8 Ways to Reduce Parking Demand and Traffic on Campus

Cars pose numerous challenges for colleges and universities. High volumes of vehicular traffic create congestion and negatively impact pedestrian safety. Demand for parking can be a costly headache for administrators, as increasing parking capacity is very costly and usually takes many years to recoup those expenses.

Given these issues, many educational institutions are looking for ways to cut traffic and reduce parking demand on campus. These eight strategies are known to have a positive impact, and are all well worth considering if you’re looking to encourage students, faculty, and staff to try alternative modes of commuting:

Switch to daily parking

One of the most effective, but also difficult, ways to influence parking demand is to allow commuters to only pay for parking on days they really need it. With monthly or annual parking passes, once commuters pay they may feel motivated to park more often because the cost has already been paid. When given the option to pay-as-needed instead, commuters might think twice before driving to campus.

Offer subsidized transit passes

Make buses, subways, and other local options more affordable and accessible to cash-strapped student populations by subsidizing monthly transit passes.

Create staggered class schedules

Avoid having everyone piling onto campus at the same time by staggering class schedules based on traffic flow patterns. It may help to analyze if there are certain types of classes that tend to have a higher proportion of off-campus students and prioritize scheduling those during different times of the day.

Offer creative alternatives.

At the University of New England, freshmen who pledge not to drive to campus receive 35 free hours of Zipcar service. Administrators report the strategy has been very effective. The University of Louisville offers a similar program where students can opt to forego parking permits to participate in an earn-a-bike program and access to a $400 bicycle voucher.

Add secure bike parking

Place bike racks around campus in high-visibility places, and protect them with features such as weatherproofing and security cameras. If people know secure bike parking is always available, they’re more likely to use it.

Create a campus-wide ridesharing community

Interactive digital ridesharing boards make it fast and easy for campus members to find a ride to or from campus anytime of day or night. These can also be expanded to include intercity rides on weekends and during school breaks, helping students break free of expensive solo driving habits.

Establish vanpool connections

Connect the campus to local public transportation hubs with a vanpool program. Such programs provide efficient, reliable, quick solutions to the so-called “last mile” problem.

Try a rewards program

At the University of Arizona, campus community members who choose smart commuting modes can earn points they can then redeem for a variety of rewards like FitBits, Beats headphones, and university gear. In addition, just for signing up for the program users are eligible for 5 free Emergency Ride Home vouchers.

RideAmigos is already helping many universities reduce parking demand on campus, cut traffic, and help fight congestion and pollution in their local communities. We’d love to help make you our next success story. Contact us today to get started.

Challenge Your Employees for Bike Month 2018

National Bike Month, an annual tradition since 1956, is coming up in May. Sponsored nationally by the League of American Bicyclists, the National Bike Month event is designed to promote the many health and environmental benefits of cycling.

Each year, employers play a major role in National Bike Month’s success. Thousands of employers across the country hold friendly competitions and challenges designed to get their commuters actively participating. If you’re thinking of hosting a National Bike Month commuting challenge this year, we have a few tips that can help you encourage more robust participation rates.

Create Team-Based Competitions with Attractive Prizes

This go-to strategy is a surefire way to get the whole company engaged. Divide your commuter base up into teams, in whatever way works. For example, you could draw names at random, allow teams to self-select, or have teams for each department (accounting, human resources, etc.). Then, track team-based standings based on the number of bike commutes logged, or the number of miles biked, or both! Offer a prize to the team that wins the competition at the end of the month — something that will motivate people to keep taking part.

Add Smaller Weekly Prizes for Ongoing Engagement

It can be tough to keep people engaged if one team pulls way ahead in the standings, or if luck of the draw leaves another team with little hope of winning the month-long challenge. To encourage continued participation, offer smaller weekly prizes to teams or individuals that log the most trips or miles in each given week.

Run Raffles to Encourage Everyone

A similar strategy that also works well is to run a raffle draw for smaller prizes, giving participants one entry per logged bike commute. The drawings can be held weekly, giving everyone an incentive to participate at least a little bit. Of course, this strategy also rewards those who cycle frequently with more chances to win the draw, which is also a great motivator.

As always, the RideAmigos team is here to help with tools and tips to increase the reach and impact of your commuter programs, during National Bike Month and throughout the year. Please get in touch if we can help.

 

6 Tips for Marketing Your Commuter Program

The success of a commuter program can often depend on reaching and engaging the right audience.

Depending on the target audience, organizations need to market and promote commuter programs in different ways. Government organizations may be looking to reach commuters directly, or to partner with local employers. Businesses are seeking to engage and motivate their own employees. Educational institutions want to spread the word among staff, faculty, and students.

Whichever scenario you are facing, you’ll need a tailored communications plan to connect with your target audience. To that end, here are six helpful tips that will help you market commuter programs more effectively:

  • Start with surveys. Commuter surveys are invaluable tools for understanding commuter behavior and preferences. They are essential in the planning stages of a campaign, especially for learning which alternative modes of transportation your commuter base would be most likely to try.
  • Emphasize benefits that matter to commuters. Surveys can also deliver valuable insights into what matters most to your target commuter base. You can use that information to design campaigns and marketing materials that emphasize benefits. For example, students might be looking to save money, so focusing on that interest might help you appeal to them.
  • Use simple graphics to create eye-catching, easy-to-understand pictorial representations. There are many free or inexpensive graphics platforms you can use to put together visuals that quickly and clearly express your program’s fundamentals. Try pairing graphics with relevant statistics to draw attention to a particular problem associated with commuting, or to illustrate a specific benefit you’re trying to achieve.
  • Create a strong, two-sentence summary for your program. When you market commuter programs, you’ve got to engage people in a simple and direct way. Have a clean, easily digestible, and compelling two-sentence summary of the program to add to your script anytime you talk about your efforts.
  • Make the most of existing communications channels. Before you try to create brand-new channels for communications, use ones that already exist. For instance, use recurring departmental or interdepartmental meetings as an opportunity to market commuter programs, or leverage employee newsletters, campus newspapers, or existing advertising networks to help get the word out.
  • Designate a “point person” to deliver your message. In large organizations, it’s better to designate a “point person” who can deliver your message directly to team members than it is for an anonymous, unconnected individual to reach out to the entire commuter base. Messages are more readily accepted when they’re delivered by someone you know, so try to get departmental or team-based reps involved in your program.

For more insight, check out this talk on marketing techniques from our CommuteCon 2017 event, or contact us to discuss your program. We’re here to help you deliver commuter programs that generate enthusiasm, high participation rates, and real results.

Brandeis University’s Campus Carpooling Program Success

In 2017, Brandeis University adopted the RideAmigos software platform to help commuters more easily and efficiently manage their transportation needs. As the university was preparing to launch a RideAmigos-powered campus carpooling program, the school’s assistant director of English Language Programs, Amy Rinaldo, said, “Traffic can be long and stressful, and I also feel environmentally guilty and frustrated about my commute.” At the time, Rinaldo lived about nine miles from campus, and had been locked into the habit of solo driving. “[Solo commuting] takes a toll on life, which is why I was so excited about the possibility of carpooling.”

Now, just over a year later, it’s become clear that Rinaldo was far from alone in her feelings. Brandeis University officially launched their RideAmigos-powered carpooling program in October 2017, and the number of carpooling trips to and from campus nearly doubled after it was implemented.

Sustainability manager Mary Fischer noted, “We are making strides. More people realize that they live much closer to other Brandeisians, including those who have compatible schedules.” Since the launch of the campus carpooling program, Rinaldo has settled into a habit of ride-sharing about once a week, and tries to bike or take the train as often as possible. “Brandeis has a great community and carpooling has helped me meet people from across campus in a different capacity.”

The strong performance of the Brandeis campus carpooling program highlights a few of the key benefits of creating ride-sharing communities to serve educational institutions:

  • They fill a gap by providing a program that many people would use if it were available
  • They reduce commute-related stress and cost
  • They help commuters form new social connections

The RideAmigos commuter platform provides a complete suite of administrator-end and user-end tools that make it easy to create, join, and manage carpooling networks while connecting with community members looking to share rides. In our work with academic institutions, we’ve consistently found that commuters would be more than happy to use alternatives to solo driving if they were readily available, and that’s exactly what our platform achieves.

RideAmigos is proud to be a big part of the success of Brandeis’s campus carpooling program, and we’d love to help your organization become our next success story. To learn more, get started with RideAmigos today.

CommuteCon 2018 Highlights and Recap

CommuteCon 2018 was the largest and most successful episode of our annual commuter management and TDM conference to date, with nearly double the registrations and attendees compared to the 2017 event. Professionals from all over the world took part in CommuteCon 2018, and speakers representing a complete range of sectors including enterprise, government, and universities delivered talks filled with meaningful insights and valuable takeaways.

We’ve received great feedback about this year’s event from members of our audience. This year’s attendees were particularly enthusiastic about the presentations by keynote speakers Susan Shaheen and Simon Mainwaring. Shaheen, who co-directs UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, gave an illuminating talk on the social benefits of shared mobility. Mainwaring, founder and CEO of We First Branding, gave us a peek behind the curtain at some of his most effective strategies for leading conversations that drive social change. We’re incredibly fortunate and thankful that they took the time to join us.

The two keynotes, along with 18 other informative sessions, are available to view and download at commutecon.com. Other audience favorites included:

Hundreds of TDM professionals and stakeholders came together to join the live webcast, with many attending in groups of two to five people or more. It was a landmark event for the global commuter management community, and we’re beyond pleased that it was such a resounding success.

CommuteCon 2018 was presented by RideAmigos. We are grateful to our Sponsors,  JUMP and Scoop; Friends of the conference, Car2Go, CityFi, Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, Lyft Business, First Transit, TransitScreen, UBER for Business, Waze Carpool, and Zipcar; and our Association Partner, the Association for Commuter Transportation.

The CommuteCon team is thrilled to announce that we’ve set the date for next year’s event. CommuteCon 2019 will take place on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – mark your calendars now! Like previous conferences, CommuteCon 2019 will be an accessible, community-oriented platform for the free exchange of ideas and strategies, all while helping TDM professionals expand their impact and inspiration. Visit commutecon.com to sign up for conference updates.

Thanks again to everyone who helped make CommuteCon 2018 such a meaningful and valuable event. We hope see you next year!

CommuteCon 2018 is Bigger Than Ever

A New Year has begun and that means our team is gearing up for the third annual CommuteCon on February 7. In 2018, what was already the world’s largest online commuter transportation conference is going to be bigger and better than ever. We’re incredibly excited to present a program that covers the most important trends and issues in commuter and transportation demand management in 2018 and beyond. This year’s theme, “Smart Mobility with Purpose,” invites commuter transportation leaders to reflect on and celebrate the important impact their work has on their communities and the world.

CommuteCon is a unique, free opportunity for transportation and commuter management professionals from around the world to connect and experience presentations from industry thought leaders, policy-makers and practitioners from diverse fields in the public and private sectors – all without leaving the office. We are so excited about the amazing lineup of presenters for CommuteCon 2018. With more than a dozen valuable sessions and lightning talks on key topics in commuter transportation and demand management, plus two incredible keynotes, this five-hour event is the essential virtual conference to propel you forward in your mission this year.

Opening Keynote: Susan Shaheen, Ph.D.

It will be an honor to welcome Susan Shaheen back to CommuteCon this year. Susan is the Director of Innovative Mobility Research, a co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Berkeley.  

Susan is an internationally recognized thought leader whose work focuses on applying technology to mobility challenges. She has been a pioneer in research on commuter carsharing and continues to contribute to the study of smart vehicle sharing, intelligent parking management, sustainable transportation technology and infrastructure, as well as other areas.

She has a Ph.D. in ecology from UC Davis, focusing on the energy and environmental aspects of transportation, and an M.S. in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester. In the past, she served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, and as the Policy and Behavioral Research Program Leader at California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways.

She currently serves on the ITS World Congress program committee, and the editorial board of IJST, and is chair of the subcommittee for Shared-UseVehicle Public Transport Systems of the Transportation Research Board.

Second Keynote: Simon Mainwaring

For the second keynote presentation, attendees will hear from Simon Mainwaring, founder of We First, a leading brand and leadership consultancy that empowers people and organizations to lead and make a positive impact on the world.  

A global thought leader in purpose-driven strategy and brand development, Simon is also a member of the Executive Committee of Sustainable Brands, the Steering Committee of the Business Alliance for the Future, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and the World Business Academy in the United States. He alsoserved as interim CMO at TOMS, where he helped to lead innovative marketing strategies.

Simon contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, and Huffington Post on branding and social technology and was featured on the cover of the National Speaker Magazine.

His book, We First: How brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World (Palgrave Macmillan) is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon bestseller. He has worked with an incredible portfolio of brands including Nike, Coca-Cola, Toyota, and Motorola, and has won dozens of awards. Simon will call upon CommuteCon participants to connect with the purpose behind our shared mission and draw inspiration from the impact our community is make on our world.

Full Agenda Coming Soon…

CommuteCon 2018 will feature speakers from across the private sector, leading research universities, and state and local government. Attendees will have a front-row seat for presentations on the important issues in transportation management including commuter incentives, parking demand management, program development and marketing, employee transportation, tax and regulatory impacts, local and regional economic development, and more.

The program will be full of opportunities to learn what other leading organizations are doing to manage a variety of commuter challenges and build sustainable, smart communities. Most sessions will include a short virtual Q&A period so attendees can engage with the presenters and dig deeper into the issues that matter. Stay tuned at commutecon.com for updates to the agenda and a full list of speakers and sessions.

We hope you’ll join us February 7 for this incredible day. Visit commutecon.com to register to attend the free online conference, and stay up-to-date with additions to the agenda and opportunities to connect with other commuter transportation professionals. In the meantime, if you missed CommuteCon last year, you can catch up with our recorded presentations.

Look at All We Accomplished Together in 2017!

As we wrap up this holiday season, here at RideAmigos HQ we’re feeling incredibly grateful for the year we’ve had. Our growing community of partners and users are making huge positive impacts on our world.

Together, we’re making a real difference for individuals and communities.
Together, we’re saving more money, burning more calories, and reducing tons of CO2.
Together, we’re changing the way people commute – creating a happier, healthier future for everyone.

Check out what we accomplished during 2017:

RideAmigos partners have accomplished so much!

RideAmigos 2017 Impact Snapshot

To all of our partners: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are so grateful for the opportunity to support your success. Thanks for joining in our mission, using our tools, and doing amazing work. Thanks for sharing and learning with each other through the RideAmigos Academy. Thank you for helping us create a better world.

If you’re not a RideAmigos partner or user yet, we hope 2018 brings you an opportunity to join our community.

To make RideAmigos part of your own 2018 success story, get started with us today.

Announcing New Commuter Benefit Solutions Integration

RideAmigos and Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions are teaming up

The RideAmigos team has exciting news: we’re adding new platform integrations with Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions, and we couldn’t be more excited about the ways this will benefit our partners.

Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions is the nation’s only comprehensive commuter benefit solutions provider and number one resource for commuter savings. Since 1985,Edenred has served Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, top third party benefit administrators and the nation’s largest metropolitan area transit authorities.

With its premier solution offerings; Commuter Check, a nationwide commuter benefits program for employers; and WiredCommute, a private label program for third party administrators, Edenred is able to provide a one-stop total solution experience.Edenred’s mission is to make tax-free commuter benefits a staple in employee benefits packages nationwide.

Here’s a snapshot of some key Commuter Benefit Solutions numbers:

  • The company serves more than 12,000 employers representing over 1.9 million
    employees, including many Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies.
  • The company also maintains partnerships with over 50 national third-party
    administrators, more than 350 transit agencies, hundreds of bike shops, and over
    5,000 parking locations.

Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions has a strong core focus on managing and delivering both employer and employee-based commuter pre-tax benefits programs. These programs help enterprises generate savings of up to 7.65% per year on their payroll taxes while helping employees generate huge savings on their taxable incomes. They provide extensive support, including dedicated account managers, nationwide coverage, convenient product delivery, and a complete suite of support services.

RideAmigos is proud to be creating connections between Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions products and our industry-leading commuter management software. Our partnership will give the businesses and organizations that use our platform easy access to one of the world’s most powerful commuter benefit management programs. The goal is to make generating, tracking, and maximizing both employer- and employee-based tax savings as convenient and profitable as possible.

To learn more, check out the recent Coffee Talk webinar we held with Commuter Benefit Solutions to discuss their product and our plans, or contact us directly.

3 Ways to Improve University Ridesharing

Improve university ridesharing programs to cut costs and control demand for limited parking.

America’s colleges are booming. Over the past five years, enrollment rates have spiked by 17 percent. While that’s great for the state of higher education in the country, it also creates challenges for administrators. More growth generally means more cars, and finding places to put those cars can be difficult and expensive. Schools that improve university ridesharing programs can alleviate these issues, cutting costs along the way.

University ridesharing programs have emerged as a dynamic, environmentally friendly solution to parking reduction. Campus-wide initiatives that are accessible to students, faculty, and staff cast a wide net, giving community members flexible options for traveling to and from campus at practically any time of day or night.

Successful university ridesharing programs usually have three key strategies in common:

  • Education. People may be reluctant to share rides with strangers, or have the impression that ridesharing isn’t as convenient as other options. University ridesharing programs can be configured to limit matches to user networks or specific departments, and users can make regular or occasional use of other accessible options including transit or vanpool services.
  • Direct appeal. Use commuter surveys to glean insights into community-specific commuter behaviors, then custom-craft a strategy that best meets the needs of end users. Communicate and advertise this strategy over multiple channels, including on-campus publicity such as banners, posters, and signage, email, and social media.
  • Incentives. Games and incentive programs are proven ways to boost participation rates. Give commuters another good reason to take part by offering prizes and other perks to those who make the best use of available services.

Some schools, like the University of Louisville, go a step further by sponsoring innovative earn-a-bike programs. These programs offer bike vouchers to community members who willingly give up their assigned parking privileges, and they’re a great way to promote a healthier, more active community while reducing demand for limited parking.

Learn more about how ridesharing can help you manage university parking and traffic by downloading our free PDF resource guide for university administrators and transportation managers.

TDM + Local Bike Shops = ❤️

Bicycle advocacy powerhouse People for Bikes recently shared a great blog post highlighting the mutual interests of transportation demand management (TDM) and local bike shops.

From TMA’s & TMO’s to universities, enterprises and municipalities, organizations concerned with shifting commuter behavior usually promote biking as a great alternative to single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting. In the TDM industry, we know bikes take up less space on roads and in parking lots, cut carbon emissions, and create happier commuters.

Local bike shops are also well aware of all these advantages of biking over driving, so for TDM programs looking for partners to help promote and empower bike commuting, local bike shops are a match made in transportation heaven.

The People for Bikes article mentions the success that our partner Sonos has had with their earn-a-bike program for employees, including partnering with local bike shops. The University of Louisville has also implemented a similar program for students who can trade parking passes for bikes.

When it comes to cycling-related TDM challenges and incentives, local bike shops are great resources for collaborations like prize donations and event leadership. Bike shops are eager to become known as the go-to location for local cyclists, especially new cyclists, and are often willing to be creative partners in bike-related TDM programming.

Here’s a great success story from the People for Bikes post:

Ginny Politz owns Bikesport in Trappe, Pennsylvania. When the Greater Valley Forge TMA approached her seeking prizes to distribute to local winners of the National Bike Challenge, Politz’s enthusiasm was instant. “I said ‘Yes, and why don’t we host a wine and cheese event to kick off the competition?'”

Bikesport’s early buy-in has paid off. “We are the only bike shop member, so they send everything our way. If they have a corporation contact them and say ‘we’d like to do a Lunch and Learn bike program,’ I get an email introducing me as the solution.”

Read more at the People for Bikes blog …