Smart Columbus ReportingYear 1 Observations and Lessons Learned
October 12th, 2023
In 2016, more than 82 percent of commuters in the Columbus region were driving to work alone in a car, and there were no existing policies at local level incentivizing electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Because the Columbus region is projected to grow by 1 million more residents by 2050, consequences related to more vehicles on our roadways are likely to follow. This is the perfect time for our community to rally together and adopt more sustainable transportation practices that reduce the single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) rate and incentivize EVs. These efforts will help ensure this growth doesn’t jeopardize our air quality or increase congestion.
Fast forward to 2019, and Smart Columbus has made a clear impact—we’ve doubled the number of services in our mobility ecosystem, we’ve outpaced national rates of EV adoption, we’ve increased the amount of charging infrastructure in our region, we’ve galvanized an active group of corporate partners, and conducted an unprecedented number of test drives in electric vehicles. As a result of this and more, we were named City of the Year by Smart Cities Dive magazine.
We closed the second program year of the Smart Columbus Electrification Program sponsored by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation in March 2019 with our outreach strategies strong. Below are some of the ways that we’ve been able to move the needle toward electrification in the Columbus region over the past two years:
Regional EV adoption
Since the beginning of 2017, the cumulative new electric vehicle registrations in the Columbus region have increased by 121 percent. Columbus’ growth in new EV registrations have outpaced the 82 percent expansion in the Midwest region and 94 percent seen across the U.S. over the same time period.
EV charging infrastructure
Since 2017, 534 EV charging ports have been installed in the Columbus region, including:
- 248 workplace charging ports
- 175 fleet charging ports
- 75 public access charging ports
- 36 multi-unit dwelling charging ports
AEP Ohio launched an incentive program to encourage the installation of EV charging stations at public sites, workplaces and apartment complexes. The program has received more than 100 applications, adding 306 Level 2 workplace, public and multi-unit dwelling charging ports and 21 DC Fast charging ports in the Columbus region.
Smart Columbus awarded a total of $272,000 in two rounds of rebates to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at multi-unit dwellings, such as apartments and condominiums in central Ohio.
Private sector engagement
Our programs and strategies that target employees of central Ohio’s largest employers is working to drive mobility behavior change. The Smart Columbus Acceleration Partners Program is a forum for engaging the local private sector to help Smart Columbus achieve its goals. It also serves as a platform for the private sector to support smart mobility projects where they have expertise or particular relevance.
The Acceleration Partners program now has 63 regional companies as members, with 61 mobility ambassadors. Several of our partner companies have received matching grant dollars through the Smart Columbus Ignite Action Fund to create new incentives and/or projects that motivate company associates to drive electric and/or drive less. So far, $60,850 has been awarded to electrification projects and $79,150 has been awarded for programs to reduce single-occupancy commuting.
Outreach and education
Smart Columbus has deployed several outreach and education strategies to inform the regional and global community about how we are evolving into a smart city by encouraging transportation change. Some of the milestones of those efforts include:
- The Ride & Drive Roadshow has facilitated more than 7,600 EV test drives at 69 events.
- The Smart Columbus Experience Center, a 6,000 square foot showroom and workspace, opened in June 2018 in downtown Columbus. Since opening, more than 7,200 visitors including folks from more than 30 cities spanning seven countries have visited the Experience Center and we’ve hosted more than 260 EV test drives.
- The Smart Columbus consumer education campaign includes a variety of digital banners, video spots in 15, 30 and 60-second spots, and a nine-minute educational video that leveraged the testimonials of real EV owners from the region. The campaign has reached residents more than 12 million times, driving 11,7000 website referrals.
- In November 2018, we launched the Smart Columbus Playbook as an online destination that includes in-depth content about our programs and initiatives. Through the playbook, we invite other cities and organizations to use our program materials—including contracts, branding and surveys—and learn from our original research to create and develop their own smart city strategies.
Looking forward, we see the next program year, which runs through March 2020, as a time for Smart Columbus to continue to do things the “Columbus Way,” with a goal to partner with more than 100 Acceleration Partners.
Read the complete report on the second year of the Smart Columbus electrification program below.
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