Get a Transportation Boost with SmartTrips Ithaca

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Tompkins Weekly       6-6-16

By Anna Cook

No room in your transportation budget for a car? Own a car but sick to death of insurance, maintenance, and parking headaches? Or perhaps you are an environmental advocate?

SmartTrips Ithaca is a new program just for you. In its pilot season this summer, the new transportation incentives program gives a nudge to residents of downtown Ithaca on their journey toward transportation bliss—low cost, convenient, squeaky green trips that don’t require an itinerary to figure out.

If you are ready to embark on this journey, the SmartTrips Ithaca team is there with high fives and one-on-one support to get you walking, biking, bus riding, carsharing and carpooling your way to just about anywhere you need to go.

Most of us need a little incentive to drive a big life change like shifting the basics of how we travel. SmartTrips provides that. Program participants receive a start-up kit with a free 30-Day TCAT bus pass, bike safety kit, Ithaca Carshare application, or pedestrian kit. Then, let the games begin! Participants pledge to take 2+ SmartTrips per week by foot, bike, bus, or carshare throughout the summer and log trips online. Progress is tracked in terms of miles, dollars and emissions saved, and there is a bit of friendly competition among downtown neighbors. Additional prizes and incentives are unlocked along the way, including $50-100 gift cards.

Not convinced? Consider some of the benefits of giving SmartTrips a shot:

Why bike? Get there faster! Going by bike can be faster than a bus ride, walking, and even driving when you factor in traffic and parking. Biking makes places that seem far from downtown feel much closer. Bike racks are plentiful in the Ithaca area so you will not have to look very far to lock up your bike.

Biking with groceries is not just for Europeans! Bike baskets, buckets and racks can make your bike a cargo toting machine. Plus, it’s fun and healthy. There’s a reason people who bike feel happier and less stressed at the end of the day.

Why Bus? Forget about searching or paying for parking. Riding the bus is a great way to enjoy conversation with others, read a book, enjoy the view, or get things done on your phone while someone else does the driving. Every TCAT bus has a bike rack, so bikers can still get up those Ithaca hills without busting a lung. Plus, every Ithaca Carshare vehicle location is near a TCAT bus stop, so it is easy to extend your route beyond the bus line when you need.

Why Walk? Health and fitness! Run your errands along the way or meet your neighbors. Things in Ithaca are closer than they seem! It’s only a 15-minute walk from the Commons to Wegmans. Plus, walking is your portal to TCAT and Ithaca Carshare which together can take you just about anywhere.

SmartTrips Ithaca is a collaboration of Way2Go Ithaca, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Ithaca Carshare and TCAT, with funding from NYSERDA. These partners, along with Bike Walk Tompkins and Cornell Transportation, work year round to create a community where car ownership is not a necessity, and services, infrastructure, education and incentives are in place to support a cost-effective, convenient, and sustainable family of transportation options. Sign up at

Anna Cook is Ithaca Carshare Operations Director.

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