The Summer Smart Trips pilot project tracked and supported green commuting habits of volunteer employees from five participating workplaces for eight weeks in 2010. They included a total of 58 employees from Green Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Liquor Control Commission, Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, and Manitoba Public Insurance. Funding for the project was provided by the Manitoba government through Green Manitoba Eco Solutions.
Participants were asked to track their commuting habits on a weekly basis from June 14 to August 8, 2010, and sign a pledge to switch some trips from driving alone to riding the bus, carpooling, cycling or walking. They were eligible to receive tools and resources to help them switch to the mode of their choice and personal assistance to accomplish this. Participants also received direct feedback on their personal results – every two weeks, they learned how much money they saved, how many calories they burned and how many GHG emissions they avoided. Workplaces were provided with bi-weekly aggregate summaries for all participants in the pilot project and totals for each workplace.
Program impact on travel behaviour
A total of 44 participants (85%) completed the final online survey, with half of those providing written comments in addition to answering questions. Over 70% of respondents indicated that they considered switching some of their drive alone car trips to transit, biking, carpooling, or walking (including non-work trips) since the start of the project. A little more than half of respondents said that they drove alone to work less since the program began. Almost 82% noted they drove alone less for other trips, such as errands, shopping, social functions, library, etc. Of those who indicated they now drove alone less to work, more than half identified that the Summer Smart Trips project influenced their decision.
Program elements that influenced the decision to drive less, in order of selection, included:
- Personal results feedback (calories burned, fuel saved, GHG emissions avoided)
- Tracking weekly commute
- Tools (bike light, pedometer, transit tickets, umbrella)
- Signing pledge form
- Weekly commuting tips
The Summer Smart Trips program appears to have had a positive impact on the participants’ travel behavior, even those who already use sustainable modes to get to work some of the time. It also appears to have had an impact on trips outside the commute to work, perhaps by making the participants more conscious of their travel decisions. It should be noted that results were undoubtedly influenced by the voluntary registration of participants, which tends to attract those who are already supportive.
This program model presents another approach to engage employees, particularly those who express an interest in potentially changing their behaviour but need assistance or additional motivation. Offering the program to all employees provides the opportunity to promote activities workplace-wide, such as presentations, workshops and fun events.