very car-centric area where solo driving is ingrained in the local culture. There isn’t much traffic, parking is ample and often free, and winter weather makes driving the most convenient option.

Katherine noted that in Missoula, the “dangling carrot” approach works much better than the “punitive stick” approach, since there aren’t any effective barriers to solo driving inherently in place. Thus, providing incentives for using smart alternatives has proven to be a much more effective way to engage Missoula residents.

A few of the things Katherine and her team have focused on include:

  • Encouraging active commuting using the city’s extensive cycling and pedestrian infrastructure
  • Offering fare-free access to public transportation along major routes, which delivers significant cost savings to commuters who use it on a long-term basis
  • Leveraging the city’s environmentally conscious and active attitudes through encouragement and public awareness campaigns
  • Commuter challenges designed to introduce people to alternative modes of transportation and encourage their long-term adoption

Instead of taking radical steps and implementing aggressive programs with ambitious targets, Katherine and her agency have instead focused on achieving smaller, incremental improvements over time. Missoula is a fast-growing city, and converting even a modest percentage of commuters to smarter and active modes could help the city avoid potential traffic congestion problems in the future.

You can learn more about Katherine’s effective strategy by viewing the full presentation she made at CommuteCon 2019.


Originally from Buffalo, NY, Katherine moved to Montana in 2010. She joined the Missoula In Motion team in 2016 and is passionate about promoting healthy, sustainable and equitable transportation options to her community.