2018 Champion City

Durham, NC : 2018 Winner

Encouraging Alternatives to Driving Downtown

  • 263,016

  • Steve Schewel

  • Directly Elected Mayor

    Type of Government
  • 2 years

    Length of Term
  • Mobility/Transportation

    Issue Area

The Problem

The city’s parking capacity and budget for street maintenance can’t keep pace with residents’ dependency on single-occupancy vehicles, negatively affecting more than 34,000 downtown employees and residents.

The Idea

The City of Durham will work to get drivers out of their cars and into alternative modes of transit by incentivizing behavior change, for example with prizes.

What Steve Schewel, Mayor of Durham, NC is saying:

The ideas developed through the Mayors Challenge helped us divert scarce resources away from parking decks and toward a public transportation system that will truly further Durham's vision of shared economic prosperity. We were thrilled with the results of our pilot program, and are so grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for awarding us another $1 million grant so we can focus on testing additional methods…


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • How we are testing our idea

    In the future, we think that the city residents and the region will enjoy an environment where they are spending less on commuting by car.

    Maureen Devlin, Transportation Planner

    Durham is testing how to best motivate commuters to move away from the typical single occupancy vehicle. Their tests include: a lottery to win a prize for riding the bus; cash payouts to give up parking spaces; incentives to reduce days parked per month; and personalized trip planning.

  • Ideas into action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    In Durham, the first prototypes mapped public transit routes into the city to encourage residents to change their commute by car. Mo Devlin, Transportation Lead said, "We have made some huge gains by leveraging tech in our transportation system” and technology has enabled the routes to be personalized to each resident through a computer generated infographic. Initial testing showed residents are receptive to a personalized journey as an incentive to help change their commuting behavior.

    Jacquelin stays cool riding @GoDurhamTransit to work. But, what’s even cooler on this hot #Durham day is winning cash from our #MayorsChallenge lottery! Join our commuter challenge today by signing up for your chance to win

    1:25 PM - 2 Jul 2018   CityofDurhamNC  

    Changing commuting habits from using a single occupancy vehicle to traveling on the public transit system was always going to be tough. Taking this into account, the city team has a diverse skill set including the behavioral economics team at the Center for Advanced Hindsight. This partnership has ensured a rigorous approach to building the tests. It’s helping the city get to grips with the underlying behaviors of their commuters and the support they may need to switch their commute.

    Our #MayorsChallenge team is sharing maps, apps, swag & smiles as they help downtown #Durham employees bike, bus & ride share to work downtown. Commuter consultations are now underway @TheDurhamHotel! More details here: http://www.durhammayorschallenge.com #TryTransit

    1:14 PM - 11 Jul 2018   CityofDurhamNC  
  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    By making improvements to their idea throughout their journey as a Champion City, the Durham team has developed a promising strategy for changing commuter behaviour. Through combining their personalised route planning tool with a weekly free bus-pass lottery, the team has seen a 19% increase in people reporting to use an alternative mode of transport. The team will continue to optimize their solution via user feedback, usage analytics, and other incentives.

    Exciting day in #Detroit for #GDYT! Youth Summit to support workplace problem solving. Preparing the next generation for the future of work. Over 1,000 youth in attendance for inaugural program #mayorschallenge


    We are very much feeling the impact. We've changed the conversation around transportation, certainly in city hall and with our partners.

    Heather Mcgowan, Project coordinator