The Results Are In

By Elle O’Casey

Last Spring, Sustainable Woodstock partnered with Vital Communities to design and administer a transportation survey. Sustainable Woodstock’s service area covers Barnard, Bridgewater, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock, and the survey was open to residents of those towns as well as people who go to work or school there. The survey collected data on 172 Woodstock-area residents’ driving habits, barriers to accessing transportation options (e.g., lack of bus service), and opinions on potential new projects to help residents drive less. The survey responses reveal low-cost, immediate promotional activities the Town could use to encourage non-drive alone travel, as well as more long-term infrastructure changes. Surveys were collected via posts on community discussion lists (“Listservs”), promotion at community events, and distribution at the public library.

About 75% of respondents were aged 45 and over and 19% of survey respondents were between the ages of 25 and 44. 81% of respondents were employed either full-time (55.8%) or part-time (25.2%). 19% identified as retired, though there is likely some overlap with people who identify as employed part-time. Among people who identified as employed, the most represented workplaces were Dartmouth College, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, King Arthur Flour, and the VA Hospital. Survey respondents came from all five towns within Sustainable Woodstock’s service area.

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When asked how they completed their most recent trip to work, the majority of respondents said they drove alone (71%), telecommuted (12.8%), or walked (11.2%). Just 8.8% said they carpooled and even fewer (4.8%) said they rode their bike. Overall, survey respondents mirrored the actual drive-alone rate found in the most recent Census data, but the percentages were slightly different for other modes. Respondents were slightly less likely to telecommute and more likely to bike or carpool.

In addition, respondents reported they did the following at least one day per week to reduce
the amount they drive:
32.2% worked from home
15.9% walked
16.5% carpooled
1.3% rode a bus
7.6% rode a bike

Some of the recommendations that came out of the survey results include both long-term and short-term projects.

One recommendation is to promote existing resources on community lists. This includes promoting carpooling services like Go! Vermont and Advance Transit options available in our area, as 21% of residents said they want an easier way to find carpool partners, and 69% were not aware that a resource already exists. Sample language to promote Advance Transit. Another recommendation is to host a vanpool information session with Vermont’s Agency of Transportation where community members can learn more about vanpool services and monthly subsidies available to use these services.

Recommendations related to more long-term infrastructure projects includes exploring expanded public transit options along Route 4, identify bicycle and pedestrian improvements needed in our areas, and leverage stronger funding through a variety of sources including the Strong Communities, Better Connections grant.

If you are interested in learning more about transportation options in your community, join Sustainable Woodstock for a vanpool information session Wednesday October 26th at 6 PM at the Norman Williams Public Library. Vital Communities and Go! Vermont are partnering with Sustainable Woodstock to host this event. A light dinner will be served. Please RSVP if you plan to join.

Do Just One Thing: Check out the information session on vanpools on October 26.

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