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.

Get There Oregon 2022 Survey: Key Takeaways for Commuter Programs and the Employee Experience

The employee experience has emerged as a critical topic of focus among enterprises in recent months. Over the course of 2021 and into 2022, U.S. workers voluntarily left their jobs at never-before-seen rates. The phenomenon, dubbed the Big Quit or the Great Resignation, triggered alarm bells in boardrooms across the country. Executives and human resource professionals began digging into the reasons for the trend, with many finding their own shortcomings as employers a key driver of the exodus. It will come as no surprise to those in the transportation demand management (TDM) industry that subsequent discussions surrounding strategies for improving employee job satisfaction and retention rates came to include commuter programs.

A widely cited 2018 survey found that 23% of U.S. workers had quit a job at least once because of a difficult or stressful commute. Daily commuting woes are a common experience for members of the workforce, something the COVID-19 pandemic only intensified. As COVID-19 spread, commuting moved past being an inconvenient hassle to a potential health risk.

Surveys aiming to take the proverbial temperature of post-pandemic U.S. commuters have yielded interesting results from a TDM perspective. One such effort, carried out on behalf of the rideshare organization Get There Oregon in 2022, queried more than 200 human resources professionals around the state about their priorities and their perception of trends affecting the workforce. The collected data put a bright spotlight on important role commuter programs stand to play in an age of heightened awareness of the importance and value of the employee experience.

Key Findings of the Get There Oregon 2022 Commuter Survey

Solving Recruitment and Employee Retention Problems Is a Top Priority for Businesses

While U.S. workers walking out of their jobs in mass numbers was one of the most consequential business stories of 2021, there’s more to the Big Quit than resignations. Companies have also struggled to recruit new employees to replace those who have left their jobs, creating a unique situation with no easy answers.

Employee Priorities Are Changing

Companies used to address recruitment and retention challenges mainly by throwing money at their problems. However, employee priorities are shifting in new directions in the post-pandemic landscape. For many workers, the employee experience has emerged as a more powerful motivator than money. Get There Oregon’s 2022 survey data reveals that companies have responded by placing more emphasis than ever on job satisfaction, mood and morale, and employee health and wellness.

Employees Want Effective Commuter Programs

Businesses seeking to improve the employee experience can focus on two areas identified by survey respondents as ranking among employees’ top concerns. Get There Oregon’s 2022 polling found that employees want effective relief from their daily commute-related struggles. In a related finding, researchers also found that people teams expect businesses to provide ongoing opportunities to split time between on-site and offsite work.

Long-Term Remote Work Seems Likely

Get There Oregon reports that 81% of polled HR representatives expected their organizations to allow team members to work remotely some or all of the time on a long-term or permanent basis. This could signal a generational shift in the commuting landscape.

Allowing Remote Work Could Ease Recruitment Troubles

In addition to adjusting their recruitment and retention efforts for the post-pandemic landscape, Get There Oregon’s 2022 survey also found that allowing remote work on a long-term basis stands to benefit their people teams in many other ways. A majority of the HR professionals who participated in the survey said that hybrid and remote work generally offers employees a better work-life balance. This, in turn, improves their job satisfaction and makes it more likely that they will make a long-term commitment to the employer.

What Does the Get There Oregon 2022 Survey Reveal About Commuter Programs?

Get There Oregon’s 2022 survey has profound implications for commuter programs. It demonstrates how businesses that make meaningful investments in an improved employee experience stand to navigate ongoing recruitment and retention challenges with greater ease, and at a lesser cost. The survey also reveals the crucial importance of making support for hybrid and offsite work a central focus of modified post-pandemic commuter programs.

At the same time, businesses should still focus on providing meaningful commuter supports to their on-site team members. There are many ways companies can make life easier for their commuters, and [[RIDEAMIGOS/PAVE COMMUTE]] assists clients by providing advanced analytical insights and high-performing technology tools.

Turbocharge Your Post-Pandemic Commuter Programs with [RideAmigos/Pave Commute]

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Commute Management: The Missing Link in Workforce Management Strategy?

Employers have historically approached commute management and workforce management as separate business issues. However, new perspectives are emerging that challenge this paradigm.  As a result, businesses are increasingly recognizing commuter support as a key element of a holistic workforce management strategy.

Let’s break this down, with an emphasis on business benefits and integration tips for organizations seeking to build stronger commuting support into their workforce management programs.

What Is Commute Management?

Commute management is the optimization of the employee commute experience for the benefit of the organization and its people. It represents the result of all employee commute programs and initiatives your business offers. These usually have multiple, overlapping objectives such as:

  • Reducing traffic and congestion in and around the workplace
  • Minimizing the organization’s carbon footprint
  • Saving on parking and other transportation-related costs 
  • Improving the employee commute experience with flexible commuter support

In essence, commute management comprises all the programs and tools an organization actively uses to optimize the way employees reach the workplace. 

What Is Workforce Management?

The concept of workforce management is broad in scope. It is typically the domain of managers, executives, and human resources representatives and covers the complete set of strategies a business uses to optimize the output and productivity of its team members.

Examples of major workforce management topics include:

  • Budgeting and financial forecasting
  • Human resources planning
  • Time and attendance tracking
  • Vacation and paid time off (PTO) planning
  • Benefits administration

Workforce management also includes the tools organizations use to track the productivity and effectiveness of individual employees. Each organization formalizes these to greater or lesser degrees, but they function as one of the most fundamental aspects of workforce management no matter how prevalent or visible they are.

Why Have Organizations Traditionally Separated Workforce and Commute Management?

Until recently, most organizations tended to think about their commute management and workforce management programs separately. In many cases, they treated commute management as a compliance issue or an employee perk that could help people get to work. Once the were there, workforce management initiatives kicked in to make the most of employees’ time and effort once they arrive.

Businesses treated them separately mainly because commuting was viewed as something that happens away from the workplace while productivity happens within the workplace. However, a growing body of new research began to emerge in the 2010s that showed strong, previously overlooked links between commuting and productivity.

As a result, a new consensus has emerged: commuting and productivity are related and studies strongly suggest that difficult commutes have negative impacts on workplace output. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a glaring spotlight on commute-related issues, workplace productivity, and new perspectives on traditional notions of work. This accelerated the shift in organizational thinking on the issue.

Bringing the Commute into the Fold: Why Commuting Matters to Workforce Management Strategy

Managers and executives increasingly view commute management as an essential aspect of workforce management because of the profound impacts a bad commute can have on productivity and profitability. These impacts extend beyond the bottom line to areas like job satisfaction and overall personal happiness.

An oft-cited pre-pandemic statistic notes that a surprisingly high 23% of workforce participants quit a job because of a difficult commute. Observers widely believe that COVID-19 has cast an even stronger negative light on daily commuting, particularly for companies slow to adapt to growing calls for remote and flexible working arrangements.

What’s more is that a longer a team member’s commute is, the greater their risk for negative mental, physical, and emotional outcomes. Thus, organizations that employ many people who commute long-distance need to be especially cautious and comprehensive in their support planning. With the U.S. quit rate reaching an all-time high in late 2021 and early 2022, businesses that continue to overlook the impacts of commuting risk losing major talent.

The Organizational Benefits of Integrating the Commute with Workforce Management

Prioritizing commuter support within a broader workforce management strategy can yield a long list of benefits with positive effects on a business’s bottom line:

  • Strong and effective commuter programs improve job satisfaction, generating organic productivity improvements
  • Organizations with better commuter support tend to experience less employee turnover, which improves internal culture while reducing the high costs of filling job vacancies
  • Employees with easier commutes tend to experience improvements in their mental and physical well-being, which can reduce costs related to distributing healthcare-related employee benefits

A “good commute” is also becoming an increasingly important factor for job-seekers. It continues to emerge as a major key to building a positive employee experience. The companies most responsive to shifting employee sentiments in this arena stand to avoid the worst drawbacks of a poor commuter experience while optimizing the benefits associated with more complete and empathetic commute management programs.

Integration Tips and Strategies for Organizations

Incorporating effective commute management into your overall workforce management strategy begins with rethinking the role your organization plays in employees’ commutes. It can no longer be easily separated from the workplace experience. Rather, it is a more and more essential factor in productivity, job satisfaction, and organizational wellness.

With that in mind, you can reexamine the ways in which your organization supports commuters to empower everyone to make the smartest choices for themselves and the organization.

RideAmigos Provides solutions for organizations of all sizes, each with unique needs based on commuter preferences, workplace locations, and budgets. Get started today by talking with our experts about how you can launch a commute management program that works for your employees. 

Six California Agencies Collaborate to Expand TDM Program Impact

Regional rideshare and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs across the country are providing valuable support as commuters feel the squeeze of increasing traffic and spiking gas prices. Bay Area agencies have been planning for this throughout the pandemic. Among initiatives to reduce traffic is a multi-agency connected carpool and incentives network that offers commuters access to six area programs with a single login.

In early 2022, six California transportation agencies with some of the most active commute programs in the United States launched the innovative solution designed to improve commuter access to shared alternatives to solo driving. The new integrated network is designed to expand the pool of available ridematches for participants in the various agency programs. It will also empower commuters across the region — many of whom commute across county lines each day — to access services and participate in incentives based on their eligibility without creating multiple accounts and logging trips.

Six California Agencies Launch Joint Commute Support Programs

Announced in March 2022, the interconnected TDM programs primarily serve the nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay, with some of the agencies specifically focused on trips that start or end within a specific county. They are managed by six separate California-based commuter and transportation agencies with independent commute programs.

The partnership facilitates the seamless integration of six independent commuter management platforms, all powered by RideAmigos, making it far easier for commuters to find and choose more sustainable transportation options throughout the region. The list of participating agency programs includes:

Each of the six agencies operates its own unique set of commuter support programs within their jurisdictions. The initiative, led by MTC merge.511.0rg and piloted with Commute.org in late 2021 provides a seamless user experience for commuters, while continuing to empower each independent agency to operate targeted programming and also to more easily collaborate on easing congestion on key corridors (especially during peak travel hours), and reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with personal travel by car. To access the integrated network, commuters simply need to log into their existing account with one of the agency programs or sign up with any of the programs for which they are eligible.

Those who already had active accounts when the program was launched received automatic prompts. These prompts highlight new ridesharing options and potential benefits from additional regional agencies for which they are eligible based on their commutes.

How Will Commuters Benefit?

Thanks to the new program, commuters will enjoy expanded access to carpool, transit pool, vanpool and walk pool matching and other services. For example, commuters using a participating agency’s platform will be able to view relevant eligibility-based programs from all six participating agencies through a single account. This will increase the number of potential matches. .

Importantly, the partnership also integrates the various commuter rewards programs operated by the participating agencies. Commuters whose journeys cover multiple jurisdictions can use the integrated platform to explore all rewards and benefits that apply to their trips, even if the programs originate with an agency other than the one they originally joined with.

What Can Other Organizations Learn From California’s Rideshare Support Programs

Technology continues to evolve to better empower public sector actors in the TDM world. The innovative connected network created by these six California agencies also points to the transformative power of collaboration as transportation agencies work together in pursuit of shared goals. With this integrated network, better transparency and quality data about how commuters engage with their programs will enable deeper collaboration between these agencies working to improve transportation in the region.

“This solution best serves commuters who want to find carpool partners,” said Barbara Laurenson, MTC Principal Program coordinator. “The timing couldn’t be better as COVID-19 fears wane, gas prices increase and more dire news about the climate is released.”

“Commute.org recognizes that to solve the transportation challenges in San Mateo County, we need to have strong partnerships with our peer agencies in the region,” said John Ford, executive director, Commute.org. “Nearly 60 percent of the San Mateo County workforce travels to work from outside the county. This project opens up new ways to connect with those commuters, spur meaningful changes in drive-alone rates and promote better Bay Area air quality.”

RideAmigos agrees. “We have been partnering with individual Bay Area agencies for nearly a decade to encourage smarter transportation,” said RideAmigos Director of Customer Success Kathryn Hagerman Medina. “Connecting these programs creates a seamless user experience for carpool and commuter rewards across the region and, at the same time, [it] empowers individual agencies to collaborate in powerful new ways.”

Commuters and transportation industry observers can expect to see more innovative programming from participating agencies that leverages the new integrated network in the months to come.

RideAmigos works with these and other organizations at the forefront of TDM, providing best-in-class commute management solutions for the public sector, employers, and individual commuters. To learn more about this project and other products, reach out and start a conversation with our experts today.

How Business Is Leading the Charge to Make Commuting More Sustainable

Geneva, Switzerland

Meeting the important Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations and other commitments will require major global social and economic transformations across sectors. Yet, warnings about the stakes we face as a species have never been more dire. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) brings together the chief executive officers (CEOs) of more than 200 leading global companies to leverage their influence toward accelerating progress toward sustainable life on our planet. Participating partners represent a wide variety of sectors, and have combined revenues of more than $8.5 trillion.  Among other programs, the WBCSD leads an innovative and comprehensive Commuter Behavior Change project. It is designed to reduce the socioenvironmental impact of commuting and prompt increased migration to sustainable commuting modes.

RideAmigos participates as a member in the WBCSD’s Commuter Behavior Change project and other mobility initiatives, which are making a compelling business case for promoting behavior change. The organization also maintains a comprehensive database of “use cases” that document the strategic impact of established approaches to commuter engagement.

Here’s a breakdown of the project, its areas of focus, and our involvement.

WBCSD Commuter Behavior Change: Project Overview

The Commuter Behavior Change project seeks to address the unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from transportation use. To this end, the WBCSD cites several key statistics:

Addressing these issues on the demand side by shifting commuters toward sustainable transportation alternatives holds the potential to meaningfully address all three of these issues. The organization stresses that employers occupy a very important position in the ongoing push to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions.

As such, the project focuses on studying and promoting effective strategies businesses can use to encourage their people teams to choose sustainable modes that will also improve their work-life balance and satisfaction.

The business case for Commuter Behavior Change

The Commuter Behavior Change project stresses that businesses stand to benefit from a mass shift to more sustainable transportation modes. It cites multiple specific advantages enterprises can earn through innovative approaches to managing their commuter needs:

  • Strong commuter supports make companies more appealing, boosting their efforts to attract and retain the best available employment talent
  • Resilient approaches to commuter management improve business productivity and efficiency
  • The increased use of sustainable commuter modes is linked with positive health benefits, improving employee well-being and reducing costs related to absenteeism and healthcare benefits

Commuter engagement strategy and behavior change

The project’s use case database tracks more than 15 specific strategies used to promote mode shift and behavior change among commuters. Each strategy that appears in the database is accompanied by a summary of its associated benefits, potential challenges and ways to address them, and suggestions on statistical metrics that can track progress after adoption.

WBCSD advocates for several familiar and well-established engagement strategies, including:

It also details several emerging and technical approaches to commuter management, such as:

Among other strategies, the WBCSD use case database also offers insights on campaign and transparency measures, micromobility, electric vehicle infrastructure, and budgeting. These digital resources combine to create a comprehensive information repository that businesses and organizations can draw on to create, develop, and expand their own internal commuter management initiatives.

Our work with WBCSD

RideAmigos joined the over 200 member companies in the WBCSD in 2021 to participate in the project to transform mobility, beginning with building a business case and contributing to best practices for corporate commute management as well as a forthcoming framework for sustainable corporate mobility policies.

Of our participation, Thomas Deloison, director of mobility at the WBCSD, said, “RideAmigos’ unique expertise in behavioral science and solutions to help shift commuting habits will be an important contribution to WBCSD’s work on accelerating the transformation toward sustainable urban mobility. We’re excited to collaborate with RideAmigos and bring their knowledge to companies and cities alike.”

To learn more about RideAmigos insights and solutions for implementing or transforming your own commute program, please contact us to talk to an expert.

Where is Micromobility Heading?

Micromobility has been hailed as “the future of urban transportation” and a solution to “multiple problems in congested cities.” The term has certainly enjoyed soaring prominence in recent years, moving beyond niche circles of the mobility industry to penetrate popular consciousness. Yet, at the same time, even some transportation industry veterans do not have a complete grasp of what its full transformative potential.

Chances are good that micromobility will continue to make inroads in cities around the world as the 2020s progress. Given its rising profile and promising future, we’ve put together this introduction to micromobility, the solutions it offers, and the challenges that still lie ahead.

Defining micromobility

As an urban transportation concept, micromobility refers to small, lightweight vehicles available for short-term, individual use. There is no universally agreed-upon standard for weight and performance specifications, but one common benchmark sets weight limits at 350 kilograms (771 pounds) and top speeds at 25-45 kilometers per hour (15-28 miles per hour).

Technicalities aside, micromobility usually includes:

  • Bikeshare systems (including both conventional pedal bikes and power-assisted e-bikes)
  • Electric scooters
  • Other small personal electric vehicles like Segways, electric skateboards, hoverboards, and even electric water bikes

Some classifications also include compact electric cars with capacity for one to two passengers.

How micromobility systems work

Commuters and city-dwellers can purchase their own micromobility vehicles for their personal use, but prevailing models mainly focus on short-term rentals. These can be paid on a per-use or subscription-based system, with travelers usually accessing vehicles using their smartphones. Payment structures typically follow a flat-rate system, in which travelers pay a fixed price to access to the vehicle for a set number of minutes. Some localities use distance-based fee structures, or hybrid systems that account for both time and distance.

Passengers find shared vehicles in one of two ways: through docking stations, or dynamically. Docking stations were the universal standard when micromobility was first introduced, and they remain popular. This model sees vehicle fleets placed in strategic locations in densely populated urban centers, often near major transit hubs. Travelers use digital credentials to unlock a vehicle, which they then ride and leave at the docking station nearest their destination.

As 5G networks have rolled out, micromobility solutions have also adopted dynamic models. These allow passengers to source the nearest available vehicle through a smartphone app. Passengers then reserve the vehicle, unlock it with digital credentials upon reaching it, then ride it to their destination. The major advantage of this model is that travelers do not need to deal with docking stations: they instead use the vehicle for point-to-point travel, locking the vehicle at their destination for the next customer to use. Some systems incentivize riders to end their rides near certain in-demand locations.

Advantages, limitations, challenges, and potential solutions

The key advantage of micromobility is that it offers a feasible, convenient solution to the common “first mile/last mile” dilemma. Research shows that people in the United States are comfortable walking about a quarter of a mile to access public transit, but tend to seek other solutions if the nearest transit station or stop is further away. Micromobility can bridge those distance gaps, thus putting public transit within reach of a wider base of potential passengers.

This key advantage ties in with many other micromobility benefits:

  • It offers time- and energy-efficient solutions for short-distance smart commuting
  • Micromobility vehicles are inexpensive to operate and do not generate emissions
  • E-bikes and e-scooters are far cheaper to produce and purchase than road vehicles
  • It is inexpensive to use, thus offering strong benefits to lower-income individuals

At the same time, micromobility presents new challenges. These include:

  • Vehicle access is becoming increasingly dependent upon smartphones and internet access, presenting challenges for people who cannot afford or choose not to use these technologies
  • Micromobility vehicles can potentially lead to safety hazards for pedestrians and riders when used unsafely or on sidewalks
  • Many municipalities have yet to formally integrate them into their traffic codes
  • Some travelers abandon bikes or scooters in inopportune places, creating obstacles to foot traffic and other vehicle users

A number of experts have also expressed concerns about micromobility getting too big, too quickly: vehicle quality may suffer, creating potential pitfalls for users. And, there are important questions about the overall environmental impact shared-use vehicles have when balancing the potential to reduce emissions from transportation with their short lifespans leading to waste .

However, with more research, the emerging narrative is that micromobility’s advantages outweight its known and potential drawbacks, leading cities to embrace it with increasing enthusiasm – and more thoughtful regulation.

Integrating micromobility into your commuter toolbox

Micromobility is filling gaps in urban and suburban transportation ecosystems, and forward-thinking employers are already integrate it into their programs to support commuters. RideAmigos can help you integrate public and private transportation options into a single hub to provide comprehensive commuter support.  Get started today with a friendly analysis of your programs and a demo of the future of the commute.

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.