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Travel greener, healthier and cheaper...

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Middlesbrough walking

Overview of the 2019 Commuter Challenge

The Let’s Go Commuter Challenge is the week-long challenge to encourage people to leave their cars at home and try greener ways to get to work, by walking, cycling, using public transport, or car sharing with a colleague.  In 2019, it ran during 13-20 May and 16-22 September.

We worked with local authorities, hospitals, large employers and smaller businesses to encourage staff to sign up to the challenge. The team of Travel Advisors visited employers to engage with staff, provide travel information and build up participation.

Outcomes

Across the two challenges:

  • 235 businesses supported the challenge
  • 1,180 people signed up to take part
  • 24,500 sustainable miles travelled
  • Equates to 5.45 tonnes of CO2

The chief outcome was a major shift away from driving alone towards all other modes of transport.

Behaviour change

Mode of transport % mode prior to challenge % mode during challenge % change
Driving alone 47.9% 11.25% -36.65
Cycle 17.45% 28.9% +11.45
Car share 9.35% 20.05% +10.7
Walk 10.8% 20.15% +9.35
Bus 9.3% 12.45% +3.15
Train 2.85% 5.35% +2.5
Other 2.35% 1.85% -0.5

Prizes

Participants were offered a number of chances to win prizes throughout and at the end of each challenge week.

During the week, we posted messages on social media and people who responded with comments or photos were entered into prize draws each day to win small but attractive prizes, such as breakfast hamper for their team, afternoon tea at a local luxury hotel, Stand-up Paddleboard lessons, etc.

At the end of the week, for every greener journey completed, the participant would get an entry into the main prize draw to win a higher value prize. So, if someone travelled sustainably to and from work for five days, they would earn 10 entries into the prize draw.

 

Overview of Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge

The Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge asks Tees Valley residents to change single car use journeys to trying the bus/train, cycling, walking or car-sharing to get to work for one week from 13-16 May 2019.

The Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge is a comprehensive Tees Valley-wide challenge that was informed by the individual Tees Valley local authority (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton-On-Tees) challenges and cycling challenges by the organization Love to Ride that had been run previously.

Key Objectives

Objective 1 – SIGN-UPS:

Get 250 sign-ups from across Tees Valley (50 people from each local Tees Valley authority), thereby also increasing Let’s Go mailing list and contacts. Target based on previous challenges run in single local authorities.

Objective 2 - BRAND AWARENESS:

Increase awareness and engagement in the Let’s Go Tees Valley project – measured by objective 1 and social media impressions and engagement.

Campaign activities

Largely an online and email-driven campaign using PR, social media and email automation to communicate challenge and prizes to entrants. Included face-to-face events that were key to encourage sign-ups and build familiarity with the brand.

Final Outcomes

  • 60.52% increase in new website users from same period last year (Objective 1)
  • 41% increase in followers (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn combined). From social media posts we got 199,300 overall views/impressions, 1,950 comments, likes and shares, and 450 clicks through to the www.letsgoteeesvalley.co.uk webpage. (Objective 2)
  • 655 signed up to challenge (194 early sign-ups and 500 May sign-ups) (Objective 1)
    10,113 sustainable miles travelled
  • 107 participants (55%) switched to a more sustainable commute.
  • 88 participants (45%) indicated sustainable transport as their usual mode, however, 34 tried a different sustainable mode during the week.
  • 1,614 individual sustainable journeys were logged.
  • Average distance to work was 7 miles.
  • Press Coverage: 19 pieces; 221,881 opportunities to see. Download the full press report.

Behaviour Change

  • Driving a car alone reduced from 54% to 13% - a reduction in car use of 41%
  • Cycling increased from 14% to 29% - an increase in cycling of 15%
  • Car sharing increased from 9% to 20% - an increase in car sharing of 10%
  • Walking increased from 11% to 20% - an increase in walking of 9%
  • Bus use increased from 7% to 11% - an increase in bus use of 5%
  • Train use increased from 2% to 6% - an increase in train use of 4%
  • 47 individual companies took part in the challenge
    • 22 from Stockton
    • 12 from Darlington
    • 6 from Middlesbrough
    • 2 from Hartlepool
    • 2 from Newcastle
    • 1 from Redcar & Cleveland
    • 1 from Durham
    • 1 from North Yorkshire.

Future Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge improvements

The administration of the challenge would benefit from investment in infrastructure in the long-term such as a dedicated website for the challenge that would automate registration to the challenge, measure statistics in real-time (CO2, number of participants, etc. along with offering a leader board and incentive and decrease any user input or non-automated mistakes.

Target more business engagement and increase presence at business events. Determine and create key messages that differentiate CEO message from employee message; cite benefits/reasons for organization to get involved and separate benefits for individuals to sign up to challenge.

A selection of motives will be included to address key points of interest for workplaces/participants including:

  • air quality
  • congestion
  • parking
  • mental
  • physical health and well-being.

PTP team was invaluable to sign up process (2/3 of registrations via face to face events) and it would be valuable to amplify their participation.

Internal stakeholder engagement; would like to see more local authority and leadership teams participate or sign up to the challenge. The challenge garners credibility externally and with residents and other organizations if we campaign for increased leadership/key stakeholder participation to ‘lead by example’.

 

Overview of the Commuter Challenge

The Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge asks Tees Valley residents to change their single-car commute to work trying the bus/train, cycling, walking or car-sharing to get to work for one week. This challenge ran from 16th to 22nd September, following the success of the first challenge week in May 2019.

The Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge is a Tees Valley-wide challenge that was informed by Tees Valley local authorities (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-On-Tees); replacing the Love to Ride cycling challenge and the smaller local commuter challenges run in individual Tees Valley LA areas.

Key Objectives

Objective 1 – SIGN-UPS:

Build on the success of the May challenge to get 500 sign-ups from across Tees Valley (100 people from each local Tees Valley authority), thereby also increasing Let’s Go mailing list and contacts. Target based on previous challenges run in single local authorities.

Objective 2 – BRAND AWARENESS:

Increase awareness and engagement in the Let’s Go Tees Valley project – measured by objective 1 and social media impressions and engagement.

Alignment to programme goals: The Let’s Go Tees Valley Challenge aims to reduce single-occupancy car journeys to/from work for one week. This helps ease congestion, alleviate some parking problems at workplaces and aid to improving air quality. Fewer cars on major routes also facilitate better movement of goods and services in Tees Valley. The challenge also demonstrates the mental and physical health benefits of active travel to workers and residents.

Campaign activities

  • Business engagement (phone calls)
  • Face to face sign up events
  • Social media
  • Marketing emails prior to and during the challenge
  • Press releases

Prizes

  • Early bird prize draw – Spa & Dine for two at Rockcliffe Hall
  • Social media prize day 1 – Stand-Up Paddle Boarding lesson at Tees Barrage
  • Social media prize day 2 – Team breakfast delivered to work
  • Social media prize day 3 – Monthly Arriva bus ticket
  • Social media prize day 4 – Sparkling Afternoon Tea at Wynyard Hall
  • Social media prize day 5 – Fitbit Versa
  • Main prize draw - £750 Halfords voucher

Final Outcomes

Overall website visits

  • 1 Aug – 30 Sep 2019: 6,643 users ( 102.04% on the same period in 2018)
  • 1-30 Sep 2019 – after cycling campaign: 3,023 users ( 232% on the same period in 2018)

Commuter challenge webpages

  • 1 Jul – 30 Sep: 6,638 pageviews ( 16% on May challenge period)

Social media activity (September 2019)

  • Facebook:
    • 69 new fans
    • 419 engagements
    • 1,500 page content clicks
    • 955 post clicks
  • Twitter:
    • 27 new followers
    • 131 engagements
    • 30 post clicks
  • Instagram:
    • 21 new followers
    • 144 engagements
  • LinkedIn:
    • 3 engagements
    • 13 post clicks

#HappyCommute engagement on social media

The campaign included a social media competition where commuters could post photos and comments of their journeys to work, in return for an entry into a daily prize draw. 

View some of the positive comments and photos here.

Sign-ups

  • 262 early sign-ups
  • 348 normal sign ups
  • 610 total sign-ups (down 17 sign-ups on May challenge)
  • From 146 companies (up 20 companies on May challenge)

Journey log returns

  • 216 participants returned their journey data
  • From 44 companies, of which:
    • 15 from Darlington
    • 10 from Middlesbrough
    • 10 from Stockton
    • 4 from Redcar
    • 1 from Hartlepool
    • 1 from Durham
    • 1 from Newton Aycliffe
  • 35.4% of all participants (up 5.4% on May return percentage)
  • Returns were highest from companies where Travel Advisors visited
  • 1,972 sustainable journeys logged
  • 14,407 sustainable miles travelled
  • Equates to 3.2 tonnes of CO2

Participant home postcode plot (from journey log returns)

Home postcodes

Behaviour change (from 216 journey logs returned)

Mode % before challenge % during challenge %change
Drive 53% 13% -41
Cycle 14% 29% 15
Car Share 9% 20% 11
Walk 11% 20% 9
Bus 7% 11% 4
Train 2% 6% 4
Other 3% 1% -2

 

Mode before challenge

 

Mode during challenge

 

Modal shift percentage

During the challenge, there was a significant modal shift away from single-occupancy commuting, towards greener and more active modes of transport. The proportion of cyclists, walkers and car sharers doubled while commuting by bus and train increased to a lesser extent. This demonstrates the need to provide additional encouragement for public transport in future challenges.

Press Coverage

12 pieces of work, 155,207 opportunities to view (see Appendix B for press coverage report)

Issues and challenges

Largely a manual task that could be improved with future automation. Limitations of the various software tools used (Umbraco, Constant Contact, Survey Monkey) meant that it was difficult to measure like-for-like travel behaviour before and during the challenge.

The timing of the challenge meant that many people who were contacted during August were on holiday and it took the business engagement team at Gardiner Richardson several attempts to reach the right people.

Around 10% of the Constant Contact marketing emails bounced due to firewalls at some of the main employers (MBC, SBC, Student Loans Company) meaning that some of the participants did not receive the daily emails about the social media prizes, or the final email with the link to the survey for participant to complete with their journey data. This was overcome by downloading the ‘bounce report’ from Constant Contact and emailing those addresses from the info@letsgoteesvalley.co.uk email address.

Suggested future improvements

The administration of the challenge would benefit from investment in infrastructure in the long-term such as a dedicated website for the challenge that would automate registration to the challenge, measure statistics in real-time (CO2, number of participants, etc. along with offering a leader board and incentive and decrease any user input or non-automated mistakes.

A participants’ satisfaction survey and a series of focus groups with users have since been carried out to determine where improvements can be made.

A further report on overall Challenge outcomes and the findings from the survey and focus groups will be distributed to stakeholders at local authorities and the Combined Authority shortly.

Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge 2020

There is now work underway to develop plans to improve the Let’s Go Commuter Challenge process and outcomes in 2020. The Challenge will be the flagship project for the marketing team and sufficient resources will need to be dedicated to the programme to ensure its success.

Based on the findings of the survey and focus groups, and on our experience of running two Commuter Challenges in 2019, we have developed a specification for a new Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge website, which will include:

  • Single sign-up per participant for all challenges
  • Easy journey logging each day
  • Sharable content to encourage social media activity
  • Encouragement and referrals between friends
  • Leader boards by individuals and companies
  • Longer challenge periods to allow behaviour change to bed into everyday life
  • Detailed reporting facilities to build a comprehensive picture of participants’ behaviour prior to and during each challenge.

It is proposed to run the next Commuter Challenge during June 2020.

Notes/additional information

Weather
The weather during the September 2019 Let’s Go Tees Valley Commuter Challenge was, again, warm, sunny and dry which may have led to an increase in participation especially regarding participants that walked or cycled to work. This is not proven and it would be beneficial to compare this to future challenges to see if this variable was impactful to overall participation.

 

 

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