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.

Commuter Engagement vs. Commuter Management

As competition to recruit and retain top talent grows tougher, a growing number of companies and organizations are offering commuter programs as part of their benefits portfolio. Two common phrases you’re likely to encounter include “commuter engagement” and “commuter management.” Many people are under the impression that these two terms are interchangeable, but there are actually important differences between these cornerstone concepts.

What is commuter engagement?

Commuter engagement focuses on programs that make people feel good about adopting alternative modes. In addition to promoting short-term commuter events like Bike-to-Work Month or Rideshare Month, effective engagement strategies also aim to encourage long-term behavior change. When handled well, commuter engagement results in more people choosing to ditch the solo drive in favor of smart alternatives more often.

Essential commuter engagement strategies and concepts include things like:

  • Points programs that allow commuters to collect points they can later redeem for valuable rewards
  • Games, friendly competitions, challenges, and other incentive programs
  • Giving commuters financial incentives for leaving their cars at home, like those provided by parking cash-out programs
  • Targeted marketing campaigns that promote commuter programs to specific groups within your organization

What about commuter management?

Commuter management, on the other hand, simply seeks to provide commuters with the information and resources they need to make better use of smart mobility options. It covers things like:

RideAmigos empowers program leaders to successfully manage both commuter engagement and commuter management. Our unique, industry-leading platform includes the tools and programs that make it easy to drive higher levels of commuter engagement. Administrators also enjoy advanced commuter management features and that make managing and analyzing large and complex programs easy, efficient, and fun. To learn more about our solutions, get started with RideAmigos today!

Five Things Every Employee Transportation Coordinator Should Know

Five thing every ETC needs to know.

Doing these five things will help you optimize the employee commute experience on your company’s campus.

Employee transportation coordinators (ETCs) play a leading role in delivering commuter benefits to the members of a company or organization’s workforce. They also develop, implement, and update commuter programs and policies, and serve as internal and external “point people.” Yet, the role is also relatively new, becoming more widespread over the past few years.

Because the transportation demand management (TDM) landscape is constantly shifting as policies, technology, and best practices continue to evolve and change, ETCs need to stay focused and current to maximize their impact.

These are five of the most important things that every employee transportation coordinator should be doing now:

#1 – Get to know your local and regional commuter programs

Almost every major city or region has a government-affiliated commuter program that aims to promote alternatives to solo driving. These organizations work to empower commuters and lead the push toward smarter, more sustainable transportation choices.

As an ETC, you should be proactive about connecting and cooperating with local and regional commuter programs. Do more than just find out what they offer. Reach out to the people who run them, and get to know them. Attend their events and webinars, join their mailing lists, and stay engaged with what they’re doing.

Remember: an effective ETC is a company or organization’s in-house commuter programs expert. The most successful ETCs have advanced knowledge that reaches beyond their own walls and extends out into the broader community.

#2 – Stay current

On a related note, local and regional commuter management ordinances and programs can be complex, and they often have a lot of moving parts. They also tend to maintain long and detailed lists of requirements that partner companies and organizations are expected to meet. You could be dropped from the partnership for failing to meet even one of those requirements, even accidentally.

To that end, make sure to stay current with the details of all the local and regional commuter programs your organization participates in. If their requirements are changing, or if you’ve implemented organizational changes that may affect your eligibility, reach out to the appropriate administrators for help or advice. This is another incentive for maintaining close ties and open communication with your local program coordinators.

Plugging into organizations like the Association for Commuter Transportation that offer webinars, conferences and other learning opportunities at the local and international level is another great way to stay informed. And be sure to check out CommuteCon.com for information on upcoming virtual conferences for commuter management professionals.

#3 – Share commuter program info with new employees

Newly hired individuals often struggle to find their own way into commuter programs after starting a new job. It’s common for new hires to simply not know that commuter support options are available.

Coordinate with the person or team responsible for new employee orientations. Make sure they are mentioning internal commuter programs during welcome sessions, even if only briefly. Prepare materials that could be included in either printed or digital orientation packets. Then, make sure those materials contain your name, contact information, and a warm message that lets newcomers know you’re available and happy to answer any commute-related questions they might have.

#4 – Keep coworkers engaged and informed

Effective ETCs keep their coworkers engaged with commuter programs and informed about resources, opportunities, and special initiatives.

Here are a few strategies you can use:

  • Create an email list that interested colleagues can join to learn more about programs and updates
  • Generate and distribute posters and flyers about special events like annual commuter challenges
  • Work with your human resources department to include commuter programs in new employee onboarding plans or and regular internal communications
  • Do a lunch-hour presentation series on commuter-related topics, such as “Bike to Work 101” or “Ways to Get to Work Without a Car”
  • Invite a representative from local or regional commuter programs to talk about their initiatives (and include an incentive for participating, like free lunch or a prize draw)

#5 – Take full advantage of available tools

First, look within your company or organization to see what tools and supports they offer. Does your company have its own carpooling network or ride-matching software? Is there a commuter rewards program in place already?

Many dramatic TDM success stories begin with creative and engaging commuter rewards, challenges, and friendly competitions. These are easy to implement and fun for participants, and they can really drive participation rates in the right direction.

If you’re a little short on the tech end of things, you can also reach out to local and regional commuter programs to see if they have any room to add your company as a network on their software. Of course, the entire RideAmigos team is also here to help you take full advantage of the impressive benefits of technologies like our signature commuter management platform.

Finally, remember: you’re not alone! Talk to other ETCs, be part of the RideAmigos Academy if you’re a customer, and don’t forget to check out the Association for Commuter Transportation.

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.

3 Strategies to Engage Commuters

Strategies to Engage Commuters

When asked, many commuters claim to be open to using smart transportation alternatives but, in practice, they are reluctant to try. To overcome this challenge, organizations need to really engage commuters and give them compelling reasons to skip the solo drive.

Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few engagement strategies come and go. If you need to dramatically shift commuter behavior, strategically-designed incentives are the key. But it’s also crucial to provide commuters with convenient tools for accessing your programs and transportation choices.

Here are three strategies that work in the real world, and will actually help you engage commuters and generate higher levels of participation in your commuter programs:

 

Blue Dot 1

Commuter Rewards Programs

Reward programs that offer commuters points for each trip they take are increasingly popular and incredibly effective. Users earn credit for approved trips and can then redeem accumulated points for rewards and prizes. This strategy is most effective when you offer premium incentives, such as gift cards, that appeal to a broad cross-section of interests. Improve and diversify the rewards you offer and watch your participation rates climb.

 

Blue Dot 2

Commuter Challenges and Gamification 

Another proven way to engage commuters is to appeal to their sense of friendly competition – with others, or with themselves. Gamification and challenge programs can kindle a cooperative team spirit, increasing camaraderie among team members. Both general commuter challenges and mode-specific challenges like bike-to-work programs are effective ways to get people to create initial engagement and try a new mode that just might become a habit. Follow up your challenge with an ongoing reward program for maximum long-term impact.

 

Blue Dot 3

Go Mobile 

Giving commuters easy access to smarter commuting choices is vital to the success of your initiative. Mobile commuter engagement apps reach people where they’re already spending a lot of their time: on their smartphones. Use these apps to link commuters with mode options and resources, provide easy ways to discover and participate in rewards and challenges, review progress toward incentives, and more.

 

With cutting-edge, cloud-based management software and ready-to-run commuter programs, RideAmigos is here to be your commuter engagement partner. Our industry-leading platform and mobile apps are packed with tools and features for both administrators and commuters, making it easy to implement reward programs, run challenges, connect commuters, and much more. Get started with RideAmigos today!

What is an Employee Transportation Coordinator, and Why Does Your Company Need One?

Employee transportation benefits have become an increasingly important aspect of enterprise mobility strategies as more and more organizations realize the importance of offering commuter resources to their team members. Whether you are a business, government, or non-profit, having a strong commuter support system in place is a proven way to drive recruitment and retention. Especially given that younger workers place a premium value on benefits that lead to a better work-life balance.

To get maximum value from commuter benefits, more and more organizations are adding a dedicated employee transportation coordinator (ETC) to their teams. Most organizations achieve this in one of two ways: those with sizable work forces are usually best-served by hiring or assigning someone to ETC duties on a full-time basis. Smaller and mid-size organizations may be able to add ETC responsibilities to an existing team member’s job description, since they may not require a full-time commitment.

Some jurisdictions also require employers of a certain size to have a certified employee transportation coordinator on staff in order to comply with air quality regulations. Either way, employee transportation benefits are becoming an essential part of recruitment and retention strategy. You should consider adding one to your team regardless of whether or not you’re required to.

What Does an Employee Transportation Coordinator Do?

Exact job descriptions vary from organization to organization, but employee transportation coordinators are typically tasked with creating, managing, and promoting commuter and employee transportation benefits programs. They are also responsible for managing all aspects of internal programs, from connecting rideshare partners and distributing benefits to analyzing data and delivering reports. ETCs also develop and update the organization’s commuter policies as required, while gathering input and information from other stakeholders within the organization. They also stay on top of applicable legislation to ensure compliance with any state or regional regulations and serve as liaisons to regional commuter management organizations like TMAs and TMOs.

If your organization operates in a jurisdiction that requires companies above a certain size to hire a dedicated ETC, your on-site coordinator may also need to pass a standardized certification examination. Always check and comply with local laws.

RideAmigos Offers Excellent Tools for Managing Employee Transportation Programs

RideAmigos is an invaluable ally to ETCs everywhere, as it delivers a comprehensive suite of professional management tools and programs. You can use it to:

  • Create and manage networks that connect commuters
  • Offer private-network employee ridematching
  • Design and distribute commuter surveys
  • Manage commuter challenges, and incentive programs
  • Provide team members with valuable informational resources and trip planning tools
  • Access advanced reporting and analytics tools
  • …and much more!

Get started with RideAmigos today, and kick your employee transportation benefits programs into high gear.

Using Point Programs to Sustain Behavior Change

Challenges and special events are great ways to get commuters to try out alternative modes of transportation. However, research demonstrates that many challenge participants simply return to their old habits once the event comes to an end. Thus, while events like National Bike Month are very successful at delivering the initial spark that jolts commuters into trying something new, the problem is that the spark too-often fizzles out once there’s no longer an immediate impetus for continuing. Longer-term incentive programs offer a great compliment to shorter challenges, and point programs are among the most effective ongoing incentive options.

What Are Point Programs?

Point programs are incentives that are put in place on a long-term or permanent basis. They allow commuters to earn points every time they log a commute using an alternative to solo driving. Depending on how the program is designed, all modes may receive the same amount of points, or certain modes may be prioritized, such as carpooling or biking. These points accumulate over time, and can then be redeemed for prizes, benefits, and other perks.

Transportation managers and administrators can use specialized commuter management software to track points, manage prize inventory and benefit distribution, and enable employees to log their commutes quickly and easily in a variety of ways.

Applying Point Programs in Your Company

Point programs build on the principles of year-round incentive programs like “emergency ride home” initiatives. Emergency ride home options provide vouchers for motorized transportation, like taxis or ride-hailing services, which are offered to commuters who are unexpectedly faced with the need to get home quickly. They are designed to solve one of the most pressing problems associated with active commuting: what does someone who walks or bike to work do if the weather turns bad, or if unexpected circumstances require them to get home or go somewhere in a hurry?

However, emerging insights show that while emergency ride home programs are a key component of a smart commuting program, they are not usually enough to encourage sustained behavior change on their own. That’s why pairing them with point programs is so much more effective; commuters have a built-in, long-term incentive for using alternative modes of transportation, and they also have the assurance of a guaranteed ride home if they ever need one.

One increasingly popular way for employees to redeem their points is through a commuter store. In commuter stores, enticing prizes are offered at various point levels, with more points “buying” bigger and better prizes. They give employees something to strive for, and greatly enhance their senses of accomplishment and reward. Common prizes include logo gear from the sponsoring organization (sunglasses, t-shirts, notebooks, etc.), gift cards of various value levels, or raffle tickets towards a chance to win even higher-value items. Our recent support article on choosing commuter store rewards provides a more in-depth look at effective strategies for setting up a commuter store.

Point Program Examples

The City of Austin has made use of an effective point program that uses a slightly different strategy. Austin’s initiative allows city employees to exchange points for the ultimate reward – paid time off. It has proven to be a win-win in one of the fastest-growing cities in America.

The University of Arizona also recently launched a commuter store targeted at both students and university employees, to great success. You can hear first-hand from both the City of Austin and the University of Arizona in the video from last month’s RideAmigos Academy webinar about point programs. On the regional level, Commute.org in San Mateo, CA runs an excellent point program called the STAR store, which they shared about during a presentation at CommuteCon earlier this year.

Do you have an idea for a point program, but you’re not sure how to implement it? Are you having a hard time figuring out what kinds of incentives or rewards to offer for maximum behavior shift? We’re here to help! Get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help you work through your ideas and find dynamic new ways of engaging your commuters.

 

 

Scooter Sharing: Coming Soon to a City Near You

A man posing on electric scooter.

If they’re not already popping up in your city, they could be coming soon. A fast-growing group of app-based electric scooter (e-scooter) fleets are racing to solve short distance urban travel and last mile challenges for commuters. The introduction of e-scooters has been the subject of controversy in some cities. However, as part of a mobility ecosystem, they can be a great complement to the set of transportation options available to employees, students or residents. If you have questions about how scooters might impact your commuters, read on to learn more.

What are dockless electric scooters?

In recent months, companies like Bird, LimeBike, and Lyft have made major investments in scooter sharing platforms. Bird is a Santa Monica, California-based mobility company founded and operated by Travis VanderZanden, a former VP at Uber and COO at Lyft. LimeBike made its name in the bikeshare space before launching scooter shares in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington DC. Spin, another bikeshare provider has added a scooter fleet. With other scooter companies popping up, now even ride-hailing companies like Lyft may be getting in on the act.

The scooters being used in these programs aren’t like the one you might have zipped around on as a kid; they’re electric vehicles capable of reaching speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. They allow commuters to roll down the street while enjoying point-to-point service that is being promoted as an ideal solution to the last-mile service dilemma, thanks to their compact size and service model.

How do they work? 

Rather than borrowing a scooter from a dock station, commuters can source a scooter with a geolocation-enabled smartphone app – think Pokemon Go – that will tell the user where the nearest scooter is.  The rider then unlocks the scooter, rides to his or her destination, then parks it, hopefully in a safe spot out of the way of pedestrians. Compared to dockless bikeshare programs, which use a similar model, shared scooters take up much less valuable sidewalk space when not in use.

Most electric scooter payment models see riders pay a flat rate to unlock the scooter, then ride the scooter as long as desired for a low per-minute rate. Because they are geared toward short distance rides, there is often no minimum time allotment, but rental time and distance is only limited by battery life.

At night, service providers – often using contractors – collect the scooters, charge them back up, and replace them in convenient locations for use by commuters the next morning.

As these scooters proliferate in cities, communities and governments are working to adapt. Some have voiced safety concerns for riders and pedestrians. In many cases, scooter companies are cooperating with cities as they work through the policy process. They are also making efforts to ensure riders comply with helmet laws. LimeBike distributes free helmets in communities where they have launched their electric bike and scooter fleets, and Bird will mail a helmet to anyone who signs up and requests one.

At RideAmigos, we know that more transportation options mean greater mobility for commuters. If you’re looking to help connect your commuters to a wider range of mode options, connect with us to learn more about how a commuter management platform can help.

Pro Tips for Safer City Cycling

May is National Bike Month, which means you’re likely to see a sharp uptick in the number of cyclists on the road. If you’re planning to take part in the festivities, it’s essential that you brush up on your best practices for city cycling safety. This is especially true if you aren’t an experienced rider, or if you’re planning to hit the road on two wheels for the first time in a while.

First, and most importantly, make sure you have the right safety gear. A sturdy helmet designed specifically for cycling is a must-have. If you’re going to be riding during the pre-dawn or post-dusk hours, you should also wear a brightly colored, reflective safety vest over your clothing. Yellow and orange are highly visible colors, and are recommended.

Cars are legally obligated to pass you at a safe distance, often at least 3 feet, but the unfortunate reality is that drivers don’t always adhere to that requirement. To make things safer for you, follow these tips:

  • Be assertive without putting yourself at risk; don’t ride too close to the curb or parked cars, but don’t “boss your lane” unless it’s necessary for safety reasons
  • Actively scan the road in all directions, and anticipate unfolding traffic situations before they happen
  • Always ride defensively; motorists have tons of steel to protect them in the event of an accident, but you don’t
  • Avoid boxing yourself in, and if you don’t have a clear escape route in a particular road situation, reduce your speed dramatically
  • Be especially cautious around large vehicles – these drivers might have a more difficult time seeing you

City cycling safety experts also stress the importance of pre-planning your route. Take as many streets with dedicated or protected bike lanes as possible, and avoid major traffic corridors with high vehicle volumes to the greatest possible degree. If it’s possible to take a side street instead of a main road, do it.

Finally, always try to make eye contact with the drivers of turning vehicles as you approach them. This is the only way you can be sure that drivers have seen you. Also, to that end, don’t gamble on yellow lights. Turning drivers will be looking to clear the intersection before the light turns red, and you want to avoid entering the intersection after they’ve already committed to completing their turn.

Learn more about how to get the most out of National Bike Month!

 

Smart Commuting at RideAmigos

At RideAmigos, we don’t just talk a good game when it comes to smart commuting. We follow through by utilizing a complete range of alternative transportation modes within our own company. As a national leader in the field of transportation demand management (TDM), we’re happy to encourage our staff members to bust stress, enjoy a better work-life balance, and help reduce pollution and traffic congestion through our fun and engaging commuter support programs.

With the help of our innovative tools and solutions, we’ve implemented  high-impact smart commuting programs in our workplace. In one ongoing initiative, we allow employees to earn points with every smart commute they log, with each point being redeemable for one entry into a monthly raffle. Then, at the end of the month, one lucky winner gets to go home with a $200 gift card.

This strategy works because it stays relevant all year long, encourages friendly competition, and rewards employees for choosing smart commuting strategies more often. The gift card prize is also a great example of an effective incentive, which TDM professionals the world over recognize as being one of the keys to getting people excited about taking part.

April '18 Mode BreakdownIn April 2018, our staff members logged a total of 295 smart trips. We make use of nearly every mode imaginable, from bike commuting to telework and transit, carpools and ride-hailing, walking, running, skateboarding, and e-scooters. If there’s a way to get to work, one of our employees has probably tried it!

Those impressive monthly numbers are backed up by some equally impressive general stats: more than half of our employees use alternatives to solo driving on more than 50% of work days, and 25% of our staff members never drive to work solo.

Smart commuting builds a healthier, happier workplace and a cleaner, greener, and more active community, all while helping your organization or business promote positive values that connect with people. We’d be happy to help your business or organization achieve the same level of success we enjoy with our commuter programs.  Get started today!