Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Takes Commuter Rewards to the Next Level

In December 2018, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) launched a new commuter rewards program to the public. The CATS program allows commuters to earn points towards valuable rewards by logging smart commutes using approved alternatives to solo driving. CATS configured the system so that 10 round trips logged using approved modes could earn the commuter a $5 reward.

Just 10 days after launching, the CATS commuter rewards program attracted almost 200 new users, marking a 500% increase in registered users over the preceding three-month period. Over those 10 days, participants posted some pretty impressive stats: they logged 1,200 alternative trips totaling 14,900 miles, which saved 3.83 tons of CO2 emissions.

CATS program administrators used a few targeted approaches to generate interest in the program. First, they enticed new users by offering bonus points for joining, putting them within striking distance of a prize right off the bat. They also structured their program to include progressive reward tiers, giving participants added incentives for logging more trips and saving their points for a truly special prize. The resulting engagement and impact speaks for itself!

Learning from Programs that Work

The CATS program is powered by CommuteRewards, part of the RideAmigos cloud-based platform that automates the kinds of proven points programs that have worked for innovative employers like the City of Austin and regional agencies like Commute.org.

Key advantages of the CommuteRewards program:

  • Easy management. By taking advantage of automation, the program eliminated the need to worry about how many rewards to purchase from each vendor at any given time. Instead, they simply define a budget and set point values. Earning and redeeming points is self-service!
  • Tons of choice. Because more than 100 different rewards providers participate, there is no guessing which vendors commuters will like best. Everyone is different, so the program lets them choose their own rewards from a wide variety of retailers and restaurants.
  • Streamlined administration. The CommuteRewards store is configured for easy administration, so you don’t have to keep track of digital codes, leftover gift cards from previous events, or other similar management and reporting headaches.

Commuter rewards are generally a great way to motivate employees to make better and more frequent use of greener, smarter alternatives. A growing number of companies and organizations are turning to this strategy to complement their outreach and commuter challenges and promote sustained behavior change. If you’d like to learn more, we’d be happy to help!

3 Hospital Commuter Solutions that Reduce Solo Car Commutes and Save Money

Looking to reduce vehicle trips to and around your hospital? Transportation demand management (TDM) is a great way to improve access, reduce pollution, and ease the costs associated with increased parking. Implementing some simple but effective hospital commuter solutions can measurable reduce the number of solo drivers traveling to and from your facility each day.

Here are three winning strategies that healthcare administrators around the country are already using to great success:

Pay employees to leave their cars at home

Regardless of the type of workplace, employers have great success with a simple but effective program: incentivize employees not to drive to work. The most successful employers offer cash in exchange for taking an alternative mode and passing up on parking. From payroll incentives to gift cards, and even paid time off, the right incentives lead to significant numbers of employees choosing  smart alternatives to solo driving.

Raise the cost of parking

Another straightforward, high-impact strategy for the hospital mobility ecosystem: make it more expensive for employees to park. For example, if you currently offer employees a discounted monthly parking pass, instead charge solo drivers regular daily parking rates.

This is a very effective strategy, but to avoid a mutiny, you need to pair this kind of initiative with hospital commuter solutions that make it less expensive for employees to use other modes. Rideshare matching paired with a guaranteed ride home programs is a great option, as is public transportation. To that end:

Your hospital commuter solutions should encourage public transit use

Hospitals are usually situated so they’re easily accessible via public transportation. Take advantage of this by offering to subsidize or fully fund monthly transit passes so your commuters can save money by taking the bus or subway to work instead of driving.

If local transit routes don’t serve your hospital particularly well, consider shuttle service as an option. Running private shuttles between the hospital and major public transportation hubs in the nearby area is a cost-effective and easy way to bridge service gaps.

For more tips on reducing solo car commuting, and for expert insights into your current lineup of hospital commuter solutions, talk to our experts to get started with RideAmigos today.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Smart Commuter Management

Happy New Year! There’s no better time to create goals that will have a beneficial impact on your organization and the community at large than at the start of another trip around the sun. Here are five great ways you can make smart commuter management a priority in 2017.

#1: Collect More Information

The essential first step in generating behavior change is understanding the commuting habits of your organization’s members. Specifically, there are four key things you need to know:

  • What are the primary mode(s) of transportation currently in use among members?
  • How aware are members of the transportation benefits you currently offer?
  • What is the single most important consideration for members when choosing a way to get to work? Time? Cost? Something else?
  • What benefits or incentives would get members to try out an alternative mode of commuting?

Finding answers to these questions through commuter surveys will help you create a transportation program that’s got a much better chance of success.

#2: Experiment with Incentives

Providing incentives for leaving single-occupancy vehicles behind is a proven way to vastly increase program participation rates. Incentive programs come in many forms, with popular options including:

  • Pre-tax reimbursements for employees who use qualified modes of transportation
  • Preferred or lower-cost parking for carpool drivers
  • Parking cash-out programs that offer monthly payments to employees who give up their parking spots
  • Friendly individual- or team-oriented in-house competitions, with prizes for the winners who log the most miles or make the most trips using qualified modes of travel

Plan some experiments to try during 2017 and see which strategies best engage your commuters!

#3: Promote Transit as an Alternative to Solo Driving

Public transit is a great way for employees to save money, reduce congestion and pollution, and reduce wear and tear on their vehicles. Try offering partially or fully subsidized local transit passes and watch ridership soar.

#4: Participate in Bike to Work Week

Every spring, Bike to Work Week becomes a national initiative that helps get people moving and encourages greater numbers of commuters to make a permanent switch. Join in a Bike to Work Week being planned for your city or region, or if there’s not one in the works – help make it happen!

#5: Adopt a Comprehensive Commuter Management Tool

Commuters and administrators alike can benefit from a comprehensive platform like RideAmigos. Easily implement advanced carpool matching, distribute surveys, create networks and challenges, launch incentive programs, track results, and much more!

Learn More About Commuter Management Platforms

Empower Employees with Commuting Resources

Resources like localized map layers enable commuters to choose smarter modes of transportation

Businesses have a lot of incentive to encourage employees to make better use of alternative modes of transportation. In addition to payroll tax benefits, which are available to companies that offer employee commuting programs, studies have shown that options like ridesharing, vanpooling, and public transit help improve productivity and reduce stress. By providing employee commuting resources, businesses can build a happier, healthier culture.

Dynamic, relevant information is one of the most effective types of employee commuting resources a company can offer

One of the biggest hindrances to behavior change is uncertainty. So it only makes sense that integrated, up-to-date information is the most important tool to offer your commuters. If a commuter doesn’t know or isn’t sure how to make best use of alternative options, they are far more likely to just stick with the status quo.

For example, custom map layers can be used to provide resources like:

  • Carshare locations. Programs like Zipcar have become a popular alternative for multi-modal transportation – integrate their pick-up locations!
  • Bike facilities. Show helpful resources like bike racks, repair stands, and shops across your region.
  • Park-and-ride lots. Commuters living in the suburbs and outlying areas can avoid congested city corridors by driving to a park-and-ride lot, then carpooling or taking transit the rest of the way.
  • Parking availability. Help commuters say goodbye to wasting time and fuel by driving around looking for a place to park.

Choosing the right commuter management software is the best way to drive behavior change. The RideAmigos platform provides commuters with convenient access to a wealth of dynamic, customizable information through  its trip planning and commuter dashboard tools, and gives administrators the added change-making leverage of targeted incentives. These powerful functions enable users to choose smarter modes of transportation with confidence.

Learn more about RideAmigos’ custom map layers and data integration options.

Rideshare and Transit Integration

Rideshare and transit integration solves problems associated with single-occupancy vehicle commuting

The negative impacts of commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle extend beyond the environment. Sitting in traffic creates what’s known as an “opportunity cost.” People can’t engage in productive activities when they’re inching their vehicle along a street or freeway.

As such, stakeholders in enterprise-oriented commuter management programs have strong incentives to promote alternatives like rideshare and transit integration. Research shows that such programs support improved productivity as well as increased commuter happiness and overall life satisfaction.
To help give your commuter program a kick-start, here are a few ways you can integrate ridesharing, public transit, and other alternatives into your company’s commuter management plan:

  • Create a multimodal commuting challenge. Build excitement and increase commuter participation by incentivizing your commuting program with a challenge that includes ridesharing, transit, and other smart commute options. Log trips, track miles, and offer prizes to the individuals or teams who lead the pack.
  • Provide smart transportation from origin and destination transit stations. In addition to running vanpool shuttle services between your company and local mass transit stations, you can also provide geo-fenced, prepaid access to services like Lyft and Uber. Offer last-mile connections between destination transit stations and the office, and encourage commuters to carpool for travel from their homes to origin stations.
  • Offer free transit credits to carpoolers. This approach does double duty: it incentivizes ridesharing while encouraging employees to make better use of available public transit options. Create a points program where commuters who carpool a certain number of days per month are eligible for free or subsidized public transit access. 
  • Build a “buddy system.” Facilitate carpooling by matching employees who live close to one another as “commute buddies.” Sometimes, especially in larger companies, people simply aren’t aware that they have co-workers in close proximity who are willing to share rides (and costs). Matching can also be schedule-based, making it easier for people who arrive and depart from work at the same time to buddy up.
  • Set up reduced-rate and preferred parking systems for carpoolers. Offer reduced-rate or free parking to vehicles used in carpools, or give carpoolers privileged access to preferred parking spots or lots.

Remember: ridesharing/carpooling and public transit programs work well together. Integrating them, rather than approaching each program as standalone entities, will help drum up higher participation rates in your smart commuting initiatives.

A cutting-edge commuter management platform like the RideAmigos software suite is ideal for creating and administering effective programs that have a positive impact on your business, and in your community. To learn more about our industry-leading software, please contact us or view our free video demonstration.

Tips From Google For Planning a Successful Bike-to-Work Program

Use this recipe from our friends at Google to build a fantastic bike to work campaign

We were recently joined by Lucy Tice, TDM Program Manager from Google, for a RideAmigos Academy Coffee Talk. Lucy and her colleagues were kind enough to share the recipe they used to get hundreds of Google employees on board with the company’s bike to work program. Now we’re going to pass it along to you!

  1. Create a survey. Find out how many people might potentially be interested in biking to work, how far their commute would be, and how experienced they are with cycling.
  2. Divide into segments. Google’s survey yielded four distinct segments within their prospect pool: “brave and fearless,” “enthusiastic and confident,” “interested with reservations,” and “not happening.” See how many members of your organization fall into similar groups.
  3. Choose a focus. Concentrate promotional and marketing efforts towards the segment that comprises the most valuable slice of the prospect pool. For example, Google elected to direct its efforts toward getting the “interested with reservations” group onto the participation side of the fence, since about 60% of survey respondents fell into that category.
  4. Set up a challenge. Engage individuals and/or teams by creating friendly competitions to see who can tally the greatest number of trips and/or miles during the campaign. You can also divide into networks and groups to take advantage of team spirit. 
  5. Add incentives. Prizes for the individuals and/or teams that lead the pack can be advertised at the beginning of the campaign to provide an extra spark of motivation. 
  6. Start promoting. Keeping your focus segment in mind, use a full range of communication channels to put the word out about the incentivized bike to work campaign. By giving out some rewards early in the program you can increase the likelihood of winners sharing about your program.
  7. Evaluate the results. Using this recipe, Google got over 800 people on board with their challenge and racked up more than 15,000 bike trips. 

Learn more about Google’s bike-to-work program at the RideAmigos Academy: Beyond Bike to Work Day, How Google is Expanding TDM Programs Using RideAmigos

Our industry-leading RideAmigos commuter management software platform is the perfect backbone to create, promote, and administer bike to work campaigns, enabling a ripple-effect of long-lasting, positive impact on commuter behavior. It’s a fantastic tool, loaded with features that support route planning, bike- & carpool matching, challenges & incentives, community management, data analysis, and much more. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you transform transportation within your organization. 

Promoting Safe Riding for Urban Cyclists

These experts tips from experienced urban cyclists can help bike commuters stay safe.

Commuting by bike is a great way to get exercise and relieve traffic congestion, but safety should always come first. Here at RideAmigos, we’re big fans of increasing bicycle usage as part of a transportation demand management strategy.

During these summer months many organizations promote bicycling as a smart and healthy way to commute. As partners in a shared mission of transforming transportation, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips from experienced urban bike commuters to help keep your organization’s cyclists safe. Share and re-use widely!

  • Adopt “active scanning.” Always be aware of everything going on around you. Scan the road, as well as adjoining driveways and intersections. When you’re able to do so safely, take periodic glances behind you to see what’s approaching. Even better – invest in a mirror.
  • Be predictable. Don’t make sudden moves or swerve into traffic. If you’re scanning properly, you’ll react to obstacles like sewer grates and cracked pavement smoothly and well ahead of time.
  • Use your ears. As a cyclist, you’re more reliant on your hearing than you may realize. Never ride wearing headphones or earbuds.
  • Be defensive. Drivers are protected by thousands of pounds of steel and glass. You’re not. It won’t matter that you had the right-of-way if you get hit by a car. Don’t be aggressive; be cautious.
  • Eye contact is your friend. Making eye contact with turning drivers is the only way you can be sure they’ve seen you. If you’re not sure a motorist knows you’re there, slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Be seen and heard. Bells, headlights, reflectors, and bright, reflective clothing are all helpful, especially if you’re going to be riding at night.
  • Control your speed. Maintain a suitable speed for road conditions; slow down in heavy traffic. You need to give yourself enough time to react to anything that might happen.

In addition, safe riding means staying alert at all times for potential hazards:

  • People emerging from parked cars. “Dooring,” as it’s known, can be very dangerous. Give yourself ample clearance when riding past parked vehicles, and keep your eyes open for people who may be about to step out of their cars and onto the street.
  • Turning vehicles. Many motorists are only looking for oncoming cars, and bikes can be hard to see in heavy traffic. Be extra careful when going through intersections.
  • Aggressive drivers. Unfortunately, some motorists drive as though the road belongs to them. Don’t pick a fight; avoid confrontations, especially needless ones.
  • Drivers in reverse. People backing out of driveways or into parking spots are more likely to be watching where they’re going than watching for oncoming bikes. Again, be extra defensive in these situations.

With support and experience, it becomes second-nature to navigate city streets by bike. Even so, bike commuters should never take safety for granted!

Riding with a group is another great way to improve your bicycle visibility, and by extension, safety. Like carpooling, bikepooling can also turn commuting into a social event. The RideAmigos platform is an ideal way to build a bikepooling network and promote bicycling as a viable form of commuting.

Help people skip the solo drive – contact RideAmigos today!

Using Pokémon Go to promote smart commuting

The Pokémon Go craze is sweeping the country like a tidal wave! This addictive game has already generated a massive following of die-hard players since its recent release. With ongoing international debuts, its popularity isn’t expected to slow.

How can those of us with an interest in encouraging smarter commuting use this huge trend as a way to lure more people to skip the solo drive?

Transit

Several municipalities are actively promoting Pokémon Go as part of their local public transit networks. L.A.’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has launched a Twitter account instructing players on the places they can go to catch Pokémon within their system. Other transit marketers and managers can follow their lead and promote playing while riding as a great way to “catch ‘em all” while also catching a ride to work.

Bike

Playing Pokémon Go while driving is never a good idea. Playing while biking can be promoted as a safer and healthier alternative. Using a smartphone securely mounted on a bike’s handlebars, a cyclist can see when Pokémon, PokéStops, or gyms are near. Riders can then easily detour off the street or bike path and out of harm’s way while they capture, battle, or train. Encouraging commuters to play Pokémon Go by bike might even inspire them to take the long way home, leading to more fun, more health benefits, and a higher likelihood they’ll bike to work in the future!

Rideshare

One of the best ways to promote smart commuting to players of Pokémon Go is through rideshare programs. Employees and neighbors can form a group with fellow Pokémon trainers, taking turns driving so everyone has a chance to play. They’ll have fun enjoying the wildly popular game, enhancing social and professional connections, and cutting down on traffic congestion.

If your business or organization is looking for tools to promote smarter, environmentally friendly commuting alternatives, our RideAmigos software platform offers a complete range of solutions. From public transit and biking to ridesharing and vanpooling, the RideAmigos platform delivers. Not only that, but we can even incorporate special Pokémon-related incentives or marketing!  To learn more, just contact us or sign up to check out our free, comprehensive demo video.

5 Best Benefits To Provide Commuters

Encourage employees to commute smarter by providing first-class benefits

Benefits and support programs are a great way to get employees and staff to ditch their single-occupancy vehicles and skip the solo drive. The best such programs all have one key thing in common: they remove the obstacles that prevent people from choosing alternative modes of transportation.

The RideAmigos team put our heads together and assembled this list of  five top-notch suggestions to help you create happier, healthier, more efficient commuters:

Guaranteed Rides Home

Some people balk at the idea of walking or biking to work because they’re worried about being stranded in the event of inclement weather. Guaranteed ride home programs provide a way around that problem. They ensure participants can get home safely and comfortably no matter what Mother Nature might throw their way.

Check out our blog post on guaranteed ride home programs for ideas and specifics.

Showers and storage

A lot of people don’t choose more active forms of transportation, like biking, because they don’t want to arrive at work hot and sweaty. Or they worry about where to keep their bicycle and personal items. Adding shower facilities, secure bike storage, and lockers for employee use is the perfect antidote.

Financial Incentives

Businesses and organizations can offer financial incentives to team members who make regular use of alternative transportation. Every time someone opts not to use a single-occupancy vehicle, they can rack up credits towards prizes like cash, gift cards, meals at local restaurants, event tickets, new bicycles … the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and budget!

Investments like this can also generate positive financial returns. A workforce that commutes by bike might qualify for lower health insurance premiums. Or, you could reduce your parking requirements. Which would, in turn, save money on leased lots. Or you could even generate additional revenue by renting out unused owned spaces to other tenants.

Free or Subsidized Transportation

Along the same lines, one of the leading reasons people stick with single-occupancy vehicles is that they’re worried about the costs of alternatives. Providing free or subsidized options can tip the scales and easily motivate change.

Try these ideas:

  • Provide free or subsidized public transit passes, tokens, or journey credits
  • Offer financial assistance for bike-share and car-share membership programs
  • Partner with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to offer door-to-door service from home to work

Benefits like these can be easily integrated alongside advanced trip tracking. Contact us to learn how.

Commute management software

Software like the RideAmigos platform puts powerful tools in the hands of commuters. Tools like comprehensive multi-modal trip planners, ridesharing, bikepooling, and automatic trip logging. We provide technological solutions that make it easy for employers to implement new benefits and easy for employees to make smarter transportation choices and skip the solo drive.

Sign up for our Commuter Tips email list for more smart commuting ideas and TDM strategies.

3 Impressive Executives Leading the Way to Smarter Commuting

Join these high-profile organizational leaders in inspiring people to change how they commute

Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to encourage organizational change. An increasing number of executives are doing exactly that when it comes to smarter commuting. Here’s a look at three people in leadership positions who are choosing enjoyable, environmentally friendly ways of getting to work:

Alan Elser
CFO, GM Nameplate

Despite a notoriously rainy climate, a growing number of Seattle commuters are choosing to bike to work throughout the year. Among them is Alan Elser, the chief financial officer of GM Nameplate, a leading supplier of custom-manufactured industrial goods
In 2013, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that Elser bikes to work three times a week. The 24-mile journey between GM Nameplate’s Seattle headquarters and his May Valley-area home is undaunting for Elser. “Riding in in the morning is a great way to wake up and plan your day,” Elser said in an interview. “Riding home is a chance to decompress.”

Jennifer Welch
Managing Deputy Commissioner,
Chicago Department of Family and Support Services

She may have a much shorter commute than Elser, but Jennifer Welch bikes to work and back all year round, despite during Chicago’s notoriously cold and snowy winters. Her four-mile commute takes her from Logan Square toward the center of the city. Even when Chicago was hammered by the “Snowmaggedon” blizzard in the winter of 2011, Welch bundled up and biked to her job at the Department of Family and Support Services. Even more, her blizzard bike commute included a trip to the city’s 911 center to attend to a staffing emergency.

Christopher Eisgruber
President, Princeton University

The Princeton University president has emerged as a strong voice in the local call for better biking infrastructure. Traffic congestion makes cycling to Princeton’s campus challenging. But, thanks to a vocal advocacy campaign, the city of Princeton seems to be moving towards becoming more bike-friendly. Eisgruber says he cycles to work as often as possible, and hopes that the city will do its part to encourage others to join him.

RideAmigos salutes these and the many other business, education and government leaders who are leaving their cars behind more often. If you’re part of an organization that’s committed to helping commuters make smarter choices, be sure to check out our comprehensive TDM software toolkit. We deliver powerful solutions for ridesharing, trip planning, incentives, and data analysis.  Transforming how your organization commutes can have a major positive impact on your bottom line. Contact us to schedule your personal demonstration.