Posts

How to Get University Employees to Carpool

Helpful tips for getting university employees to carpool more often

Universities face a unique set of challenges with regard to car-based commuting. At educational institutions, administrators often face rising year-over-year demand for limited parking facilities. Building new parking structures is very expensive. Given that reality, a growing number of schools are using their resources to get more university employees to carpool instead.

While some schools have overlooked employee carpooling and commuter programs in the past in favor of focusing primarily on student transportation needs, that is quickly changing. Administrators are realizing that employee carpool initiatives provide several key benefits. They offer excellent starting points like being convenient, engaging frequent commuters, and delivering outstanding cost-to-benefits ratios.

Colleges and universities typically employ hundreds if not thousands of staff and faculty members, giving them large communities to work with. This means university carpool programs are an excellent option to get more employees to carpool, especially when supported by proven strategies like:

  • Premium parking. Give vehicles used in carpools access to convenient parking spots. This also generates visibility for your rideshare programs, showing other university employees the popularity of carpooling.
  • Parking cash-out option. Offer employees financial benefits in exchange for giving up their parking privileges and watch participation rates soar.
  • Commuter rewards and challenges. Engage community members while promoting carpooling as an alternative to solo driving through commuter rewards initiatives and campus-wide commuter challenges.

Engage more employees through strategic communication

Administrators will also enjoy better success in their efforts in encouraging employees to carpool when they strategically promote the availability of ridematching resources. Here are some easy, effective ways to do that:

  • Build awareness through signage and email campaigns.
  • Mention the availability of commuter support programs, like rideshare matching, during new employee orientation sessions.
  • Draw attention to your program through periodic challenge and special events like rideshare month.
  • Promote rewards and incentive programs that encourage ongoing participation.

One particularly effective strategy used by a growing number of universities is to create commuter rewards programs that allow employees to rack up points every time they log a carpool trip to or from work. These points can then be redeemed for a wide variety of gift cards or other merchandise via a mobile app or commuter portal, which gets keeps people engaged for the long term.

Looking for more tips on how to deal with the parking crunch at your school?
Be sure to check out our free e-book on reducing campus parking demand.

If you need further advice on how to get university employees to carpool more often, or if you want a free, objective evaluation of your existing commuter programs, the RideAmigos team is here to help. Get started today!

Pages

University Ridesharing and Commuter Services

Solve parking and congestion woes by introducing an expanded range of university commuter services.

University and college campuses face a unique set of transportation demand management challenges. Parking is limited, forcing schools to make difficult choices when determining how to distribute permits. Students, staff and faculty tend to keep irregular hours, given the prevalence of evening and weekend classes.

A lot of schools provide free or subsidized transit passes, which helps but doesn’t often provide a complete solution. Given how limited most campus parking facilities are, colleges and universities usually need to take a multi-pronged approach that combines several effective strategies.

One emerging approach that’s making waves at campuses across the country is to expand the available range of university commuter services. Mobile connectivity has created new possibilities that didn’t exist before the smartphone revolution. Schools that embrace cutting-edge commute to school apps open up a dynamic range of smart, sustainable transportation choices.

Ridesharing is one of the most popular alternatives. Campus ridesharing programs usually take one of two forms:

  • Carpooling communities: Students, staff and faculty can join carpools with regular schedules, or access available carpools on an as-needed basis to travel to or from campus. Carpools can also extend to weekend rides home, getaways during school breaks, and more.
  • Vanpool services: Arrange vanpool shuttles from nearby city landmarks or major public transit stations and give campus members a convenient and affordable alternative to driving.

Both are cost-effective, high-impact options with strong appeal for students with limited transportation budgets.

Understand the features of an effective campus carpool network.

For students, the potential cost savings they can realize by carpooling instead of driving are only part of the equation. Many colleges have attempted to create internet-powered ridesharing networks, only to see very low participation rates. This often happens because the network lacks an identity.

Students are less likely to use a university rideshare app that makes anonymous connections. Instead, allow users to link their posts to social media profiles so potential matches can put faces to names. Schools that allow drivers and riders to exchange information about things like music and smoking preferences also tend to have higher success rates.

Basically, it boils down to this: if you build in features that allow users to refine their results to find more precise matches, your program is more likely to become a success. The same is true if your approach eschews anonymity in favor of a more personal approach.

University rideshare solutions for faculty and staff often need to be tweaked in their focus so they speak directly to the needs of employed commuters. Initiatives aimed at engaging staff members can use proven workplace strategies like gamification, premium parking for carpool vehicles, and parking cash-out programs, among others.

Interested in making a vanpool part of your university ridesharing program? Follow these planning tips to success.

Adding a vanpool to your university ridesharing and commuter services is an excellent way to solve the so-called “first mile/last mile” dilemma. Vanpools provide convenient, direct links between campus and major transportation hubs. They’re especially effective in schools that draw a lot of commuters but aren’t well-served by high-speed forms of public transportation.

Here are some strategic keys that can help make your vanpool program a success:

  • Schedule regular service with increased frequency during peak hours
  • Integrate vanpools into your existing rideshare matching and commuter management services
  • Promote the service through widely used communication channels so campus members know about it

Finally, make your vanpool accessible to all campus members, rather than restricting eligibility to only students. You’ll maximize the efficiency of your operational budget and drive higher participation rates by making vanpooling an option for all campus community members.

Campus communities enjoy major benefits by adding university ridesharing programs to their list of transportation options.

These university ridesharing options deliver significant, continuous benefits to campuses, including:

  • Reduced demand for parking, leading to cost savings
  • Less on-campus vehicular traffic, improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • A clear alignment with environmentally responsible values
  • Decreased emissions and pollution

They’re also a great social tool for helping students, staff and faculty interact with a broader range of community members. By helping you create and manage new university commuter services, RideAmigos can help you build a stronger and more interconnected campus.

Smart ridesharing and incentive programs can be a great way to address parking problems. Check out our free, downloadable PDF  on curbing campus parking demand.

The RideAmigos software platform delivers powerful management and administration tools, serving as the central hub of your university ridesharing initiative. We’ve already helped a long and growing list of schools around the world better manage their transportation needs, and we’d love to add your campus to our list of success stories. Get started today with a free analysis of your existing commuter programs, helpful commuter management tools, or a detailed one-on-one consultation.

University & School Transportation

University and school transportation management poses a complex set of challenges that demand flexible solutions

Universities, colleges, and schools present a distinct and complicated set of transportation demand management (TDM) challenges. Safety and accessibility are among the major focuses of university and school TDM initiatives, but finding dynamic solutions without the right tools is not an easy undertaking. The larger a school is, the more difficult transportation management becomes.

School communities can be broadly divided into two groups: students, and faculty/staff. Students often have differing schedules, especially at the postsecondary level. This makes inflexible, one-size-fits-all approaches to TDM impractical and ineffective. Faculty and staff members tend to work more standardized hours, but limitations on available parking spaces can lead to logistical headaches.

With students coming and going at differing hours, peak traffic levels can be difficult to predict, and they often change from one semester to another. At the same time, creating an equitable distribution system for parking passes can be very problematic. Both students and faculty/staff need access to a broad range of flexible transportation options that cut down on the amount of vehicular traffic on campus while reducing demand for limited parking. This is where TDM software like RideAmigos can be a big help.

RideAmigos offers comprehensive university and school transportation demand management tools

From the perspective of the end user, the RideAmigos platform is an extremely valuable tool for planning commutes to and from campus. The platform’s multi-mode trip planner gives users instant access to a wealth of options and information, enabling them to plan and save journeys using a combination of public transit, walking, cycling, ridesharing and carpooling, vanpooling, and more. Faculty, staff, and students all benefit. On-campus traffic is reduced, demand for parking diminishes, and school facilities remain completely accessible.

Network managers and administrators can also create highly effective TDM campaigns that meet the distinct needs of each sub-group. The RideAmigos platform has advanced network creation and management tools. These tools allow administrators to create specific subnetworks that can be arranged by user group, department, campus, or any other criteria that makes sense for your school community. Unique programs, challenges, and publicity campaigns can be distributed on a network-by-network basis, allowing administrators to reach targeted groups of users while having immediate access to a comprehensive suite of data collection, reporting, and analysis tools.

RideAmigos has already helped a long and growing list of school communities address their commuter transportation needs. To learn more about how RideAmigos can benefit your campus, please contact us today.

University Vanpools

University Vanpools

University vanpools are changing the way faculty, staff, visitors, and students access campus facilities.

Vanpools are gaining traction as an efficient, low-cost university transportation alternative. Operated by both public and private agencies, vanpool programs group a small number of commuters together. Most vanpools are made up of groups of eight to fifteen people, though these numbers can be adjusted either way depending on demand and the number of vehicles in the operator’s fleet.

While most university vanpools are designed to meet the needs of faculty and staff commuting from outlying areas, they can also be configured to serve students and visitors. Fares are affordable, and are set at levels that make using the vanpool more cost-effective than driving. This, in turn, increases participation rates, helping university administrators realize the many community benefits that university vanpools offer.

How do university vanpools work?

To maximize budgets, organizations usually configure vanpools to provide point-to-point transportation between a designated arrival/departure spot on campus and a major public transit hub or popular local destination. It’s most cost-effective to offer service on a set schedule, or only during peak periods.

Choosing a strategic destination point is critical to the success of your vanpool. The best option will depend heavily on the needs of your riders: Are they looking to solve the “first mile, last mile dilemma” by having a convenient option to reach a nearby high-speed transit network? Do out-of-town staff and student commuters travel to a main station in your city’s downtown area?

To find out the precise nature of the transportation issues commuters are looking to solve by riding with your vanpool, it’s a good idea to use survey tools to gather insights. This helps you create a customized solution that speaks directly to their needs and fills in critical transportation gaps.

You’ll increase ridership and the overall utility of your vanpool program if you’re able to provide two-way service to and from campus. However, this can necessitate some additional logistical solutions, as you might need to get permission from municipal authorities to operate a vanpool that travels to campus from a trip origin point elsewhere in the city.

Adding vehicles to your fleet allows you to serve a wider range of high-value destinations throughout the surrounding area. Naturally, this adds to your upfront costs, but it can also pay dividends by making the service more appealing to a broader base of prospective riders. When managed properly, vanpools can even generate a modest profit, which the university can reinvest into other commuter and transportation management programs.

University vanpool ridership and access policies

Most universities charge reduced fares for vanpool access, or offer it free of charge to qualified riders if budgets allow. Thus, it’s important to consider your access policies when your vanpool program is still in its design and configuration phase to prevent misuse.

One approach that a lot of schools use involves creating specific, detailed eligibility criteria. For example, the University of Michigan’s vanpool program limits access to full-time students and permanent, full-time employees who will use the service at least four days per week. The school charges a low monthly rate for a vanpool pass, and riders show their credentials to the driver when they board.

Learn more about the benefits and use-cases of university vanpools as an alternative mode of transportation.

Beyond offering significant cost savings to individual passengers, university vanpools have many other advantages that have a positive effect, both campus-wide and across the broader community as a whole:

  • They help reduce on-campus vehicular traffic, thereby increasing pedestrian safety
  • They provide a safe, accessible alternative to single-passenger vehicles
  • They ease traffic congestion and the pollution associated with it
  • They strengthen interpersonal and social ties among passengers and community members
  • They help universities manage campus parking demand by cutting down on the number of vehicles remaining on the property
  • They work to reduce campus parking costs by easing demand and helping schools avoid the need to add more parking facilities

University vanpools can benefit schools that fit one or more of the following profile criteria:

  • A large student body with a significant percentage of students and/or staff commuting to campus, rather than living on-campus or in the immediate vicinity
  • Consistently high levels of demand for limited on-campus parking spaces
  • Gridlock and associated problems recurring during peak traffic periods
  • Location in a large urban area that is underserved by public transportation

Participation in vanpooling programs can also help universities qualify for incentives offered to organizations that take proactive steps to help combat traffic congestion. Best of all, vanpools are easy to create and manage with the powerful digital tools delivered by RideAmigos’ revolutionary transportation demand management platform.

Sign up for our demo to learn more about the many ways vanpools for enterprises, universities, and other large organizations can transform your community. You can also contact us for further information about our next-generation software tools.

Image Credit: UCLA Transportation

University Transportation Demand Management

University Transportation Demand Management

Discover effective campus transportation demand management solutions that generate lasting improvements.

Universities and colleges face a unique set of challenges related to traffic and parking facility management. Campus communities continue to grow and evolve. But building more traffic infrastructure isn’t a viable option in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, administrators need to find practical solutions that encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation. Such alternatives include public transit, walking, cycling, ridesharing, and others.

Campuses that simply introduce vehicle and parking restrictions as a way to manage rising traffic volumes don’t tend to generate the kind of results that lead to lasting solutions. The key to real success is to make smarter transportation options more accessible, convenient, and desirable, especially to students. Thankfully, the good news is that most campuses are already configured to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

The field of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) provides an ideal framework for creating such change. Transportation demand management solutions for educational institutions can help administrators get more people to move around campus without their own vehicles by creating awareness and behavior-change programs that are powered by technology.

The RideAmigos software platform offers powerful capabilities to university administrators and end users alike.

With the RideAmigos TDM software platform, university transportation demand management administrators can quickly and easily track trends and data related to campus commuting. Alongside powerful user tools, this data can be used to help guide policy decisions that will have a far-reaching impact. Students, faculty, and staff will enjoy instant access to a complete range of powerful journey planning tools, including:

  • Turn-by-turn directions for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Multimodal trip planners, including real-time links to local public transit schedules and up-to-the-minute information.
  • Easy-to-use, easy-to-manage carpooling and rideshare matching.
  • Route planners for vehicle-based commuters that will help drivers avoid congested areas, reduce idle time, and arrive at campus on time.

Putting this much information at users’ fingertips makes it far more likely that commuters will make better and more widespread use of smarter, more sustainable transportation. Paired with initiatives like transit pass subsidies or incentive programs, universities can generate results that can reduce vehicular traffic on campuses by as much as 30 percent or more.

Even highly educated faculty members and environmentally conscious student populations will default to solo driving if there aren’t enough options or alternatives available. Choosing the RideAmigos platform to help manage campus transportation needs is a strong step in the right direction. To learn more, please contact us at RideAmigos or sign up to view our free, comprehensive video demonstration.

University TDM Articles