Oregon DOT promotes Drive Less Challenge

By Dan Moser

On October 21, Oregon Department of Transportation and its regional transportation partners launched the first statewide Oregon Drive Less Challenge.  The immediate goal of the campaign is to reduce statewide vehicle miles traveled in single occupancy vehicles by half a million miles. The broader goal for the campaign is to raise awareness for ongoing alternative transportation programs aimed at reducing traffic congestion, environmental impacts, and other transportation system costs.

Participants can register for the program at Drive Less Connect, a free online tool launched in 2011 by ODOT and regional transportation agencies.  The program helps match people with ridesharing, transit, bicycling programs, and other alternative transportation options throughout the state, and provides anyone in the state information on and access to existing regional and interregional alternative transportation programs. It is available to individuals as well as to those with access to employee-sponsored transportation programs.

Both the Drive Less Challenge and the Drive Less Connect initiative have their origins in ODOT’s ongoing Drive Less, Save More program.  Launched in 2006 by ODOT, Portland Area Metro, and other local and regional public and private partners throughout the state, Drive Less, Save More seeks to reduce individual car trips to reduce traffic congestion and the need for costly road expansion projects. Survey results showed that by 2009 the program was credited with helping to reduce annual VMT by 21.8 million miles, translating to a reduction of about 10,700 tons of greenhouse gases in the Portland area alone.  Drivers realized a collective savings of $8 million in reduced automobile operating costs.

ODOT’s participation in the Drive Less, Save More initiative is just one strategy of many adopted by the agency to help achieve the goals set by the Oregon’s Statewide Transportation Strategy.  The STS, published in March of 2013, is the blueprint for fulfilling the objectives of the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative. OSTI is an integrated, statewide effort to reduce GHG emissions from Oregon’s transportation sector. Passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2010, the initiative includes specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases from the transportation sector. By 2050, the goal is to reduce GHG emissions from transportation by 60 percent from 1990 levels.

Dan Moser is a Research Assistant at SSTI.