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Rideshare and Transit Integration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using Pokémon Go to promote smart commuting

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

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

Transit

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

Bike

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

Rideshare

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

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

5 Best Benefits To Provide Commuters

Encourage employees to commute smarter by providing first-class benefits

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

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

Guaranteed Rides Home

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

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

Showers and storage

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

Financial Incentives

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

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

Free or Subsidized Transportation

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

Try these ideas:

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

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

Commute management software

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

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

Financial Incentives for Alternative Commuting

People love the convenience and comfort of their solo-driven, single occupant vehicles. Convincing them that ridesharing, bicycling, public transit, or biking could be smarter choices is an uphill challenge.

Educational initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns are helpful, but often aren’t enough to convince commuters to try something different.

Often it’s necessary to use tangible incentives to get people to step outside of their comfort zones.

The EPA acknowledges the effectiveness of economic incentives when trying to change commuter behavior. Transit pass subsidies, vanpool provisions, alternative commute subsidies, and transportation allowances all have a proven track record. Therefore, organizations that want to establish smarter commuting patterns but aren’t using any sort of incentives program can stand to see a huge boost in participation and effectiveness by doing so.

As one way of giving back to the transportation demand management (TDM) industry and supporting our clients, RideAmigos is creating easy-to-follow TDM recipes for success. While these are best implemented using the powerful RideAmigos platform, the basic steps can easily be adapted to fit most any organization.

The following recipe is adapted from the “Smarter Commuting Financial Incentive Soufflé” recipe found on the RideAmigos Academy:

How to Create Financial Incentives for Alternative Commuting

1) Educate commuters about available options

What options are easily accessible to people in your company or area? Options like ridesharing, vanpools, public transit, bicycling and even walking are often available, but are sometimes not ideal options depending on context. Learn which options your audience is most likely to use, then begin with an educational campaign to make sure these options are widely known.

2a) Decide the parameters of your incentive

Typically incentives are given to users who complete a certain number or percentage of non-single-occupant-vehicle (non-SOV) commutes over a particular time period. Sometimes particular methods of transportation are highlighted, such as carpooling or biking. Financial incentives for meeting the designated criteria can take numerous forms. Some ideas include gift certificate for use at local shops or online, free transit passes, or even cash bonuses.

2b) Determine how you will  will track & distribute

Once you’ve selected the qualification criteria and reward for your incentive, you need to determine how to track user participation and incentive redemption. You could use an online spreadsheet or database, but the easiest solution is using specialized TDM software like RideAmigos. Using our built-in incentive management tools makes tracking participation and redemption simple.

3) Encourage people to sign up for the incentive, log their trips, and claim their prize

Now that your commuters know their options and you’ve set up your system, it’s time to get users to sign up. Ideally you can use the same marketing and communication methods you used in step 1 to spread the word about your program. Have users sign up and begin tracking their non-SOV commutes. Again, this is made easier by RideAmigos using our commuter dashboard and features like automatic commute logging. Once they’ve reached the goal they can request to redeem their reward.

4) Review the progress of the users who have claimed their incentive

Just because a user claims to have completed the necessary steps to receive your incentive doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve done so. Be sure you’ve included a method to double-check that they have complied with your program’s criteria! With RideAmigos it’s easy to confirm whether a user’s trips match your parameters.

5) After verifying the trips of users who have claimed their incentive, approve or deny their requests

You’ll need to have a plan for communicating whether incentive claims have been approved or denied. This is especially important if you need to explain why a request was denied. Clear communications of expectations is a key step to success.

6) Distribute your financial incentives to those who have been approved

Incentive distribution may involve electronic rewards, physical delivery, or even collaborating with your payroll department. Once participant’s claims are approved, set your system into motion to make sure they receive their rewards.

7) Evaluate, adapt, and repeat

Once you reach the end of your incentive period, evaluate your users’ levels of participation and completion. You might want to survey participants to get their feedback to improve future programs. Once you know what worked well and what didn’t you can make alternations to your program and prepare to run it again. Some organizations even choose to provide such smart-commuting incentives year-round!

Additional Resources:

Did you know? Employers can receive tax benefits for offering employees financial benefits that encourage commuting using alternative modes of transportation (PDF)

The Victoria Transport Policy Institute has an excellent and detailed write-up on commuter financial incentives.

The Benefits of a Guaranteed Ride Home

What is a Guaranteed Ride Home program?

Imagine these scenarios: an employee who commutes by bike is about to head home when an unexpected thunderstorm hits. Or, a public transit commuter has to suddenly rush home to pick up a sick child from school. A Guaranteed Ride Home program comes through by providing quick, reliable transportation when it’s needed most.

A Guaranteed Ride Home program (sometimes called an Emergency Ride Home program) is a common feature of workplaces that encourage commuters to use means other than than single occupant vehicles. While the specifics of each program vary from company to company, they generally follow this type of structure:

  • The program is open to employees that regularly use alternative means of transportation during their commutes
  • “Alternative means of transportation” can include cycling, walking, public transit or any other approved mode
  • Employees that use these modes for commuting at least two to three times per week qualify for the program
  • Qualified employees can get a free ride home a specified number of times per year if an emergency situation arises

Guaranteed Ride Home programs encourage alternative transportation use

The key benefit of setting up an Emergency/Guaranteed Ride Home program is that it makes it commuters more likely to use alternative transportation. If people know they have a reliable ride home in an emergency, they’re more likely to skip the solo drive.

The RideAmigos platform offers extensive technical support to workplace managers who want to create Guaranteed Ride Home programs. Creating and managing such a program is quick and easy, thanks to our comprehensive toolkit.

Here’s an example of how simple it is to set up and manage a ride home program using RideAmigos:

  • Create a specific private network that will be limited to employees who are eligible to participate in the program.
  • Attach any necessary descriptions to each user in the system, or send a message to qualified users to let them know they’re in the program.
  • Use the platform’s survey tool to collect information from participants, as needed.
  • Add new members manually, or by sending “join us” links to qualified employees.
  • Create a points program to manage the redemption of rides by employees who qualify.
  • Add the ride home vouchers as inventory items; they will be managed and distributed automatically by the platform.

You can view more details and specifics by visiting the RideAmigos Academy help page on Guaranteed Ride Home programs.

7 Ways NOT to Change Commuter Behavior

Getting people to think about commuting in new ways is an essential step towards bringing positive change to your community. The best way to solve problems like traffic congestion, parking availability, parking expenses and pollution is to get people using alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. When this is done at an organizational level, the beneficial impact can be immense.

However, when it comes to creating change, some strategies work better than others. The RideAmigos team has decades of combined urban transportation management experience, and we’ve seen a lot of well-intentioned efforts fall flat:

  • Lack of incentive. Abstract notions of saving the environment or reducing company costs won’t drive change. Instead, give commuters something tangible to work toward.
  • Make participation difficult. If your alternative transportation program is confusing or difficult to use, people will likely revert to their original behaviors. Seek easy solutions!
  • One-off events and programs. Giving away a few gift cards or holding an annual Bike to Work Week might get some people to give alternatives a try, but these approaches by themselves aren’t likely to lead to lasting change. Ongoing support is a must.
  • Leading with a bad example. Is your business trying to encourage employees to rethink how they commute? Are the company’s executives and senior staff members doing it? If not, you shouldn’t expect success until the bosses start showing up in buses, bikes and carpools.
  • Ideas without tools. Even if people are open to changing their habits, it’s hard to do if you don’t provide them with tools. Sending out encouraging emails is a good start, but providing secure bike storage, free transit tokens and trip-finding or carpooling apps show you’re serious.
  • Guilt and shaming. Research has proven that making people feel guilty and ashamed of their actions is among the least effective ways to enact behavioral change.
  • Failing to consider context. Do most of your commuters drive more than 10 miles to work? If so, biking won’t be a popular option. Similarly, public transit won’t work if they’re not near a bus or subway line. Don’t focus on just one solution, and make sure what you’re selling makes sense.

If you’re looking to encourage commuters to make a long-term shift to community-friendly modes of transportation, we recommend that you avoid these strategies and seek out proven solutions. At RideAmigos, we know what works, what doesn’t, and why. Learn more about our approach to effective commuter engagement, and sign up for our newsletter for more great commuter tips!

Photo by @seawonkery

Workplace Experience & Commuter Benefits

Changing the way businesses think about employee engagement

Companies that attract and retain the top available talent give themselves a major competitive advantage. Ensuring that employees are satisfied and happy not only in their work, but also in the general workplace environment is one of the keys to building the kind of reputation in-demand job candidates look for in a prospective employer.

Traditionally, such strategies were built around incentive and benefit programs. Health insurance, pension plan contributions, stock options, and other financial perks did the trick in years past, but nowadays, employees are looking for more. To meet the changing needs and preferences of workers in the contemporary environment, many companies are bringing in workplace experience managers.

The concept of workplace experience is a relatively new one. It goes beyond simple cash and benefits compensation, and instead focuses on projecting positive attitudes throughout the work environment by providing perks like health and wellness programs, company-sponsored social outings, free coffee bars, on-site massage therapy, and creativity-oriented lounge areas.

Building a positive workplace experience is about more than facilities; it’s about attitudes and values. For example, new research has proven that daytime naps help energize employees, increase mental engagement, and stimulate creative thinking. Progressive companies have responded by encouraging workers to take midday snoozes, and giving them comfortable places to grab a few winks. It’s a win-win situation, building trust and goodwill on the employee end and boosting productivity on the business end.

How transportation management strategies fit into the workplace experience movement

Providing employees with commuting alternatives is fast becoming a central tenet of today’s workplace experience programs. Studies have shown that solo commutes can be a major drain on morale, while researchers have also found links between shared transportation and higher levels of general life satisfaction. As such, a growing number of workplace experience managers are turning to options like ridesharing and carpooling programs and alternative transportation incentives to relieve some of the daily grind and help employees arrive at work refreshed, relaxed, and in a positive mindset.

To meet the growing demand for solutions to enhance workplace experience, software developers are building advanced commuter management platforms that help people make the most of group and shared transportation options. Going forward, technological solutions like the RideAmigos platform will increasingly become an integral part of a comprehensive workplace experience strategy built to attract and retain top employees.

Is your company helping your employees to have the most positive commutes possible?

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Transportation Demand Management for Enterprises

Transportation Demand Management for Enterprises

Transportation demand management programs have the potential to create far-reaching, positive changes in company culture.

Transportation demand management (TDM) has traditionally been the domain of government agencies and organizations. However, a growing number of forward-thinking businesses are using TDM practices to help enact beneficial changes in the culture of their companies. Some of the key benefits of enterprise-level transportation demand management programs include:

  • Increased employee satisfaction rates.
  • The ability to attract and retain higher-quality employees who value the principles of smart commuting.
  • Productivity improvements, thanks to more efficient and less stressful commuting.
  • Stronger collegial relationships among employees.
  • Reductions in the costs associated with parking facilities.
  • Improvement in reputation regarding sustainability and environmental concerns.

While TDM solutions for enterprises are still strongly focused on helping reduce traffic congestion and public infrastructure costs, they are also oriented towards helping companies change the commuting behavior of employees for a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. To this end, technology-driven solutions like the transportation demand management software have proven to be a major boon.

RideAmigos provides dynamic technology-driven transportation demand management solutions for enterprises of all sizes.

The RideAmigos TDM platform delivers powerful solutions that make it easy for businesses to create employee commuter programs. This, in turn, helps employees make better use of smarter alternatives to commuting with single-occupancy vehicles. Enterprise-driven technology makes it easy for large groups of corporate commuters with established interpersonal links and shared destinations to arrange carpooling programs. Individual users of our can access a whole host of powerful features including multimodal trip planners, interactive commuter dashboards, automatic trip logging, and much more.

Employer-driven awareness and incentive programs are very important when it comes to getting people on board with enterprise TDM programs. Once again, our software platform provides crucial support. Gamification, challenges, and incentives are easy to create and administrate, giving companies an upper hand in encouraging greater levels of employee participation.

RideAmigos’ enterprise-focused modules are also ideal for companies that want to maximize employee benefits, encourage healthier and more active lifestyles, and cultivate a company philosophy that includes ecological responsibility as a core value. In addition, good TDM helps businesses keep their parking- and property-related costs down, providing important facilities benefits to go along with key personnel advantages.

To learn more about how the RideAmigos platform can benefit your business, or to explore our software’s many feature in more detail, please contact us or sign up to access our free, comprehensive video demonstration.

Enterprise-Oriented TDM Articles