3 Effective Ways to Solve Company Parking Issues

Company parking issues affect both the management and employee sides of a business, presenting significant challenges for both. Managing employee parking needs is costly, as companies must either own or rent enough space to cover the daily needs of their commuters. In some cases, they must even go to the expense of building new parking structures.

For employees, competition for limited space creates unsavory situations that can have a long list of negative impacts in the workplace.

Let’s examine the root cause of most company parking issues, then explore effective methods of solving them.

Common Parking Problems

Demand for limited parking is the single most common problem companies face. Traditional solutions include constructing new parking structures and renting more parking spots. However, these aren’t feasible from a cost-benefit standpoint, especially in places like the Bay Area where new parking lots cost about $38,000 per space and rented spots command upwards of $500 per month. Each. Yikes.

Three Proven Solutions to Company Parking Issues

In our experience, the best and most effective solutions to company parking issues stem from a simple concept: behavior change. This term describes a workplace culture in which people swap out old habits that contribute to problems for new ones that foster solutions.

Stimulating behavior change on an organizational level is something of an art form, but no matter how you approach it, the key to success is to offer transportation incentives.

Try these three strategies:

  • Encourage carpooling. Promote the cost savings and social benefits of sharing rides. Participants reduce fuel expenses and vehicle maintenance costs, all while strengthening their personal and professional networks. Among other benefits, rideshare-based employee commuting is also known to reduce stress and improve job satisfaction.
  • Offer public transportation benefits. People teams don’t need parking when they use public transportation to get to work. Employers can help employees purchase transit passes with pre-tax dollars or even offer free or subsidized transit passes. On a monthly basis, they’re much cheaper than maintaining or renting parking spots, and they also reduce traffic congestion while inspiring team members to carry over their positive new travel habits beyond their daily commutes.
  • Make it a game. Commuter challenges, points programs, and other gamification strategies engage team members and encourage them to think about employee transportation in different, healthier ways.

These tools are proven antidotes to company parking issues, and they have wider community benefits like reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. The RideAmigos platform supports these any many other solutions to parking constraints, so if you’d like to learn more, we invite you to get started today.

We’re Saving You A Seat! The RideAmigos Guide to ACT 2019

Whether you’re a first time or a long-time member of the Association for Commuter Transportation we hope you’ll enjoy these insider tips for enjoying your time in New York City! 

The RideAmigos team looks forward to the annual Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) International Conference all year. We’re proud to be a sponsor of this year’s gathering in New York City (August 4-7, 2019), and we can’t wait to see our partners and connect with old and new friends!

There are so many things to do and see, and unfortunately you can’t be in more than one place at a time, so we made a list of a few of the things we’re most excited about at #ACTConf19. We hope this inspires you too!

Meeting New ACT Members

The conference is bigger than ever this year with over 600 attendees and more exhibitors. We always look forward to meeting new members and first-time attendees, whether they’re completely new to transportation demand management (TDM) and commuter transportation, or have just been waiting for the right time to attend an ACT event. If you’re new to ACT, you’re in for a great week – take this opportunity to meet lots of like-minded leaders from across our industry, and please say hi to the RideAmigos team! If you’re an ACT International Conference expert be sure to look out for new members and first-timers at the welcome receptions on Sunday.

All the Sessions

If you’re coming to New York with friends or colleagues, you might want to make a plan to divide and conquer. There is an incredible lineup of panels and presentations this year and you’ll want to see it all. Consider agreeing with a buddy on which sessions to attend and then compare notes over dinner at the end of each day. Here are some of the sessions our team doesn’t want to miss:

  • If you’ll be in town early on Sunday for the pre-conference sessions, an excellent panel of researchers and public agency leaders will share findings and engage the audience in Nudging the Commute: Behavioral Science in TDM. This should be an inspiring morning, and something we’ll be talking about for the rest of the conference.
  • Cities across the country are making an impact with innovative TDM policies. Check out how Austin, New York, and Santa Monica are using state and local policy and investment to enhance their transportation ecosystems in Take Charge: Use Government Policies and Investments to Make Your TDM Program More Impactful.
  • Marketing is a key part of a successful TDM program. Learn how agency leaders in Portland, Oregon and their partners are using audience segmentation techniques to better target their messaging to get the most out of their marketing spend in How to Slice and Dice: Targeted Approaches to Audience Segmentation for Transportation Behavior Change.
  • If you are responsible for transportation at a large university, this discussion about MaaS for Campus, including Safe Ride programs with leaders from The Ohio State University, Texas Tech, UCLA and USC is one you shouldn’t miss.
  • Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) are on the rise. No matter where you’re from, you can learn from the important role they are playing in TDM at the local, regional and individual employer levels in this session about TMA Expansion in Massachusetts.
  • Don’t miss the session on TDM and Social Equity – a topic that is becoming more complex and important as the mobility ecosystem evolves.
  • We won’t miss the chance to hear from a lineup of leading Bay Area employers, Intuit, Facebook, Genentech, Google and Stanford University discussing how they’re closing the gap with corporate transit.
  • Our own Corey Tucker will be part of panel of experts from Waze Carpool, TransSystems and ICF to dive into the science behind behavior change and how innovative TDM programs can overcome objections holding commuters back from sharing rides.
  • Wondering how your community is going to handle e-scooters (and other dockless mobility) when they arrive? Drop in on Keeping Up with E-Scooters to take note of lessons learned by this panel, moderated by UC Berkeley’s David Sorrell.
  • Who defines success in transportation programming? Different stakeholders have different goals and performance indicators. Measure What You Treasure, featuring our own Kathryn Hagerman Medina, will examine this question from the employer, TMO and municipal perspectives.

The RideAmigos User Group Meet-up

The ACT International Conference is an opportunity for dozens of RideAmigos administrators to get together for an in-person briefing and feedback session with product and support leadership. One of our favorite things about this reunion is seeing TDM leaders from across industries and geographies connect and share ideas and best practices. Since the last time we got together, RideAmigos has rolled out major updates to the web interface, our mobile apps, and our configurable commuter engagement programs.

The Seventh Annual RideAmigos Closing Night Party

After two and a half days of learning and networking, ACT members unwind with light-hearted karaoke and toast to a successful conference. The crowd is supportive and the music plays all night long. This year, Scoop and Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions are joining us to host the closing night event in true New York City style. Come prepared for some extra special “carpool karaoke” and don’t worry, the Scoop team is bringing a list of transportation-themed songs. All ACT International Conference attendees are welcome with RSVP. Stop by RideAmigos booth 100, Scoop booth 205, or Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions booth #407 to sign up, or just visit the Eventbrite page.

Celebrating Outstanding TDM Professionals

Each year, ACT recognizes and honors outstanding achievements in the field of transportation demand management at a breakfast ceremony on the last day of the International Conference. This year, ACT is presenting awards in fifteen categories, including a few new ones for 2019. Last year, eleven of the twenty-nine finalists and four of the winners were RideAmigos partners.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in New York! Email ACT@rideamigos.com or message us on Twitter @rideamigos to connect. You can also find us at Booth 100 or taking notes in sessions. Safe travels!

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Takes Commuter Rewards to the Next Level

In December 2018, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) launched a new commuter rewards program to the public. The CATS program allows commuters to earn points towards valuable rewards by logging smart commutes using approved alternatives to solo driving. CATS configured the system so that 10 round trips logged using approved modes could earn the commuter a $5 reward.

Just 10 days after launching, the CATS commuter rewards program attracted almost 200 new users, marking a 500% increase in registered users over the preceding three-month period. Over those 10 days, participants posted some pretty impressive stats: they logged 1,200 alternative trips totaling 14,900 miles, which saved 3.83 tons of CO2 emissions.

CATS program administrators used a few targeted approaches to generate interest in the program. First, they enticed new users by offering bonus points for joining, putting them within striking distance of a prize right off the bat. They also structured their program to include progressive reward tiers, giving participants added incentives for logging more trips and saving their points for a truly special prize. The resulting engagement and impact speaks for itself!

Learning from Programs that Work

The CATS program is powered by CommuteRewards, part of the RideAmigos cloud-based platform that automates the kinds of proven points programs that have worked for innovative employers like the City of Austin and regional agencies like Commute.org.

Key advantages of the CommuteRewards program:

  • Easy management. By taking advantage of automation, the program eliminated the need to worry about how many rewards to purchase from each vendor at any given time. Instead, they simply define a budget and set point values. Earning and redeeming points is self-service!
  • Tons of choice. Because more than 100 different rewards providers participate, there is no guessing which vendors commuters will like best. Everyone is different, so the program lets them choose their own rewards from a wide variety of retailers and restaurants.
  • Streamlined administration. The CommuteRewards store is configured for easy administration, so you don’t have to keep track of digital codes, leftover gift cards from previous events, or other similar management and reporting headaches.

Commuter rewards are generally a great way to motivate employees to make better and more frequent use of greener, smarter alternatives. A growing number of companies and organizations are turning to this strategy to complement their outreach and commuter challenges and promote sustained behavior change. If you’d like to learn more, we’d be happy to help!

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.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Smart Commuter Management

Happy New Year! There’s no better time to create goals that will have a beneficial impact on your organization and the community at large than at the start of another trip around the sun. Here are five great ways you can make smart commuter management a priority in 2017.

#1: Collect More Information

The essential first step in generating behavior change is understanding the commuting habits of your organization’s members. Specifically, there are four key things you need to know:

  • What are the primary mode(s) of transportation currently in use among members?
  • How aware are members of the transportation benefits you currently offer?
  • What is the single most important consideration for members when choosing a way to get to work? Time? Cost? Something else?
  • What benefits or incentives would get members to try out an alternative mode of commuting?

Finding answers to these questions through commuter surveys will help you create a transportation program that’s got a much better chance of success.

#2: Experiment with Incentives

Providing incentives for leaving single-occupancy vehicles behind is a proven way to vastly increase program participation rates. Incentive programs come in many forms, with popular options including:

  • Pre-tax reimbursements for employees who use qualified modes of transportation
  • Preferred or lower-cost parking for carpool drivers
  • Parking cash-out programs that offer monthly payments to employees who give up their parking spots
  • Friendly individual- or team-oriented in-house competitions, with prizes for the winners who log the most miles or make the most trips using qualified modes of travel

Plan some experiments to try during 2017 and see which strategies best engage your commuters!

#3: Promote Transit as an Alternative to Solo Driving

Public transit is a great way for employees to save money, reduce congestion and pollution, and reduce wear and tear on their vehicles. Try offering partially or fully subsidized local transit passes and watch ridership soar.

#4: Participate in Bike to Work Week

Every spring, Bike to Work Week becomes a national initiative that helps get people moving and encourages greater numbers of commuters to make a permanent switch. Join in a Bike to Work Week being planned for your city or region, or if there’s not one in the works – help make it happen!

#5: Adopt a Comprehensive Commuter Management Tool

Commuters and administrators alike can benefit from a comprehensive platform like RideAmigos. Easily implement advanced carpool matching, distribute surveys, create networks and challenges, launch incentive programs, track results, and much more!

Learn More About Commuter Management Platforms

Empower Employees with Commuting Resources

Resources like localized map layers enable commuters to choose smarter modes of transportation

Businesses have a lot of incentive to encourage employees to make better use of alternative modes of transportation. In addition to payroll tax benefits, which are available to companies that offer employee commuting programs, studies have shown that options like ridesharing, vanpooling, and public transit help improve productivity and reduce stress. By providing employee commuting resources, businesses can build a happier, healthier culture.

Dynamic, relevant information is one of the most effective types of employee commuting resources a company can offer

One of the biggest hindrances to behavior change is uncertainty. So it only makes sense that integrated, up-to-date information is the most important tool to offer your commuters. If a commuter doesn’t know or isn’t sure how to make best use of alternative options, they are far more likely to just stick with the status quo.

For example, custom map layers can be used to provide resources like:

  • Carshare locations. Programs like Zipcar have become a popular alternative for multi-modal transportation – integrate their pick-up locations!
  • Bike facilities. Show helpful resources like bike racks, repair stands, and shops across your region.
  • Park-and-ride lots. Commuters living in the suburbs and outlying areas can avoid congested city corridors by driving to a park-and-ride lot, then carpooling or taking transit the rest of the way.
  • Parking availability. Help commuters say goodbye to wasting time and fuel by driving around looking for a place to park.

Choosing the right commuter management software is the best way to drive behavior change. The RideAmigos platform provides commuters with convenient access to a wealth of dynamic, customizable information through  its trip planning and commuter dashboard tools, and gives administrators the added change-making leverage of targeted incentives. These powerful functions enable users to choose smarter modes of transportation with confidence.

Learn more about RideAmigos’ custom map layers and data integration options.

Rideshare and Transit Integration

Rideshare and transit integration solves problems associated with single-occupancy vehicle commuting

The negative impacts of commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle extend beyond the environment. Sitting in traffic creates what’s known as an “opportunity cost.” People can’t engage in productive activities when they’re inching their vehicle along a street or freeway.

As such, stakeholders in enterprise-oriented commuter management programs have strong incentives to promote alternatives like rideshare and transit integration. Research shows that such programs support improved productivity as well as increased commuter happiness and overall life satisfaction.
To help give your commuter program a kick-start, here are a few ways you can integrate ridesharing, public transit, and other alternatives into your company’s commuter management plan:

  • Create a multimodal commuting challenge. Build excitement and increase commuter participation by incentivizing your commuting program with a challenge that includes ridesharing, transit, and other smart commute options. Log trips, track miles, and offer prizes to the individuals or teams who lead the pack.
  • Provide smart transportation from origin and destination transit stations. In addition to running vanpool shuttle services between your company and local mass transit stations, you can also provide geo-fenced, prepaid access to services like Lyft and Uber. Offer last-mile connections between destination transit stations and the office, and encourage commuters to carpool for travel from their homes to origin stations.
  • Offer free transit credits to carpoolers. This approach does double duty: it incentivizes ridesharing while encouraging employees to make better use of available public transit options. Create a points program where commuters who carpool a certain number of days per month are eligible for free or subsidized public transit access. 
  • Build a “buddy system.” Facilitate carpooling by matching employees who live close to one another as “commute buddies.” Sometimes, especially in larger companies, people simply aren’t aware that they have co-workers in close proximity who are willing to share rides (and costs). Matching can also be schedule-based, making it easier for people who arrive and depart from work at the same time to buddy up.
  • Set up reduced-rate and preferred parking systems for carpoolers. Offer reduced-rate or free parking to vehicles used in carpools, or give carpoolers privileged access to preferred parking spots or lots.

Remember: ridesharing/carpooling and public transit programs work well together. Integrating them, rather than approaching each program as standalone entities, will help drum up higher participation rates in your smart commuting initiatives.

A cutting-edge commuter management platform like the RideAmigos software suite is ideal for creating and administering effective programs that have a positive impact on your business, and in your community. To learn more about our industry-leading software, please contact us or view our free video demonstration.

Tips From Google For Planning a Successful Bike-to-Work Program

Use this recipe from our friends at Google to build a fantastic bike to work campaign

We were recently joined by Lucy Tice, TDM Program Manager from Google, for a RideAmigos Academy Coffee Talk. Lucy and her colleagues were kind enough to share the recipe they used to get hundreds of Google employees on board with the company’s bike to work program. Now we’re going to pass it along to you!

  1. Create a survey. Find out how many people might potentially be interested in biking to work, how far their commute would be, and how experienced they are with cycling.
  2. Divide into segments. Google’s survey yielded four distinct segments within their prospect pool: “brave and fearless,” “enthusiastic and confident,” “interested with reservations,” and “not happening.” See how many members of your organization fall into similar groups.
  3. Choose a focus. Concentrate promotional and marketing efforts towards the segment that comprises the most valuable slice of the prospect pool. For example, Google elected to direct its efforts toward getting the “interested with reservations” group onto the participation side of the fence, since about 60% of survey respondents fell into that category.
  4. Set up a challenge. Engage individuals and/or teams by creating friendly competitions to see who can tally the greatest number of trips and/or miles during the campaign. You can also divide into networks and groups to take advantage of team spirit. 
  5. Add incentives. Prizes for the individuals and/or teams that lead the pack can be advertised at the beginning of the campaign to provide an extra spark of motivation. 
  6. Start promoting. Keeping your focus segment in mind, use a full range of communication channels to put the word out about the incentivized bike to work campaign. By giving out some rewards early in the program you can increase the likelihood of winners sharing about your program.
  7. Evaluate the results. Using this recipe, Google got over 800 people on board with their challenge and racked up more than 15,000 bike trips. 

Learn more about Google’s bike-to-work program at the RideAmigos Academy: Beyond Bike to Work Day, How Google is Expanding TDM Programs Using RideAmigos

Our industry-leading RideAmigos commuter management software platform is the perfect backbone to create, promote, and administer bike to work campaigns, enabling a ripple-effect of long-lasting, positive impact on commuter behavior. It’s a fantastic tool, loaded with features that support route planning, bike- & carpool matching, challenges & incentives, community management, data analysis, and much more. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you transform transportation within your organization. 

Promoting Safe Riding for Urban Cyclists

These experts tips from experienced urban cyclists can help bike commuters stay safe.

Commuting by bike is a great way to get exercise and relieve traffic congestion, but safety should always come first. Here at RideAmigos, we’re big fans of increasing bicycle usage as part of a transportation demand management strategy.

During these summer months many organizations promote bicycling as a smart and healthy way to commute. As partners in a shared mission of transforming transportation, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips from experienced urban bike commuters to help keep your organization’s cyclists safe. Share and re-use widely!

  • Adopt “active scanning.” Always be aware of everything going on around you. Scan the road, as well as adjoining driveways and intersections. When you’re able to do so safely, take periodic glances behind you to see what’s approaching. Even better – invest in a mirror.
  • Be predictable. Don’t make sudden moves or swerve into traffic. If you’re scanning properly, you’ll react to obstacles like sewer grates and cracked pavement smoothly and well ahead of time.
  • Use your ears. As a cyclist, you’re more reliant on your hearing than you may realize. Never ride wearing headphones or earbuds.
  • Be defensive. Drivers are protected by thousands of pounds of steel and glass. You’re not. It won’t matter that you had the right-of-way if you get hit by a car. Don’t be aggressive; be cautious.
  • Eye contact is your friend. Making eye contact with turning drivers is the only way you can be sure they’ve seen you. If you’re not sure a motorist knows you’re there, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Be seen and heard. Bells, headlights, reflectors, and bright, reflective clothing are all helpful, especially if you’re going to be riding at night.
  • Control your speed. Maintain a suitable speed for road conditions; slow down in heavy traffic. You need to give yourself enough time to react to anything that might happen.

In addition, safe riding means staying alert at all times for potential hazards:

  • People emerging from parked cars. “Dooring,” as it’s known, can be very dangerous. Give yourself ample clearance when riding past parked vehicles, and keep your eyes open for people who may be about to step out of their cars and onto the street.
  • Turning vehicles. Many motorists are only looking for oncoming cars, and bikes can be hard to see in heavy traffic. Be extra careful when going through intersections.
  • Aggressive drivers. Unfortunately, some motorists drive as though the road belongs to them. Don’t pick a fight; avoid confrontations, especially needless ones.
  • Drivers in reverse. People backing out of driveways or into parking spots are more likely to be watching where they’re going than watching for oncoming bikes. Again, be extra defensive in these situations.

With support and experience, it becomes second-nature to navigate city streets by bike. Even so, bike commuters should never take safety for granted!

Riding with a group is another great way to improve your bicycle visibility, and by extension, safety. Like carpooling, bikepooling can also turn commuting into a social event. The RideAmigos platform is an ideal way to build a bikepooling network and promote bicycling as a viable form of commuting.

Help people skip the solo drive – contact RideAmigos today!

Using Pokémon Go to promote smart commuting

The Pokémon Go craze is sweeping the country like a tidal wave! This addictive game has already generated a massive following of die-hard players since its recent release. With ongoing international debuts, its popularity isn’t expected to slow.

How can those of us with an interest in encouraging smarter commuting use this huge trend as a way to lure more people to skip the solo drive?

Transit

Several municipalities are actively promoting Pokémon Go as part of their local public transit networks. L.A.’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has launched a Twitter account instructing players on the places they can go to catch Pokémon within their system. Other transit marketers and managers can follow their lead and promote playing while riding as a great way to “catch ‘em all” while also catching a ride to work.

Bike

Playing Pokémon Go while driving is never a good idea. Playing while biking can be promoted as a safer and healthier alternative. Using a smartphone securely mounted on a bike’s handlebars, a cyclist can see when Pokémon, PokéStops, or gyms are near. Riders can then easily detour off the street or bike path and out of harm’s way while they capture, battle, or train. Encouraging commuters to play Pokémon Go by bike might even inspire them to take the long way home, leading to more fun, more health benefits, and a higher likelihood they’ll bike to work in the future!

Rideshare

One of the best ways to promote smart commuting to players of Pokémon Go is through rideshare programs. Employees and neighbors can form a group with fellow Pokémon trainers, taking turns driving so everyone has a chance to play. They’ll have fun enjoying the wildly popular game, enhancing social and professional connections, and cutting down on traffic congestion.

If your business or organization is looking for tools to promote smarter, environmentally friendly commuting alternatives, our RideAmigos software platform offers a complete range of solutions. From public transit and biking to ridesharing and vanpooling, the RideAmigos platform delivers. Not only that, but we can even incorporate special Pokémon-related incentives or marketing!  To learn more, just contact us or sign up to check out our free, comprehensive demo video.