Why You Should Stop Driving Alone to Midtown
By Christi Nakajima, Program Manager for Midtown Transportation, Midtown Alliance
There’s no doubt that driving alone impacts the world around us. From air pollution and carbon emissions to expensive wear on infrastructure and potentially life threatening collisions, driving is a problematic way to get around. When many of the 100,000 people living in, working in, and visiting Midtown choose to drive alone, the problems compound. Despite a sizable number of employees now working hybrid schedules, transportation is still the largest source of Georgia’s carbon emissions, the primary driver of the climate crisis.
Fortunately, many Midtown workers are beginning to return to transit as they return to the office, based on data collected from MARTA and Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority. Others are choosing to call Midtown home so they can walk or bike to most places. Those who prioritize cleaner travel options can often speak to the advantages. Taking the train means having a reliable trip time and not having to pay for parking. Taking the bus allows you to relax, text your friends, or read a book on your way to Midtown. Choosing to carpool or vanpool can save on gas and give you access to HOV lanes, while biking and walking in Midtown offer stress-relieving exercise. For those discouraged by hills or looking to travel faster, e-bikes and e-scooters provide a little extra kick.
It’s not just workers and residents. Midtown employers also understand the importance of offering robust commuter benefits for staff returning to the office. These benefits often include discounted or subsidized transit passes, as well as allowing staff to purchase parking on a day-by-day basis, lending flexibility between working from home and commuting by other modes depending on the day. Some employers provide information and resources on different commute options, while others connect staff with carpool matching services.
Given the rise in remote and hybrid work schedules, you might expect transportation emissions to now be significantly lower compared to pre-pandemic. While these emissions did drop slightly in 2020, in 2021 they returned to and actually surpassed 2019 levels. In other words, it’s important to think about alternatives to driving alone not only for work, but for social, recreational, shopping, and other trips as well.
Midtown Transportation, a program of Midtown Alliance that has existed for two decades and is staffed by full-time employees, helps people make the switch from driving alone through various programs and services. For commuters and residents, we create free personalized bike and transit route plans and promote financial incentives offered by Georgia Commute Options. We also host special events like Try Transit, where participants who normally don’t take transit can get a free 10-trip transit pass. To support employers, we form partnerships to understand a workforce’s commuting needs and develop tailored solutions using our knowledge and expertise about Midtown’s and the region’s transportation network. We also partner with residential properties to offer resources to residents, and work with developers to ensure that new buildings can accommodate bikes, carpool parking, and other modes besides just driving alone. These strategies are collectively referred to as transportation demand management (TDM) strategies. The times have evolved, but their purpose is largely the same as when TDM as a practice rose to prominence in the 1970s: to create efficiencies and improve quality of life by shifting demand from drive alone trips to other alternatives.
This week, September 19th through the 23rd, is TDM Week. We’re celebrating the shift to cleaner modes of travel by inviting you to get involved with Midtown Transportation, whether you’re a resident, commuter, employer, developer, property manager or visitor.