Can tech help solve DC's traffic problem? - Technical.ly DC

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Aug. 29, 2019 5:03 pm

Can tech help solve DC’s traffic problem?

TransitScreen cofounder and CEO Matt Caywood talks about why he thinks tech and transit demand management are the answers to solve D.C.'s traffic.
Are you stuck in traffic often?

Are you stuck in traffic often?

(Photo by Flikr user Joe Le Merou, used under a Creative Commons license)

D.C. ranks in the top 10 most walkable cities in the U.S, according to Thrillist. Yet the District also experiences some of the worst traffic, ranking #2 for the consistent vehicle clutter.

So what’s the solution here to easing the traffic? Is it dockless mobility options? More metro lines to connect the DMV? Or just better transportation management programs from businesses and organizations overall?

TransitScreen cofounder and CEO Matt Caywood believes D.C.’s traffic solution lies within transportation demand management (TDM) and leveraging tech. Launched in 2014, the public transit tech company started out curating digital displays showing transit data that hang in corporate buildings and apartment complexes, but now the company has continued to expand to its CityMo app that’s iOS and Android friendly.

Caywood defines TDM as using communication and tech to change how people get around their existing cities. In this video, he said TDM is “often seen as similar to marketing. It’s making people aware of what their choices are so they’re more likely to use one.”

He explained that getting people to try something different could be, riding the metro and indulging in bikeshare, e-scooters and mopeds, even. Caywood himself is an avid biker, he tells Technical.ly — the exercise clears his head. But most days, Caywood said he will end up taking the metro to get around.

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Caywood said D.C. could be experiencing these traffic jams because the District “is a center center,” meaning it resides in the middle of a large region. There are more people coming into the city everyday that don’t actually live here, and those coming from further places could be forced to drive, adding to the traffic.

One possible solution to unclog D.C. traffic, Caywood offered? The Commuter Benefits Law that the District passed as part of the Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014, which requires companies larger than 20 employees to offer commuter transit benefits like employer-paid transportation or an employer-paid pre-tax benefit.

Next, Caywood suggested commuters should use apps and tech tools to find efficient transportation routes. Of course, he mentioned TransitScreen’s CommuteExpert tool that launched earlier this summer, which takes users through a short questionnaire about their monthly commuter costs and then tells them exactly which transit pass to purchase and how much money they could save yearly. CommuteExpert can also recommend more cost-efficient travel options.

More importantly, companies need to come up with tactics that employees will actually use: “We were looking at ways to help in the workplace specifically,” Caywood said.

Lastly, he touched on a major initiative still piloting in the District: dockless vehicles. Along with e-scooters and electronic bikes, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) recently added mopeds to the pilot program, where each accepted mobility firm will be allowed to offer up to 400 mopeds each to put on D.C. streets. DDOT launched the dockless vehicle pilot last year to collect data about car-free transportation options.

“Dockless mopeds are going to be really interesting in D.C. There have been a few cities that have used them very successfully, like in San Francisco,” Caywood said. “It surprised me how popular they are. I think they are a great solution for anywhere where you have hills, like in D.C.”

So between TDM, tech tool offerings and dockless vehicles, we should be able to lower D.C.’s traffic clutter, right?

Companies: TransitScreen
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