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.