Riding Together for School Carpools: RideAmigos and GoKid Partner Up

The team at RideAmigos is thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership aimed at making morning commutes smoother, reduce the impact of school transportation on traffic and air quality, and support data-driven transportation demand management initiatives. GoKid, the leading school carpool solution, is teaming up with RideAmigos Commute Hub to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing our communities today: school traffic.

Why school carpooling?

You’ve probably noticed the morning rush hour chaos around schools, with cars lining up to drop off kids. This is contributing to congestion, emissions, and safety concerns. The cause is clear. According to a 2022 National Household Travel Survey, more than half of U.S. students are driven to school, adding to traffic jams and pollution levels. 

A nationwide shortage of school bus drivers has aggravated the situation, and there are no signs of this trend reversing. School carpooling is an important transportation demand management strategy and a way schools and planning agencies can empower families to safely get their kids to school. 

How we can help

RideAmigos and GoKid are joining forces to empower agencies and school districts to collaborate more closely to provide schools and families with access to school carpooling, and measure the impact in terms of reduced emissions and vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) as part of a comprehensive transportation demand management strategy.  

GoKid is already on the ground, working directly with schools and districts in 12 states, and has scheduled 1.4 million secure carpooling trips among parents. Their solution, GoKid Connect helps families connect, organize school carpools, and track metrics like miles saved and reduced greenhouse gasses.

RideAmigos Regional Commute Hub is the hub for transportation demand management that lets agencies, TMAs, employers, and schools work together on programs to influence mode shift and improve regional mobility. Now, schools that license GoKid Connect will have the option to collaborate with planning agencies using RideAmigos Commute hub to measure shared impact.

When they do, planning agencies will be able to get a clearer picture of the impact of school carpool programs they support using RideAmigos Commute Hub reporting tools. This means smarter decisions, better collaboration, and, ultimately, fewer cars on the road during peak hours.

“The impact of daily individual school transportation on overall congestion and regional mobility can’t be understated,” said Soren Eilertsen, CEO at RideAmigos. “We are proud to offer our state and regional agency partners another data-driven way to connect school traffic reduction with their broader regional mode-shift programs through our partnership with GoKid.”

“The reduction of school buses due to budget cuts and the bus driver shortage is increasing pressure on communities to offer an alternative transportation solution to students,” said Stefanie Lemke, CEO at GoKid. “We are excited to partner with RideAmigos to offer our GoKid Connect carpool program to schools and districts in regions implementing RideAmigos’ data-driven transportation demand management programs.”

Learn more

The launch of this partnership couldn’t come at a better time. With traffic levels rebounding post-pandemic and school bus shortages exacerbating the situation, now is the time to act. This partnership supports our public agency customers in building a safe, sustainable, and more equitable future for our communities.

Are you a Regional Commute Hub manager ready to connect? Or do you want to know if schools in your region are using or considering GoKid? Get started today by contacting our sales team or reaching out to your customer success manager.

 

How Commuter Programs Build a Better Workplace Experience

Commuters arriving to the workplace

In 2021 and 2022, the U.S. and international labor forces underwent an unprecedented generational shift dubbed the Great Resignation (a.k.a. the Big Quit). In its wake, human resources professionals have continued to prioritize the development of a more positive and wellness-oriented workplace experience as talent retention persists as a major issue facing employers.

Experts continue to debate the underlying and immediate causes of the Great Resignation. Yet, a strong consensus of observers believe the phenomenon is rooted in a dissatisfaction among a broad plurality of workers with conventional approaches to employment. Analysts have attributed many facets of the Great Resignation to a desire among employees for a better work-life balance and work situations that affirm their individualism and human dignity.

The end result of the Big Quit is a sea change in the labor market landscape, which has shifted decidedly in favor of employees and job-seekers. Commuter programs offer employers a meaningful yet affordable way to achieve multiple strategic benefits associated with building a more positive workplace experience.

Commuter Programs: Why They Matter and Their Impact on the Workplace Experience

Commuting is well-documented as being stressful. However, it can also be demoralizing — especially for daily long-distance commuters and people who travel to and from work in a single-occupancy vehicle. The combination of sedentary activity, isolation, traffic congestion, and unpredictability combine to make driving a particularly difficult mode to rely on.

How bad is it for commuters? A 2021 survey conducted by The Zebra, a United States-based insurance marketplace, asked 1,000 people what they would give up in terms of compensation in order to shorten their daily commutes. A majority of respondents said they would sacrifice as much as 50% of their salaries in exchange for a more manageable daily journey to work.

The Zebra’s findings echo a growing perception that money has waned as a primary driver of people’s employment choices. In 2018, Harvard Business Review published an editorial commenting on research that found 9 out of 10 survey respondents were willing to accept less money in order to land a more meaningful job.

Meanwhile, “Big Four” accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted a global workforce survey in 2022, which encompassed more than 52,000 people in 44 countries. The PwC study found that while money remains a primary factor for many employees, impacts related to meaning are equally likely to guide their choices to stay at or leave a job.

While commuter programs alone do not suffice as generators of mission-oriented meaning, they can help align an employer with a broader set of shared citizenship values. More impactfully, they also contribute to a positive workplace experience by giving commuters easier access to a set of alternative commuting modes that can reduce stress, improve mood and productivity, and boost their ability to maintain a more positive work-life balance.

Another widely cited bit of market research originated with the internationally renowned talent recruitment and staffing firm Robert Half in 2018. The Robert Half report covered more than 2,800 commuters in 28 U.S. cities, and found that 23% of respondents have quit a job because of a difficult or stressful commute at least once in their lives.

At a time when businesses are struggling to attract and retain their best workers and employees are demanding a better workplace experience, commuter programs are an ideally positioned solution that benefits both parties in the employment equation.

Commuter Benefits Strategies that Work

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a top human resources professional organization, stresses that commuter programs have a major role to play in recruitment and retention efforts. SHRM experts note that well-designed and effective programs are especially beneficial to both employers and their people teams in major metropolitan centers. In these areas, commuting costs can be especially high given the relatively expensive nature of their parking and transportation networks.

To this end, many successful commuter benefits strategies focus on ways to either reduce those costs or put money back in the pockets of people who choose less stressful and more sustainable modes of transportation. Employers can help their team members cut commuting costs by offering transit subsidies or reimbursements, strong support for rideshare programs, and improved facilities for active commuters. Parking cash-out programs that offer team members financial compensation in exchange for voluntarily relinquishing their onsite parking privileges are another effective tool that can also help businesses save significant amounts of money.

At the same time, organizations should not take a one-size-fits-all approach when designing commuter programs. Team members have varying needs, with social, cultural, and generational factors all playing a role. Conducting surveys that generate advanced insights into the commuting behaviors, travel preferences, and workplace experience needs of team members are therefore highly recommended at the program planning and development stage.

A few other general tips and words of wisdom apply to commuter programs:

  • Programs with user-friendly, internet-based and mobile access tend to generate better results
  • Gamification, rewards, and incentive programs are effective ways to encourage commuters to give alternative modes a try
  • Offer personalized recommendations and multimodal solutions to commuters to drive engagement

Employers should also ensure that their commuter programs comply with all relevant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations and local commuter ordinances.

Integrate Pave Commute as Part of Your Organization’s Efforts to Improve the Workplace Experience

No matter the size of your company, RideAmigos solutions can empower you to engage and support commuters. Our apps, like Commute Hub, combine behavioral science research with easy-to-use technology to deliver a world-class commuter experience.

If you’re ready to help your teams adopt sustainable habits while improving their work-life balance, talk to our experts today!

What is Commute Trip Reduction and why do employers do it (even if they don’t have to)?

Commute trip reduction

For many planners focusing on transportation demand management, the best commute trip is the one that’s never made. But even in the case of essential workers and businesses’ drive to get remote workers back into the office, more and more employers are implementing commute trip reduction (CTR) strategies, aimed at reducing the number of cars coming to the workplace.

While a growing number of jurisdictions and development agreements require employers to implement and report on trip reduction initiatives, there are a number of overlooked benefits to the organizations themselves — from employee experience to reduced infrastructure costs. Remote work arrangements obviously take the pressure off, but any organization can benefit from an effective trip-reduction initative. Let’s take a look at the various ways businesses can make trip reduction a valuable and productive part of their commute management strategies.

Carpooling

Ridesharing is a powerful method of reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles at your workplace. Participants enjoy all the benefits and convenience of point-to-point travel, all while busting stress, boosting collegiality, and saving money.

Carpool and rideshare matching features offer a powerful, tech-driven solution to help colleagues find partners to share rides with. They also provide many support and management features for commuters, including messaging, route planning, and cost tracking capabilities.

Hybrid work arrangements

Internet connectivity has transformed the workplace in many ways, including expanding it beyond the brick-and-mortar office. If jobs can be performed remotely, either sometimes or most of the time, it’s a great idea to offer the option to telecommute (or “work from home”).

Telecommuting is rising in popularity for all the right reasons: it gives employees a better work-life balance while sending a positive message about your company’s values. It also helps businesses save money, create a better workplace culture, and appeal to emerging young professionals who value flexibility.

Alternative working hours

This can be combined with telecommuting or used in its place if working from home is not a viable option. Alternative working hours aim to reduce strain on transportation infrastructure by avoiding peak-time travel to the greatest possible degree. The strategy can include:

  • “Flex time” policies that allow commuters to arrive and leave later in the day to avoid rush-hour travel
  • Compressed work weeks: for example, you could schedule four 10-hour work days per week instead of the usual five, giving your employees Monday or Friday off and keeping them off the road during those times
  • Staggered or overlapping shifts that prevent localized traffic congestion during shift changes

Transit encouragement

The strict definition of “trip reduction” refers to eliminating the commute altogether, but the term also encompasses strategies that preserve the commute but change the mode from a solo drive to a sustainable alternative. Ridesharing is one well-known example, and public transportation is another.

Many strategies can be used to encourage commuters to make better use of public transit:

  • Offer free or subsidized transit tickets or monthly transit passes
  • Create a challenge program or launch a points-based incentive initiative to reward commuters who use public transportation more often
  • Launch a vanpool service to link your workplace to the nearest major public transportation hub or convergence point

For added effect, you can combine this approach with supplementary strategies aimed to provide further incentives for leaving the car at home. Parking cash-out programs, earn-a-bike programs, and other rewards-based initiatives can really move the needle when it comes to mode-based approaches to trip reduction.

Active commuting encouragement

You can also apply similar principles to active commuting by prompting team members to walk or bike to work more often. In addition to challenges and incentives, you can get commuters excited about active commuting by:

  • Making sure there are adequate and secure bike storage facilities
  • Adding showers and lockers so active commuters can freshen up before work
  • Offering guaranteed rides home to active commuters in case of emergency

Support your commuter programs with powerful software solutions

RideAmigos solutions power the world’s leading commute management and CTR programs.  They combine ridesharing, multimodal pooling, compliance and commuter insights surveys, CTR planning, gamification, parking management, incentives, advanced reporting and data visualization. Small and large employers around the world, transportation management organizations, and public agencies in 27 states partner with us to deliver smarter, more sustainable commuting.

If you’re looking to get started with CTR or commuter engagement, request a demo today.

Explore Employer Strategies for Creating a Better Commuter Experience

RideAmigos recently hosted a CommuteCon Mini webinar covering innovative strategies for improving the commuter experience. The event included senior transportation demand management (TDM) experts from high-profile companies including LinkenIn, Genentech, and Kaiser Permanente.

Connect with current, high-impact ways of improving the commuter experience for your team

The panelists introduced and explained new and updated strategies to improve the commuter experience and help their teams choose sustainable alternatives to solo driving. Notably, Genentech’s commuter experience program directly addresses the tricky issue of encouraging mode shift in situations where the employer’s facilities are not well-served by local public transit networks.

LinkenIn is currently operating some fascinating experimental TDM pilot programs. These projects are built around a combination of personalized commute consulting services and RideAmigos-powered technologies for advancing commuter benefits beyond the traditional workplace.

Kaiser Permanente has built an impressively complete, rewards-focused commuter experience program. Since its implementation, the program has generated fantastic results while allowing participants to earn an extra $150 per month or more by participating regularly.

Other webinar highlights include:

  • Detailed expert insights into running commuter experience programs for large organizations
  • Ways to leverage local commute hubs as focal points for bespoke transportation services
  • Innovative solutions to the persistent “first mile/last mile” dilemma

The hour-long conversation also explores program designs that build in:

The webinar offers deep insights into the factors that drive program success and inspiring ideas for TDM managers looking to build an in-house commute hub for their people teams.

You can also view this event for free on YouTube.

Connect with RideAmigos to take commuter experience to the next level

RideAmigos provides employers with innovative, award-winning solutions for building a better commuter experience. The RideAmigos CommuteHub delivers personalized commute support based on benefits, incentives, parking options, and other mobility services available to them while delivering rich insights and program analytics tools to help companies maximize program impact.

Our team of commute experts would love to show you how to apply behavioral science and smart technology to your employee commute challenges. To learn more, contact RideAmigos or get started today with a demo.

 

How to Make Transportation Incentives Work Better on Limited Budgets

Transportation incentives are programs local transportation and public transit authorities create to encourage people to choose alternatives to solo driving, like carpooling, vanpools, and public transit. Because driving alone is a default habit in many places, incentives are one important strategy to drive modeshift. Common examples include things like:

  • Free public transportation on certain days
  • Access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways or toll rebates
  • Rewards programs
  • Loyalty programs
  • Parking cash-out
  • Access to preferred parking or free electric vehicle charging

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

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

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

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

Pave Commute named Best Emerging or Innovative Tech Solution in Employee Experience in the 2023 HR Tech Awards

SANTA MONICA, May 24, 2023 — Pave Commute by RideAmigos, the AI-powered benefit app for commuters, has been named by the 2023 HR Tech Awards as “Best Innovative or Emerging Tech Solution” for Employee Experience. This award recognizes Pave Commute as one of the HR technology industry’s most innovative solutions in its category, being selected after rigorous judging by a panel of independent practitioners, consultants, and industry educators. 

Each year, the HR Tech Awards program presented by Lighthouse Research & Advisory, provides peer-reviewed feedback and inputs on technologies purpose-built to serve employers and the workforce. According to Lighthouse Research & Advisory data, HR Tech Awards winners represent about 1% of the more than 5,000 solution providers across the HR technology landscape. Each of the tools is being used by employers right now to help them hire, develop, and retain their people, and the technologies are amazing in their ability to support intelligent decisions, personalized actions, and more. 

Commenting on why the Pave Commute program stands out as an innovative solution for employee experience, judges pointed to the way it helps employees align their personal values with those of their organization. 

“This turnkey program uses behavioral science and AI to provide personalized commute recommendations, gamification, and group-based ride-sharing, resulting in a more sustainable and engaging employee experience,” said George Rogers, Chief Culture Officer at Lighthouse Research and Advisory about Pave Commute. “With robust reporting, companies can easily track the impact of their transportation benefits program. Pave Commute is leading the movement towards smarter, more sustainable commuting.”

“The employers we work with are excited to be able to provide a benefit that empowers people to align their commute choices with their values,” said Corey Tucker, Head of Innovation at RideAmigos, the team behind Pave Commute. “Pave Commute is designed to make smart choices easier and more fun by creating a personalized experience based on behavioral science.”  

“Our team is passionate about making commuting less stressful and more sustainable for everyone, no matter the size of their company,” said Kathryn Hagerman Medina, RideAmigos Head of Customer Success and Marketing. “It’s a huge honor to be recognized by the HR Tech Awards and we’re thrilled to see more HR leaders focusing on improving the commuter experience.” 

The Pave Commute app is free in the Apple App Store and Google Play store and requires an employer subscription to access programs and rewards. Interested employers can learn more at pavecommute.app.

About RideAmigos

At RideAmigos, we are on a mission to change the way the world commutes, for good. Our commuter engagement apps combine innovative technology with proven principles of behavioral science to empower everyone to make smarter transportation choices. Large employers, universities, and government agencies use our powerful products to reduce congestion, parking demand, and environmental impact while creating healthier, happier communities. We have helped our clients take tens of millions of cars off the road and offset hundreds of millions of pounds of CO2 emissions.

The Shared Mobility Action Agenda for 2030: Core Objectives

The car-centric culture that developed during the 20th century has well-documented negative impacts on communities, the economy, air quality, and climate. As part of our continued commitment to driving sustainable changes in the mobility landscape, RideAmigos has joined the Shared Mobility Action Network in support of its ambitious agenda for shared mobility in 2030.

The Shared Mobility Action Agenda is a project spearheaded by the Shared-Use Mobility Center. More than 50 high-profile businesses, public-sector organizations, and nonprofit groups have already pledged their participation. The primary objective is to advocate for dramatic, mass-scale improvements in access to sustainable and shared modes of transportation by 2030.

However, the Shared-Use Mobility Center and its partner organizations are not relying on passive approaches to achieve the agenda’s objectives. Instead, the Shared Mobility Action Agenda is built around seven tangible, action-oriented steps to realize its foundational goal.

These include:

Infrastructure Investments

Sustainable mobility has emerged as an increasingly high-profile public issue in recent years while also making inroads among policymakers. However, investments in shared mobility and other forms of sustainable transportation continue to lag behind. As a consequence, privately owned low-occupancy vehicles continue to persist as a default choice, to the detriment of both the environment and to the physical and mental health of those who rely on them.

The Shared Mobility Action Agenda seeks to make investments in sustainable infrastructure a compulsory component of all publicly funded transportation projects. Over time, such a policy would significantly expand sustainable transportation’s footprint and lead to dramatic improvements in its accessibility, practicality, and performance.

Technology Investments

Many shared forms of mobility depend on information technologies, and especially on mobile technologies. A clear example can be seen in the dramatic rise in enterprise and organizational ridesharing programs since the dawn of the smartphone age.

Technology-driven information systems are critical tools for an inclusive, equitable, accessible, and high-functioning shared mobility network. The Shared Mobility Action Agenda advocates for strong, targeted investments in the technological and informational infrastructure needed to bring sustainable transportation solutions into the communities where they are most needed.

Incentives and Support Structures for Shared Mobility

It isn’t easy to get people to make the switch from the perceived convenience of their privately owned vehicles to more sustainable and shared alternatives. Policymakers typically use one of two general approaches to prompt commuters and citizens to make changes: “the stick” and “the carrot.”

Strategies built around “the stick” penalize people for choosing solo driving when alternatives are available. Examples include congestion fees, route tolls, and increased parking costs.

Conversely, approaches based on “the carrot” do the opposite by offering perks and rewards to those who voluntarily choose to ditch the solo drive. As a driver of long-term behavior change, transportation demand management experts generally consider “the carrot” to be the more effective of the two strategic paradigms.

To this end, the Shared Mobility Action Agenda seeks to create incentive programs and distribute access products that will connect households with sustainable transportation options. The underlying theory is that such efforts will reduce and remove the barriers that impede people from shifting modes, thus encouraging higher participation levels in shared and sustainable alternatives.

Metrics and Measurement Standards

A relative lack of standardized metrics for quantifying the community-based impacts of shared mobility programs is one of the main reasons why public investment in these programs continues to lag. In order to justify meaningful investments in sustainable transportation infrastructure, policymakers need to convince the public that investments and expenditures will generate positive returns. Such justifications cannot be made without metrics that specifically measure those returns.

The Shared Mobility Action Agenda seeks to create standards for statistically tracking the ways in which sustainable transportation investments make communities more inclusive. The project also seeks to scale up the use of these statistical metrics so that their positive impacts can be extended beyond the local level.

Reducing Lifecycle Carbon Emissions

On the topic of metrics and measurements, the project also seeks to establish standardized methods for quantifying the carbon emissions reductions achieved by shared mobility vehicles, programs, and technologies. The Shared-Use Mobility Center and its partners believe this will best be done by directly comparing shared modes with legacy modes. This will create “apples to apples” and “oranges to oranges” comparisons, which will more effectively illustrate shared mobility’s positive and quantifiable benefits.

Another positive application of this agenda item relates to its ability to track the emissions levels generated by shared modes and systems in a standardized manner. This, in turn, will facilitate the future development of initiatives and technologies that can further reduce their lifecycle carbon emissions.

Innovative Shared Mobility Funding Models

As with many policy issues, funding and financial feasibility play a major role in deciding which programs receive strong support and which do not. To reflect this reality, the Shared Mobility Action Agenda also seeks to identify and develop novel financing models for building and expanding access to sustainable transportation alternatives.

Expert observers note that many different stakeholders can play a meaningful role in the creation and operation of shared mobility networks. Examples include not only governments and employers, but also transportation authorities, transit operators, land developers, investors, and providers of information technology infrastructure, among others.

The Agenda seeks to find new ways to encourage collaboration among these and other actors, which will hopefully lead to sustained improvements in financing access and funding availability.

Institutional Realignment

The seventh and final action item on the Agenda’s list covers institutional change. Without a foundational commitment to shared mobility and transportation equity at the institutional level, meaningful and long-lasting change cannot be realized.

For this reason, the Shared Mobility Action Agenda considers changing institutional perspectives and processes to be a critical key to the initiative’s success. The Agenda therefore seeks to engage public- and private-sector institutions as part of a broader program to make sustainable mobility alternatives an economically viable and affordable option for people of all income levels and socioeconomic brackets.

Projected Results

The Shared Mobility Action Agenda has instituted a timeline of 2030 for achieving these objectives. By making progress in each of the seven aforementioned areas, shared mobility has the potential to become:

  • More available and reliable
  • More accessible and equitable
  • More economically and environmentally sustainable

The program’s general vision is to make shared and sustainable mobility options better and easier than driving a car.

Members of the Shared Mobility Action Network gather at the National Shared Mobility Summit in Chicago, May 2023.

RideAmigos Is One of More Than 50 Participants in the Shared Mobility Action Agenda for 2030

As of the date of this post’s publications, more than 50 high-profile public, private, and nonprofit organizations have made formal partnership commitments to the Shared Mobility Action Agenda. Members include:

  • Mobility providers
  • Rideshare companies
  • Nonprofits
  • Municipal governments like Grand Rapids, MI; Arlington, VA; Boston, MA; and Denver, CO
  • Transit agencies
  • Technology companies
  • Planning firms

RideAmigos is proud to participate in the Agenda’s important work, which reflects our organization’s shared values and objectives. To learn more about the Shared Mobility Action Agenda, please visit the Shared-Use Mobility Center or visit the Agenda’s official website.

About RideAmigos

At RideAmigos, we are on a mission to change the way the world commutes, for good. Our commuter engagement apps combine innovative technology with proven principles of behavioral science to empower everyone to make smarter transportation choices. Large employers, universities, and government agencies use our powerful products to reduce congestion, parking demand, and environmental impact while creating healthier, happier communities. We have helped our clients take tens of millions of cars off the road and offset hundreds of millions of pounds of CO2 emissions. Connect with our experts here.

Why Commutes Should Be Part of Your Benefits Package

 

Employee benefits and perks are a big deal and they can make all the difference in the competition for top talent. In fact, according to a 2018 survey from Glassdoor, 63 percent of job-seekers focus on benefits when reviewing job ads. When done right, those same benefits also help your existing team stay more engaged and productive, leading to higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention. If companies want to attract—and keep—employees in a tight job market, incorporating the right mix of benefits into the compensation package is essential.

Small benefits can make a big difference

A growing number of employers now offer portfolios of smaller, more targeted benefits to support individual employee needs on top of the standard packages for healthcare, financial planning, and paid time off. 

As one example, a 2020 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that during the pandemic, employers increased investments in wellness benefits—from financial health and family planning to meditation—all to help their teams bring their best selves to work. 

With many remote workers back in the office, and increasing traffic in urban areas, the employee commute is emerging as a key area of concern for employers. Rightfully so: commuting to work takes up a significant amount of time—just under an hour a day for the average worker, according to the United States Census Bureau. And, as it turns out, a stressful commute can be a deal breaker. In an often-cited 2018 survey by staffing firm Robert Half, nearly a quarter of respondents said they had left a job because of a bad commute. It’s more important than ever for employers to be considering benefits packages that include support for commuters. 

Employers and employees co-own the commute 

The last two or so years have forced widespread reflections on the way we work, how we prioritize our time, and our relationship with our employer. Along with that comes an increased recognition that commuting to a worksite is often an extension of the work itself. 

We are all more conscious of the burden that a commute can put on workers and, hopefully, grateful to those workers who make the journey to hospitals, grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, and other essential services that everyone relies on. Employees that are required to be physically present to perform their jobs are effectively giving that extra hour to their employer. With record-setting gas prices and steep inflation, that trip is also taking a larger chunk of their wages. Benefits packages should reflect this co-responsibility for the commute.

Commuting doesn’t have to be all bad. For knowledge workers using transit or riding in a carpool, the commute can provide time to respond to Slack messages, read industry reports and articles, scroll posts from thought-leaders on Twitter, and sort out their inboxes. For those who can’t accomplish work in a shared commute, the time traveling to and from work can be an important boundary, one in which they can catch up on personal reading or mentally prepare for or recover from the workday. And for those able and inclined to choose an active commute, multiple studies have shown activities like biking or walking to work are linked to higher commute satisfaction and physical and mental health benefits

There are other organizational benefits for companies that optimize the commute for employees, too, such as:

  • Furthering sustainability: For employers committed to sustainability, efforts to encourage commuters to opt for more environmentally friendly modes of transport are a big win. For employees who are values-driven (a trait growing more and more common in the modern workforce), tools that help them see the impact of their sustainable choices help reinforce their engagement with their company’s mission. Commuters using our apps in the Bay Area alone are saving around 25,000 tons of CO2 each year by choosing sustainable modes.
  • Promoting wellness: While more research is needed into the specifics, sitting too much is a real health problem. As the Mayo Clinic puts it, “it seems clear that less sitting and more moving overall contribute to better health.” Your organization may already have wellness programs that encourage employees to go to the gym or incentivize other healthy behaviors (like quitting smoking) – a commuting program that nudges people to consider riding a bicycle or walking to work fits into that same wellness framework. 
  • Saving on facilities expenses: The cost of renting space in parking lots—or building a parking lot—can be steep for employers. One company using RideAmigos apps saved $20,000 a month on parking leases by giving  commuter incentives to employees who switched to cycling to work instead of driving.

Empower better commutes with better tools

It’s obvious why programs that support commuters are getting more attention from employers than ever, but curating the right benefits and perks can take work.

Even just to implement small perks like snacks in the breakroom, someone has to be in charge of sourcing vendors, placing orders, maintaining supplies, adjusting the offerings based on feedback from employees, and ensuring equity for employees with dietary restrictions. Launching—and maintaining—a benefit to commuting employees can be far more complex. That’s where smart commute management tools come in.

Helping companies—and employees—rethink the commute and empowering them to choose more sustainable, cost-effective, and satisfying options inspires behavior change. In more than a decade working to empower commuters to make smarter choices, we have seen numerous tactics and strategies be effective in creating that change: 

  • Check your pro-car bias. Employers that provide free parking for cars but don’t provide secure bike storage and other facilities for active commuters—like showers and changing rooms—are not making it any easier to choose biking, walking, or running to work. Take a fresh look at how welcoming your workplace is for a variety of transportation choices (eg. what does the walk to the nearest transit stop look like?) and make adjustments where possible. 
  • Offer backup rides. Sometimes workers need the flexibility to get somewhere quickly in an emergency, or to work late when they’re in the flow; that shouldn’t stop them from choosing to carpool or ride transit. A simple, easy-to-claim credit to use for rideshare when they need it can eliminate this obstacle. 
    • Personalized support. Studies show that the more options we have, the harder it is to make a choice, and the less satisfied we ultimately feel with it. Plus the planning that comes along with trying a new commute option can be overwhelming. When you consider that someone has to weigh all the pros, cons, and unknowns about using transit or trying a new bike route—all before work—it’s no wonder that those who have cars often default to hopping in one to get to work. But when advised of their optimal mode, research shows people are likely to take it. Think of how Google Maps tells you when it has found a faster route. 
  • Reward behavior change. Commuters can earn rewards within an app for taking certain actions—like taking the recommendation to carpool instead of driving alone, or trying transit. The rewards can be redeemed for prizes or perks funded by the employer. This type of gamification is a proven strategy to engage users and help them form new—and hopefully sticky—habits. 

Large employers that already have world-class commuter programs and smaller companies that do not have dedicated transportation teams can both offer commute benefits for their employees and contractors. Including employee commute benefits in your total compensation packages can be good for your business and your team. 

We’ve been working with governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations for over a decade to change the way the world commutes. Get in touch with us to find out what kind of program fits your team’s needs.

RideAmigos Awarded US Department of Transportation Funding for its Blockchain-Based Commuter Incentive System

The project is one of only 12 to receive the agency’s coveted Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards in 2022.

SANTA MONICA, August 2, 2022 Commute management technology leader RideAmigos received Phase I funding by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for research and development of a novel incentivization system designed to optimize utilization of transit and other transportation infrastructure.

The SBIR Program, managed by USDOT’s innovation-focused Volpe Center, incentivizes small businesses to pursue innovative research and development work that has the potential for broad commercialization and adoption. According to the USDOT, the highly selective program funds projects that “address advanced innovative concepts from [small businesses] with strong capabilities in applied science or engineering.” Funding awards are made in two phases, with the possibility of a third phase leading to commercialization and special federal procurement status.

“We are honored to receive the support of the USDOT for this moonshot project that we believe has the potential to change the way the public and private sectors work together to transform commuter transportation for a sustainable future,” RideAmigos CEO Soren Eilertsen said. “It is encouraging to see the USDOT pursuing this kind of research and development in its work to advance a more equitable, accessible, and inclusive transportation system.”

The project will complement Pave Commute, RideAmigos’ personal commute app for employees that uses sophisticated algorithms to recommend the best commute option based on individual needs and preferences, match commuters doing similar things, and reward them for making sustainable choices. The design combines an intuitive user experience with proven principles of behavioral science — including findings from cutting edge studies with researchers from Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight — as well as social elements, gamification, and advanced multimodal routing technology.

Among the goals of the blockchain project are the development of an innovative system for collecting mobility data and establishment of a market for public and private stakeholders to invest in managing demand for existing transportation infrastructure. This will enable players in the mobility supply chain — employers, local governments, transit agencies, and micromobility providers — to reward commuters, based on reliable data, for transportation choices that reduce congestion, emissions, and parking costs. Furthermore, insights from this data can also guide planning efforts to optimize new development and service decisions.

“With Pave Commute, we can meet every commuter where they are, and empower them to adopt new, more sustainable options. Organizations can increase the impact of the program by providing incentives, which the app distributes automatically to optimize use of available infrastructure,” said Corey Tucker, RideAmigos Director of Innovation and lead of the SBIR-funded project. “By leveraging blockchain technology to establish a secure, decentralized market, we can enable the full range of public and private stakeholders – including mobility providers and planning organizations – to participate.”

This year, other projects to receive SBIR Phase I funding from the agency focus on artificial intelligence, intelligent road systems, material safety, equity, and climate change.

The Pave Commute app is available to download in the Apple App Store and Google Play store and requires an employer subscription to sign up. Interested organizations can learn more at pavecommute.app.

About RideAmigos:

RideAmigos is a technology company on a mission to change the way the world commutes, for good. Our mobile and web-based commuter engagement solutions combine innovative technology with proven principles of behavioral science to empower everyone to make smarter transportation choices. Large employers, universities and government agencies use our products to reduce congestion, parking demand, and environmental impact while creating healthier, happier communities. We have helped our clients take tens of millions of cars off the road and reduce our collective CO2 footprint by over 280 million pounds. (http://www.rideamigos.com)

Why #ACT2022 Might be the Best ACT International Conference Yet! 

   

Whether you’re packing for Chicago or not, here’s a pre-event cheat sheet for what’s happening next week. 

At RideAmigos, we have always been fans of virtual events because they are accessible for everyone and can have much less negative environmental impact. It bears mentioning that the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) put on some really high-quality virtual events over the last two years, and is taking steps to offset carbon emissions for this year’s in-person gatherings. Having said all that… we are SO EXCITED to see so many TDM leaders in person again! 

With four days of content and networking, including some really valuable pre-conference sessions, our delegation will be splitting up to see as much as we can and taking notes to share with colleagues around the world when we get home.  

Keynotes

ACT always pulls together an excellent lineup of speakers and this year is no exception. On Monday, the opening plenary session will feature a keynote presentation by Ryan McCarty of Culture of Good that is sure to remind us all of the purpose behind the important work of the TDM community. We’ll be listening in for inspiration and for Ryan’s practical insights into leading a movement of change before we dive into the rest of the conference programming.  

In Tuesday’s plenary session, we are pleased to be sponsoring a discussion of the future of TDM in Chicagoland, featuring four amazing transportation leaders. The panel, moderated by Matthew Meservy, Director of Long Range Planning Division, at the TennesseeDepartment of Transportation, includes Erin Aleman of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Gia Biagi of the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation (CDOT), Jesse Elam of Cook County’s Department of Transportation and Highways, and Roberto Requejo of Elevated Chicago, an organization working at the intersection of racial equity, health, climate, and art and culture to promote frameworks for equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD) in Chicago. Chicago has always been a planner’s city, and this keynote session is sure to highlight some ambitious and forward-looking approaches to TDM for the next several decades. 

Sessions

If you’re looking at the program on the conference website or in the Whova app, and wishing you could clone yourself to attend two sessions at once, we see you! There is way too much great content to mention in this post, but we polled our team to learn what they’re most excited about. 

Pre-conference workshops

This year, ACT lined up some really valuable pre-conference workshops that come with TDM-CP credit. Whether you’ve already aced your TDM-CP exam, or are just starting out in the field, these workshops before the main event are going to be well worth the additional fee. 

  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 101 and Understanding Implicit Bias (Sunday at 9:00am). This half-day workshop featuring David Sorrell, TDM-CP of University of California Berkeley, Kiki Dohman of Salem Area Mass Transit District, and Catherine Popowits of Diversity Training  & Consulting, Inc. will help participants gain awareness of the unconscious bias and misunderstanding that can impede our ability to have the equitable positive impact we intend with in our work. It will also focus on strategies to improve communication and inclusion for a diverse range of stakeholders. Work on this is never done, and we can’t think of a better way to reset your perspective ahead of the next three days of learning!
  • Shifting Traveler Behaviors with Motivational Interviewing (Sunday at 9:00am). Another excellent pre-conference workshop going on at the same time is focused on motivational interviewing strategies and their applications for TDM. Anton Cox of Capital Area Council of Governments and Kate Harrington of Movability Austin will discuss the technique and the science behind it. The team at Movability Austin has long been teaching and using these skills as part of their outreach, and these two Austin-area TDM leaders will help participants learn to use them too.

If you’re just getting to town on Sunday morning, you can still catch an expert-led workshop on grant writing or a session to prepare emerging leaders for larger roles in ACT chapter and council leadership; both in the afternoon.

Conference Sessions

The main course of TDM content really gets started after the opening plenary on Monday. If you’re attending with a group, do what we did and make a shared list of all the sessions your team wants to attend, and put names by each one to ensure it’s all covered. After an event like this, we always debrief with the whole team and have each attendee share important takeaways so everyone can benefit. 

Here are a few sessions on our must-see list: 

  • How TMAs Generate Value-add with Non-Traditional Groups (Monday at 1:30pm). Chris Bongorno, Allison Simmons, Michelle Reynolds, and Julia Wean are experts who lead and consult with TMAs around the country. In this unique session, they’ll discuss how TMAs they work with are developing partnerships and programs to serve hard-to-reach populations and address non-traditional TDM needs and add value for their communities.
  • Shaping ACT’s Policy Platform for the Future of TDM (Monday at 1:30pm). We’re looking forward to this presentation of ACT’s Public Policy Committee’s 2022 Policy Cornerstones. This is a pivotal time for investment in TDM and shared transportation and ACT has a key role to play. Presenters include Jessica Alba, TDM-CP, Stanford University’s Director of Policy & TDM, along with Rob Henry, TDM-CP of GVF, Andrew Glass Hastings of TransWest, and Dion Beuckman of Commute with Enterprise.
  • Employer-based TDM in a hybrid world (Monday at 3:15). Employers have powerful influence over employee commute choices, and research backs the idea that commuters that receive employer support are more likely to make sustainable transportation choices. Learn from leaders of the Denver region’s successful TDM programs how to launch a successful, employer-driven trip reduction program. Panelists include Nisha Mokshagundam and Kalie Fallon of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), and Sheryl Machado and Evan Gatseos, from Denver South TMA.
  • TDM-CP Information Session (Monday at 3:15pm ) Have you thought about working toward a Transportation Demand Management Certified Professional (TDM-CP) certification? Heather Salem, Aaron Buckley, and Jamila Owens (who have all earned the letters) explain the certification, its potential benefits for your career, and the process candidates follow to prepare and take the exam.
  • The Secret to Moving Employees to Shared Transit (Tuesday at 10:30am). The commute has become even more complicated for employees returning to campus after a long stretch of working remotely. The panelists leading transportation programs of three large employers in the San Francisco Bay Area will discuss how their organizations are rising to the occasion to manage the commute experience, leverage public transportation options, and incentivize employees to get out of single occupancy vehicles. With each enterprise offering a broad range of programs, this session will focus on the ways they incorporate on-demand technology to improve access. Krista Glotzbach of Via will moderate a discussion with panelists, Danielle Glaser, Global Transportation Manager at LinkedIn, Mandy Basile, Senior Transportation Program Manager at Genentech, and Sabrina Ruiz, Regional Transportation Program Manager at Google. Global Transportation Program Manager
  • Water Transit Is Making Waves In TDM (Tuesday at 10:30am) A boat is the best way to get to some workplaces! Where bridges are also an option, they might be filling up with traffic again. In this session, panelists will show you how their commuter ferry services create additional ways for commuters to move efficiently. Are you missing an opportunity to make use of water transportation to your campus or community?  Panelists include Heather Salem, TDM-CP of Genentech in South San Francisco, Patrick Sullivan, TDM-CP of Seaport TMA in Boston, and Andrew Sargis of Chicago Water Taxi.
  • How to Establish and Implement a TDM Ordinance (Tuesday at 10:30am). Washington D.C. area TDM leaders Samantha Huff (Foursquare ITP), Mariana Budimir (District Department of Transportation), and Michael Watts (DOES/Office of Wage-Hour) share invaluable experience with establishing the DC Commuter Benefits Law and the DC Parking Cashout Law, also known as the Transportation Benefits Equity Amendment Act of 2020. The presentation will cover goal setting, implementation, outreach and marketing strategies, and how to effectively monitor compliance with reductions of single-occupant vehicle travel to employer sites.

Wrapping up

Before we see who takes home the ACT National Awards for 2022 on Wednesday morning, we’re excited to host almost 200 TDM leaders at the return of the RideAmigos Closing Night Party on Tuesday evening. This year (perhaps inspired by the theme of water transit?) we’ll be celebrating a successful conference on Chicago’s Emerald Lady. This event will be oversubscribed – at the time we’re writing this we already have a waitlist and we’re working with the cruise operator to increase capacity – so we hope to see everyone who signed up! 

For those of you heading to Chicago, travel safely! We would love to connect while we’re there – contact us to set up a time or find us in the expo (we’ll be at Booth 102).