Drive Smart


While the MSRC provides Clean Transportation Funding to support a variety of emission reduction programs, you can take steps every day to reduce the amount of pollution that you generate as you commute to work or travel around the Southland. Whether it’s buying a cleaner, more efficient car when you’re in the market for a new vehicle, taking better care of the car you drive today, changing the way you drive, or taking advantage of commuter assistance programs like ridesharing, telecommuting and the Freeway Service Patrol, you can help improve air quality and save money on gasoline in the process.

Make single-occupancy vehicle travel more efficient

Finding alternative fuel stations
Clean Car Maps helps drivers locate clean fuel stations in California, Nevada and Arizona. Drivers can either log on to the website to locate the nearest alternative fuel station by fuel type or can call 1-866-238-1137 while on the road and an operator will direct callers to the nearest station. 

The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition’s Natural Gas Fueling Station Directory for California, Arizona and Nevada provides locator maps, directions, addresses, phone numbers, hours and payment information for 153 public-access stations. The directory is free and can be downloaded or ordered through the CNGVC’s website.
Consumer tips for saving fuel
Vehicle maintenance:

  • Keep your vehicle well maintained with regular servicing
  • Inflate tires to the maximum recommended pressure – this can improve gas mileage by as much as 6%
  • Reduce extra weight by cleaning out trunk or truck bed – every 200 pounds of unnecessary weight shaves one mile per gallon off your fuel economy
  • Use the recommended grade of motor oil
  • Use the right grade of gas – don’t use premium blends unless your car requires them
  • Don’t top off

Drive differently:

  • Accelerate gradually
  • Avoid sudden braking
  • Don’t speed – gas mileage declines rapidly above 60mph, each 5mph above 60mph is like paying an additional 10 cents per gallon
  • Maintain steady speeds - take advantage of the cruise control
  • Minimize the amount of time your vehicle idles
  • Combine trips; avoid peak rush hours
  • Use the air conditioner conservatively – operating an air conditioner in hot weather can increase fuel usage by 20%; however, when on the freeway, close your windows and use the A/C. Having windows open at high speeds reduces your vehicle’s operating efficiency
  • Avoid carrying items on your vehicle’s roof

Long-term investments in fuel economy:

More tips:

Incentives for clean fuel vehicles

Clean Vehicle Rebate Project
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, funded by the California Air Resources Board and California Energy Commission, is designed to promote the production and use of zero-emission vehicles including electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. Rebates for consumers of up to $2,500 per qualified vehicle are available.

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Credits
A tax credit is available for qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles including passenger vehicles and light trucks. For vehicles acquired after December 31, 2009, the credit is equal to $2,500 plus $417 for a vehicle which draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, plus an additional $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours. The total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500. A tax credit also is available for qualified small neighborhood plug-in electric vehicles which is equal to 10 percent of the cost of the vehicle and is limited to $2,500. Qualified vehicles include low-speed vehicles or vehicles that have two or three wheels and must be acquired after February 17, 2009 and before January 1, 2012.
Qualified Fuel Cell Motor Vehicles
A tax credit of $4,000 is available for qualified fuel cell vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 8,500 pounds placed into service after December 31, 2009. These vehicles include passenger automobiles and light trucks. ,. An additional credit may be available based on a comparison of the city fuel economy rating of that vehicle with the 2002 model year city fuel economy of a vehicle in its weight class. The base amount of the credit for heavier vehicles ranges from $10,000 to $40,000 for vehicles placed into service after December 31, 2009. The tax credit for fuel cell vehicles expires December 31, 2014.
Hydrogen Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit
A tax credit is available for the cost of hydrogen fueling equipment placed into service after December 31, 2005. The credit amount is up to 30% of the cost, not to exceed $30,000. Under current law, this credit expires December 31, 2014.
Alternative Fuel Excise Tax Credit
A tax incentive is available for alternative fuel that is sold for use or used as a fuel to operate a motor vehicle. A tax credit in the amount of $0.50 per gallon is available for the following alternative fuels: compressed natural gas (based on 121 cubic feet), liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, P-Series fuel, liquid fuel derived from coal through the Fischer-Tropsch process, and compressed or liquefied gas derived from biomass. For an entity to be eligible to claim the credit, they must be liable for reporting and paying the federal excise tax on the sale or use of the fuel in a motor vehicle. The credit expires on December 31, 2013.
Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit
Tax incentives biodiesel fuels are available to blenders/retailers. The Biodiesel Mixture Excise Tax Credit offers a tax incentive of up to $1.00 per gallon of pure biodiesel, agri-biodiesel, or renewable diesel blended with petroleum diesel to produce a mixture containing at least 0.1% diesel fuel. This incentive expires on December 31, 2013.
Other sources of information on incentives for AFV
Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center 
U.S. Department of Energy Consumer Energy Tax Incentives
California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center
ARB Drive Clean website
California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition
California Fuel Cell Partnership
California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative

Driver Assistance Programs

Increasing the use of alternative modes of transportation to get to work and major event centers is critical to reducing air pollution and traffic congestion, and improving the quality of life for everyone. Programs like ridesharing, telecommuting, the Freeway Service Patrol, and special transportation services to major event centers cut down on the number of miles that people need to travel solo and the amount of time people spend stuck in traffic generating harmful emissions from their vehicles.

Gasoline and diesel powered vehicles account for 75 percent of the smog-forming emissions in Southern California and 94 percent of the carcinogenic risk associated with air toxics. Driving one mile creates about one pound of carbon dioxide, so by sharing the ride with at least three other people, you could reduce your carbon footprint to less than a quarter-pound of CO2 per mile.
Ridesharing resources

Rideshare Thursdays Audio Files

Telecommuting, or telework, offers people a way to work without traveling to a traditional office. Teleworkers are employed individuals who work at home or other nearby location instead of traveling to their usual place of work on any given day. Working remotely can directly reduce mobile source emissions by eliminating the daily work commute. Eliminating a trip made by a single-occupant vehicle cuts back on gas consumption, thereby reducing both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from that vehicle, alleviates roadway congestion, and reduces emissions associated with idling and stop-and-go traffic by taking cars off the road.
Telecommuting resources

Freeway Service Patrol
The Freeway Service Patrol is a free service offered to stranded motorists to help keep traffic moving and safely deal with disabled vehicles. Funded by state and regional agencies, the FSP provides drivers with a battery jump start, a gallon of gas if a car runs out, a tire change for flats, and other minor services. If the FSP can’t get a vehicle started, they will tow the car to the nearest approved facility. By moving stalled cars quickly, the FSP helps improve air quality by keeping traffic flowing, which cuts down on the harmful emissions caused by vehicles idling waiting for the road to clear.
FSP Services

Major Event Center Transportation Program
The MSRC’s Major Event Center Transportation Program has helped fund public transportation options for people traveling to large venues within the South Coast Air District. Getting event attendees out of their cars and onto public transportation to major event centers that are not sufficiently served by regularly scheduled transit or shuttle service helps reduce automobile trips and mitigate traffic congestion. These services co-funded by the MSRC have helped transport more than 200,000 people to sports and entertainment venues throughout the South Coast region. Examples include:

  • The Dodger Stadium Express provided fans with a round trip ride from Union Station to Dodger Stadium on clean-fueled Metro transit buses for all home games. In 2011, this service was expanded to operate additional late night service on three of Metrolink’s most popular lines so fans could take trains home after the games
  • The Angels Express offered two dedicated Metrolink trains along the Orange County Line corridor from Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo in the south and LA’s Union Station in the north to get fans to Angel Stadium
  • The Orange County Fair Express was a hit with passengers, providing fair-goers with hourly bus transportation to the fairgrounds from designated transit centers and park & ride facilities