How to Make Transportation Incentives Work Better on Limited Budgets

Transportation incentives are programs local transportation and public transit authorities create to encourage people to choose alternatives to solo driving. They aim to achieve their objectives by giving commuters specific rewards for using smarter modes of transportation. Common examples include things like:

  • Free public transportation on certain days
  • Access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways
  • Rewards programs
  • Loyalty programs
  • Access to preferred parking
  • Free electric vehicle charging

While transportation incentives generally have a beneficial impact, default strategies have some noteworthy limitations. First, they tend to reward people who are already using smart alternatives to solo driving instead of encouraging single-occupancy vehicle operators to change to another mode. They also stagnate by failing to engage participants over the long term while offering financial rewards that do not provide enough motivation. Typically, this results from budgetary limitations.

So, how can you make transportation incentives more appealing without driving up their costs? We have identified four effective strategies:

  • Targeted campaigns: Data-driven insights offer a cost-effective way to determine who is already participating in the preferred behavior and what groups can be targeted for a behavior shift. Don’t go after those who are already using smart alternatives. Instead, save your resources for those who aren’t.
  • Randomness: Build participants’ anticipation for rewards through randomness: use techniques like raffles and draws for major prizes to get people excited about taking part. Randomness also helps fight program stagnation by introducing an element of excitement and uncertainty.
  • Normalization and framing: Create sustained marketing and public awareness campaigns that frame smart alternatives to solo driving as normal, popular, and increasing in popularity.
  • Self-image: People are motivated not only by financial rewards, but also by their identity. For example, cycling enthusiasts can often be convinced to start biking to work fairly easily. Knowing the identity characteristics of your target audience can give program effectiveness a big boost.

Our experts can suggest many other techniques and strategies to help make your transportation incentives that much more appealing while keeping your budget under control. If you would like a free assessment of your existing programs, the entire RideAmigos team is here to help you get started.

Why More Businesses Are Investing in Employee Transportation in 2019

It’s still early in the year, but employee transportation has already come into sharp focus as a key talent retention strategy in 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 2.4 percent of American workers quit their jobs in September 2018, with a further 2.3 percent saying goodbye to their bosses in October 2018. Those are enormous turnover rates, and forward-thinking companies are looking into new ways to position themselves as employers of choice and avoid the costs and competitive disadvantages that come with losing talent.

A recent CNBC article explained the results of a telling poll that queried 2,800 members of the American labor force in 28 major cities across the country. The survey, conducted by HR consulting firm Robert Half, found that 23% of American workers have quit a job they would otherwise have kept because the commute was unsustainable. Another key finding: more than one-third of employees in the 18 to 34 age range left a position because the commute was killing them.

The changing workforce

Members of the so-called millennial generation have entered the workforce in large numbers, and they’re having a major impact on talent retention and employee transportation policies. To become an employer of choice in this day and age, companies have to do more than offer competitive salary and benefits packages. They also need to implement policies that support a positive work-life balance, and employer rideshare and commuter programs do just that.

Millennials, and their younger counterparts in Generation Z, also prioritize working for organizations that have a meaningful mission and share their values. According to the Pew Research Center, these young workers now make up more than 40% of the labor force. They look for different kinds of benefits than the traditional offerings – and that is an important opportunity for employers.

More than a free parking space

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a major human resources professional organization, emphasizes that employee transportation and parking benefits vastly increase worker engagement. This, in turn, leads to deeper levels of employee loyalty and boosts talent retention initiatives. Some particularly effective strategies include commuter rewards programs, along with company rideshare and carpooling networks, perks like subsidized transit passes, and guaranteed ride home programs for carpoolers and active commuters.

Leading companies are also making sustainability a key pillar of their employer brand. Businesses like Google and LinkedIn offer commuters a variety of options to get to and around their campuses, and they incentivize employees to use alternative modes. For many workers, the freedom to choose a sustainable commute and the ability to track their own positive impact take higher priority than free parking and routinely driving alone. Fortunately this can also mean a double win for your business when you cut parking costs and reduce the output of greenhouse gasses from cars.

Making commuter benefits work

Engaging commuters starts with understanding their preferences and offering the maximum number of options. If you’re looking for more employee transportation solutions to give your company an edge in talent recruitment and retention, we’re here to help. Talk to one of our experts to learn more.

3 Hospital Commuter Solutions that Reduce Solo Car Commutes and Save Money

Looking to reduce vehicle trips to and around your hospital? Transportation demand management (TDM) is a great way to improve access, reduce pollution, and ease the costs associated with increased parking. Implementing some simple but effective hospital commuter solutions can measurable reduce the number of solo drivers traveling to and from your facility each day.

Here are three winning strategies that healthcare administrators around the country are already using to great success:

Pay employees to leave their cars at home

Regardless of the type of workplace, employers have great success with a simple but effective program: incentivize employees not to drive to work. The most successful employers offer cash in exchange for taking an alternative mode and passing up on parking. From payroll incentives to gift cards, and even paid time off, the right incentives lead to significant numbers of employees choosing  smart alternatives to solo driving.

Raise the cost of parking

Another straightforward, high-impact strategy for the hospital mobility ecosystem: make it more expensive for employees to park. For example, if you currently offer employees a discounted monthly parking pass, instead charge solo drivers regular daily parking rates.

This is a very effective strategy, but to avoid a mutiny, you need to pair this kind of initiative with hospital commuter solutions that make it less expensive for employees to use other modes. Rideshare matching paired with a guaranteed ride home programs is a great option, as is public transportation. To that end:

Your hospital commuter solutions should encourage public transit use

Hospitals are usually situated so they’re easily accessible via public transportation. Take advantage of this by offering to subsidize or fully fund monthly transit passes so your commuters can save money by taking the bus or subway to work instead of driving.

If local transit routes don’t serve your hospital particularly well, consider shuttle service as an option. Running private shuttles between the hospital and major public transportation hubs in the nearby area is a cost-effective and easy way to bridge service gaps.

For more tips on reducing solo car commuting, and for expert insights into your current lineup of hospital commuter solutions, talk to our experts to get started with RideAmigos today.

Need to Recruit and Retain Top Talent? Don’t Ignore the Commute.

Employee commuter options are becoming increasingly important to members of the modern workforce.

For employers, the task to attract and retain the best available talent is becoming more and more complex. Members of the Millennial generation will make up three quarters of the workforce by 2025. So-called Generation Z is also entering the workforce in large numbers. Research consistently shows that these new workers hold a distinct set of values when it comes to what they look for in a job.

When it comes to choosing where to work, the new wave of professionals are interested in more than just money. They place high importance on achieving a positive work-life balance. They also strongly prefer organizations whose principles align with their own. For many workers, these principles include social and environmental responsibility. Millennials are particularly aware of ecological issues, and as such, they tend to take a positive view of organizations that are taking proactive steps to reduce their carbon footprints.

This growing trend extends beyond younger workers. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that a whopping 85% of respondents said they would take a pay cut if it meant having a shorter daily commute. Job seekers are making increased use of tools that allow them to search for job opportunities that lie within their acceptable commuting time or distance range. These are clear signs that workers across age groups and demographics take the commute into consideration when weighing job offers. As an employer, looking to attract and retain top candidates, you can differentiate your organization by implementing programs to make life easier for commuters. Helping employees achieve a better balance between their work and off-the-clock lives are more productive and less likely to leave.

To that end, let’s take a look at some key employee commuter options that can give your organization a competitive edge.

Launch a commuter benefits program

Supporting commuters with a well-designed commuter benefits program is the single most effective measure your organization can take. These programs come in many forms and draw on a wide range of incentives and strategies to broaden their appeal. In general, the most effective strategies deliver meaningful rewards to commuters in a relatively compact time frame. This provides fast gratification while encouraging participants to adopt and maintain positive behavior changes.

One increasingly popular strategy is the points program. Points programs let commuters earn points when they track or log trips using a smart alternative to solo driving. They can redeem the points as they accrue over time for valuable rewards. City officials in Austin, Texas achieved high levels of participation when they introduced an innovative points program allowing municipal employees to cash in their points for paid time off – a highly meaningful reward. With that in mind, you should choose the rewards that appeal to your diverse workforce to help drive higher participation rates. Examples of possible benefits include:

  • Gift cards for online or local retailers
  • Tickets to sports or other events
  • Charitable contributions
  • Preferred parking
  • Vouchers for mobility service providers

In addition to incentive programs, you can also offer a range of other attractive commuter benefits, including:

Employers get the best results when they combine these offerings. So, instead of just setting up a points program, combine the points strategy with a few of the other options mentioned above to create a flexible program with wide appeal.

Offer flexible employee commuter options

In addition to commuter programs, employers can also appeal to job seekers by creating flexible options such as telecommuting and secure bicycle storage. Communications technology is making remote work a viable alternative in a growing number of jobs. Employers that continue to enforce rigid on-site participation policies increasingly risk losing their access to top talent.

While  biking to work is not always a faster option than driving, it can reduce stress and contribute to a healthier, happier workforce. Simple things like secure bike storage, shower access, and lockers to encourage cyclists can choose to leave their cars at home more often.

Learn from the mistakes and successes of others

Organizations that haven’t adapted to the changing workforce and mobility landscape are facing increasing negative productivity and recruiting impacts. Many are experiencing higher rates of lateness and absenteeism, lower employee engagement, and higher turnover. Furthermore, failure to adapt can negatively affect your employer brand, making it even harder to recruit and retain quality candidates.

RideAmigos helps businesses of all sizes implement more effective employee commuter options.

RideAmigos’ cloud-based platform and native mobile apps offer features that make it easy for organizations to manage commuter programs and simplify access to smart transportation alternatives. Our industry-leading transportation demand management (TDM) tools work for businesses of all sizes. Let us show you how commuter benefits can help build your employer brand while promoting better health, decreased traffic, and sustainability.

Get started today to learn how RideAmigos supports a complete range of appealing and successful employee commuter programs.

The #1 Commuter Parking Management Strategy

Use this proven method to boost the effectiveness of your commuter parking management

Parking demand can cause major problems in the workplace, especially if your commuter base is heavily reliant on single-occupancy vehicles. However, by implementing a single strategy, you can massively improve your approach to commuter parking management. This winning strategy is known as parking cash-out.

Here’s how these highly successful programs work:

Parking cash-out is an ideal option for businesses that provide employees with subsidized or no-cost parking. The business begins by calculating its daily per-vehicle parking rate. Then, offer employees who drive to work a choice: take a cash payout, or use your parking spot. The payouts can be calculated and distributed on a weekly or monthly basis, or processed along with payroll.

For businesses that rent their parking facilities, figuring out the daily per-vehicle rate is easy: just divide your total parking costs by the number of spots you rent, then compute down to a daily figure. Companies that own their own parking facilities can estimate daily costs by adding up construction, operation, and maintenance costs associated with their parking lots, then dividing by the number of parking spots it holds. That figure can then be annualized, or broken down into quarters, months, weeks, or days.

Studies have shown that if you’re going to use only one commuter parking management strategy, this is the one to try. Parking cash-out programs can reduce parking demand by as much as 45 percent.

This strategy works because it gives commuters an immediate, tangible incentive not to drive to work. Most commuters that have access to free or low-cost parking don’t think much about what it costs the company. Offering them a cash payout in exchange for their parking spot will make the commuter feel as though he or she stands to lose something by continuing to solo-drive to work.

Companies can achieve long-term savings by sharply reducing the amount of parking they need to rent, or earn additional revenues by renting unused spots to other individuals or businesses. It’s a classic win-win situation that is well worth a try if you’re a facilities manager for a business struggling to figure out how to manage steep employee demand for costly parking.

RideAmigos is the perfect commuter management platform for implementing a parking cash-out program. Empower your employees to make smarter transportation choices like ridesharing, biking, and transit. Track commuting patterns. Incentivize preferred behaviors. All within one powerful system.

Get started with the commuter management pros at RideAmigos to learn how you can implement a parking cash out program.

Commuter Tax Benefits

Tax benefits for smarter commuting benefit both employees and employers.

Most people would agree that smarter, more environmentally friendly modes of urban transportation are a good thing. However, a lot of commuters need a little extra incentive to adopt new habits. To that end, the federal government recognizes that one of the most effective ways to actively encourage change is to offer financial benefits to those who use smart commuting options. Updates to the U.S. tax codes, which were signed into law in 2015, create a win-win situation for commuters and companies alike.

Under the updated laws, employers can give their employees the option to use up to $255 per month in pre-tax income to cover qualified commuting expenses, including:

  • Municipal and regional transit passes
  • Vanpool fares
  • Parking expenses

This program allows commuters to pay for qualified costs using pre-tax income. In total, each commuter is eligible for a taxable income reduction of up to $3,060 per year. Employers also benefit from the program, since monies dedicated to these costs are exempted from payroll taxation.

Pre-tax Benefit Example

The Santa Rosa Widget Company* has 50 employees using their pre-tax commute program. Each person claims $200 per month in eligible transportation costs. Over the course of a year, their company pays $9,000 less in payroll taxes. That, in turn, easily finances a transportation demand management program. Their TDM program then stimulates even more savings by encouraging more employees to participate. Everyone wins!

These programs also have important trickle-down benefits, which aren’t to be overlooked. Commuters who use transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles report lower levels of stress, an improved sense of well-being, and boosted workplace productivity. Enterprises that are looking for a way to kick-start beneficial changes to company culture would do well to consider the many advantages of these commuter tax benefit programs, many of which are also available on the state level.

Learn more about commuter tax benefits, and add RideAmigos to your smart commuting toolbox.

There are a lot of particular details involved with the commuter tax benefit program. If you’re looking to learn more, this comprehensive document from the Internal Revenue Service is an excellent resource, as is the National Center for Transit Research page on the tax benefits program. Remember, too, that tools like the RideAmigos software platform are excellent for helping commuters connect with a wealth of local transportation options and commute planning resources.

Our software can quickly provide you with positive return on investment in employee commuter programs. Make your smart commuting programs as beneficial as possible – contact the RideAmigos team today.

*Fictional example company. As far as we know, there’s not actually a widget company in Santa Rosa. If you’ve heard of one before, just know we’re not talking about that Santa Rosa Widget Company. 🙂