What is Walnut Creek Already Doing to Manage Automobile Trips?
What is Transportation Demand Management?
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) refers to a variety of programs and approaches designed to reduce automobile trips and peak period congestion. These programs focus on incentivizing and reducing barriers to the use of other mobility options, disincentivizing solo driving, shifting travel demand to off-peak periods, or reducing the need to travel at all (e.g., telework programs or condensed work schedules).
The City of Walnut Creek has clearly established that managing automobile travel is a priority. The City’s General Plan Transportation Chapter states the following:
“The City is committed to using transportation demand management strategies and actions to decrease dependency on single-occupant automobiles and increase transit use, ridesharing, and walking.”
Goal 8 of the General Plan’s Transportation Chapter directs the City to:
Serve as a model for other cities by providing a comprehensive TDM program that strives to decrease the use of the automobile and reduce peak-period traffic congestion.
Provide, monitor, and continuously improve a coordinated set of convenient, efficient transportation alternatives for those who would otherwise drive alone; including employees and school children of driving age.
Existing TDM Programs and Policies
511 Contra Costa
Contra Costa County and its municipalities are required to have a TDM ordinance or resolution which includes a commitment to promote alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle in order to reduce vehicle miles traveled. 511 Contra Costa provides voluntary TDM programs on behalf of the cities and Contra Costa County, and is overseen by the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority and its regional transportation planning committees. Further support for employers is provided by the regional 511 Commute program.
Employer TDM Programs
Investment and participation in TDM programs by local employers, including the City of Walnut Creek, are critical for the success of citywide TDM initiatives. Within Walnut Creek, large employers such as John Muir Medical Center have created TDM programs to reduce congestion and parking demand, and to promote multi-modal options for commuters. Examples include the following:
All Bay Area employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide their workers with one of four commuter benefit options. These include a pre-tax benefit, an employer subsidy, employer-provided transit, or an alternative benefit that is effective in reducing single-occupant vehicle trips.
Shadelands does not contain a formal TDM program, but does contain TDM measures to facilitate options for mobility. These include a partnership with bike sharing service Lime Bike and subsidized transit.
John Muir Medical Center
To facilitate travel to and from the facility, the John Muir Medical Center has a variety of programs aimed at reducing SOV trips. These include subsidizing transit passes for BART and buses, special parking for carpools and vanpools, taxi service to and from BART, and designated bicycle parking.
City of Walnut Creek
The City of Walnut Creek incentivizes its employees to take transit, carpool or vanpool, bicycle, or walk by providing a subsidy to those who commute by these modes.
Other TDM Efforts in Walnut Creek
As discussed throughout the other parts of this report, the City of Walnut Creek has already undertaken a number of actions to reduce automobile trips. These include the following:
Subsidizing the free Downtown Trolley and Creekside Shuttle, as well as supporting the Shadelands Property-Based Improvement District (PBID) in offering the free Shadelands shuttle
Parking management approaches focused on reducing vehicle search traffic and promoting “park once and walk” in downtown
Needs, Opportunities, and Challenges
Walnut Creek has adopted clear goals and policies that lay the groundwork for transportation demand management. The City has also undertaken a number of implementing actions in furtherance of these goals. The next step is to develop Rethinking Mobility as a strategic plan that identifies and prioritizes a range of actions across all sectors of Walnut Creek’s transportation system so that the City can move forward more effectively with implementation.
Rethinking Mobility provides an opportunity to establish targets for reducing automobile trips and vehicle miles traveled so that Walnut Creek can measure progress toward its goals and objectives. Setting specific numeric targets based on data that the City can readily collect and analyze at regular intervals will provide important feedback on how successful a particular action or group of actions is in terms of achieving Walnut Creek’s goals and objectives.
Achieving further reductions in automobile trips will require a concerted and coordinated effort from the City of Walnut Creek, employers, and partner agencies. The City of Walnut Creek has already undertaken a number of actions to reduce automobile trips and VMT. Despite these efforts, nearly 80 percent of people who work in Walnut Creek drive to work, even though the community is served by two BART stations. For many workers, it is still faster and less expensive to drive (particularly if parking at their workplace is free) than to use another mode of transportation.