AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin realizes that many Austinites are not aware or maybe not comfortable with the alternate options they have for getting around town. Smart Trips is working to solve that. The pilot program is currently only available in Central Austin, but looking to expand in the future.
In order to be successful, the Smart Trips Austin priority community needed to have excellent transit access, bicycle connectivity, shared mobility services, desirable destinations that are accessible by foot. Several geographic focus areas were evaluated using this criteria and a five square mile area south of FM 2222, north of 38th Street, east of I-35 and west of MoPac (Loop 1) was chosen as the priority community. This area encompasses the Rosedale-Northloop-Ridgetop-Ridgelea-Hyde Park neighborhoods, as well as parts of Allandale, Brentwood and Hancock. The area is well served by transit with two bus rapid transit lines as well as bicycle routes and many walkable destinations.
The primary goal of the Smart Trips Austin program is to reduce single occupant vehicle trips by 5 percent among households in the priority community and increase transit ridership, bicycling, walking and carpooling by 5 percent among households in the priority community. By choosing to walk, bike, take transit and carpool, Austinites increase fitness, save money, reduce traffic congestion and help maintain a livable environment.
Smart Trip questionnaires were delivers over the course of three months to 10,000 households asking residents about their daily commute and what other transportation intrigued them. Over 500 households requested more information about alternate transportation options available to them in their neighborhood.
Once the questionnaire is received, members of the CapMetro Options Team will hand deliver what they call a ‘toolkit.’ A handbag stuffed with maps about the transportation options that interest you and other swag (including bike lights, bandana and wristbands), plus they’ll answer any questions you may have about exploring a new transportation option. Smart Trips Coordinator Lonny Stern says Smart Trips could help reduce Austin’s traffic problem.
“The real challenge is starting something new. If you can switch your mode one day a week, you are cutting your contribution to traffic by 20 percent,” he said.
Stern explains that the Options Team members are also available to ride along with you on your new transit adventure, similar to a buddy system.
“So if you’re participating, it’s because you’re interested in making a slight change,” he explains, “You need the peer experience and you need somebody else there telling you it’s going to be easy and we’re going to make it fun to break out of your regular habits.”