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Cousins Properties is pleased to have been named a Platinum Partner. To be one of only 130 metro Atlanta employers and property managers recognized for results achieved through its sustainable commute program is quite an honor. There are a few people that helped us achieve this accomplishment.
Downtown TMA has been an instrumental partner in helping Cousins educate its customers on the alternative commuting options available downtown. Joint program initiatives have included quarterly transportation fairs; Commuter Rewards programs, and also a spot on the Downtown TMA information kiosk rotation.
In addition, in 2009, Cousins introduced a Bike Share Program at its downtown properties - American Cancer Society Center and One Ninety One Peachtree Tower. The Downtown TMA was integral in assisting with the rollout and communicating the value proposition to our customers.  Cousins Properties remains committed and focused on its partnership with the Downtown TMA and is appreciative of the value that they bring to all downtown constituencies.  We look forward to collaboratively sharing new and innovative programs in the future.
Jessica McNamara is an administrative manager at Cousins Properties Incorporated

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.     

With the opening of the A-Team movie, summer blockbuster film season is well underway. Adapted from the 80s TV series, it's the story of four crime-fighting vigilantes ... who ride to "work" in their van.

Admit it. Riding to work in this macho van would be a thrill. Courtesy:

Anyhow, it got The Clean Air Campaign thinking about other famous vanpools. Of course, Scooby Doo and the vaunted Mystery Machine comes to mind.

Wouldn't your commute to work be groovier if this was your ride? Courtesy:

And in Little Miss Sunshine, a van shuttles the protagonist to the beauty pageant. Got any other famous vanpools to share? Post your faves on this blog, or hit us on Facebook.

What was it about vanpooling that worked for these stars? Maybe the A-Team did it for the sake of productivity. It's certainly easier for a plan to come together about stopping the bad guys when your team can collaborate on the road. And the Scooby Doo cast probably saves a lot of money, too, by riding to crime scenes together instead of driving separately (and if Shaggy signed up for Commuter Rewards with The Clean Air Campaign, he could be eligible to win $25 monthly prizes). Of course, the camaraderie of vanpooling cannot be undersold either.

Bottom line: these celebrities are making it work with vanpooling, so if it works for them it might work for you, too.

For employers - The Clean Air Campaign has developed a special program to help Georgia employers make vanpooling available to select groups of employees who live near each other and commute in to the same destination. Ask us about how we can help bring this concept to your worksite -- at no cost.

For commuters - Watch this brief video to learn three reasons why vanpooling makes sense for a growing number of Georgia commuters.

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