Commuter benefits are better than ever

We’re excited to announce a new partnership that is redefining the way employees think about the commute. The RideAmigos Commute Hub now incorporates commuter benefits and mobility wallet solutions from Inspira Financial, a leading provider of health, wealth, retirement, and benefits solutions. 

Together, we are already helping organizations from coast to coast and around the world deliver a best-in-class commute experience by enabling every employee understand and manage pre-tax benefits and subsidies for commute-related expenses right within the Commute Hub’s personalized commute dashboard. In addition to improving employee experience, the collaboration also increases engagement with commuter benefits, boosting employers’ return to office initiatives, corporate sustainability, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

At RideAmigos, we understand that the daily commute is a crucial factor in employee satisfaction and organizational success. By integrating our advanced Commute Hub platform with Inspira’s robust suite of financial services, we’re empowering employers to reimagine the ways  commuter benefits can complement other transportation offerings, maximize returns on investments in the commute, and save employees time and money. This collaboration isn’t just about efficiency; it’s about driving tangible savings for employees who commute, enhancing employee engagement, and advancing corporate sustainability goals.

Recent studies underscore the pivotal role of commuting in shaping workforce satisfaction and retention. A positive commuting experience is a strategic imperative. By combining Commute Hub’s science-based personalization with Inspira Financial’s trusted financial solutions, employers can now make commuter benefits more accessible and valuable by positioning them in the context of other offerings within a user-friendly app. A clear picture enables employees to optimize every commute aspect, from cost management to environmental impact.

“Pre-tax benefits and mobility subsidies can be a powerful way for employers to support employees who commute,” said Soren Eilertsen, CEO at RideAmigos. “We’re excited to collaborate with Inspira to help Commute Hub customers to engage many more employees in these programs by connecting a mobility wallet to other key services and incentives within a personalized commuter experience.”

With the Commute Hub platform, employers gain unprecedented control over complex commuting challenges. From influencing sustainable commute choices to seamlessly managing benefit allocations, we are setting a new standard for smarter, more efficient employee transportation strategies.

“Working with RideAmigos will help Inspira draw attention to the long-existing employee pre-tax commuter benefit with an exciting, modern, and technology-enabled enhancement that has not existed or been introduced previously,” said Jeff Thoms, managing director and head of sales, at Inspira. “The RideAmigos Commute Hub platform and services will build awareness and breathe new life into the commuter benefit and shows our commitment to utilizing technology to make things easier.”    

Together, we are making it possible for organizations to implement personalized commuter benefits strategies tailored to each individual employee, everywhere they do business. We aren’t just transforming commuting—we’re empowering organizations to foster healthier, more sustainable communities and a brighter future. Read the full press release here

Ready to learn more about how Commute Hub can make your commuter benefits and subsidy programs easier to use and manage?  Get started by talking with our commute experts today. 

RideAmigos Partners with Inspira Financial to Revolutionize Commuter Benefits

The collaboration will enhance commuter benefits, helping employees save money while boosting office attendance, corporate sustainability, and employee engagement initiatives.

Santa Monica, California – July 16, 2024RideAmigos, a technology company that uses innovative, behavioral science-backed solutions to empower smarter transportation choices, has partnered with Inspira Financial, a leading provider of health, wealth, retirement, and benefits solutions, to personalize the commute experience. 

The collaboration will deliver a best-in-class, user-friendly commute management system that helps employees easily understand and manage their pre-tax dollars and employer subsidies available to pay for commute-related expenses. This partnership will also support improved employee engagement in commuter benefits and services offerings, ultimately supporting employers’ return to office, corporate sustainability, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

The daily commute plays an important role in employee experience and engagement, both of which directly impact workforce productivity and talent retention. Numerous surveys show that workers are looking for more flexibility, and a growing number of employees are willing to change jobs to prioritize a better commuting experience. A pre-pandemic study by staffing firm Robert Half found that nearly a quarter of employees have quit their jobs because of a stressful commute.

Employers can use the RideAmigos Commute Hub to simplify and personalize the commute experience for each employee, influence more sustainable choices using behavioral science, and manage complex workplace parking transportation programs more efficiently. The new collaboration with Inspira will ensure that pre-tax benefits are considered in every commute decision and included in the personalized recommendations that employees receive through the platform.  

“Working with RideAmigos will help Inspira draw attention to the long-existing employee pre-tax commuter benefit with an exciting, modern, and technology-enabled enhancement that has not existed or been introduced previously,” said Jeff Thoms, managing director, head of sales, at Inspira. “The RideAmigos Commute Hub platform and services will build awareness and breathe new life into the commuter benefit and shows our commitment to utilizing technology to make things easier.”

As more employers are offering programs and services to address the impact of commuting on overall corporate sustainability and their local communities, personalized commute management tools like the Commute Hub from RideAmigos can help employees understand the advantages of incorporating these benefit options into their daily mobility choices to create a triple win for themselves, the organization, and the planet. A study by Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight found that personalized recommendations powered by RideAmigos technology drove a 5-10% shift from driving alone to more sustainable modes of transportation.

“Pre-tax benefits and mobility subsidies can be a powerful way for employers to support employees who commute,” said Soren Eilertsen, CEO at RideAmigos. “We’re excited to connect with Inspira to help Commute Hub customers to engage many more employees in these programs by connecting a mobility wallet to other key services and incentives within a personalized commuter experience.”

The collaboration reflects RideAmigos’ commitment to change the way the world commutes. By joining forces with Inspira, RideAmigos is well-positioned to deliver unparalleled value to organizations of any size and address the rapidly evolving needs of the modern workplace.

About RideAmigos

RideAmigos is a technology company 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 solutions 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. Learn more at rideamigos.com.

About Inspira Financial
Inspira Financial provides health, wealth, retirement, and benefits solutions that strengthen and simplify the health and wealth journey. With more than 7 million clients holding over $62 billion in assets under custody, Inspira works with thousands of employers, plan sponsors, recordkeepers, TPAs, and other institutional partners — helping the people they care about plan, save, and invest for a brighter future. Inspira relentlessly pursues better outcomes for all with our automatic rollover services, health savings accounts, custody services, and more. Learn more at inspirafinancial.com.

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.

 

Make commuting part of your ESG strategy

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) teams are popping up in all kinds of organizations as companies continue to embrace higher levels of social responsibility. These teams play a large and growing role in compliance, employer branding, community engagement, and corporate sustainability initiatives. Many new ESG teams are also making commuting part of a comprehensive ESG strategy.

ESG managers are often tasked with making high-impact, high-profile improvements on limited budgets. At the same time, there is usually a high degree of scrutiny on ESG program results.

When it comes to objectives like helping the fight against climate change and reducing carbon emissions, the commute is an easy win. Improving employee commutes gives everyone a chance to contribute to ESG initiatives, and reinforces a corporate culture of sustainability. For employees who don’t work from home, the commute may account for as much as 98% of their work-related carbon footprint. While this likely represents a much smaller share of the organization’s overall carbon emissions, too many ESG teams overlook simple solutions to this very addressable problem. But it turns out, there is no better way to combine sustainability with employee engagement.

Commuter-focused sustainability programs increase employee engagement

New surveys reveal that top talent expects greater alignment of their organization’s values with their own ideals. As more businesses are pushing for remote workers to return to the office, and stories of super-commuters are everywhere, more businesses are starting to consider commuter programs that mitigate environmental impact, save money, and reduce stress.

A growing number of organizations are recognizing the importance of providing tangible ways for employees to take climate action at work because it correlates with higher levels of job satisfaction. Creating an internal culture of sustainability drives higher levels of engagement, especially since commuters themselves stand to benefit. It’s a triple win.

Businesses can measure the impact of commute programs in real time

Businesses should always track the impact of investments in new programs to make sure spending is in line with priorities. But when it comes to ESG initiatives, there is an even greater level of scrutiny on results. To avoid the appearance of “greenwashing,” a term that means exaggerating or making misleading claims about sustainable practices for marketing purposes, organizations need to accurately measure the environmental benefits of any sustainability program closely. Fortunately, when it comes to commuting, technology allows employers to automate commuter behavior change programs and measure their direct impact over time.

To achieve ambitious sustainability goals, organizations can’t afford to ignore low-hanging fruit like the daily commute. The right program can create meaningful carbon reductions with very low operating costs.

Employees can help make commuting part of your ESG strategy

Most people are happy to buy into programs that fight climate change and promote environmental responsibility, but these initiatives take on greater relevance when they also measurably improve a person’s life. With high gas prices, worsening traffic, and greater awareness of the impacts of climate change, programs that making commuting easier and incentivize sustainable choices are great boosts for employee engagement. People participate in these programs at robust rates, giving ESG teams valuable data and insights to present to management.

A good commute management strategy can improve commuter experience and measurably reduce CO2 emissions from employee transportation. Our team works with leading employers around the world to power commuter programs that boost engagement, reduce parking demand and environmental impact, and help everyone improve their trip to work.

Connect with our experts to learn how you can make commuting part of our ESG strategy. Get started today!

User Research and Behavioral Science: Insights to Help Change Commuters’ Behavior

Pave Commute’s Austria-based head of technical research, Florian Daniel, recently appeared on the Product by Design podcast to discuss user research, behavioral science, and how they can be used to change commuters’ behavior. The podcast focused on behavioral science’s ability to generate insights that help solve difficult problems, and its growing set of applications in the transportation demand management (TDM) space.

The Motivation to Change Commuters’ Behavior

Florian lives in the mid-size Austrian city of Linz. He became motivated to help change commuters’ behavior by a combination of personal experience and a desire to improve his community.

Car-based commuting remains a leading default mode in the Linz area, particularly for people who live outside the city proper and need to travel in for work. Congestion is a major problem on weekdays: traffic snarls are commonplace, and it negatively impacts commuters’ quality of life. People in Linz also regularly use cars to travel distances that could easily be covered on a bicycle.

These two factors prompted Florian to focus his efforts on improving rideshare rates in the city and encouraging commuters to shift to active transportation modes.

Behavioral Psychology and Changing Commuters’ Behavior

Car-centric commuter culture is a deeply ingrained phenomenon, with many people continuing to engage in it out of a combination of habit and convenience. Florian notes that the key to success is not to get commuters to try a different mode, but to get them to stick with a new, more sustainable way of getting to work over the long term.

To that end, Florian emphasizes that commuter apps like the Pave Commute platform are capable of giving users the “nudge” they many need to make their mode shifts permanent. One key reason is that Pave Commute allows end users to see the quantifiable impact they are having by using alternatives to solo driving. This helps reinforce positive feelings about more sustainable commuting choices, which can go a long way toward driving lasting ways of changing commuters’ behavior.

Emphasizing the Positive Impacts of Mode Shift

Florian also touched on the multiple ways in which encouraging employees to shift modes stands to create both individual and organizational benefits. He used the example of a mid-size company, in which 90% of employees commute by car.

Encouraging even 10% of those commuters to change modes would create a dramatic reduction in the company’s parking requirements. This, in turn, would enable the business to repurpose unused parking spots into a green space for team members to enjoy during meal and break times. Employees would have a more enjoyable work environment, which stands to have a positive effect on their overall mindset and job satisfaction.

A similar principle applies to individual commuters. As anyone who regularly drives to work through a congested area knows, it isn’t much fun to be stuck in a car sitting in traffic. Walking and cycling are much more fun, and they’re also healthier. Shared modes allow commuters to shift their attention from driving onto other tasks, which could improve their productivity or allow them to create a more meaningful mental “buffer zone” between their work and personal lives.

The Value of Research in TDM Product Development

Florian characterizes his technical research role as a kind of bridge between the software development and business development sides of Pave Commute. Interestingly, he notes that research plays a critical role in securing the necessary funding to develop next-generation TDM products.

Building a business case for carrying out user research in the interests of getting cars off the road is a straightforward proposition. Funding grants also enable TDM product developers to liaise with academic experts at universities and other institutions, which generates more authoritative and valuable results.

The Ongoing Need for Continued Product Adaptation

Florian’s experiences also point to the necessity of looking at TDM platforms as dynamic creations that need to change and grow over time. Sometimes, he notes, the development team will be excited about a new software feature or integration, only to see it not perform as intended when actual users engage with it. The accompanying learning process reinforces the idea that TDM is an ever-changing field that requires constant revisiting of core concepts and established methods of achieving results.

Where Things May Be Headed

Florian also weighs in on the established and emerging dynamics that stand to impact both transportation policy and the commuter experience in North America, Europe, and beyond. One major such factor is the increased regulatory activity focused on mitigating the negative impacts of climate change.

In Florian’s opinion, policy efforts should focus primarily on employers, who should be tasked with providing their team members with a flexible set of more sustainable commuting options. Approaches that use the proverbial “stick” to punish individual commuters based on their transportation choices are, in his opinion, divisive and therefore less desirable.

Autonomous vehicles could also prove to be a game-changer in the not-too-distant future. They hold the impact to dramatically reduce the number of user-operated vehicles on the road, especially during peak commuting times.

Get Engaged and Help Change Commuters’ Behavior with Pave Commute

RideAmigos solutions like Pave Commute help organizations build happier, more sustainable, and more productive work environments with user-friendly and effective commuter management products. Commuter benefits are a low-cost, high-impact perk that make a meaningful difference in the everyday lives of team members.

Our platform can help change commuters’ behavior through an innovative combination of applied behavioral science, artificial intelligence, and advanced mobile technology. To learn more, or to discover our platform’s potential to benefit your workplace, please contact us to get started.

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).

Exploring Links Between Health and Wellness, Commuting, and the Employee Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic jolted the world into greater and more immediate awareness of issues related to physical and mental health and wellness. As the ongoing return to office continues, employers are paying increased attention to how commuting affects their team members’ health as well as their broader employee experience.

In 2022, Get There Oregon commissioned a survey of 225 senior human resources (HR) administrators working throughout the state. The survey results relayed some interesting findings with major implications for commuting and the employee experience:

  • 96% of respondents cited recruiting and retaining qualified employees as a top concern
  • 93% sought to improve employee morale and job satisfaction
  • 92% wanted to better protect employee health and wellness
  • 83% seek to make progress toward organizational sustainability goals

On the surface, these concerns might not appear related. However, upon digging more deeply into trends affecting the post-pandemic labor market, it becomes apparent that the issues are more interconnected than they might seem.

The Effects of a Difficult Commute on Employee Health and Wellness

Long and stressful commutes often exact a negative toll on both physical and mental health. The University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine explored the ways commuting affects physical health in a 2019 blog post. The post cited multiple issues:

  • Extended commutes to and from work often leave people without enough time to get adequate exercise
  • Studies have found that people with long commutes tend to get less sleep, and a lack of sleep is a contributing factor to many serious health problems
  • Long commutes expose people to greater concentrations of air pollutants, which can take a toll on their respiratory health
  • Commuting raises stress levels, especially for drivers, which can also contribute to a host of health problems including heart disease

The Keck School also noted that the demands of the daily grind often leave commuters feeling antisocial, potentially leading to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. These observations speak to a well-established body of research noting links between arduous commutes, anxiety, and depression.

The relentless need to commute day in and day out can also lead to a cycle of dread directly related to the quotidian journey. According to experts, this can actually cause long-term cognitive changes that rewire the brain to generate negative responses and mood changes.

Notably, researchers report that active commuting has strong positive effects on both the physical and mental health of commuters. Cycling and walking may not be an option for every commuter. However, transportation demand management (TDM) experts stress the importance of improved employer support for active commuting, given the many associated wellness benefits.

How Commuting Can Impact Employee Morale and Job Satisfaction

Unsurprisingly, the long-term mental toll of commuting taints the employee experience by lowering morale and reducing job satisfaction. Eye-opening research from the United Kingdom found that adding 20 extra minutes of travel time onto a commuter’s work day had the same impact on their job satisfaction as a 19% reduction in pay. The study included more than 26,000 workforce members over a five-year period.

As with physical health, travel modes directly impact employee morale and productivity. Improvements are associated with active commuting and shared modes of transportation such as carpooling, while negative impacts on morale and productivity are primarily linked with solo driving.

A Better Employee Experience Leads to Greater Talent Recruitment and Retention Success

The concept of the employee experience took on added urgency as millions of U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021 and 2022. This so-called Big Quit or Great Resignation put a spotlight on shortcomings employers need to address to improve their talent recruitment and retention efforts in the most challenging labor market in recent memory.

In 2022, leading online career portal Indeed published a deep dive into what job-seekers are looking for in an employee experience. Key findings include:

  • Job candidates expect more from their employers and are less likely to settle for the pre-pandemic status quo
  • Enhanced support for hybrid and offsite work is emerging as an inflexible expectation for job-seekers
  • Employees want more flexible schedules that promote a better work-life balance

Commuting factors into these dynamics in multiple ways. Employers can no longer realistically expect employees to “suck it up” and deal with a long or difficult commute: workers are opting out of those arrangements at unprecedented rates.

Instead, TDM experts suggest that businesses think about remote work as akin to an alternative form of transportation. This type of policy shift prompts employers to integrate telecommuting into their commuter programs more effectively, creating a superior employee experience with direct positive impacts on recruitment and retention.

Commuter Programs that Support Wellness and Improve Morale Also Boost Sustainability

Remote work is not the only option when it comes to improving the employee experience. Ridesharing is linked with lower stress and improved productivity, while researchers established links between choosing public transportation as a commuting option and better health a long time ago.

Modes like ridesharing, public transportation, and active commuting do more than support health, wellness, and productivity. They also help organizations make meaningful progress toward their sustainability goals, which was a major priority for 83% of Get There Oregon’s 2022 survey respondents.

Tying It All Together: How RideAmigos Can Help Partners Build Better Employee Experiences

Talent recruitment and retention, employee morale, job satisfaction, and sustainability are not issues that exist in vacuums. They all form an integral part of the kind of positive employee experience job-seekers want from the post-pandemic return to office. Given the ongoing struggles of many employers to fill critical vacancies, companies that make decisive, forward-thinking moves in these directions have the potential to realize significant competitive advantages in the post-pandemic economic landscape.

At RideAmigos, we have been working with leading employers and public-facing commuter programs for over a decade to make commuting easier and more environmentally sustainable. Whether you are just getting started with commute management or already have robust TDM and commuter benefits programs, we have solutions to empower your organization. Talk to our commute experts now.