Portland’s Smart Trips Welcome Program

After creating Smart Trips, a successful transportation program for residents of Portland, Oregon, the Bureau of Transportation chose to redefine the program, shifting its focus towards helping individuals new to the area develop environmentally-friendly and active transportation habits. Initial data collected by program organizers revealed that 35% of the US population had moved between 2005 and 2010, suggesting that there was a significant gap in people’s knowledge of local transportation options. After identifying three areas of the city to work within, Smart Trips targeted individuals who had moved to Portland in the last six months by using information obtained from a purchased mailing list. Prior to the official start of the program a survey was mailed to both the target audience and the control group to assess residents’ awareness of transportation resources and gather information about their daily transportation behaviors. The program relied on three main strategies: (1) customized, personal communications, (2) reinforcement, and (3) encouragement. Staggered mailouts were used throughout the program to introduce residents to Smart Trips, give individuals the opportunity to order resources and select incentives, and remind people to participate. Residents that completed the order form had the resources they requested delivered to their doorsteps in a tote bag along with a thank you letter, pledge form, and coupon sheet. Participants were given access to an online trip diary where they could log their trips and commute modes and phone calls were made to each participant two weeks after materials were delivered to give them the opportunity to ask questions and receive encouragement. Personalized e-mails and electronic newsletters were also used to provide participants with transportation information and active transportation tips. After the program concluded a follow-up survey, written in the same format as the initial survey, was mailed to both target and control groups. 5,400 participants contributed to a reduction of more than one million vehicle miles traveled, which translates to around 200 miles per new resident annually.

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