What is TravelSmart?
TravelSmart is an innovative way to encourage environmentally friendly ways to travel. The concept, used in more than 300 projects around the world, identifies individuals who want to change the way they travel and uses personal, individualized contact to motivate them to think about their travel options. TravelSmart provides customized information and training to help people take transit, bike, walk or carpool for some of their trips.
TravelSmart gives participants just the information they ask for to help them get started, or to keep on walking, biking, taking transit or carpooling. Those who don’t want information are left alone. Materials are delivered in the most efficient and cost effective way – by bicycle.
Interstate TravelSmart Large-Scale Project
The Interstate area in north and northeast Portland is the site of the first U.S. large-scale TravelSmart project. This project reached over 14,000 people in north and northeast Portland following the opening of the Interstate MAX light rail line. Results are in and, once again, TravelSmart has proved successful in reducing car travel and increasing cycling, walking and transit.
The City of Portland, with support from ODOT, TriMet and Metro, has conducted the first tests of TravelSmart in the US. The first pilot project was launched in the Multnomah/ Hillsdale neighborhoods of Portland in 2002 and completed in 2004. It reached 600 households (approximately 1200 people). This pilot resulted in a significant reduction in car trips and an increase in walking, cycling and transit.
The Interstate TravelSmart project was conducted after the completion of the Interstate MAX light rail line. As part of the evaluation process, a control group was also surveyed to identify changes in travel due to system improvements and those that are due to system improvements plus individualized marketing.
The first step is a "before survey".A randomly selected survey of 1460 persons in the Interstate target area was conducted in April/May 2004. This initial survey determined how household members currently travel.
Second step – individualized marketing . A period of personalized contact focused on those who expressed an interest in receiving information and assistance about traveling using environmentally friendly modes. Those people who were not interested were left alone. In September and October of 2004 6281 households (14,446 people) were contacted.
Third step is an "after survey".One year after the initial survey, a random survey was conducted to measure changes in travel behavior. 1708 people were surveyed.
Fourth Step is an "In-Depth Study." The in-depth study determined the potential for travel behavior change via a one hour-long home interview with persons of selected households aimed at collecting information on the reasons behind their mode choice. Once the data is collected, careful analysis is carried out to assess whether an alternative mode actually could have been a viable option to the car.
The before travel survey provides us with detailed information about travel behavior in the Interstate target area. The survey found that 59% of the trips in the target area are by people driving alone in their cars, 10% are walking, 6% are public transit, and 3% are bike trips. The remaining 22% are trips by passengers in cars.
Individualized Marketing Campaign
Beginning in September 2004, 14,446 people (6281 households) were contacted in the Interstate Corridor by the TravelSmart campaign. Of the households contacted, 5,753 participated in a brief telephone interview, representing a 92% response rate. In the telephone interview, these households were segmented into one of four categories—interested, regular users of environmentally friendly modes who wanted additional information, regular users who did not want additional information, and not interested.
Of the 5,753 households, 2,077 (36%) were interested, 1,341 (23%) were regular users who wanted additional information, 230 (4%) were regular users who did not want additional information, and 2,105 (37%) were not interested in participating further.
The 3,418 households that requested information were mailed a service sheet to determine what information they wanted. 2,624 households returned the service sheet, a 77% response rate. The requested information was packaged into a bag, along with an incentive chosen by the individual household, and delivered by bicycle. 98% of the deliveries were delivered by bike and completed within one week of the request.
Participants in the campaign also had the opportunity to request further services in the public transportation, bicycling, and walking areas. Those choosing these further services received a personal home visit from a "Travel Ambassador." The Travel Ambassadors were cross-trained to respond to a variety of questions concerning each mode and equipped to cover the materials and information selected by each household prior to the visit. Of the 108 households that requested further services and received home visits, 28 were primarily interested in public transportation, 34 in cycling, and 46 in walking.
Final Results - Interstate TravelSmart Project
The TravelSmart individualized marketing campaign took place in the Interstate Corridor of north and northeast Portland in the fall of 2004. A before survey was conducted in the spring of 2004, prior to the opening of the Interstate MAX light rail line.
The before survey was based on a random sample of 1460 residents in the target area. Participants completed a mail back travel diary showing how they travel over a week’s time.
One year later, in the spring of 2005, an after survey was conducted. It showed that car travel decreased as a result of the individualized marketing campaign. Those trips were shifted to walking, biking, and public transit.
Where do people go?
Results from the after survey also show that all trips (all modes) increased within the target area. This appears to be very good news for the community. After the individualized marketing campaign more people are traveling within their neighborhood and local community than before.
The final results show that car travel decreased in the area where TravelSmart was conducted (target area). The control group also saw reductions in car travel, no doubt due to the new Interstate MAX line and other activities in the area to promote the line.
While transit trips increased 24% in the control area, they increased 44% in the TravelSmart area. Transit ridership significantly increased when individualized marketing was provided in addition to the improvements in the system.
The results show that car travel in the TravelSmart target decreased by 9% over that of the control group area. Biking, walking, and transit all increased significantly over that measured in the control group.
Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) also reduced as a result of TravelSmart. The total reduction was 6.8 million miles and 14% reduction in VMT. The relative reduction in VMT in the target area was 8% (subtracting 6% reduction in the control group).
The combination of light rail and TravelSmart increased physical activity 25 hours each year (or about 2 hours each month). Incorporating walking, cycling, and walking to the bus and MAX into their everyday lives appeared to lead to a healthiert community.
Interstate participants comments about TravelSmart
"It was awesome; the maps, the walking; we needed it actually."
"The bag is great and the information makes me more likely to remember to walk to the store. The coupons are also great to help support local businesses."
"The maps are all wonderful- we’ll be using those a lot; the walking routes are nice. My daughter is thinking of getting a bicycle – she hasn’t ridden in years!"
"The package was wonderful. The information was presented as a fun option rather than a "should" and that made it so attractive. We already walk a lot and now we have new places to go and things to see."
"I used the pedometer and I am already very happy. My wife and I now walk more together."
"I was totally surprised that they brought [the information] on a bicycle! It made it extra special. It’s also good to see the whole transportation system on a map."