Free groceries delivered to their home and discounts at local restaurants and retail stores are among the rewards earned by members of the UMass Medical School community this year who are participating in a program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion by promoting alternatives to a solo trip in an automobile.
The program is called NuRide, and since UMMS joined in January, 51 people have signed up to track their trips and earn points towards rewards.
“We’re pleased that 51 people have signed up for NuRide, but we also know that we could be doing better,” said Melissa Lucas, manager of sustainability and energy efficiency. “The medical school’s biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions is from the exhaust of cars that people use to come to campus. So working to reduce individual vehicle trips is important, plus people can earn real rewards for participating.”
NuRide is a free service offered to Massachusetts residents through MassRIDES, the statewide travel options program of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The NuRide web-based tool tracks greener trips like walking, bike riding and carpooling, taking public transportation or even telecommuting. Any activity that avoids a solo trip in a car earns points that can be redeemed for rewards.
From Jan. 1 through Oct. 1 of this year, the school’s 51 NuRide participants have collectively avoided 2,908 vehicle trips, which would have covered a total of 36,737 miles. By not driving for those trips, the riders saved 1,508 gallons of gasoline and prevented 14.8 tons of green house gas emissions from spewing into the atmosphere.
NuRide participants earn points for each green trip, and can redeem those points for discounts from a range of companies who participate in the program. So far this year, 16 people from UMMS have earned awards from NuRide, including: a $30 coupon for groceries from PeaPod, three $8 coupons of “burrito bucks” at Chipotle Mexican Grill, a $5 coupon for the 5 & Diner and a buy-one-get-one-free admission for Mystic Seaport, among other rewards.
“People who are active users can build up enough points for rewards fairly quickly with this program,” said Daniel Allalemdjian, worksite outreach coordinator at MassRIDES. “We appreciate UMass Medical School’s participation, and we’re getting good feedback. People appreciate how much money they have saved, and what the environmental benefit has been, by avoiding car trips.”
UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care have been MassRIDES partners for seven years, so anyone with a school or clinical email account can use that e-mail address to sign up for NuRide.
NuRide also has a web-based ride-sharing tool. The system displays a map marked with all NuRiders who live in a given community or region. Once people join NuRide, they can send messages through the system to other NuRiders who live in their community to see if there are opportunities to ride together on a sporadic or regular basis.
For more information about NuRide see: http://www.mass.gov/massdot/nuride.