The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) recognized Earth Day with the countywide expansion of an incentive-based and environmentally conscious commuting program started in downtown Santa Cruz.
GO Santa Cruz County is a program that provides commuters the option to earn points toward Tango gift card prizes as a reward for greener transportation via bike, carpool, walking and public transportation. The RTC on April 22, the day roughly 200 countries around the globe celebrate environmental conservation, announced the upscale from a smaller pilot program that encompassed the radius of the downtown business district to include the entire county.
“Often the single biggest obstacle to change is taking that initial step, abandoning comfortable habits in order to try something new and different,” says Shannon Munz, a spokesperson for the RTC.
Go Santa Cruz County uses an “online commuter maintenance” website to track and log non-single-occupancy vehicle commuting miles for Santa Cruz residents and employees.
Points are earned based on the miles from the trips logged on the GO Santa Cruz County commuter management website. Building enough points earns participants monetary gift card incentives: 20 points is equal to an entry in a quarterly raffle to win a $25 gift card; 250 points is $5, 450 points is $10, 1,000 points is $25.
Go Santa Cruz, the pilot program launched in 2019, had more than 1,100 participants, says RTC transportation planner Amy Naranjo.
According to Go Santa Cruz’s website, the pilot program had participants log more than 23,000 alternative commuting trips, and reduced emissions by keeping an estimated 26.9 metric tons of C0² out of the atmosphere. The countywide expansion is partially funded by Measure D, a clean air measure for the county with emphasis on reduction in C0² from vehicles.
Munz and Naranjo say the RTC plans to carry over the success of the pilot program by connecting with major employers and local businesses to get employees on board and engaging in GO Santa Cruz County’s incentives. The goal of the RTC is to, “Enroll 1,200-1,500 participants throughout the county and reduce the drive-alone rate of participating employees by 5%,” says Munz.