Research Points Back to Old-Fashioned TDM

The fresh-start effect and a personal touch are key to influencing a commuter’s choices.  By combining them and creating new fresh-starts we may be able to break through strong commuting habits and reduce the number of cars on the road.

Every day workers around the world use single occupancy vehicles to commute to and from work, driving energy use from the transport sector. For most workers, their commute is the most dreaded part of their day.  Even so, commuting habits remain some of the most difficult to change.  Daily habits create strong default behaviors that are difficult for commuters to overcome, and in some cases, bad policy continues to enable bad decision making.  Luckily for everyone, employers and governments are dedicating more resources to helping commuters to commute smarter and are engaging with researchers to identify strategies to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home. Piecing together insights from behavioral science research as well as best practices in transportation demand management (TDM), could offer us a roadmap to successfully reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles while also helping commuters dread their mornings a little less.

How big of a problem is the daily commute?

The burden of the daily commute is a reality for millions of people around the world.  In the United States alone, the average commuter spends nearly an hour of their day in transit and 75% of those are driving alone in cars.  The negative impact on commuters creates unhappy workers and has even led nearly a third of commuters to quit their jobs over their commute.  

Beyond the individual, these commuting habits have negative externalities for the organizations that these commuters work for as well as their surrounding communities.  Companies struggle with employee turnover and low morale caused by poor commutes, and spend a lot of money trying to make commuting easier, often by providing free parking to all employees.  The communities that these commuters originate from as well as those that house the organizations, face increased congestion and air quality issues.  In fact, nearly a quarter of global energy-related CO2 emissions come from transportation.

Why is commute behavior so hard to change?

With all of the negative externalities associated with the commute, and in particular with the drive alone commute, companies and governments across the world have begun to try to convince drivers to leave their cars at home and take advantage of alternative commuting options.  As previously noted, the most effective strategies involve appropriately pricing the use of the car to the user.  This could include anything from charging market price for parking, to congestion pricing on roadways or in city centers.  However, although these strategies are proven effective, they are usually not practically feasible, particularly in the United States where car culture and the affordability of gasoline drives most transport decisions.  As a result, employers and governments have turned to offering positive incentives for the use of available alternative modes, and are increasingly experimenting with the concept of ‘nudging’ to encourage commuters out of their vehicles.

Reliance on personal vehicles is a deeply ingrained default behavior, particularly in the United States, and as a result is incredibly difficult to encourage commuters to shift away from.  Additionally, though nudges have been shown to be effective with regard to one-off behaviors, such as voting, they are less proven as approaches to shifting habitual behaviors such as commuting and various basic nudges have proven ineffective at shifting commuter behavior.  

So, what DOES work?

One strategy, however, that has shown some promise with regard to influencing commu choices is to employ nudges that leverage the fresh-start effect.  This is based on a theory that individuals are more apt to alter their behavior during moments of change, such as starting a new job or relocating their home.  In fact, Transportation Demand Management (TDM) professionals have used the fresh-start effect for years by introducing employees to transportation options during new employee orientation or onboarding and helping individuals overcome perceived barriers to using alternatives for commuting.  

This approach also requires a very personalized application of trip and commute mode planning.  A recent set of experiments demonstrate some promise for a scaled/automated version of this personalized experience can have an impact on user mode choice during their commute.  The experiment, conducted by a team from the Center for Advanced Hindsight and the City of Durham, in collaboration with RideAmigos, created a personalized trip-plan for commuters to North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC.  This trip-plan was shared directly with two groups of student commuters via email, while an additional group served as a control.  The findings, based on self-report survey data, show a statistically significant mode shift of greater than five percent during the survey period.  

Putting it all together

With these two positive data points, it would be pertinent to consider how a scaled, personalized model could be applied more effectively and during fresh-start periods.  Further, given the shifting realities of commuting, with more employees working from home some of the time and/or often travelling to and from different locations it may be possible to create fresh-start periods more frequently.  Historically, TDM professionals have focused on fully or predominantly shifting a commuter from one mode to another.  With increasing commute flexibility, the focus should be on shifting a substantial subset of the commuting population on any given day, rather than trying to convince specific commuters to fully change how they get to and from work.  This is an easier task, and from the commuter perspective, more sustainable in the long run as it maintains their ability to handle unforeseen situations that may arise and require that they drive to work.  

Want to Learn More? 

If you are interested in applying science-based approaches to the commute, or are looking for technology to support innovative research, contact RideAmigos here, or reach out directly. 

About the author: 

Corey Tucker is the Director of Innovation at RideAmigos. With nearly 10 years of experience in transportation, most focused on transportation demand management (TDM), and a strong background in transportation and behavioral science research, Corey is focused on bringing innovation to the TDM industry.  Since joining RideAmigos, Corey has helped numerous clients in designing and refining their TDM programs.  Building on this experience, she spearheaded research efforts with universities and agencies across the country with the goal of establishing the best approaches to leveraging behavioral science to influence how people commute. Corey’s dedication to research keeps her focused on evidence-based decision making and product development. She has a track record of developing and strong public-private partnerships with universities and agencies to solve common problems, and she leads efforts to embed the insights learned in these engagements to enhance the RideAmigos product suite. 

Exploring Change in Transportation Demand Management

The past year has been one of the most challenging in memory for many in the transportation demand management industry. Widespread workplace shutdowns erased tens of millions of jobs in the United States alone, leaving highways, transit hubs, bus networks, and subway stations eerily silent. The pandemic’s protracted course has only added to the uncertainty, with the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel continuing to blink in and out as we head toward the seventh annual CommuteCon in April 2021.

Yet, despite these challenges, the past year has also been a catalyst for great change: the traditional workplace might never be the same after months of mass telecommuting, and shifting priorities have inspired many to seriously rethink the way we get around. At the same time, safer and healthier ways to access shared transportation have found the spotlight, while a transition in federal governance signaled intriguing policy changes.

CommuteCon 2021 will examine the lessons we learned in 2020 and look ahead to where these changes might lead the transportation demand management industry in 2021 and beyond. We are in the midst of transformative and regenerative change, and here’s a sneak peek at how the upcoming edition of CommuteCon will advance the unfolding conversation.

Transportation demand management policy appears headed for a new era

The new presidential administration appears committed to enacting major policy changes that stand to have a transformative impact on the way people get around. These include:

  • Ambitious targets for reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), including a proposal to supplement or replace the gas tax with a VMT tax
  • Shared transportation investment models that get state and local officials more involved
  • Minimizing or getting rid of municipal parking requirements, signaling an expected decrease in the number of cars requiring parking in the future
  • A likely shift toward more public transit and mass commuter solutions

It’s still too early to predict exactly where these policy ideas will end up, but CommuteCon’s expert panelists will offer their insights.

Shifting priorities are redefining the TDM landscape

One of the most profound and important concepts currently regenerating the transportation demand management landscape is not directly related to emissions, infrastructure, or support for certain modes at the expense of others. Instead, it has to do with the very philosophies that underlie and inform transportation demand management strategies. This concept is widely known as transportation equity (or transit equity).

Transportation equity grows from the principle that transportation access is a public good and a public right, and should equally serve people of all classes, races, and socioeconomic standing. Transportation leads to opportunity, and equity-focused policies strive to make those opportunities more readily available to everyone.

What matters to commuters in the COVID-19 age?

Health and safety have rocketed to the forefront as top concerns of commuters in the time of COVID-19, but transportation demand management professionals are also looking at other important priorities. These include:

  • Increased workplace flexibility
  • The rise of hybrid onsite/offsite working
  • No more parking defaults

As commuter priorities shift, transportation demand management strategies will need to shift as well. A near-term direction is just beginning to take shape, and our presenters will weigh in with their thoughts on where things may be heading.

Will traditional commuting ever come back?

One of the most intriguing aspects of the current debate centers on whether commuting as we knew it will ever be the same again. Some transportation demand management insiders believe daily commuting will quickly return to normal, while others think it has changed forever and will never go back to the way it used to be.

CommuteCon 2021 presenters will explore this and many other uncertainties about how things will play out in the months and years ahead.

Answers are still emerging and CommuteCon is a forum for continued conversation

Above all else, CommuteCon 2021 will serve as a safe and engaging place for professionals to exchange ideas about transportation demand management strategies and policies for a post-COVID world. Our goal is to inspire an impactful, insightful, and ongoing discussion around these and other key issues facing the TDM community in this unprecedented time.

Join us at CommuteCon 2021 for a fascinating glimpse into the future of transportation demand management. Sign up for the CommuteCon mailing list  to get registration and speaker updates.

Reflecting on 2020 & Looking Ahead

At RideAmigos we are on a mission to change the way the world commutes for good by empowering everyone to make smarter transportation choices; and we partner with some of the most innovative employers and government agencies to do it. 

Over the years, agencies and employers have used RideAmigos to help commuters choose an alternative to driving alone over 25 million times and eliminated 237 million pounds of CO2.

Looking back on the past year, we are so proud of how our partners each rose to meet the challenges brought by the pandemic, economic crisis, and continued reckoning with access and inequities in our mobility ecosystem.  

Setting New Precedents

Overall in 2020, commuters used RideAmigos to report working remotely more than a million times in connection with employer or regional programs. They also logged just as many active trips, such as biking or walking, either to work or just to get outside. 

Before the pandemic set in, agencies and employers using RideAmigos were replacing over half a million SOV trips per month in 2020 with active trips, remote work or shared modes. 

Also in 2020 RideAmigos was part of a team that received an Association for Commuter Transportation Excellence in Research Award. The award recognized work with the City of Durham and Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight to bring a personalized commute plan pilot to scale and through this helped organizations achieve a mode shift of up to 10%.

Taking Action in a Crisis

When the COVID-19 crisis began, agencies and employers used RideAmigos to communicate safe commuting guidelines. They also responded to changing circumstances with rapid adjustments to incentive programs.

As the pandemic continued our clients began to reimagine commuter engagement strategies. This included: 

  • Launching programs to engage a hybrid workforce of remote and essential onsite employees.
  • Creating opportunities for community members who may have been unemployed or furloughed to stay engaged and learn about alternatives to driving alone.
  • Challenging employees and the public to build new habits by biking-to-anywhere 

2020 was a difficult year for the world and our community of transportation demand management (TDM) professionals was no exception. But we also came together in exciting ways. CommuteCon, always a virtual event, saw over 1,500 people join in. The April 2020 event was timed perfectly, providing a forum to discuss the unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities brought about by the pandemic. 

Looking Ahead 

We are continuing to work with our amazing customers as they reimagine the future with a reimagined commute experience for essential workers, future returns to the office, or hybrid work arrangements with smart parking management, subsidies and incentives, and other proven commuter behavior change programs.

We are continuously reinvesting in our products, and working to bring the latest insights from research into technology to our clients to create a better more sustainable commute experience. 

2021 promises to be a year of transformational and regenerative change. We’re looking forward to working together to harness this moment to make an even greater positive impact on our communities and the planet. If you are interested in learning more about how commuter engagement can support your evolving workplace, contact us to get started.

“Replacing” Your Commute During the COVID Pandemic

Sure, commuting takes up a lot of time, and it can be stressful. But even so, many people find themselves missing the comfort of routine now that they’ve been relieved of their daily commutes in favor of teleworking.

Here are some creative and interesting rituals newly minted telecommuters are using to stay sane, connected, and productive in the face of this abrupt change:

Video coffee dates

When we started asking around the office, one of our team members said, “I’ve started having some morning video coffee dates with friends, providing a ritual and giving some personal interaction as I start my day.” Sounds like a great way to stay connected!

Vary your surroundings

One respondent offered, “I’ve been switching rooms every other day with my partner to change things up.” Another noted, “Going to a different physical space [to work] is a super helpful practice.”

Different scenery adds variation, which can be psychologically important to people who aren’t used to sameness and monotony.

Meditation

This was an interesting response: “I replaced commuting with meditating in the back yard for a few minutes to get started in the morning. Then, after work, I do a workout outside to tell my body ‘I’m done.'” This bookends the day with mental and physical breaks.

Get a pet

One emphatic respondent insisted: “If you don’t already have one, get a furry friend because they give you a great excuse to take five or ten minutes to give them the attention they want (and deserve!). Having something else that needs you is a great way to break up the day.”

Another pet owner added: “My dogs are very good at telling time, and every day they know when it’s dinnertime and that I should stop working and feed them. They’re very persistent, and help keep me accountable to healthy scheduling.”

Hop on a bike

“I’ve replaced bike commuting with post-work riding,” said one new telecommuter. “I usually pick a part of town to ride to and explore it.”

Another cycling enthusiast added: “I love exploring neighborhoods and nearby areas I had no idea existed. It’s become a vital way to separate myself from work and connect to the world around me in a way I never expected.”

All that, and it’s fantastic exercise!

What’s your work from home ritual?

What are you doing to create a new routine, break up your work day, and separate work time and personal time? We want to know! Tell us in the comments.

Telecommuting During COVID-19: Technology Solutions for WFH Productivity

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced sudden, major changes to the way companies do business. Many organizations have switched to mass telecommuting during COVID-19 in a bid to stay productive, creating a new set of challenges. A large number of companies are scrambling to figure out how to maintain productivity in the new working environment, so we’ve put together a list of tools that can help. This is not comprehensive but a good place to start!

Telecommuting during COVID-19: Meeting face-to-face

Hopefully we’re all getting in on the occasional virtual watercooler chat with our teams via Zoom. While it is getting a lot of press these days, and Microsoft’s Teams also enjoys a dominant position in the virtual meeting space, they are certainly not the only game in town when it comes to voice-based productivity tools. Services like Google Meet, Blue Jeans and GoToMeeting also deliver great face-to-face functionality, making them excellent solutions for productivity, team bonding and remote collaboration.

Instant messaging tools with group chat features are a strong alternative, and may be preferable in some cases. Text-based applications make it just as easy to get quick answers to critical questions as teams work remotely. Software development groups with contributors scattered across the globe are used to working this way, and they have excellent insights and recommendations.

Screen sharing

Screen-sharing apps offer an easy and effective solutions when employees need troubleshooting assistance, or when team members need to simultaneously view slide decks, documents, presentations, and the like. Computer World magazine recently featured its top picks for 15 easy-to-use screen sharing apps for businesses. Many of the reviewed solutions on this list support free trials or free-to-use versions with limited features.

Communication and social networking tools

Some enterprise productivity solutions take a page out of the social media playbook, creating online spaces where connected team members can share updates, files, links, and information in a news feed-style interface. These enterprise social networking platforms make making telecommuting during COVID-19 a more seamless experience.

Slack has always been a great tool for remote teams. While it also makes the chat platform list, its wide variety of enterprise integrations it makes a versatile platform for all kinds of collaboration and connection when large portions of the workforce are shifting to work from home.

For a more traditional social media platform, Microsoft’s Yammer has carved out a unique niche. If you need this kind of functionality, it’s well worth a look.

Team management and feedback

One of the hardest things about remote work is the distance between managers and direct reports. With the dramatic shift to working from home at scale, many experts have taken note of the unique challenges this can pose and there is lots of good advice out there for how to rethink remote management – like this article from the Harvard Business Review.

15Five and other similar tools can help facilitate productive one-on-ones. And, of course, recognition tools like bonus.ly can allow anyone in an organization to amplify praise for a colleague’s hard work through micro-bonuses and public announcements.

Online document sharing

Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Box and many other free and open-access alternatives have ushered in a new area of remote collaboration. These solutions allow team members to create, share, edit, and collaborate on documents in real time, using a system built around access permissions to ensure only authorized individuals are able to edit files. Contributors can add comments to facilitate discussions and revisions, and everything is cloud-based so secure storage is never an issue.

Virtual office software

People teams in need of comprehensive, fully functional solutions for telecommuting during COVID-19 can also consider virtual office software. These complete platforms aim to recreate the office experience digitally, with functions that support:

  • Face-to-face communications
  • Collaboration on documents and projects
  • Time management, time tracking, and attendance tools

Sococo is a trailblazer in the virtual office software space. You can also explore these free alternatives if you’re only planning to support temporary telecommuting during COVID-19.

RideAmigos is here to help

The unprecedented crisis surrounding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has created unexpected challenges for many businesses, and the RideAmigos team is here to offer all the help we can. Through our blog, you can learn more about telecommuting and access further resources, and our partners can also help in valuable ways. Check out:

If you’re a RideAmigos customer or partner, we would also like to take this opportunity to share details of our COVID-19 response. Our entire team remains at your disposal if you need any further assistance or insights on how to manage telecommuting during COVID-19 as we all work together to get through this challenging time. Please contact us if we can assist you in any way.

Make Commuter Engagement Your Business

The way YOUR people get to work is YOUR business. More and more senior executives are realizing the truth: if you have employees, the commute is an important business concern. The old ways of thinking about parking facilities, long, stressful commutes, and their impact on corporate sustainability are costing employers money and valuable employees.

Let’s start with the issue of employee parking. Whether the employer owns facilities or is providing spaces for employees in some other way, employee parking is not free. A 2012 report found the average cost across twelve U.S. cities to build a single above ground parking space to be $24,000. And, this does not account for the time wasted by employees searching for a good spot, tax liability for parking as a benefit, or the opportunity cost of using valuable land to build more and more parking to meet rising demand. Employers can’t afford to chalk this up to business as usual.

Then there’s employee retention. A 2018 survey by global human resource consulting firm, Robert Half found that more than one in five workers has left a job because of a bad commute and the problem is worsening in some of the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. This is not just disruptive — when considering a variety of factors associated with losing and replacing an employee, this can cost businesses between 50-200% of the person’s salary depending on his or her role. Particularly in this labor market, employers have good reason to start paying attention to how the commute might be affecting morale, engagement and attrition.

Last but not least, corporate sustainability strategies that don’t include commuter engagement are missing a huge opportunity. Nearly 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from transportation, including commuting. Whether a business identifies being green is a key part of its brand or it simply has to meet the requirements of a development agreement or local regulations, there are real costs to missing the mark. On the other hand, making commuters part of the solution has tangible benefits to the corporate and employer brand, employee engagement, and community relations. Investors and shareholders care about sustainability and so does top talent.

Operations, human resources and corporate sustainability leaders each are already working to address these challenges. It’s time to break down the silos dividing parking management, human capital management and corporate sustainability. At the center of all of these mandates is a smart commuter engagement strategy. Forward-thinking employers that implement effective commuter engagement relieve pressure on facilities, increase employee engagement and retention, and boost corporate sustainability — differentiating themselves from the competition as an employer of choice for top talent.

Provide Access to Options and Information

The foundation of most successful commuter programs is understanding your employees — where do they live, what are their transportation options, and what are their commute preferences.

As with any other business decision, knowing the details helps employers better understand the problem and the full range of potential solutions. Employers that are serious about helping commuters make better choices begin by collecting data about how their employees get to work and what other options may be available to them.

In many cases, providing transit passes, carpool and vanpool programs, cyclist-friendly facilities, and even subsidizing high-occupancy shuttles are much more cost-effective solutions and provide better value to employees. And, when offered the choice, certain employees will prefer these options to sitting in traffic alone and searching for spaces in sprawling parking lots or level after level of an indoor garage.

Inspire Them to Try Something New

What if employees are not quick to adopt alternatives to driving alone? Offering an incentive to try something new is a great way to break through the natural bias toward sticking with familiar habits. Real monetary rewards work, and bigger incentives are more effective. But combining incentives with other strategies can make each dollar go further.

Paid time off is a highly valued employee benefit. The City of Austin — which has been listed among the Forbes Top Employers and Best Workplaces for Commuters — was able to reduce 1.33 Million employee drive alone trips in six months with an administrative leave incentive. This kind of incentive is a great option for organizations that want to incentivize employees with a meaningful benefit that doesn’t increase taxable income.

Of course, it is not helpful to simply pay someone to do something for a period of time if they’ll stop once the incentive is gone. Smartly designed incentives give commuters time to form new habits. Commute.org in San Mateo County, California had great success — increasing carpool trips fourfold — by offering a repeatable incentive, coupled with its ongoing rewards program.

Make Costs (and Benefits) More Personal

An even more effective strategy to change the way employees think about their commute is to actually show them the money and let them decide how to spend it. Employers can do this either by letting commuters keep the cost of their daily or monthly parking if they opt not to use it, or granting them the funds and deducting the cost of parking from their balance if they choose to use it.

These parking cash-out programs leverage the same feelings associated with paying for parking while still supporting it as an employee benefit. Daily cash-out options give employees flexibility to make daily decisions about how to get to work, while a monthly or quarterly cash-out structure plays to the concept of loss aversion by putting money in employees hands and letting them choose how to spend it. This results in employees thinking much differently about the value of parking versus other ways they could spend the money.

The most flexible programs — ones that offer daily and long-term options — are especially effective because they appeal to a broader range of employees. Sonos in Santa Barbara, California did just that, and reduced parking demand by 25%.

Engage Employees and Reinforce Smart Choices

Even parking cash-out and really attractive incentives may miss important keys to inspiring employees to adopt and maintain smarter commute habits. There are two major factors that employer commuter programs should not overlook: ongoing engagement and intrinsic motivation.

While a big incentive may motivate them to try something new, it is still important to give employees a reason to continue the habit. Allowing them to earn points toward smaller rewards over time, or even chances at larger ones, will ensure that they are motivated to make smart choices whenever possible.

Another way to continue driving participation is to challenge employees periodically. Challenges and gamification are proven to catalyze behavior change and there is evidence that, when done right they can create lasting change. Encouraging team participation increases the social aspect of a challenge — building community and helping employees make lasting connections — while allowing them to earn and track personal achievements and milestones leverages their own internal drive to succeed.

Finally, and often overlooked, is the good feeling employees get when they understand the positive impact of their smart commute choices. When you show them their unique carbon footprint reduction, health benefits and savings versus driving alone, you help make the commute a source of pride rather than a burden. In the big picture, showing employees that they are contributing not only to their own health and well-being but to the corporate sustainability mission and a better planet can increase engagement and productivity.

Just as transportation options, employee preferences and business objectives vary widely, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Identifying the right mix of programs for your workforce is the first step, and it can change over time and across the geographies in which you operate.

Running programs like these successfully doesn’t have to be daunting. At RideAmigos we see them work for hundreds of employers across the country – made possible when committed transportation heroes at all levels of an organization have the right tools and partners. To get started, consider reaching out to your local transportation management association (TMA) or regional commuter program, sign up for our Commuter Tips newsletter and, when you’re ready, contact us about the value of a future-proof hub for all of your commuter mobility programs.

What Is a Smart Commute?

The term “smart commute” is starting to displace the familiar “alternative commute” among in-the-know Transportation Demand Management (TDM) pros. As some leaders point out, the word “alternative” implies that solo driving is and should be the default mode. Instead, characterizing a particular mode as “smart” removes this distinction and uses language that reflects TDM’s true values and objectives.

Moreover, a growing number of regional and organizational commuter programs are applying “smart commute” as a term to define the modes of transportation that qualify for rewards or make a positive impact on sustainability goals. How are these industry leaders thinking about what constitutes a smart commute? Let’s examine some common answers.

Smart commutes use shared instead of individual modes

One defining aspect of a smart commute is that it emphasizes the intelligent use of shared trips over individual transportation. Thus, it embraces modes like:

  • Carpooling
  • Public transportation like busses and trains
  • Vanpooling
  • Rented micro transit solutions like bikeshares and scooters to bridge that “first mile/last mile”

Anything that gets solo commuters out of cars and into a greener, more efficient shared trip counts as “smart” in our books.

Active commuting is smart commuting

People who walk or bike to work are smart (and happy) commuters. These modes have little if any environmental impact, and they also support physical and mental health and wellness.

You can make your workplace friendlier to active commuters by providing facilities like showers, lockers, and secure bike parking areas.

The smartest commute may be one that doesn’t happen at all

A growing number of employers offer remote teleworking as an alternative to coming into a physical workplace. Many TDM advocates argue that telecommuting is often an optimal choice, as it doesn’t require a commute at all. Employees also value the added focus and work-life balance telecommuting offers. Depending on your business, it can be a great way to boost morale and help your business attract and retain higher-quality employees.

If you’re looking for new and innovative ways to encourage your people teams to embrace the “smart commute” mentality, we can help. Get started today with a free analysis of your existing commuter programs and a personalized demonstration of our leading commuter engagement platform.

3 Effective Ways to Solve Company Parking Issues

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

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

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

Common Parking Problems

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

Three Proven Solutions to Company Parking Issues

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

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

Try these three strategies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting New ACT Members

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

All the Sessions

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

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

The RideAmigos User Group Meet-up

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

The Seventh Annual RideAmigos Closing Night Party

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

Celebrating Outstanding TDM Professionals

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

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