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RideAmigos CEO Recognized by ACT as a 40 Under 40 Leader

We’re thrilled that the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) just named our CEO, Jeffrey Chernick, as one of their 2016 “40 Under 40.”

“This group represents a cross section of our industry and how TDM is integrated throughout the public and private sectors. These forty individuals are shining stars for the TDM profession and we look forward to them leading TDM for many years to come” – ACT President Rob Henry

ACT 40 Under 40

Jeffrey leads our team with enthusiasm and vision, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of transportation demand management technology and 21st-century commuter management solutions!

ACT announced the awards on the closing day of their inaugural Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Forum in Boston, which brought together over 140 transportation professionals.

From ACT executive Director David Straus:

“The energy and passion these honorees show every day for improving our cities is at the heart of our collaborative efforts. The work these individuals have done to inspire changes in their communities and beyond is having an incredible impact to make our cities more livable, more economically competitive, and more prepared for sustainable growth into the future.”

Facts on the 40 Under 40 Honorees

  • Average length of service at current organization: 5 years
    • 15% have 10+ years at current organization
    • 35% have 6+ years at current organization
  • Average length of service to TDM industry: 7 years
    • 25% have 10+ years or more in TDM
    • 50% have 7+ years in the TDM industry
    • 83% have 5+ years in the TDM industry

The Association for Commuter Transportation, (ACT), is an international trade association and leading advocate for commuter transportation and TDM. Commuting by bus, train, rideshare, bike, walking, or telework improves our world by contributing to energy independence, better air quality, sustainability, urban mobility, and reduced congestion. Through advocacy, education, and networking efforts, ACT strives to improve the lives of commuters, the livability of communities, and the economic competitiveness of businesses.

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.

3 Impressive Executives Leading the Way to Smarter Commuting

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

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

Alan Elser
CFO, GM Nameplate

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

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

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

Christopher Eisgruber
President, Princeton University

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

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

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.

Transit Shutdown

Transit shutdowns in metro areas can wreak havoc on commuters. How would you deal with it?

The subway system in Washington, DC recently went through an emergency one-day shutdown as the result of electrical problems. In deciding to implement the service interruption, Washington Metro’s general manager said that crew members had identified 26 locations throughout the subway system where electrical cables and electrical boots had been damaged, necessitating immediate repair. The ensuing transit shutdown lasted an entire day, creating a nightmare for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the city’s public transportation system to get around.

While such measures are occasionally necessary to protect passenger safety, they also pose major problems. Many people don’t have a viable alternative to public transportation. In many cases that’s because they simply aren’t aware of the available options. Ride-sharing programs, carpools, vanpools and cycling routes are among the choices available every day to Washington, DC residents, but a lot of people don’t know how to access them or get the information they need to take advantage of them.

This is a clear example of a situation where the RideAmigos platform could literally have saved the day for thousands of stranded commuters.

The RideAmigos platform is the perfect solution for urban travelers who need to find alternatives to their usual ways of getting around.

Our innovative platform is designed to connect people to a complete network of local transportation options, including everything from conventional offerings like public transit and walking or cycling to new developments such as ride-sharing and vanpooling. With a multimodal trip planner, users can plot their courses from A to B in seconds, using their choice of all available modes of transportation. The entire subway is going to be shut down for a day? No problem! Simply use the RideAmigos platform to find a better way to get around without the need for single-passenger vehicles.

The RideAmigos platform has been adopted by municipalities and governments across the United States and around the world, with clients raving about the positive changes it’s brought to their communities and organizations. Experts have noted that in the future, it won’t be modes of transportation that change, but rather the way people access and use those modes of transportation. Our goal is to enact that change and all the benefits that come with it, including stronger communities, reduced congestion, and less pollution.

To learn more, view this comprehensive demo that shows how our unique platform works.