Why Are We Here?

Why ARE we here? Why does the field of commuter management matter? Why is RideAmigos so excited about transforming commuter behavior?

In just one minute, CEO Jeffrey Chernick tackles this all-important question at the recent Association for Commuter Transportation conference in Portland:

The reason why we’re doing this, the reason why I’m doing this, is because we’re shifting commuter behavior to create a better planet.

We’re all in this for the same reason, and by shifting commuter behavior we’re actually clearing the roads!

We’re getting people to take healthier routes to work, whether it be a bike, or a walk, or a Zipcar, or a Lyft line, or an uberPOOL. There are so many new ways to get around.

If people are motivated to do and try something new, we’re actually going to make a major difference in the world. And that’s a big deal! That means cleaner air for our children, that means lower energy consumption for our culture and our land use, and it just goes into so many facets of our lives.

If we decide to commute smarter the world is an actual better place and we’ll live here longer.

It’s almost necessary. We don’t have a choice in it anymore. We have to do it!

The transportation industry today – including ACT and RideAmiogs – we’re here to do this, and it’s pretty profound to be here for it.

Interested in finding out how your organization can make a difference? Take our 2-question survey and receive a free commuter program analysis:

Free Program Analysis

Open Street Map (OSM): Getting the most out of your TDM software

Rob Ludwig is RideAmigos’ backend developer. He shares some insight into how powerful a tool Open Street Map (OSM) can be, and how to maintain its high quality.


What Does it Do?

  • Free, open map of the planet with metadata.
  • Essentially a “Wikipedia” for geodata.
  • Uses the open database license.
  • Users can edit map info with streets, sidewalks, trails, and other features.
  • Provides local, on-the-ground knowledge.
  • Really available for use in commercial and noncommercial products.
  • Allows hundreds of different public transportation tags, along with roads and ways tags.


How to Maintain High Quality Data

  • Look at underlying OSM data when routing is counter-intuitive.
  • Participate in shaping data formats: new tags.
  • Encourage community participation, even if it’s armchair mapping.
  • Participate in and sponsor “Mapathons.”


The Benefits of Good OSM Data

  • Thousands of small, medium, and large apps use it.
  • Heavily used in academic settings.
  • A “Wikipedia” for most landmarks and cities.
  • Many humanitarian organizations use OSM after natural disasters occur to get the most accurate form of geodata on the area affected. (example: nepal 2015 earthquake)



TDM is about routing and showing your commuter options, so with better data from Open Street Map we’re able to provide better options.

Exploring New Technologies in Transportation


Ben Dalton is CTO and co-founder at RideAmigos. Through his experience, Ben has developed a passion for finding new ways to utilize technology to facilitate cultural improvements. He shares some insight on the multiple intersections of new transportation technologies.

Over the last 10 years, the world has experienced significant growth in the technology sector. Smartphones are changing the way we interact with the world through apps like Airbnb, Uber, Car2Go, etc., by making us think about common shareable resources. Companies like Tesla and Nissan are working to make electric vehicles attractive and viable because there is an existing and increasing demand for this service. Open Street Map (OSM) and other open data initiatives, together with open source projects, are serving as a foundation for all of the future’s advancements.

Ben highlights that a bright future is possible for the commuter. Useful technologies have already been developed, but there’s still a lot of work ahead.

  • Electric Vehicle Technology
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • iBeacons
  • Wearables
  • GPS
  • Cellular Data
  • Open Source
  • Open Data
  • Dynamic Dispatching
  • Interconnected Transit Operations

Watch Ben’s video for a look into the future and how collaboration between these technologies can easily reduce traffic congestion, our carbon footprint, and every day transportation struggles!

“Technology isn’t about any one given killer app; It’s about combining these open source projects, open data, new technology, new interfaces, and new modes. So as you go out into the world… start looking at the things around you and saying what can we do that would be different and exciting?”

Using Surveys for Carpool Permit Management, Event Registration & Ride Matching, Surveying, and Data Collection


Derek Davies is the Program Coordinator for Smart Commute, an online tool of Metrolinx that helps commuters and employers explore their best transportation options. He shares the innovations that he has discovered using the RideAmigos transportation survey tool. “Survey functionality is really good when it comes to integrating the things that aren’t offered by other platforms individually.”


Smart Commute Program Innovations

  1. RideAmigos Survey functionality
  2. Program Marketing/ communications
    • marketing materials/ promo
    • tutorial videos
    • workplace champion guides
  3. Standardized excel templates
    • carpool permit management
    • telework program statistics
    • modal split statistics


  1. collect data, survey, report, track programs
  2. send out blasts of micro-surveys
  3. event outreach and registration


Examples of Transportation Survey Tools

  1. Microsurvey: request information regarding workplace and primary/secondary modes of transportation to accurately pair up carpoolers.
  2. Registration: send out an invitation for employees to register for carpool parking passes. Set registration requirements i.e. being a company employee, having carpooled in the past, and establishing one existing member of your carpool. Then give the option to join that network.
  3. Carpool MixnMingle: create carpooling events to help connect carpoolers!
  4. Event Registration: Spread the word about an event and get the waiver requirements fulfilled and signed.


Program Management

Derek utilizes excel to collect data on Emissions Saved, Dollars Saved, Parking Spaces Eliminated, Cost of Eliminated Parking, Trips Saved, etc. He then uses this information to manage his carpool and telework programs. Derek describes the process as simple, “All you have to do is download excel spreadsheets from RideAmigos…and it gives you data based off of the equations that you use.”

For teleworking you can find how many trips the user has, as well as the frequency of their telework program; then through this data, you can then attach a Productive Price and Real Estate Price.

Smart Commute and Derek have employed the unique features offered by RideAmigos to survey and collect data, giving them the ability to tailor the program to their needs. Using our advanced TDM platform, they can integrate information by embedding iFrames and using HTML codes like challenges, registration, logging, and network joins.

Check out our demo video to see more.

The Intersection of Marketing and Getting the Results You Want


Aaron Gaul is the Director of Urban Trans North America, a transportation planning and social marketing firm with a focus on multi-modal trip planning. He redirects the question “why can’t you sell brotherhood like you sell soap?” towards the TDM industry. This question was first asked by Gerhard Weibe, a WWII U-boat commander in 1952. It was the birth of social marketing strategies, a valuable tool that the TDM industry is just starting to utilize.

TDM Marketing


Get people to engage with the tools you provide to them. Aaron offers an example of his own success with audience acquisition. He recently started a new TMA in Playa Vista, Los Angeles. One can usually expect to acquire 2% of the potential audience for a business in the first year. Aaron exceeded expectations and acquired 11% in the first week. How did he do this? He utilized the incentives structure of the RideAmigos platform and the information provided about what individual employees were doing and what they wanted. Sending out a customized email template to every individual employee and then giving them a presentation on it is what allowed for 11% acquisition in just one week.



Send the right message. Los Angeles is notorious for its terrible commuting situation, however, it doesn’t have to be. By sending the message that this barrier can be overcome by already existing investments in its future, you can increase optimism for carpooling. Showcase how making the right decisions about commutes now can help the world now – and its future. One statistic identified that it is 3 times more likely to have a heart attack after one hour of a daily commute. This would incentivize anyone to make the healthier choice. Inform users not only of what they prevent, but what they receive. A commuter could arrive home substantially earlier by using the best transportation option, and have the opportunity to utilize time in the way that he or she wants.



Recognize that not all employees fit into the same category. Breakdown who they are and what market segment they fit into. Each market segment has a unique need and will respond similarly to the same market stimulus. Aaron offers an example of an Atlantic station TMA with 650+ people. Most of them were on the online tool that was offered, but not participating. To solve this, the users were broken down into categories: long-time carpoolers that had stopped reporting and current carpoolers that don’t report. The company tested two different email subject lines to survey the needs of their users:

  1. “Please activate account for carpool incentives” which had 0% open rate.
  2. “Your interest in carpooling to Atlantic station” which had 30% open rate.

By doing this, they were able to divide their users into walkers within 2 miles, and active transportation users within 5 miles based off of zipcode in infrastructure. This resulted in 37% increase of commute logging rates, 116% increase of account activation, 100% increase of Cash for Commuters, and 300% increase in GRH (Guaranteed Ride Home) applications.


“Find the right people to do the right behaviors because if you don’t, you’re going to be preaching to too many people.”




The Carrot and the Stick


“Why would you give people free parking when you don’t have the space?” asks Stanford University’s Transportation Planner, Carolyn Helmke. She and the Land and Buildings Operations department have found sustainable ways to reduce congestion and fund university TDM programs.



In the United States, there is an innate sense of denial that exists around the costs of car ownership and car usership, parking lots and parking, and the 30,000 people that are killed every year because of the our dependence on cars and acceptance of them. There is not only a financial cost imposed by the use of cars, but also a social cost.


The General Use Permit

Stanford University, located in Santa Clara, follows the conditions of the county’s General Use Permit. The goal is to minimize congestion and car usage – “no new net trips.” To accomplish this, the university charges for parking.


Charging for Parking: A Two-Part System

In order to give drivers alternative transportation options, the university needs funding. Stanford funds its TDM programs with the money from parking charges. This is a positive and sustainable way to get people out of cars.

  1. Parking fees incentivize people not to drive. The higher parking prices get, fewer and fewer people will drive to work.
  2. Offer different levels of parking. For example: a driver has the option to pay more and park across the street from the office, or to pay less a park a few blocks away.


Commute Club

Students who choose not to obtain a Stanford parking permit are rewarded with up to $300 a year in Clean Air Cash or Carpool Credit. This incentivizes finding alternative transportation options.


“The Carrot and the Stick” approach has proven successful at Stanford University. As Carolyn recognizes, we live in an era in which people want everything for free. The inconvenience of higher parking charges is rewarded with funding for university TDM programs, lower drive alone rates, and rising Commute Club membership.


It is clear that people respond to incentives, such as the cost of driving/parking into their commute decisions. Here at RideAmigos, we work with all of our university customers to make sure that you are cognizant of all the travel options available to you so that your transportation demand management will line up directly with your personal and organizational objectives.




Teach, Don’t Tell – Client Relations in an Ever-Changing Industry


Grant Heger is the Director of Client Relations & Project Manager at RideAmigos. Grant shares some insight on how teaching can be used as a tool to enhance client relationships in the constantly changing TDM industry.


What do you mean teach, don’t tell? Aren’t they the same thing?

  • Telling = lecturing, a very one sided activity.
    • Do you prefer to be told what to do. or do you prefer being taught how to do something?
  • Teaching allows everyone involved to work together.
  • Be multi-modal!
    • Teaching involves a variety of learning methods for both the teacher and the learner: visual, aural, aesthetic.
  • How do I do this?
    • Jump on screenshare, create a video, have a question and answer session.


How will it help me?

  • Think back to college, high school, or even middle school.
    • What lessons do you really remember?
  • Think about the platforms you use most often today.
    • Could you really instruct another user how to work with it efficiently?
  • The more you are able to teach about your platform or program, the more comfortable you will be with it!


How will it help my client relations?

  • No more feeling alone, lost in the woods of a new platform or program.
  • A more personal interaction helps your client feel at ease with a new program or workflow.
  • It allows hands-on experience with someone they feel is an expert on the subject.
  • It allows your clients and users to have one specific point of contact to refer back to.
  • It gives them an easy way to ask questions in a learning environment.


Never stop learning!

  • If you stagnate, so will your users and clients. Learn to re-learn.
  • Don’t be scared to tell a client “I’m not quite sure but let me find out and get back to you.” This gives you a new learning experience and lets your client know that their question is being attended to.
  • If you learn something new, find someone to teach it to. This will help you retain the information faster and more efficiently.
  • Always remember that there is more than one way to learn: visual, aural, kinesthetic, and more.


Grant makes the point that effective learning requires total immersion into a new platform or program. If you are interested in learning about the UNITY platform and how it will fit to your transportation demand management needs, take a few moments to watch our exciting demo video.



Six Cool Facts About the New Waves of Bikeshare


Bikes Make Life Better is a consulting firm dedicated to helping large organizations to put people on bikes. Kurt Wallace, Co-Founder and Director, discusses the potential for the future of public and private bikeshare. He likens the proliferation of bikeshare systems to that of the use of cell phones, “First there was one cell phone, and now there are a zillion different kinds.”

Many conventional public bikeshare systems share these features:

  • Large systems – thousands of bikes.
  • Public systems that are reliant on stations.

Private bikeshare, in contrast, seems to get less attention in the modern bikeshare era.

A good example of the practicality that private bikeshare has to offer is Facebook’s use of the system. Facebook offers “different trip types and different needs” for its employees with an inventory of bikes that are faster, lighter, and have different gear settings.

Kurt identifies the need that hotels might have for mission-based private bikeshare.“The underlying idea is the same: someone arrives at your facility, your city, your hotel and they need transportation. In a lot of cases we don’t want someone to bring their own car… It makes perfect sense for the place you’re staying to provide you with bikeshare – a fleet of bikes designed for certain trip types.”

There is also a security component to bikeshare programs. “There are lots of reasons why you’ve seen more and more cops on bikes. They can get to things faster, they’re closer to the ground. For one thing, they can hear.” These benefits are not confined to private corporations, they can be advantageous to municipalities and state agencies as well.

A loaner fleet is a system in which a facility manages a fleet of bikes that can be checked out on an individual basis.

“Dude, where’s my bike?”

“Using your smartphone you can check this bike out, from wherever you find it. I check out the bike, I ride it away, and I leave it somewhere else, not at a dock, but just locked properly inside the service area.” This is what Kurt introduces as the next generation of bikeshare technology. It exists in Phoenix, Arizona. The entire configuration attached to each individual bike allows the user to check out a single bike from any location.

In the lock 8 system, the locks report to GPS, allowing the whole system to run on one bike. “The key difference here of course, is you can use any kind of bike. Picture citybike where we started: this big heavy thing, all the bikes look the same. Suddenly, the bikes don’t look the same and I can have different kinds of bikes.”

”Last, but not least: pilots are cool,” Kurt concludes. “You start with whatever you need, prove the case, and then expand on it really simply.”

Bikeshare systems offer seamless multi-modal solutions to many contemporary Transportation Demand Management challenges.

RideAmigos offers the perfect platform to promote multi-modal collaboration with bikeshare systems. Together, they pave the way for less congestion, less pollution, and a happier commute.

The Importance of Sharing Best Practices & Collaboration to Advance Sustainable Mobility

Virtual TDM Conference – Susan Shaheen from RideAmigos on Vimeo.

“What solutions do we have at our fingertips to address many of the issues that face us today, with respect to climate change, accessibility, reliance on fossil fuels, and our land use patterns?” asks Susan Shaheen, Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at UC Berkeley. TSRC is an organization that studies the ways in which sustainable transportation can be made to be most efficient economically, socially, and environmentally. It is focusing on three strategies to lessen greenhouse gas emissions in ordinance with California’s greenhouse gas legislation AB32; they include transportation and land use strategies, technological solutions, and using fuels that leave a smaller carbon footprint.

These approaches, Susan explains, are “changing perceptions across the United States and the World.” She identifies mobility as a fundamental right, just as people are starting to realize that “access trumps possession,” as Kevin Kelly, former editor/publisher of Whole Earth Review, predicted in 2009. Local governments are recognizing this and have started to incorporate shared mobility into public rights of way. These efforts are being made with street parking, provisions for off street parking, waiting zones, and free or reduced cost parking. However, “in order for mobility to be accessible to all, the public and private sector need to work together to ensure all people have access to shared mobility options regardless of income, race or ability,” says Susan.

Susan addresses how the current narrative of changing perspectives on transportation will have a significant effect on transportation demand management. Susan also explains the potential that mobility services shared between users can have. The focus on sustainability and the growth of smart cities highlights the changing business models that will business and government will adopt in the coming decades. As the way we do business and the way we commute to work are constantly changing and consistently influencing the economy, corporations and governments will have to continually account for these changes.

By organizing the Virtual TDM Conference, RideAmigos has taken the initiative to “grow collaboration,” which Susan identifies as the way to success for sustainable transportation.