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It’s time to take the ‘Commuter Challenge’

Try taking the bus or train, bicycling, ridesharing, walking or teleworking at least once by June 30.

The Commuter Challenge encourages Twin Citizens to use modes of transit other than the single-passenger automobile.

If you are among the many Twin Citiians who drive alone to work or school every day, now is the time to take the “Commuter Challenge.”

Metro Transit and the four transportation management organizations (TMOs) in the region ask that you try taking the bus or train, bicycling, ridesharing, walking or teleworking at least once between now and June 30.

People who sign up for the 10th annual Commuter Challenge will be entered into a prize drawing.

Those who want to extend the challenge can track their trips online to become eligible to win even more prizes. Based on the trips logged, the online tracker estimates fuel savings and carbon reductions. In 2011, participants logged nearly 200,000 trips and 2.5 million miles using transit, bicycling, walking or sharing the ride in a carpool or vanpool.

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“Twin Cities residents are more interested than ever in learning new ways of getting to work or school, and taking the Commuter Challenge is a great way to start,” says Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Changing how you get around — even if it’s just a few trips a week — is an easy way to save money, reduce your impact on the environment and get some extra exercise into your day.”

Participants also will do their part to ease traffic congestion and reduce the need for costly road improvements.

For bicyclists and walkers, there will be a series of special events June 2-10 for the Twin Cities Bike Walk Week. Those events are still being planned and will be posted on the Bike Walk Week website.

According to the latest Census figures, 78 percent of the workers in the seven-county metro area drive alone to and from work. Nine percent carpool, 5 percent use public transit, 5 percent work at home, 2 percent walk and 2 percent use other means.

Transit has a larger share of the market in the core cities, where service is more extensive and more frequent. Fourteen percent of the workers in Minneapolis and 9 percent in St. Paul commute by transit, according to Census figures.

Other surveys indicate that about 40 percent of downtown Minneapolis workers commute to and from their jobs by transit, and about 20 percent of downtown St. Paul workers do so. A growing number also commute by bike. Minneapolis has been named one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation, with 81 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street bikeways.

All Metro Transit buses and trains are equipped with easy-to-use bike racks, so commuters can make part of their trip by bicycle and part by transit.

Metro Transit’s website is a one-stop source of information about bus and rail transit, bicycling, rideshairing and teleworking. It has an online trip planning tool, as well as information about fares, schedules and detours.

The Commuter Challenge is sponsored by Metro Transit and the region’s four TMOs – Anoka County TMO Commute Solutions, Downtown Minneapolis Commuter Connection, St. Paul Smart Trips and I-494 Commuter Services. TMOs work with employers and commuters to explore transportation options that reduce traffic congestion.