Thursday, September 23, 2010

Personal Assistance Helps Curb Congestion

By Wendy Scholtz, Curb the Congestion Specialist

“How long would it take me to get to work by bus?”
“What’s a vanpool?”
“I’m thinking about biking when the weather’s good. How can I cross I-5?”

These are typical questions I receive as the Curb the Congestion Specialist at Community Transit.

The Curb the Congestion program is a partnership between Community Transit and Snohomish County to reduce traffic on certain congested roads: 164th Street (Lynnwood-Mill Creek), 128th Street (S. Everett-Silver Firs) and 20th Street (near Lake Stevens). The program offers personalized information and other tools to help participants make more trips by bus, carpool, vanpool, bicycling or walking instead of driving alone. Incentive prizes help motivate people to change their daily travel habits. The program is funded by Snohomish County through grants and development fees.

Over the years, I’ve been a daily bus rider, vanpooler, carpooler, bicycle commuter and walker. I’ve even been known to drive alone now and then. I love having transportation options and helping others learn about theirs. People often have opportunities they don’t know about, like a neighbor who wants to carpool or a convenient bus route. Or they may assume these options are difficult or time-consuming.

Providing personalized assistance is one of the best parts of my job. I don’t ask people to abandon driving alone altogether, but I can help them think about using a smarter mode on certain trips. With small changes, their trip to work or shopping just might become more enjoyable and affordable. And we all benefit from more efficient use of our county’s transportation system, cleaner air and less traffic congestion.

James McGavin’s story is a great example of how the program works. A physical therapist, James rides Community Transit Route 412 to a First Hill clinic in Seattle. In April, he learned that he would begin working two days a week at a Northgate clinic. James registered for Curb the Congestion and asked for help planning his commute to Northgate.

First, we examined his bus options. Since there wasn’t a direct bus, I put him in touch with vanpool groups traveling to Northgate. I also helped him use to find a carpool partner. The carpool works great. “We save at least half an hour each way using the HOV lanes,” he says.

James logs all his smarter trips on his online Curb the Congestion calendar. In July, he won the $1,000 quarterly incentive prize.

If you travel 164th Street, 128th Street or 20th Street, learn more and sign up at

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