RideAmigos Named Finalist for Workplace in Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards

Santa Monica-based RideAmigos was a finalist for its World Changing Ideas for the Workplace and received honorable mentions from Fast Company in AI, Apps, and Corporate Social Responsibility categories for apps that leverage behavioral science to help everyone find a better commute. 

SANTA MONICA, May 10, 2022 RideAmigos announced that its Commute Hub platform has been recognized by Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards as a finalist in the Workplace category. Winners and finalists were revealed this month, honoring clean technology, innovative corporate initiatives, new designs for cities and buildings, and other creative works that support the growth of positive social innovation, tackling social inequality, climate change, and public health crises.

Commute Hub is a professional transportation demand management (TDM) platform with an experience tailored to the workplace. It enables employers like LinkedIn, Patagonia, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the State of Arizona to optimize the employee commute experience with diverse parking, transportation and incentive programs across large campuses or multiple worksites. 

In 2021, employers used RideAmigos’ Commute Hub to administer over a million dollars in incentives and parking cash-outs, issue thousands of parking permits, and avoid 2.5 million drive alone trips.

Now in its sixth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs and companies tackling global challenges. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from among more than 2,997 entries across dozens of industries. The workplace category is new in 2022 and honors projects that improve our lives in the office, increase employees’ rights, or make work safer, smarter, or more meaningful.

Commute Hub  also earned honorable mention in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. 

The honor for Commute Hub comes at a time when many employers are prioritizing programs to support commuters and complement hybrid work arrangements and other new realities that are emerging from the pandemic and an evolving talent market. 

“The enterprise has a renewed and larger role in the employee commute,” said Soren Eilertsen, CEO of RideAmigos. “We partner with our customers to navigate this paradigm shift and work to empower everyone to evolve the consciousness around everyday mobility choices.”

 “We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” said David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”

RideAmigos personalized commute app, Pave Commute, launched in 2021, also earned honorable mention in three categories. Pave Commute is a fully automated, science-based commute management app for employees that provides personalized recommendations, groups users with others who can share trips, and rewards them for making smart choices. Fast Company recognized Pave Commute in the AI & Data, Apps, and Corporate Social Responsibility categories.

RideAmigos is featured in Fast Company’s Summer 2022 issue released May 10, 2022 and at fastcompany.com. 

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

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

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. 

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.

Smart Commuting and the Network Effect: Building Resilient Commuter Programs

The network effect is a psychological phenomenon in which the number of people participating in a given initiative or activity increases its adoption rate among other members of a targeted group. As a concept, the network effect continues to make inroads in the world of transportation demand management (TDM) as commute managers have realized that their programs gain utility as more and more people participate. The network effect holds the potential to create highly resilient commuter programs, as we will examine in this post.

What Are Resilient Commuter Programs?

Resilience is a risk management concept that has found novel applications in the TDM sphere. As a general concept, the term refers to a system or organization’s ability to maintain productive function when confronted with unforeseen disruptions. Applied to TDM, the idea manifests as transportation resilience, which can be applied at both the transportation system and organizational levels.

For transportation systems, resilience describes the system’s ability to continue moving people and passengers despite the presence of one or more major impediments to its normal function. Examples of such impediments include major accidents that block roads or highways, vehicle or equipment failures on one or more public transit lines, extreme weather, and natural disasters.

At the organizational level, transportation resilience describes an enterprise or employer’s ability to continue functioning normally or at near-normal rates when such disruptions prevent members of their people teams from reaching the workplace. Resilient commuter programs feature built-in alternatives to default modes of transportation, which provide commuters with options if their usual or preferred mode becomes unavailable due to a disruption.

How the Network Effect Improves Transportation Resilience

The network effect helps build resilient commuter programs because programs with high participation rates offer more utility and a greater range of options to participating team members. For example, consider a commuter who usually takes the subway to work at a company that also operates a robust rideshare program.

Now, imagine that commuter wakes up one morning to learn there is a service disruption on their usual subway line. Because the workplace commuter program enjoys high adoption rates, the employee has already enrolled the program. Even though they don’t often carpool they need it today and they are quickly able to source a backup ride to work with a colleague who lives nearby – some of whom may be impacted by the same transit delay.

Thanks to the network effect and the resilience of the company’s commuter program, our stranded commuter was able to reach their workplace without reverting to driving alone. The company avoided the associated productivity losses and the commuter did not have to risk losing wages as a result of being absent.

The Organizational Benefits of Resilient Commuter Programs

Resilient commuter programs generate significant organization-wide benefits for businesses and employees alike. In addition to preventing absenteeism and maintaining acceptable levels of productivity during periods of disruption, organizational transportation resilience generates many other benefits:

  • It builds collegiality among coworkers, as it fosters interpersonal interactions and helps coworkers forge social connections with people they might not otherwise have interacted with
  • It creates an expanded range of mode options for commuters, advancing organizational objectives related to reducing the workplace’s carbon footprint
  • It improves job satisfaction among employees, as research shows that strong commute support is essential to productivity and happiness at the individual level

Maximizing the impact of a commuter program depends heavily on boosting its resilience, generating high participation rates, and using technological tools to deliver associated services to commuters.

RideAmigos Helps Commute Managers Generate Positive Impacts from Behavioral Psychology

RideAmigos develops cutting edge solutions for designing, distributing, and managing commuter programs. We have tools to serve commuters in every size organization and with any set of transportation challenges – from automating personalized commute support and ride-matching to a hub for corporate mobility programs, parking, and rewards.

Our team can help you apply behavioral science to your employee transportation challenges to change the way your team thinks about the commute. Get started today.

 

RideAmigos Supports the We Mean Business Coalition’s COP26 Call to Action

In 2021, world leaders convened in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations’ 26th climate change conference. The event, widely known as COP26, seeks to commit nations and stakeholders to aggressive, meaningful action to advance the goals of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.

The We Mean Business coalition was among the climate action organizations pressuring COP26 participants to deepen their commitments to climate change mitigation. We Mean Business penned an open letter to members of the 2021 Glasgow climate summit, calling for immediate action across three specific areas. RideAmigos is a proud signatory of the coalition’s letter.

What does the We Mean Business coalition advocate for?

The We Mean Business coalition calls on world leaders to take action in three important areas to keep the objectives of the Paris Agreement within reach:

  • Increasing the agreement’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030
  • Ceasing the financing and development of new coal-fired power generation plants by 2030 in developed countries and by 2040 in developing countries
  • Coordinating economic policy, public funding, and COVID-19 recovery financing to advance the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050

The coalition supports science-informed decision-making, alternative energy investment, and transparency in disclosing progress among stakeholders. It has emerged as an impactful, high-profile organization dedicated to sustainable forms of economic growth.

We Mean Business mainly targets members of the G20 countries, as they account for approximately 90% of global economic output and 80% of trade-related greenhouse gas emissions.

RideAmigos proudly supports the We Mean Business coalition.

We Mean Business boasts an impressive lineup of supporting partners including the International Chamber of Commerce, Solar Heat Europe, and the United Nations Global Compact. RideAmigos joins hundreds of businesses and organizations in endorsing the open letter We Mean Business submitted to the COP26 delegates.

We’re proud of the smart choices people are making every using RideAmigos apps, and we look forward to working with you to continue reducing emissions and other negative impacts of commuting in the next decade.

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.

Mode and Mood: How Commuter Experience Impacts Employee Morale

Research on how commuters’ mode commute choices impact employee mood and morale validates a lot of what HR professionals have known intuitively for years. When you add it all up, it’s clear that the commute has a major impact on employee engagement, productivity, and social cohesion among coworkers. In the current job market with hybrid teams and return-to-office strategies still forming, commuter engagement is a critical element of your workplace strategy.

How the Commute Impacts Employee Engagement 

Your best people are expensive to replace. Most pros in employee transportation have seen the survey conducted by Robert Half in 2018 that found that nearly a quarter of workers have quit a job because of a bad commute. New research in 2021 by the same firm confirmed that post-pandemic commuting decisions will need to balance an even more complex set of concerns. Here are some of their surprising findings:

  • Employers that expect to return to pre-pandemic commuting status quo risk losing even more people. More than a third of employees currently working remotely say they would quit if forced to return to the office full-time.
  • A fully remote work arrangement isn’t working for everyone either. Around half of all employees surveyed want a more flexible hybrid work arrangement.
  • Your people miss the social aspect of coming to the office. Significant numbers of employees said being fully remote was hurting their relationships with coworkers and that lack of visibility was negatively impacting their career advancement.

Even if they stay, the a stressful commute can impact employees’ morale and productivity when they get to the office. While some research has shown that the commute can be a useful transition between home and work, surveys of the same groups mentioned above found that before the pandemic 50% of employees said that traveling to work was “stressful.”

How does all this commute stress impact employee engagement and productivity?

  • Long commutes often affect the total amount of sleep employees get, leaving them too exhausted to bring their best selves to work.
  • The commute can cut into time that could otherwise be spent on exercising or another healthy hobby.
  • Driving in traffic not only wastes time, it can be frustrating and unpredictable, leaving employees feeling a lack of control over their lives.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety have also emerged as key factors impacting how employees feel about their commutes.

Mode Choice Impacts Commute Stress

The good news for those who have to commute is that mode choice can make a difference. A poll from Arlington, Virginia’s Mobility Lab revealed insights about how commute choices, including carpooling, transit, biking and walking can affect employees’ mood and wellbeing. Let’s take a look at what these new polls and studies have to say about transportation modes and commuter moods.

Researchers found that those who choose active modes of commuting like biking and walking had the highest rates of satisfaction with their commutes (92%). Bus and rail commuters were right behind, at 74% and 68% respectively.

For carpoolers, it turns out commute satisfaction is closely tied to vehicle access. A majority of respondents who did not have full access to a personal vehicle said they were happy with their carpool commute.

Another study, by Portland State University reported similar findings when tying commute mode to feelings of well-being. As the paper published in the Journal of Transport & Health c put it,”people who bike and walk to work are happier with their commutes and are relatively unaffected by traffic congestion compared to car and bus commuters.”

The study analyzed a focus group of commuters based on factors including age, commute mode, income level, education level, income, vehicle availability, race and ethnicity, and other specific demographic factors. Controlling for these variables, the study highlights a few significant points:

  • Biking and walking have the strongest associations with well-being;
  • Efficient public transit like light rail came in close behind an active commute; and
  • Interaction with traffic congestion is correlated with lower levels of well-being.

For bus commutes, the express bus scored much higher in terms of well-being effects than the local bus – which is impacted more by traffic. While this study didn’t break down carpooling in the same way, intuition should tell you that we might see a similar effect when carpooling offers perks of bypassing gridlock in the HOV lane.

How Can Employers Help? 

Seeing this data, employers should consider how they can help commuters shift away from more stressful routines. Changing commuter behavior is possible. There are a handful of proven strategies that employers can adopt to engage commuters and help them make smarter decisions that benefit their morale and well-being. Here are some examples:

  • Providing employees personalized commute support
  • Shifting to daily choice for parking and offering cash-out
  • Gamifying and rewarding smart commute choices
  • Subsidizing active and shared commutes (if you made parking free you’re already subsidizing driving)
  • Helping employees create social connections around commuting (not just for carpooling!)
  • Using data about how employees commute to improve transportation offerings

There is never a bad time to improve commuting, but as employers make plans for a post-COVID-19 workplace, they have a unique opportunity. Leveraging the fresh start effect can boost engagement and maximize the impact of any program.

Improve Commuter Experience for a More Engaged Workforce

The RideAmigos team helps organizations of all sizes scale these strategies to enhance the commuter experience. Get started today by discussing your needs with one of our experts.

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. 

The great thing about starting fresh

If you’re an experienced employee transportation program leader, you probably know a lot about which strategies are effective and which ones aren’t. In recent years, behavioral science has been helping to clarify why certain things just work. One of the interesting presentations from CommuteCon 2020 examined new commuter initiatives through the lens of behavioral science, highlighting findings you’ll want to know about as you ramp up to launch yours. One principal that can be applied anywhere is the “fresh start effect.”

What is the fresh start effect?

People tend to take strong action in pursuit of a new goal in response to an outside prompt or time-based landmark. Researchers call this the “fresh start effect.”  These temporal markers can include significant changes in a person’s life: moving to a new city, changing homes, or changing jobs mark excellent examples.

  • New Year’s resolutions
  • Anniversaries of events
  • New work schedule
  • New work location
  • Restarting the commute after working remotely
  • “I’ll start next month”
  • “I’ll start on Monday”
  • “I’ll start after my birthday”

Employers can also help commuters create their own fresh starts. For example, a bike challenge may motivate some employees to try cycling for the first time. When a new cyclist has a positive experience, that’s a great time to encourage them to commit to a long-term change.

Timing matters when it comes to new commuter programs

Researchers note that people often commit to new behaviors with more energy and focus when a “fresh start” event prompts them to do so. This fascinating behavioral phenomenon highlights strategic benefits for commuter engagement. If you can take advantage of a “fresh start effect,” you can significantly boost the likelihood of creating new habits. Position your programs to take effect after a long holiday, when the month turns over, or when the season changes. Emphasize the change and appeal to personal reasons commuters might have for wanting to make a coincidental change themselves.

Don’t miss your biggest fresh starts

A campus move or a shift from remote work to a hybrid work arrangement may represent a major fresh start opportunity for large groups of your employees. Many organizations are timing big changes in parking and transportation options to coincide with these transitions, when employees are more open to doing things differently. This is making huge upgrades to the commuter experience possible without disrupting routines.

To hear more about research on timing and other factors in creating behavior change, check out this ten-minute talk from Jessica Roberts of Alta Planning at CommuteCon 2020. Then connect with us to discuss how you can take advantage of the fresh start effect to make commuting less stressful and more sustainable.

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.