On the heels of the widely successful launch of Citizens for Modern Transit’s Try & Ride Program last June, the organization announced it has entered into the second and final year of this initiative. The program aims to help area residents overcome some of the perceived hurdles associated with using MetroLink and MetroBus for their workday commutes by allowing them to “test drive” the transit system. To date, it has helped more than 2,300 participants familiarize themselves with the local transit system, and 68 percent of those individuals have chosen to continue to use transit for their work commute moving forward. Area residents, who have been discouraged from trying transit in the past and have not yet signed up for the Try & Ride program, are encouraged to take advantage of this free community resource while they are still able. Registration is available online at www.cmt-stl.org.
“We have known for some time now that many shy away from public transportation due to the fear of the unknown – they don’t know where to go and what to do,” commented Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “The public’s response to the debut of the Try & Ride program underscores its need and relevancy. We reached our two-year participation goal for the program within three months. Our findings demonstrate how helping residents get over the fear of the unknown enables them to experience firsthand all of the benefits of taking transit. Once they realize the benefits, they stick with it.”
Cella adds, “The Try & Ride program has been made possible thanks to a two-year grant. Unless additional funding is secured, this unique program offering will only remain for the next 12 months. We encourage interested individuals to register as soon as possible.”
The program is open to any Missouri or Illinois resident who is new to the St. Louis region’s public transportation system. Upon registering, each program participant receives a packet in the mail with a personalized transit route for the work commute, a month of complimentary tickets, a journal to capture stories and write down reminders, and a list of tips and tricks for using transit. Registration also enrolls them in the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides the user with a cab ride home or rental car in the case of an emergency or unexpected schedule change at work. In turn, participants are required to travel to work via MetroLink or MetroBus three to four days per week over a two-month period, and take two, short surveys along the way so Citizens for Modern Transit can gain user insight and track the progression of the program.
There is no fee to participate in the Try & Ride Program. The only out-of-pocket expense is the cost of the second month of the participant’s fare. However, Citizens for Modern Transit reminds area workday commuters that many local businesses and organizations offer transit subsidies that pay for all, or a portion of, the cost to take transit. Individuals can visit www.cmt-stl.org or call (314) 231-7272 to obtain a complete listing of companies offering transit benefit programs.
Program results have proven that the overall transit experience and the ease of the system’s usability have managed to turn many first-time transit users into regular transit commuters. Participants have boasted cost savings, a less stressful commute, more time to themselves and weight loss amongst the biggest benefits of transit utilization. Other interesting data stemming from Try & Ride survey results is as follows:
- Even though the program only requires participants to use transit for their work commute a minimum of three times a week, over 40 percent are using it five days a week.
- Forty-two percent of participants have less than .25 miles to walk to their boarding points, and 44 percent have less than .25 miles to walk to their final destinations after boarding.
- Fifty-five percent of participants now use transit outside of their work commutes.
“The availability of the Try & Ride program was a big factor in my decision to try using the MetroLink to get to work,” commented Jeremy Alumbaugh, general manager of the Saint Louis Football Club. “I’ve always used MetroLink to get from my home in O’Fallon, Ill., to the airport or downtown, but I wasn’t sure about using it to get to all the way to Shrewsbury. Citizens for Modern Transit was able to map out my path. It served as a great starting point.”