We’ve previously highlighted some of the impressive efforts by Palo Alto, Calif., at helping people rely less on driving alone. Now the city’s leaders have brought enough foresight, after seeing the recent success of the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association, to authorize $480,000 “to shift 14 percent of solo drivers off the road by the end of 2018.”
The overall number of solo drivers has dropped from 57 percent to 53 percent in the past two years.
The association, which is managed by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation until it receives its 501(c)(3) exemption from the IRS, has so far received $200,000 from the city’s University Avenue Park Fund, which is replenished by downtown garage and parking lot permit fees that were increased in June. The association said it has received an additional $50,000 from membership fees and a few small grants to run the program.
The council authorized an additional $480,000 in the 2018 fiscal year for the association, which plans to hire a permanent executive director next year and push for an additional 10 percent reduction in solo drivers.
“I think tonight you’ve proven yourself,” Councilman Adrian Fine, said, noting that the association’s data also show the city’s residential parking permit in the downtown area is working. “Twenty percent used to park in neighborhoods and it’s down to 7 percent.”
The association reported that service workers accounted for the biggest reduction in solo drivers the past year — 10 percent — through such incentives as free Caltrain Go Passes.
“In the past year, focusing on service workers, we have made it possible for them to take transit,” said Wendy Silvani, the association’s acting executive director. “It used to be one of the most expensive ways for them to get to work … if you could park for free on a neighboring street instead.”
“Transit is up 2 percent overall (in the past year) and 6 percent among service workers,” added Rob George, the association’s board chairman. Overall, the tech sector has the lowest rate of solo drivers at 30 percent and the service sector the highest at 70 percent.
Additional incentives that could further cut that percentage include charging for parking and limiting parking “to get people to use alternative transportation modes,” Silvani added.