The City of Santa Monica is pushing ahead to get commuters out of their cars and onto buses, trains and bikes while heading into the second year of the #GoSaMo campaign.
The first year of the campaign has been largely lauded as a success. While 72 percent of trips around the City still involve the a car, staff members say locals are becoming more familiar with their other options, including Big Blue Bus, the Expo light rail line and Breeze Bike Share.
“I think the important thing is that behavior change takes repetition and it takes familiarity and we’ve built a base where people can begin to be familiar,” Planning and Transportation Manager Francie Stefan said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting where staff presented a briefing on the first year of the campaign.
After twelve months of public outreach through ad buys, social media campaigns and events, a recent survey found 83 percent of residents and local workers who have heard of Expo say they understand how to use it, up 27 percent from surveys taken before the media blitz. The number of people who own a TAP Card, which provides access to all three modes of transportation, has also reached an impressive number: 76 percent.
“Last year when the long awaited Expo line was ready to begin service, this Council made a commitment to use it as a teachable moment to usher in a new model of mobility,” City Manager Rick Cole said, adding the Expo line has now become the most successful metro line in the County. In a citywide survey, nearly 100 percent of respondents said they would recommend the Expo line to someone.
While the train may be a success, Big Blue Bus hit a stumbling block this year: ridership is down roughly 12 percent, according to an annual city mobility report released in March. About 1.6 percent of trips within Santa Monica are taken on BBB.
Councilmember Sue Himmelrich suggested cars might still be the future, but not necessarily needing to own one yourself.
“The studies show that the number one factor of getting people to dump their cars is availability of other modes of transportation,” Himmelrich said. “The most important is car share. I know that we have some car share here but it appears to be limited to me.”
Santa Monica has a pilot program with ZipCar, which recently experienced a change in leadership at the corporate level. Stefan says the car-sharing service is looking to expand onto private properties to give more residents access to their cars. Right now there are about 30 ZipCars in Santa Monica, according to the company’s website. Renting a car costs about $9.50 an hour.
To chief communications officer Debbie Lee, sometimes old fashioned methods work the best to get resdients into new modes of transportation, saying she learned “we need to keep it fun, skip the downloads and keep the buttons. The old fashioned pins worked really, really well.”