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Incentivising sustainable travel at Cardiff University

Incentivising sustainable travel at Cardiff University

Case study

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Cardiff University’s Changing Steps Cardiff programme encourages staff and students away from a reliance on private cars to more active and sustainable modes of travel. 

  • 278,000+ sustainable journeys;
  • ~57% replaced a car journey;
  • 50+ tonnes CO2 avoided;
  • High user retention.

More than 278,000 sustainable journeys were recorded over two nine-month periods in 2021 and 2022. 

More than half of these were found to have replaced a car journey, relieving some pressure on parking and saving over 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Walking was the most popular activity, followed by cycling and bus travel. 

34% of registered participants remained engaged throughout, well above the industry average retention rate of 5.7% after 30 days.

The programme has been equally popular among staff and students, with 50% of participants from both groups. 

I am cycling or walking almost everywhere now. I’m saving money on fuel … and I don’t have the hassle of finding somewhere to park the car!  

Eunice, student

How it works

Participants record their journeys using the BetterPoints app and earn points when they walk, wheel, cycle, or take the bus or train to and from Cardiff University sites.

Extra rewards can be earned for taking part in events and mini campaigns. In 2022, these included a month-long Bus Builder campaign, sponsored by Cardiff Bus, in which monthly bus passes could be won.

Points can be exchanged for vouchers for local and national retailers or donated to charity. Local retailers include Cardif University’s catering and sports departments, which have offered drinks and gym passes. 

Modal shift from car to more sustainable modes is measured with baseline and evaluation surveys, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) questions (pushed out at the time of an activity) and anonymised behaviour data.

Future recommendations include a stronger focus on regular car drivers, more promotions aligned with university campaigns and events, and closer relationships with university stakeholders such as the Students Union and environmental groups.