Jun 17, 2016

Almada campaign persuades commuters to go green

13 percent of SmartMove participants increased their use of public transport

In the Lisbon suburb of Almada, 13 percent of SmartMove participants increased their use of public transport, reports local project partner AGENEAL.

From spring to fall of 2015, SmartMove engaged residents of select public transport catchment areas in active mobility consultancies, a form of face-to-face marketing in which campaigners dispensed tailored advice, maps and other information to help people shift from car use to public transport in their daily travel. A key focus was on “feeder transport networks” that link households to major train and bus lines.

The Almada SmartMove campaign targeted Sobreda, a parish of the town just across the Tagus River from Lisbon. It eventually reached a total of 1,346 individuals, including those taking part in AMC discussions at their homes and others contacted at public events (“active measures” in the project parlance). A survey of participants after the campaign found that:

  • 97% said they received information from the campaign that they were not aware of before;
  • 49% of those who were not public transport users said they felt motivated to reduce the car use; and
  • 13% of participants increased their public transport usage

The increase in public transport use corresponded to a reduction of 148 car trips per week, or a reduction of CO2 emissions of roughly 27 tonnes per year.

The local feeder bus system featured in the AMC promotion witnessed a 15 percent increase in ridership during the course of the campaign. (It’s not certain how much credit can go to SmartMove, however, because the feeder service was also extended during this time to include a new stop at the main hospital.)

The success didn’t come easy. AGENEAL first tried to reach residents through a posted invitation, and then went door to door to administer a travel questionnaire. Many residents declined to take part, and after 4-5 tries canvassers were still short of their target of 500 participating households.

AGENEAL administered questionnaires at two Saturday markets and attended a “trips for trash” promotional event during European Mobility Week before finally reaching the desired level of participation.

Notwithstanding the significant effort required, AGENEAL reports that the AMC reached its objectives and proved effective in reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. There’s potential for further reductions if the campaign could be extended to other areas or if more effort was made to increase participation within the population already targeted.