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.

Why Commuter Incentive Programs Are Important

Society at-large is becoming increasingly aware of the problems created by the overuse of single-occupancy vehicles. Even so, traffic congestion, pollution, and urban parking challenges still pose serious concerns. Commuting continues to be an enormous source of environmental impact.

Individual employers have an important role to play in moving towards a greener, healthier tomorrow. By taking the lead and encouraging commuters to use smarter, environmentally friendlier modes of travel, businesses can accelerate the path to progress.

The most effective way to get people to start using alternative ways of getting to work is to offer commuter incentive programs. These programs give commuters an added reason to embrace smarter modes of travel. Here’s why:

Help people take that all-important first step

Often the single biggest obstacle to change is taking that initial step, abandoning comfortable habits in order to try something new and different. This resistance is a common and natural part of the change cycle. Ask any smoker who’s managed to “butt out” about those difficult first days.

Incentive programs create financial, social, and community benefits to participants. They’re ideal for jump-starting commuter programs and getting people moving in the right direction.

Commuter incentive programs can target sub-groups in an equitable manner

Identifying specific sub-groups of employees who need a stronger nudge towards smart commuting is a good strategy. But, it’s difficult to mobilize these commuters into action without calling them out for having habits that you want to change. Targeted incentive programs offer an straightforward solution to a complex challenge.

Incentives are positive change makers

Congestion pricing. Exorbitant parking fees. Fuel surcharges. These are all examples of negative motivations for behavior change. They punish people for doing bad, rather than rewarding them for doing good.

Commuter incentive programs are just the opposite. They serve as positive change makers. From a psychological standpoint they’re a much more effective way to get people to adopt new habits.

The RideAmigos suite of commuter management software tools puts incredible power into the hands of organizations that want to create positive change. With a wide range of features for implementing commuter incentives and challenges, RideAmigos makes it easy for program administrators to get employees thinking differently about how they get to work.

Our goal at RideAmigos is to make commuter programs as easy and effective as possible. Want to find out how your current programs could be improved? Take our quick, 2-question survey and receive a free program analysis based on your top priorities:

Get a free analysis now!

Partner Highlight – WayToGo

Here at RideAmigos we’re always excited to see how our partner organizations are making the most of our commuter management tools. This month we’re featuring our partners at the Denver Regional Council of Governments and their WayToGo program.

WayToGo is transforming transportation for thousands of Denver-area commuters

RideAmigos is pleased to be the official provider of transportation demand management software for Denver’s WayToGo program, providing the power behind their MyWayToGo system. The WayToGo program is a regional partnership that pairs the Denver Regional Council of Governments with several local transportation management associations (TMAs) to provide local residents and commuters with a growing list of smart commuting options.

The key focus of the WayToGo program is to make alternative modes of transportation and commuting more accessible to area residents across as many demographics as possible. WayToGo applications serve both the public and private sectors in the Denver area, and current programs include:

  • Regional rideshare matching tools that pair commuters with local carpools and vanpools
  • Schoolpool programs that enhance school zone safety and offer students dependable two-way transportation on every school day
  • Practical support and resources for local cycling, walking, carshare, and flex-work initiatives

WayToGo also partners with local businesses to help build commuter programs that encourage more people to choose alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. The program is also a proud partner and co-organizer of Denver’s annual Bike to Work Day.

Consistent year-over-year performance improvements bode well for WayToGo’s future

The WayToGo program has been generating impressive results since its inception, including an impressive string of years in which the program’s vehicle miles traveled (VMT) savings have increased. From 2014 to 2015 alone, WayToGo saw a 9 percent jump in VMT savings, rising from 12.8 million in 2014 to just under 14 million the following year. Projections indicate these trends will continue into the foreseeable future.

Also of note in 2015:

  • The number of WayToGo-registered vanpools increased by 13 percent, to a total of 114 throughout the Denver metro area
  • 17,890 families were enrolled in WayToGo’s schoolpool program by year’s end, marking a 6 percent increase
  • 1,018 employers provided Guaranteed Ride Home taxi vouchers to 119,500 local commuters who elected to bike, walk, carpool, vanpool, or take transit to work
  • Overall participation in Denver’s Bike to Work Day rose 12 percent year-over-year, and included 32,805 participants

WayToGo is currently focused on four primary initiatives: increasing awareness, boosting the number of registrations, encouraging more commuters to commit to alternative modes of travel, and making smart commuting a bigger part of the local commuter culture.

The RideAmigos software platform has been a major supporter of the WayToGo program’s sustained success, with our comprehensive range of end-user features and administrator planning, tracking, and reporting tools.

Does your organization want to have a bigger impact on how commuters think of and use transportation? Contact RideAmigos today for a free analysis of your commuter programs.

4 Best Commuter Survey Questions

Make sure you ask these questions on your next commuter survey

From Corey Tucker, our Program Specialist:

Corey TuckerCommuter surveys are critical tools for generating insights and promoting initiatives that impact commuter behavior.

Running an introductory survey before starting any new program is a great way to establish a baseline for assessing transportation mode-shift. Periodic surveys are also helpful for gathering specific, reliable information that can inform targeted promotions and marketing campaigns.

No two organizations are alike, and predetermining your approach and trying to force it onto your commuter base isn’t likely to work. The data generated by your survey is critical to forming a cogent commuter management strategy that speaks to the needs of the people in your organization.

Good commuter survey questions help commuter services managers create targeted programs. They deliver critical insights that would not otherwise have been apparent, allowing program designers to zero in on strategies that will generate positive and impactful results while delivering tangible benefits to commuters.

With that in mind, here’s a look at my four favorite commuter survey questions, why they work, and when they should be used:

What has been your primary mode of commuting over the past year?
This is the single most important question to establish a baseline understanding of commuter behaviors. How else will you be able to track the impact your changes have made?

By understanding how the lion’s share of your commuters are getting to work, you can also pinpoint the alternative modes they are most likely to adopt. For example, let’s say you’ve got a lot of solo drivers in your organization. You might struggle to get them to give up the convenience of their personal vehicles to adopt a longer, more difficult journey on public transportation.

However, you might have more luck with an employee carpooling program that matches commuters who live close to one another. They can take turns sharing driving duties, enjoying all the benefits of point-to-point private transportation while still contributing to the program’s success.

How familiar are you with employee transportation benefits?
In some cases, businesses that offer transit subsidies, carpooler benefits, secure bike storage, locker rooms, and showers still see little in the way of change. The problem could be that your employees simply aren’t aware that you support alternative commuting modes. This is a great way to find out.

If you determine that a lack of employee awareness is holding back the success of your commuter management programs, make a simple investment in promoting them. Combined with other interventions, this simple change could drive significant shifts in commuter behavior.

What is the main factor in deciding how you’re going to get to work?
To maximize benefits, you have to fine-tune your programs and marketing efforts to make sure they speak to the needs of your employees. For example, if the length of the commute is the primary consideration for your commuters but you’ve built a program that advertises cost savings, you’re not reaching the most important point of appeal.

In our experience, the most successful programs are the ones that deliver the commuter-end benefits team members are looking for. Your commuter survey questions should take a razor-sharp focus in trying to find out what commuters want and need, then tailoring your programs to deliver it.

Would additional benefits or incentives make you more likely to try alternative modes of commuting?
Targeted incentive programming is more effective than broad-stroke programs, so take advantage of questions that reveal exactly what it will take to get commuters to change their habits.

Give people a wide range of options. Parking cash-out programs, points programs, and commuter challenges are all great starting points. For more ideas, check out the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s web portal on commuter benefits: they’ve assembled a strong collection of possibilities.

Commuter surveys are ideal if you’re planning to harness the power of the RideAmigos platform and our data analysis tools to enact positive changes in your organization, and they’re fully supported by our software.

Learn more about using surveys with RideAmigos

How Commuting Impacts the Environment

Every commute made in a single-occupancy vehicle puts more pressure on the environment

Even though alternatives like telecommuting continue to gather momentum, a large majority of the world’s workforce still travels to and from a physical workplace, day in and day out. While governments are increasingly focused on improving transit infrastructure to reduce the number of trips made in single-occupancy vehicles, commuting by car remains entrenched as a preferred mode of travel in many cities. This creates a huge amount of stress on the environment, our natural resources, and on commuters themselves.

Individuals may think they can’t make a difference, but the numbers tell a different story. Here’s a run-down of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by commuting 10 miles (one way), five days per week for one year:

  • Small car (35 MPG fuel economy): 1.4 tons
  • Midsize car (20 MPG fuel economy): 2.6 tons
  • Full-size car/SUV (14 MPG fuel economy): 3.8 tons

According to statistics from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, 93% of commuters drive alone with an average commute trip length of 12 miles.  

Getting even a small percentage of those vehicles off the road by having commuters choose cleaner, smarter modes of transportation would have an immediate and highly beneficial effect on the environment.

Small-scale but widespread changes lead to major positive impacts

To quantify the positive impact that alternative commuting can make, here’s a look at the statistical flip-side of the coin:

  • If 5 percent of the New York City residents who solo commute by car or taxi switched to riding bikes, they would save 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That’s roughly equivalent to planting 30 square miles of forest.
  • In the United States, about 50% of all elementary students are taken to school by car. If just 20% of those students walked or biked instead, the environment would be spared of about 356,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
  • A recent survey found that 89% of Americans believe that reducing energy consumption should be a primary focus of transportation development strategies.

Clearly, the support for a cleaner future is already part of the public consciousness. The power to make meaningful changes just needs to be brought to a wider base of commuters. That’s one of our primary goals here at RideAmigos. We want to help people enjoy their commutes and contribute to creating a better world. Join us in our mission to transform transportation, one commute at a time!

Transportation demand management strategies can make a difference

Implementing commuter programs at an organizational level can be a big help. Businesses, schools, government agencies, and universities all have a role to play in striving to reduce the number of inefficient solo driving trips to and from their facilities each day.

Here are some examples of organizational transportation demand management strategies you can use to encourage transportation sustainability:

  • Commuter programs for businesses and large government employers: Software-powered rideshare networks help commuters forge closer collegial ties, reduce stress, improve their work-life balance, boost their job satisfaction, and improve their productivity. Implementing them alongside support for active commuters, like secure bike parking areas and on-site shower facilities, can drive sustained behavior change.
  • The power of schoolpools: Elementary and secondary school communities can form schoolpools that work like employer-based rideshare networks. Parents can take turns driving kids and their friends, reducing the number of solo car trips to and from schools. A major side benefit: schoolpools improve safety by reducing the number of vehicles converging around schools at peak times of day.
  • Get smart about university transportation: University rideshare networks offer similar safety improvements and go a long way toward reducing parking demand on campus. Another idea we like: bundle public transportation passes into each semester or school year’s optional fee schedule. Students will make better use of transit options if they don’t have to pay out of pocket to access your local network.

The cities of tomorrow are already being engineered to support more sustainable transportation alternatives. You can make the smart city commuter program model part of your organizational philosophy by becoming an early adopter, and RideAmigos can help.

Benefit from the TDM industry’s leading software platform

Our powerful commuter management software platform was designed to make alternative modes of transportation more accessible to a larger number of people. One of the best ways to find the right solutions for your organization is to take advantage of software-based survey and data analysis tools. The RideAmigos platform offers a long list of ways to generate meaningful, actionable insights that help you design intelligent and effective commuter programs.

A long and growing list of businesses and organizations have used RideAmigos to great success. Help reduce the commuting impact of your community by discovering the transformative capabilities of RideAmigos. 

Contact us today to learn more!

Employee Carpool Programs

Promoting participation in employee carpool programs has powerful organization-wide benefits

Employee carpool programs are one of the most effective tools businesses can use to help fight local traffic congestion. With the right software tools, they’re easy to set up, a breeze to administer, and go a long way toward helping organizations reduce their carbon impact.

While their environmental benefits tend to draw the most attention, enterprises enjoy many other advantages by encouraging employees to skip the solo drive and share rides.

Some of the key benefits of employee carpool programs include:

Savings on parking costs

When employees share rides, demand for on-site parking will diminish. This helps employers realize significant savings on parking costs.

Cutting back on parking costs can save businesses huge amounts of money, particularly for companies located in densely populated metro areas where parking facilities are at a premium. The demand for limited available space sends costs soaring in such cases. Investing in strategies that cut down on parking costs can generate very favorable returns.

Today’s next-generation tech tools can help you solve the parking crunch while delivering a one-stop shop for managing all your commuter programs.

Boosting employee productivity

Research shows that people who carpool arrive at work feeling better, with lower stress levels. This contributes to increased productivity throughout the day along with better health and improved job satisfaction.

Another productivity-related benefit of enterprise rideshare networks is that they help people get a jump on the day. When a commuter doesn’t have to drive, their hands and minds are free. They can get a leg up on their email messages, review their to-do lists, and even get started on some simple tasks that can be performed remotely.

A happier workforce

Studies have also shown that employee carpool programs help build a more collegial work environment, with strengthened social connections that contribute to higher overall levels of job satisfaction.

Carpool-based commuter benefit solutions bring people together in unexpected ways. Over the years, we’ve heard countless anecdotes about coworkers who had no idea they lived in the same area until they were matched together by ridesharing software. Lasting friendships and valuable professional connections often result from these types of relationships, giving you another benefit to sell to your commuter base.

A reduced environmental footprint

Companies that institute employee rideshare programs project ecological values in keeping with environmental responsibility. Thus, these programs go beyond immediate commuter benefit solutions and help organizations make tangible, discrete contributions to the greater good.

Building a happier, more productive workforce and making environmental responsibility a top priority also helps boost employee retention rates. Companies with high employee retention rates tend to attract better job candidates, and this helps position the business for sustained future success.

Positive company culture and identity

Today, talented job candidates look at more than just salary and benefits when evaluating job offers. They also consider the company’s culture, identity, and values. Growing numbers of people, particularly in younger age demographics, prefer to work for businesses whose values align with their own.

As topics like climate change and the environment continue to grow in the public consciousness, more and more people want to do something that makes them feel good about their choices. Companies that offer carpool programs and commuter transportation benefits that reduce pollution offer an easy, everyday path to healthier, more sustainable behavior. This, in turn, supports a positive organizational culture that makes working for your business more appealing.

Get commuters excited about employee carpool programs. Here’s how.

With employee carpool programs, greater participation equals greater benefits. These strategies are proven to help increase opt-in rates for corporate ridesharing:

  • Adopt a gamification approach by encouraging participants to align themselves in teams, then track the number of trips and miles logged
  • Offer incentives to participants and prizes to competition winners
  • Use commuter management software like RideAmigos to help employees who live in close proximity connect with one another
  • Match prospective participants who have similar work schedules
  • Offer free, reduced-rate, or preferred parking to vehicles used in carpools
  • Promote individual end benefits, like lower stress, savings on transportation costs, and reduced wear-and-tear on privately owned vehicles

Software tools like the RideAmigos platform are ideal for creating, promoting, and managing employee carpool programs. RideAmigos’ groundbreaking enterprise ridesharing solution offers companies and organizations an unprecedented suite of powerful rideshare program creation, management, tracking, and reporting tools. Our platform also makes it easy to connect program participants, create games and competitions, track and administer rewards, and much more. It delivers everything you’ll need to design, implement, refine, and manage commuter programs that make a big difference.

Put your carpooling program in overdrive and maximize its environmental, financial, and organizational benefits. Get started with RideAmigos today!

Telecommuting as Alternative Transportation

The smartest possible commute is no commute at all

When thinking about smart commuting, it’s natural to gravitate towards transportation alternatives that get people out of single-occupancy vehicles. Biking, ridesharing, public transit, vanpools … they all have big roles in play in the ongoing move towards congestion-busting, environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Yet, there’s one powerful concept that’s often overlooked: telecommuting.

Thanks to the rise and spread of connectivity technologies, more jobs than ever before can be done remotely. Employers that are hesitant to fully embrace telecommuting can still allow employees to work remotely on occasion. Even once-a-week telecommuting would result in an immediate 20 percent reduction in demand for parking, assuming all telecommuters would otherwise have used single-occupancy vehicles. As commuter management professionals know, that has the potential to translate into big savings for businesses.

Telecommuting: quantifying the potential benefits

Recent U.S. census figures show that only 2 percent of employees telecommute most of the time, even though 40 percent of all American workers have a job that could be done offsite at least some of the time. Kate Lister, author of the work-from-home guidebook Undress for Success, performed some detailed calculations that measure the unrealized financial and environmental benefits of telecommuting.

Lister’s inquiry considers what would happen if everyone with a telecommutable job worked from home for just half the time. Here’s what she found

  • Businesses could save $8,300 per employee per year in utility, absenteeism, turnover, and facility costs
  • The environment would be spared the detrimental effects of nearly 220 million barrels of oil
  • Employees could save as much as $10,500 per year, not including daycare costs or tax benefits available to those who work from home

These conclusions are echoed by a study conducted by TIAX, a Massachusetts-based technology development company, which found that the energy savings generated by telecommuting are equivalent to the total annual electricity consumption of 1 million American households. Moreover, current telecommuting rates have the same environmental impact as removing 2 million cars from the road. Imagine what would be possible if the number of telecommuters rose from 2 percent of the workforce to 10 percent, or even 20 percent…

At RideAmigos, we focus on empowering commuters to choose smarter, more environmentally responsible modes of transportation. Even so, we recognize that the most efficient trip is the one that’s never taken. Our industry-leading software platform features modules that can be configured to track telecommutes, too, enabling administrators to include working remotely as part of their incentive and challenge programs. To learn more, please contact us or sign up to view our free, comprehensive video demonstration.

Partner Highlight – SLOCOG

Here at RideAmigos we’re always excited to see how our organizations are making the most of our TDM platform. This month we’re featuring our partners at the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments – SLOCOG for short. One of SLOCOG’s major programs is the SLO Regional Rideshare.

Rideshare.org & iRideshare.org

The SLO Regional Rideshare breaks down a major barrier to smarter commuting by being very easy to find online. Rideshare.org is their primary homepage, full of information about their various TDM programs. Their partner site, iRideshare.org, is home to their local implementation of our RideAmigos ridesharing, route finding, and commute management software.

SLOCOG is a great example of providing relevant, behavior-changing programming through government-supported rideshare solutions.

Recently we had a chance to catch up with Peter Williamson, Employee Outreach Coordinator for SLOCOG’s rideshare programs, to learn about some of their successes. Here’s what we learned:

Back ‘N’ Forth Club

History

The Back ‘N’ Forth Club is SLOCOG’s program for employers to encourage and incentivize their employees to skip the solo drive and use smarter forms of transportation. Started in 2007-8, the Back ‘N’ Forth Club underwent a major expansion about 2 years ago when Peter began focusing on rideshare initiatives full-time. Over the years the Club has grown to support more employers and developed additional resources, tools, and structures of success.

One of the major evolutions of the Back ‘N’ Forth Club has been customizing their incentive plans to maximize benefits for employers. Since each employee base is unique, different employers often find different incentives work better than others. In addition to their in-house incentives, the Back ‘N’ Forth Club also works with employers to offer options like extra vacation days. Such perks may prove even more enticing than financial incentives to some employees. This collaborative approach has helped the Club stay clearly focused on finding out what employers want and need while supporting their goals and values.

Highlights

The most successful programs of the Back ‘N’ Forth Club center around creating competition and positive peer pressure using transportation challenges and incentives. Their campaigns like Bike Month and Rideshare Week push commuters to try new ways of getting to work, even if just for a day or two. The hope is always that by seeing how easy and fun smarter commute methods can be then people will be more likely to use them in the future. SLOCOG has found particular success with focusing on one-time events, like bike day or rideshare day. This is because committing to one day seems much less intimidating than a week or month.

SLOCOG’s experience proves the most effective way for getting employees to log trips is paid incentives from employers. The Back ‘N’ Forth Club provides their services to employers so they can offer incentives without adding internal overhead. As mentioned earlier, they’ve had great success expanding their incentives to include additional perks unique to particular employers. Currently they have approximately 45 employers involved and around a thousand active users on their iRideshare platform.

Future

SLOCOG’s next big TDM program will be Rideshare Week 2016. Coming up in October, Rideshare Week will challenge employees to pledge to ride share for a specific number of days that week. Education and personal presence is a big part of this program’s success. Peter will be on site with various employers throughout the week. His focus will be having one-on-one conversations with employees about ridesharing. It’s a great opportunity to encourage commuters to use iRideshare to their fullest advantage.

A particularly exciting collaboration that is in the works is with BoltAbout electric bicycle rentals. Electric bicycles are a great way to get more people interested in biking, but their initial cost is intimidating. By offering e-bikes for rent, BoltAbout aims to change that. Through partnering with BoltAbout, SLOCOG hopes to offer e-bikes as another mode option for smart commuters.

The final big project that has Peter excited is the brand new Downtown SLO program. Since existing SLOCOG employer programs are aimed primarily at companies of a particular size or larger, Downtown SLO serves as a targeted program for downtown San Luis Obispo. This creates a new option for employees and owners of small businesses to participate in the Back N Forth club more easily. Reaching out to small, downtown businesses has the potential to create an even greater impact in an area where larger employers have already found success.

 

We at RideAmigos applaud Peter and the whole SLOCOG crew for all of the success they’re seeing in their TDM initiatives!

 

If you’re interested in finding out how RideAmigos can help increase participation and impact for your organization’s transportation demand management programs, contact us today.

What are Vanpools?

Vanpools are quickly emerging as a popular form of smarter commuting.

The vanpooling phenomenon is continuing to gain momentum, especially in major cities with a dense concentration of commuters. As a solution to helping people skip the solo drive, vanpools are a relatively new entry in the smart commuting lexicon. Therefore, people often have questions about what they are and how they work. We’re here to help!

Vanpool essentials:

  • Vanpools are made up of a group of commuters traveling from one or more origination points to a shared destination.
  • Most vanpools include between about 7 and 15 people.
  • Vanpools typically have one or two pickup locations, which frequently include designated transit stations or park-and-ride commuter lots.
  • At the end of the work day, vanpools provide return transportation to the original pickup location(s). From there, commuters can then make their way home.

Vanpools can be used just about anywhere, but they tend to be most effective in areas where long-distance commutes are common and public transit options are limited. They’re also an excellent option for companies located in remote or outlying areas that are only accessible by privately operated vehicles. Providing vanpool service to and from such locations helps these businesses attract and retain employees while making the daily commute easier and more manageable for employees.

Commuters and employers enjoy many benefits by using vanpools:

  • Cost savings and reduced wear and tear on privately owned vehicles.
  • Reduced commuting time.
  • The ability to talk, eat, read, work, or rest during the journey.
  • Reduced on-site parking requirements and associated cost savings.
  • Improved employee job satisfaction and productivity.

Use dynamic new technologies to make the best use of local smart commuting resources.

Employers typically administer vanpools themselves or contract with a service provider. Some have a high level of involvement, actively promoting vanpooling as a preferred commuting option. Meanwhile, others simply offer them as an alternative to interested employees. Regardless of how involved a given employer is in a particular vanpooling program, commuter management software like RideAmigos can provide convenient, effective, and easy-to-use management capabilities.

The RideAmigos transportation demand management platform offers extensive support for enterprises that offer vanpooling Vanpool support works seamlessly alongside many other features that are helping transform the way we access and use urban transportation. You can use our platform to create a new vanpool group, connect riders, track usage and stats, plan routes, and much more.

Contact us today to get started, or sign up to view our free video demo.

Photo Credit: UCLA Transportation

Do EVs really count as alternative transportation?

Should electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles qualify as an alternative method of transportation?

One of the most common ways in which government agencies and transportation management authorities try to get people thinking about and using smarter forms of transportation is to sponsor “alternative commuting” challenges. When planning such initiatives, the question of what exactly qualifies as an “alternative” method of transportation frequently arises. One of the most spirited debates revolves around electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Electric vehicles (EVs) and their plug-in hybrid counterparts are fast becoming very popular with people that want to commute smarter and reduce the environmental impact of their transportation choices. But do they truly qualify as “alternative methods of transportation?”

There are numerous factors to consider when deciding whether or not to count them on a list of approved transportation options when creating commuter challenge programs. Here are some EV features that suggest they make valid inclusions:

  • EVs do not create any tailpipe emissions and as such, their CO2 profiles are negligible
  • Gasoline-electric hybrids create far fewer emissions than gasoline-only vehicles while enjoying far superior fuel efficiency rates
  • Many municipalities extend high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access to EVs and gasoline-electric hybrids as a way of rewarding motorists who make more environmentally friendly transportation choices

Meanwhile, here are some characteristics that might convince some program designers to leave them off the list of approved alternatives:

  • Though they are highly energy efficient, single-occupancy EVs and plug-in hybrids still take up just as much road and parking space as other automobiles
  • EVs and plug-in hybrids aren’t as immediately accessible to commuters who want to participate in challenges, given that they require a major up-front investment that many people simply aren’t able to make
  • Charging facilities remain relatively rare, which can create logistical challenges for commuters if your workplace facilities can’t accommodate EV recharging needs

Take all these factors into consideration when configuring your program, and remember: the primary objective of a commuter program is more about making a positive impact than about who uses what alternative mode.

For governments and TMAs, the end goal is to get people to think critically about their transportation choices.

While the debate about whether to count EVs and plug-in hybrids continues, it’s important for program developers to remember that alternatives like walking, biking, carpooling, and ridesharing are likely to be much more popular and accessible to participants. The goal of such initiatives is to encourage people to think differently about their transportation choices, and that objective should always remain front and center.

If solo EV and plug-in hybrid drivers are asking to be included in a city-wide or regional alternative commuting challenge that promotes sustainable travel options, remember to consider all the factors in play when making such a decision and be ready to educate your users about your reasoning. You can explain the reasons behind your choices and policies in official press released and promotional materials distributed to participants in advance of the challenge’s official launch. It’s also a good idea to invite participants to offer comments and feedback so those taking part in the challenge feel like their voices are being heard.

Products like the RideAmigos TDM software platform power the technical management of alternative commuting challenges and initiatives. Offering a complete suite of trip planning, data management, analytics, incentivization, and challenge tracking features, RideAmigos has become an essential part of the TDM strategies of municipalities and governments across the United States and around the world.

RideAmigos is a leading smart mobility company based in Santa Monica, California. To learn more about our industry-leading platform or our full suite of commuter management services, please contact us or sign up to view our free, comprehensive video demonstration.

Photo by Jason Cartwright [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons