Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Op-Ed: Mobility Matters: Reducing Car Use

Mobility Matters - Reducing car use on a long term basis

- Margaret Mahan, BEST Vancouver Canada

This program launched by BEST - Better Environmentally Sound Transportation in Vancouver Canada, encourages people to reduce car use on a long term basis, and promotes more sustainable and active transportation choices. Links car disposal services with transportation planning, using a community/neighborhood organizing approach. It works like this:

Transportation demand management studies show that people are more inclined to make lasting changes in their transportation choices if they have access to travel planning services that help them to understand and better utilize the full range of mobility options available to them. Mobility Matters encourages car owners to either relinquish their car or offset the GHG emissions from car use, in exchange for individualized travel planning services and incentives that support sustainable transportation changes.

Participants donate their car to BEST (a local non-profit that promotes sustainable transportation and land use planning), who then resells newer model cars for revenue, and provides the participant with a tax receipt, or organizes disposal of end-of-life cars through a recycling company. Participants receive membership to the local carshare operator (Co-Operative Auto Network) and customized travel planning services and incentives that are tailored to meet their specific lifestyle and transportation usage needs (these may include combinations of ride sharing, telecommuting, trip combining, transit, walking and cycling). The Coop Auto Network will put a fleet car in each neighborhood that achieves 15 households signing up with Mobility Matters.

Those not wishing to part with a car can participate by purchasing carbon off-sets for their vehicle use. All participants have access to a Mobility Matters members-only website that offers trip planning and GHG emissions calculators, and connects them to other program participants, and other benefits.

BEST derives revenue from the resale of cars taken in through the car sale option, from the resale of the older, end-of-life cars taken in through the car recycling option, and from the sale of offsets. This revenue will be used to support BEST's ongoing efforts to increase access to trip planning tools and education on the range of travel options available. This will further support long-term commitments to reduce vehicle use.

Margaret Mahan, Executive Director,
BEST - Better Environmentally Sound Transportation
Vancouver, Canada

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

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