You’d think commuters who slog more than 15-plus miles to work every day would jump at the chance to save on gas, tolls, and insurance…drive only once a week instead of all five days…and cut their travel time in half.  But despite these very real benefits, it took a special grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the unfailing efforts of DATA Vanpool Coordinator Sarah McGowan to encourage 31 area commuters to adopt a “Van Do Attitude.”

The recently completed grant, in partnership with Enterprise Rideshare, formed 6 sustainable vanpools that are still adding riders and encouraging the formation of IMG_1012additional vanpools simply by example.  Success was fueled by a schedule of incentives over a six month period, including subsidies, gas cards, free Wi-Fi, and logo items.  The result was a substantial reduction in vehicle miles traveled and vehicle trips.

Grants enable DATA to develop creative approaches to reducing congestion on area roads.  Both E3Calc, DATA’s greenhouse gas calculator for business, and the Live More Commute Less® initiative and website were developed through grants.  DATA’s Onsite Rideshare Coordinator, a program that uses bilingual ridematching experts to help provide reliable, cost effective commuting options for the underserved, is underwritten by a federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant.

In FY2017, which began July 1, DATA is addressing behavior change through the Live More Commute Less: FOCUS! grant.  Instead of working through employers to promote alternatives to commuting in a single occupant vehicle (SOV), LMCL: FOCUS! will concentrate on changing commuting behavior among residents in a specific geographic area, in this case the Town of Reston.  DATA will conduct and participate in special events throughout Reston to promote awareness and usage of transit, encourage teleworking, and facilitate ridesharing through the formation of car and vanpools.  Anticipating the arrival of Capital Bikeshare, the LMCL: FOCUS! grant will also highlight the benefits of biking and walking to work or to the Silver Line station or bus stop.

DATA continues to explore innovative and effective ways to reduce vehicular traffic…because when it comes to controlling congestion, our region can’t afford to take anything for “granted!”