Are incentives enough?

The City of San Rafael in California is beginning a new program this year that will pay city workers to get to work any other way than by driving in their car alone.

It’s a one-year pilot program using $10,000 in city funds to try and see if the city can reduce their carbon emissions.

There are stipends for those who carpool, vanpool or lease or purchase electric vehicles. There is money towards bus passes. Vanpools and carpools get prime parking spots. All participants, including those who bike or walk, are eligible for quarterly city raffles.

I hope it works but I have my doubts. In this article they refer to a Marin County program that was similar. “The county’s $75,000 annual “green commute” program ended in July. The $2 daily stipend for employees who biked or carpooled to work, cut from $4 two years ago, was once a model to other government entities, but employee enrollment dropped to less than 8 percent of the workforce, down from 14.5 percent in 2008.”

We are still so ingrained in the car culture that I think it will take a lot more than a few extra bucks handed out to turn the tide. Even $4.00 per gallon gas didn’t do it. I’m not sure $5.00 per gallon would do it.

It’s unfortunate but disincentives probably work better. Communities like Ithaca have a great public transit system because much of it is Cornell driven. Cornell had a parking problem and they charge employees up to $750 a year to park. That’s what moved them onto the buses.

Any thoughts as to what you think might work in Cortland County?

Jan

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