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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Smart Commuter Management

Happy New Year! There’s no better time to create goals that will have a beneficial impact on your organization and the community at large than at the start of another trip around the sun. Here are five great ways you can make smart commuter management a priority in 2017.

#1: Collect More Information

The essential first step in generating behavior change is understanding the commuting habits of your organization’s members. Specifically, there are four key things you need to know:

  • What are the primary mode(s) of transportation currently in use among members?
  • How aware are members of the transportation benefits you currently offer?
  • What is the single most important consideration for members when choosing a way to get to work? Time? Cost? Something else?
  • What benefits or incentives would get members to try out an alternative mode of commuting?

Finding answers to these questions through commuter surveys will help you create a transportation program that’s got a much better chance of success.

#2: Experiment with Incentives

Providing incentives for leaving single-occupancy vehicles behind is a proven way to vastly increase program participation rates. Incentive programs come in many forms, with popular options including:

  • Pre-tax reimbursements for employees who use qualified modes of transportation
  • Preferred or lower-cost parking for carpool drivers
  • Parking cash-out programs that offer monthly payments to employees who give up their parking spots
  • Friendly individual- or team-oriented in-house competitions, with prizes for the winners who log the most miles or make the most trips using qualified modes of travel

Plan some experiments to try during 2017 and see which strategies best engage your commuters!

#3: Promote Transit as an Alternative to Solo Driving

Public transit is a great way for employees to save money, reduce congestion and pollution, and reduce wear and tear on their vehicles. Try offering partially or fully subsidized local transit passes and watch ridership soar.

#4: Participate in Bike to Work Week

Every spring, Bike to Work Week becomes a national initiative that helps get people moving and encourages greater numbers of commuters to make a permanent switch. Join in a Bike to Work Week being planned for your city or region, or if there’s not one in the works – help make it happen!

#5: Adopt a Comprehensive Commuter Management Tool

Commuters and administrators alike can benefit from a comprehensive platform like RideAmigos. Easily implement advanced carpool matching, distribute surveys, create networks and challenges, launch incentive programs, track results, and much more!

Learn More About Commuter Management Platforms

The #1 Commuter Parking Management Strategy

Use this proven method to boost the effectiveness of your commuter parking management

Parking demand can cause major problems in the workplace, especially if your commuter base is heavily reliant on single-occupancy vehicles. However, by implementing a single strategy, you can massively improve your approach to commuter parking management. This winning strategy is known as parking cash-out.

Here’s how these highly successful programs work:

Parking cash-out is an ideal option for businesses that provide employees with subsidized or no-cost parking. The business begins by calculating its daily per-vehicle parking rate. Then, offer employees who drive to work a choice: take a cash payout, or use your parking spot. The payouts can be calculated and distributed on a weekly or monthly basis, or processed along with payroll.

For businesses that rent their parking facilities, figuring out the daily per-vehicle rate is easy: just divide your total parking costs by the number of spots you rent, then compute down to a daily figure. Companies that own their own parking facilities can estimate daily costs by adding up construction, operation, and maintenance costs associated with their parking lots, then dividing by the number of parking spots it holds. That figure can then be annualized, or broken down into quarters, months, weeks, or days.

Studies have shown that if you’re going to use only one commuter parking management strategy, this is the one to try. Parking cash-out programs can reduce parking demand by as much as 45 percent.

This strategy works because it gives commuters an immediate, tangible incentive not to drive to work. Most commuters that have access to free or low-cost parking don’t think much about what it costs the company. Offering them a cash payout in exchange for their parking spot will make the commuter feel as though he or she stands to lose something by continuing to solo-drive to work.

Companies can achieve long-term savings by sharply reducing the amount of parking they need to rent, or earn additional revenues by renting unused spots to other individuals or businesses. It’s a classic win-win situation that is well worth a try if you’re a facilities manager for a business struggling to figure out how to manage steep employee demand for costly parking.

RideAmigos is the perfect commuter management platform for implementing a parking cash-out program. Empower your employees to make smarter transportation choices like ridesharing, biking, and transit. Track commuting patterns. Incentivize preferred behaviors. All within one powerful system.

Get started with the commuter management pros at RideAmigos to learn how you can implement a parking cash out program.

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!

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

Create Incentives for Carpooling to the Big Game

With football season in full swing, fans are descending on stadiums by the thousands and transportation managers across the country are trying to figure out where on Earth to park all the cars. One less obvious but extremely effective solution is to reduce the number of cars that need to be parked in the first place. (Without reducing the number of fans at the game!)

The key is to offer incentives to fans who carpool or leave their vehicles at a park-and-ride transit lot. Beyond freeing up parking space and easing traffic congestion around the stadium, you’ll also be making more room for tailgating. In addition, you’ll promote public safety by reducing the chances of an intoxicated driver getting behind the wheel after the game.

Here’s a blueprint for running a smart-transportation incentive program for your next game:

  1. Choose prizes. You’re more likely to connect with your audience if you offer a prize related to the event they’re attending. So, for a football game, try game jerseys, team memorabilia, or free tickets to an upcoming game.
  2. Promote the program. Advertising is essential to the success of your program. Can you get the PA announcer to let fans know about the promotion in advance of the next game? Can you flash your message on the scoreboard? Plaster parking areas with posters, and use social media to get the word out.
  3. Track participation. Use on-site or online tools (like RideAmigos!) to figure out who is participating and who is eligible to win prizes.
  4. Enjoy the game!
  5. Follow up. Allow users to log trips after game day to encourage higher participation rates. Just make sure your cut-off date for prize eligibility is clear.
  6. Draw for winners. To select winners from your pool of qualified entrants, random draws are a great way to go. Especially if you’re offering an impressive grand prize. Inform the lucky winning participants and publicize stats showing how many car trips your promotion saved.

The RideAmigos software platform is the ideal tool for creating and managing transportation incentive programs, logging trips, and promoting event ridesharing initiatives. Whether you’re managing traffic on game day or looking after a company of commuters, RideAmigos delivers the power to transform the way people use transportation.

Visit our Academy to see how easy it is to incentivize events using RideAmigos

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. 

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.

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.

30 Days of Biking with RideAmigos

The 30 Days of Biking challenge kicks off soon. Are you in?

30 Days of BikingOn April 1st the annual 30 Days of Biking challenge kicks off its latest session. The premise is simple: participants pledge to ride a bike every day during the month of April. It doesn’t matter how long or how far. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Just ride a bike every day from April 1 to April 30 and you’ve done it. Those taking part are encouraged to share their journeys on social media using the hashtag #30daysofbiking.

The 30 Days of Biking movement began off seven years ago in Minneapolis and has since spread to include many different city chapters across the United States. Beyond raising awareness for the benefits of cycling and promoting it as an alternative to driving, the project collects proceeds from sponsorships and merchandise sales, which are used to purchase bicycles for disadvantaged children.

Enjoy the benefits and incentives of participation.

Anyone can sign up for the 30 Days of Biking challenge, and the benefits make the commitment wholly worthwhile. First, biking every day for one month straight will help improve your health. Coupled with a sensible diet, cycling is one of the best ways to lose weight; it’s a low-impact exercise that doesn’t put much strain on your body, but still gives you a powerful workout.

Research has also shown that regular exercise improves your mood and helps you get deeper, more restful sleep at night. Chances are good you’ll notice that you’re more energetic, more creative and better able to perform in all aspects of your life.

You’ll also be helping more than one important cause; bike to work and you’ll be doing your part to reduce traffic congestion. Generate pledges or purchase official merchandise and you’ll be spreading the word about the event while helping supply bikes to kids in need. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by signing up. Are you in?

RideAmigos + 30 Days of Biking

The RideAmigos platform is the ideal tool for promoting challenges like 30 Days of Biking within your organization, as well as creating other custom challenges for users in your network. Create and manage your own 30 Days of Biking challenge and help users plan their cycling routes in all April long. Challenges like 30 Days of Biking are a proven way to help people think differently about their transportation options and are an integrated part of our transportation management platform. In addition to challenges and incentives, our groundbreaking platform puts a wealth of local and regional transit information at users’ fingertips, allowing them to pre-plan journeys, view transit information and, for businesses and organizations, generate insights into the ways people get around your area.

Our platform is specifically developed to make use of challenges and incentives to encourage people explore the many transit alternatives available to them, from cycling and walking to rideshares, schoolpools and more.

Learn how to set up and run a 30 Days of Biking challenge at the RideAmigos Academy, your source for all the latest tips and tricks for making the most of our software.