Commuting plays an outsized role in our transportation system. While commutes account for just 19% of total trips, they make nearly 28% of total vehicle miles traveled. The daily commute has literally shaped our transportation system, as roads are built to accommodate congestion during rush hour.
Unfortunately, efforts to shift commuters out of single-occupant vehicles (SOVs) and into alternative modes have largely been unsuccessful. In 1990, 75% of Cuyahoga County residents drove alone to work. By 2013, this number had actually increased to 80%, higher than the national average.
Northeast Ohio’s heavy reliance on SOVs has taken its toll. Households in the Cleveland metropolitan area spend a larger share of their incomes on housing and transportation (55%) than those in New York City (51%) or San Francisco (50%). This outcome largely stems from transportation costs, which consume 24% of the average Greater Cleveland household’s take-home pay.
Transportation also affects public health outcomes. According to one 2013 study, air pollution from the transportation sector was responsible for an estimated 384 premature deaths in Greater Cleveland, and the region had the second highest mortality rate from mobile emissions.
Clearly, reducing the number of SOVs on the road during commute hours could help to save the region time, money, and lives.
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) recently unveiled Gohio Commute, the region’s premier trip planning, matching, and logging platform. This innovative, interactive website and mobile app enables users to find comprehensive information on any trip from point A to point B, including detailed information on all travel modes, whether they want to drive alone, carpool, vanpool, transit, bike, or walk.
For each mode, Gohio Commute shows you the true costs and benefits of your travel choices, providing detailed information on trip time, travel costs/savings, calories burned, and carbon emissions reduced. It also includes map layers that display local transportation infrastructure, including transit stations, UHBikes stations, electric vehicle (EV) charging points, and park-n-ride lots, allowing you to seamlessly plan multi-modal trips and connect for carpools and vanpools with fellow commuters. Users can log their trips on Gohio Commute, watching their savings grow. They can also earn badges and keep track of their standing on real-time leaderboards.
Importantly, this new platform gives businesses and organizations in Northeast Ohio the opportunity to create their own personalized subsites. On these subsites, employers can offer customized incentives and host friendly challenges to encourage their employees to consider alternative commute modes. Each organization will have the chance to create its own unique incentives, such as subsided or free transit passes, priority parking for carpoolers, or reduced healthcare premiums.
The platform will also provide an easy way to promote pre-tax commuter benefits that reduce payroll taxes for employers and employees. Gohio Commute also provides employers with robust, user-friendly administrative tools, so you can track your employees’ behavior and report out on it. The subsites will provide a cost-free opportunity for employers across Northeast Ohio to reduce parking demand, simplify employee commutes, create a healthier workforce, and document their commitment to sustainability.
“NOACA’s goals are to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, and foster smart economic growth in the region by reducing single occupancy vehicle trips,” says NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci. “If we can accomplish this by making it fun through
incentives and competitions within organizations, then it’s even better.”
Gohio Commute will enhance Northeast Ohio’s image as an innovative, cutting-edge place to do business; a place where new talent will want to live and work; and a clean, vibrant 21st-century metropolitan area. This platform will operate statewide in Ohio’s major metropolitan areas, helping commuters looking to travel from one region to another. Ultimately, the platform should help to reduce our reliance on SOVs, mitigate congestion, improve air quality, and benefit public health.
NOACA is a planning agency that addresses the transportation, air quality, and water quality needs of Northeast Ohio. The agency and its partners cooperatively develop and implement plans to ensure that travel throughout the region is safe, cost-effective and environmentally sound. NOACA’s vision is to STRENGTHEN regional cohesion, PRESERVE existing infrastructure, and BUILD a sustainable multimodal transportation system to SUPPORT economic development and ENHANCE quality of life in Northeast Ohio.
About the Series
Sustainable Cleveland works together with community leaders, organizations, businesses, and citizens to reshape Cleveland into a vibrant livable city with thriving businesses and a flourishing natural environment. Each month, Sustainable Cleveland features a guest blogger to highlight their efforts and success stories in turning Cleveland into a sustainable city, at home, at work, and in the community. Share your success stories here.