Toks Omishakin

Chief of Environment & Planning - TDOT

Chief of Environment and Planning at TDOT says “Look for Commuting Options”

People typically don’t find what they don’t look for.  While finding options to commute to work may be a challenge, it’s certainly not impossible.  Maybe this is where the spirit of the Volunteer State is about to shine!

Eighty-two percent of Nashville drivers commuted alone to work in 2016. “If that continue[s] to be the case, we’re in for a tough, tough time for traffic looking forward,” offers Toks Omishakin, the Tennessee Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Environment and Planning.

To be sure, TDOT has a long-range plan — a 25-year plan — for addressing the state’s evolving mobility and transportation needs. While most of the anticipated local developments out to 2040 are positive—including the addition of several million new jobs, which will further bolster an already fast-growing Volunteer State economy—greater transportation challenges await, and “commuting options will become more important than ever before,” notes the Assistant Commissioner, revisiting a critical theme during this video interview.

“I would give us a B-minus on transit, but we’re not anywhere near where we should be,” continues Omishakin. “If you really want to make transit work better for people you’ve got to make more investments [so that] people are not stuck in traffic. It’s got to be affordable and convenient. We’ve got the affordable part, but convenience is something we still struggle with a little bit in Nashville.”

At the same time, Omishakin acknowledges that TDOT and other government agencies need the help of business leaders and the general populace to reduce traffic and maintain or improve our environment.  In particular, he urges drivers to “look for commuting options,” observing that every day “the choices and decisions we make are a big part of the impact of what you see in our environment today.” That means thinking about the proximity of your home to where you work and play, and sharing rides whenever possible.

To that end, TDOT partnered with Hytch, the Nashville based tech company named by the Nashville Technology Council as the 2018 Emerging Company of the Year.  Over the last 18 months, this public private partnership has excited the pioneering attitude of companies investing in a new approach to empowering people with incentives and cash rewards.  Thanks to Nissan recognizing innovation that excites - Hytch Rewards offers five cents or more per mile to everyone who commutes together with Hytch - and a revolution is now in motion.  

Tracking your shared ride with Hytch means a few extra pennies per mile from Franklin Synergy Bank, Sprint and real estate developer H.G Hill will make their way into your wallet.  These innovative companies are helping Rutherford, Williamson and Davidson counties stack up incentives!  And $53 cents per mile, per user is the limit!  Would anything close to that change your motivation to offer or accept a shared ride?

As a community, people who “Hytch” not only take cars off the road and reduce traffic, but they also help improve air quality in Middle Tennessee.  

Each shared ride is a really big deal, given the fact that 31 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere comes from cars and that 19.6 pounds of CO2 are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline.   With that in mind, it’s a welcome relief to learn that Hytch mile is also a carbon neutral drive.

Never mind the fact that it’s a lot more fun to ride to work with a friend or coworker than it is to drive alone. Want to earn cash while you beat traffic?   You have more options than you think, so download, invite and repeat.