In an effort to reduce road congestion, Nashville’s employers and employees stepped up to meet the 2019 Nashville Connector Commuter Challenge by carpooling, walking, biking, and taking the bus to work. Nearly twice as many organizations took part in the challenge this year over October of last year, resulting in over 5,200 non-drive-alone trips being reported for the contest that lasted from April 27 to May 3.
“If we are going to truly address our traffic challenges, we must use all available transportation options, not just single-occupancy vehicles,” said Mayor David Briley. “To see such a big increase in participation this year in the Commuter Challenge shows that we are moving in the right direction. The Challenge is also a fun way to experience our city in new ways. Public and private participation are going to be essential to tackling our traffic challenges and allowing for more sustainable growth moving forward.”
Results from the challenge show that the plurality of the 900 some participants chose carpooling (28%) as their preferred method of transportation, followed by bus (25%), remote work (15%), walking (12%), bicycling (10%), train (seven percent) and other modes (three percent). Some shining examples from the 33 organizations participating in the challenge include:
Hastings Architecture Associates had an 83% participation rate and a series of fun, animated posts on social media throughout the challenge. Starting with an office-wide presentation and planning session, they kept employees informed and engaged throughout the week with internal competitions, coordinated brainstorming using a group map, and a group lunch outing to WeGo Central to purchase bus tickets and familiarize staff with the station. 18 of their participants, most of them long-time residents, took the bus for the first time. Carpool was the most-used option, as employees discovered how many colleagues they lived close to and even worked it in after dropping kids off at daycare.
Metro Department of General Services had a 42% participation rate as they expanded their participation this year beyond the Sustainability Division to the whole department. Carpool was the option used most by participants, and several employees plan to continue carpooling going forward. Socket, the Sustainability mascot, was featured on social media throughout the week taking various modes of transportation.
Milepost Consulting had a 100% participation rate and daily social media posts that were engaging and informative. Environmentally focused already, Milepost employees were excited to participate and half of the office took the bus as a group one day (first-time riders all) and came away amazed by what a smooth experience it was.
Nashville Civic Design Center tied Milepost Consulting with a 100% participation rate. Staffers used the full range of commute options to show their commitment to this effort.
Vanderbilt University continually promoted the challenge on their various social media accounts, with photos of participants, helpful information, and encouragement. They had some fun with their mascot as well, showing Mr. Commodore riding the bus by swiping his Vanderbilt ID.
Tennessee Dept. of Human Services participants (over 30 employees) each took a sustainable commute every day of the work week. Remote work was a close second behind taking the bus for these employees, as TDHS has a robust Alternative Workplace Solutions (AWS) program.
Tennessee Department of Transportation more than tripled their participation numbers over last year’s challenge. They had a Transportation Vendor Fair and incentive program to help employees learn about their transportation options going into the Challenge.
Each organization received their award from Mayor David Briley on May 21.
“The downtown Nashville workforce and employers are really getting into the spirit of the Commuter Challenge, with past participants helping to encourage and recruit more people to join in,” said Miranda Clements. “As thousands of jobs and new residents are added to the downtown core, reducing car trips will be essential to a healthier quality of life for all Nashvillians. We are grateful to all those participating in the challenge and look forward to more people using different transportation options on a consistent basis.”
Nashville Connector, a division within the Metro Nashville Planning Department, is the information hub for Nashville’s commute options. As Davidson County’s first transportation demand management program, Nashville Connector promotes sustainable commute options through education and employer outreach and partnerships. The program is funded by a federal grant through the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Nashville Connector works in collaboration with TDOT and WeGo Public Transit. For more information about Nashville Connector, visit <nashconnector.org>.