By Maria José Subiria
They may be coming for the cash, but The Clean Air Campaign says they're staying for the green.
According to surveys released recently by the campaign, as many as 74 percent of people polled, who finished the campaign's three-month, $3-a-day cash incentive program, continued to use commute alternatives for 18 to 24 months after the incentive ended.
The program encourages solo motorists to catch a more environmentally friendly ride to work, and the surveys, of participants in the incentive program in 2007 and 2008, were conducted by the Center for Transportation and the Environment for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Participants in The Clean Air Campaign's incentive program must be switching from a solo commute to an alternative such as carpooling, teleworking, biking or taking transit, and can earn $3 per day over a 90-day period, or up to $100.
"I haven't sat down, and calculated it, but I know I at least save $25 a month for parking, and I probably save $150 a month in gas, and that doesn't include the savings of wear and tear" on a vehicle, said Joseph Redd, a Riverdale resident who works in downtown Atlanta.
Redd said he gets on an Xpress bus at a park-and-ride lot about three minutes from his home, and gets dropped off near the building where he works downtown.
He said he started riding the bus when he began participating in the $3-a-day incentive program, in September of 2007. After the 90-day period, he said he continued to use Xpress on his own because he was helping the environment by using his car less frequently, and saving money. He said he also enjoys the "peace of mind."
"I don't have to worry about people getting in and out of traffic," Redd said. "I can relax."
Morrow resident, Sonja Bebley, said she participated in the $3-a-day incentive program more than three years ago, and still takes a C-TRAN bus to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where she gets on a MARTA train to downtown Atlanta.
She said that by using C-TRAN, and MARTA, she saves $1,200 a year on gasoline.
Bebley said there have been times when the buses would run late, and she took commuting to work into her own hands, but she wasn't fond of the drive because of the traffic.
"Every time I decided to drive, when buses were a little late, I dreaded it," she said.
Tarria Harris, a Jonesboro resident, said she used to spend about $300 a month on gasoline to get to and from work in Alpharetta.
Harris said since participating in the $3-a-day incentive program in the summer of 2007, she has continued to vanpool for approximately two years, and split the cost of leasing a van with several other commuters.
"I don't have to worry about oil changes, and tire rotations," she said.
Harris said a person interested in vanpooling can find other like-minded commuters either at work, or on the Ride Smart web site, www.myridesmart.com, which matches commuters with potential carpool or vanpool partners near their area.
"I receive tons of calls from people through the Ride Smart web site," she said.
The Clean Air Campaign officials said that more than 29,000 Georgians have participated in the $3-a-day incentive program since its launch in October 2002.
"Metro Atlanta's transportation-demand management program has been recognized as a national leader, and the $3-a-day incentive program is one of its most successful elements," said Wendy Morgan, senior project manager for the Center for Transportation and the Environment.
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