Future Mobility


November 4th, 2021

Post by Donna Marbury, Smart Columbus Storyteller

If you drive down a central Ohio highway in the morning, or run into rush hour traffic in the evening, you can feel it. Columbus roads are becoming more crowded as more people continue to populate our city. Today, 82 percent of Columbus residents are single occupant vehicle (SOV) commuters. With a population of 2 million people living in the Columbus region, roughly 705,274 people commute to their jobs in SOVs.

Columbus is the 14th largest city in the United States and the fastest-growing in the Midwest. The Columbus region is projected to add another one million residents by 2050, growing the population by about a third. The current infrastructure and transportation system cannot support this growth without a significant change in how residents get to and from work. Building and maintaining parking lots and structures cost central Ohio employers significant resources that could be deployed elsewhere, such as in innovation and growth. In addition, transportation contributes approximately one third of the region’s greenhouse gases. And we know that time in traffic negatively affects health. For all these reasons, it is an opportune time for Columbus employers to proactively work on shifting behavior away from SOVs. 
So, Smart Columbus made it one of our goals to decrease SOVs to large central Ohio workplaces by 10 percent by 2020. Smart Columbus Acceleration Partners were charged with helping Smart Columbus reduce SOVs by influencing employee driving behaviors and offering alternatives to SOV commutes. 

In February 2018, Battelle released a report commissioned by Smart Columbus, analyzing employee transportation patterns at some of the top employers in the Columbus region, and issued best practices for Smart Columbus and our partners to deploy in order to decrease the SOV commuter rate.

Battelle, a global research and development organization headquartered in Columbus, analyzed data from nine Acceleration Partner companies to gain a better understanding of the diverse transportation challenges their employees face. Battelle also interviewed and researched five transportation agencies, other program administrators around the country, new software solution providers and conducted secondary and primary research on other SOV programs around the country.

Key finding from their report include:

  • Income and distance from workplace influence how people choose to commute 
  • Availability and cost of parking are strong influencers in how people choose transport mode 
  • Lack of viable and economic transport options can significantly increase employee turnover 
  • New software solutions provide significant benefits to users and employers in managing and tracking commute behavior across many transportation options 
  • Incentives for employees to take alternate commute modes are critical in driving behavior change 
  • Ongoing and frequent communication and education about SOV reduction programs is needed 

To read the report in its entirety, which includes final programming recommendations, download from below.

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