Posts tagged with $3 a day
Over the past decade, more than 32,000 Georgians have been part of a program that rewards them for doing their part to clear the roads and clean the air. It was 10 years ago this fall that The Clean Air Campaign started offering commuters a financial nudge to make a change in the name of cleaner air and less traffic. The incentive was initially only offered in metro Atlanta, and only during smog season. Today there are more incentives that make up the Commuter Rewards program, and they are available year-round, to all Georgia commuters.
The idea for Cash for Commuters was borne out of a question we ask ourselves all the time at The Clean Air Campaign: what can we do to influence commuters to change their behavior?
Some 82% of commuters in metro Atlanta – and 79% of commuters statewide – drive alone. Why not pay them a nominal amount to try alternatives like carpooling, vanpooling, riding transit, bicycling or walking on their trips to and from work? In effect, this outcome is designed to pay commuters to break an existing habit just as much as it is to acquire a new one.
These became the cornerstone principles of the Cash for Commuters program:
- If the drive-alone skeptics could experience the benefits of not being behind the wheel over the course of a trial period – and come to appreciate those benefits – the money would be a great investment. Data shows 74 percent of participants are still using alternatives to the solo drive 18-24 months after their participation in the Cash for Commuters program ends.
- Applying the old adage that it takes about 30 days to form or break a habit, the trial period needed to be long enough for commuters to see the difference in their household budgets and their stress levels.
- Documenting commute activity during program participation could show commuters and employers alike the difference they make, expressed in terms of vehicle miles not traveled, air pollution not emitted and financial savings on commute costs. Each workday, the commuters who take part in this and other Clean Air Campaign programs help eliminate 1.4 million vehicle miles of travel and keep 700 tons of pollution out of the air we all breathe, while saving $658,000 on commute costs.
While the Cash for Commuters program rewards those who switch with $3 a day, up to a $100 maximum payout, the experience shows it’s not just about the money. That’s why other regions around the U.S. became interested in creating similar programs. The experience here in Georgia also has shown that commuters know where to turn for relief when gas prices jump. There has often been a strong correlation between participation in the Cash for Commuters program and the price at the pump. After Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf in 2005 and fuel supply lines were crippled, gas price increases drove more Georgia commuters to change their behavior. And in 2008, the run-up to $4-a-gallon gas had commuters beating down the door to get relief.
In all seasons and in all circumstances, Georgia commuters share a common trait: seeking ways to make better use of their time and money. Cash for Commuters, in its ten-year history, has helped thousands of people cross over to the greener pastures of alternative commuting. Discovering the myriad benefits – for their wallets and their well-being – is what keeps them there.
Neat graphic from the folks at Go Banking Rates. Their figure of 70 cents per mile is on the higher end of what AAA includes in their report, 2010 "Your Driving Costs." The Clean Air Campaign uses a more mid-range figure of 56 cents per mile for a mid-sized sedan clocking about 15K miles/year. At either level, the money we're spending on driving our cars is astonishing.
Click here for a larger version of this image.
The best savings strategy most people have yet to discover is choosing to drive less. Commuters who participate in incentive programs with The Clean Air Campaign and log their commuting activity with us can see exactly how much impact their efforts mean -- to their wallet AND the air we breathe.
It's early October, which means harvest time is on the way. And The Clean Air Campaign has transportation and air quality news by the bushel. So, slip on your work gloves and reap what we've sown in the latest edition of Merging Lanes.
Smog Season Wrap Up: Sigh of Relief
The 2009 Smog Season concluded last week and, amazingly, was one of the quietest for ground-level ozone in the past decade. To be sure, Georgia caught a big break. The final tally for unhealthy air days -- 18 across the state, with 16 of those days occurring in metro Atlanta -- was aided by more rainfall, cooler temperatures and slightly windier conditions. What really stands out is that the 2009 Smog Season never brought a Code Red day. The 18 smog days we experienced were all within the Code Orange range. Ground-level ozone is less likely to form outside the period between May and September. But stay on your toes, because particle pollution is a year-round problem in Georgia, creating more risks to respiratory health.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
Ground-Level Ozone Standards Revisited
The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with establishing and updating "national ambient air quality standards" to protect public health and welfare. In March of 2008, the EPA rolled out a new standard for ground-level ozone that was tougher than the previous standard. The rationale for tightening the standard was that scientific evidence suggested exposure to ground-level ozone at lower concentrations still posed a significant health hazard. While the business community reacted with concern that the revised standards were too strict, health and environmental advocates were concerned the revised standards didn't go far enough. Since that time, a new administration has entered the White House and news broke last week that the standard will be revisited again, with the possibility of a revised standard being introduced in mid-2010. This has big implications for areas like Columbus, Augusta, Athens and Macon. Specific counties in these regions were recommended earlier this year by Georgia EPD to be reclassified as non-attainment areas for ground-level ozone. The designation process for these areas was slated to conclude in March of 2010, but has now been moved to 2011. With the extra time afforded them, commuters, employers and schools in these areas can do more to put programs in place to improve air quality. But the fact that the clock is now ticking a little slower should not become an excuse for complacency. Through its partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, The Clean Air Campaign is ready to help more organizations in these locales. Call us.
Lane ends 1,000 feet.
Good Works Garnering Accolades
Some of the best work to curb traffic and smog is happening right here in Georgia. In the past couple of months, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners have been recognized nationally by the Association for Commuter Transportation and within the state by Conserve Georgia for our efforts in the shared pursuit of clean air and less traffic. But we certainly couldn't have earned these accolades without help from the legions of commuters and employers like you who have taken action. A thunderous round of applause for YOU. You're part of the solution that is eliminating 1.6 million miles of vehicle travel and keeping 800 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe EACH DAY. But we know there's more work we can do together ... read on for another idea about how you can help even more.
Lane ends 500 feet.
Clean Commuting: Always in Fashion
The Clean Air Campaign's mainstay $3 a day incentive that encourages current drive-alone commuters to make the switch had a huge year in 2008, bolstered by skyrocketing gas prices and an awakening among many commuters that using alternatives to driving alone makes sense. That was then. This is now. Falling prices at the pump ($2.30/gallon is now a steal when compared with the $4 we shelled out last year), combined with the aftershock of the recession and pressure being felt within the labor market are a few reasons that new participation in The Clean Air Campaign's incentives programs has slowed (though research findings show 74% of "graduates" from the $3 incentive program last year were still clean commuting 18-24 months after their incentive was exhausted). To spice things up a little, we are taking a cue from other businesses looking to drum up patronage. The Clean Air Campaign is awarding a fun t-shirt to the next 2,000 commuters to sign up for the $3 a day incentive program. Get the scoop here and tell all your friends and co-workers who drive alone about this limited-time offer. You can be more than a clean commuter. You can become an ambassador for clean commuting.
With the holidays now in the rear-view mirror, this is the time of year when many of us feel the weight of our financial choices. The bills start showing up from holiday expenses and we vow to spend less. In this tight economy, it’s all about stretching our dollars further, right? So, where can we flex our thrifty muscles and make the most impact? How about the daily commute?
How much does it cost the average commuter to drive to and from work each day? Cha-ching! The answer is 54 cents a mile, according to the American Automobile Association and their annual study, Your Driving Costs. That’s based on driving 15,000 miles a year. Now, take that 54 cents and multiply by 40 miles (the average daily roundtrip commute in metro Atlanta): you’re on the hook for nearly $22 each day you commute alone by car. More staggering than the cost of your daily café latte, huh? Factored into that figure are:
- maintenance costs
- car loan expenses
- license and registration expenses
Most of us would shrug our shoulders and say there’s nothing we can do about it: we need wheels to get around. But it’s not about giving up your car outright. It’s about using it less. Fewer miles on your car means savings in all the areas mentioned above with the likely exception of your car note and license/registration. But if you keep it in the driveway more often, you can reduce your insurance premiums and save on gas and maintenance.
For more Georgia commuters, carpooling, riding transit, teleworking or even bicycling could become the next great financial savings strategy during this recession. Take our commute calculator for a spin and see how much you could save over the course of this year by regularly using alternatives to driving alone. If you could save $500 or even $1,000, would you try it? If you could also earn $3 a day from The Clean Air Campaign, up to $100, would that be worth it? Think differently about how you can get ahead financially – and get out of traffic – this year.