In an effort to encourage City of Austin employees to take voluntary actions to reduce their drive-alone trips to and from work, the City established a Smart Commute Rewards program which pilot tested the effectiveness of certain incentives with respect to changing employees’ commute behaviors. Pre-pilot surveys revealed that the most engaging incentive for staff was the Leave Time Reward (LTR) – which allowed employees to qualify for additional paid time off. The Smart Commute Rewards program kicked-off program enrollment through in-person events, e-mails, newsletters, and posters, and kept participants engaged and motivated through contests and regularly sharing feedback on the program’s impact. Face-to-face opportunities, combined with annual surveying and regular program feedback enabled the City to identify the key barriers that its employees faced to commute more sustainably, as well as hear their commuting success stories, further supporting the development of effective programming. Through the pilot program, 53% of participants made a positive shift to reduce their drive-alone trips, reducing 380 tons of carbon dioxide, 3 tons of nitrogen oxides, and doubling the number of carpool and vanpool trips taken.
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