As you review your survey
results, consider these questions to help you select the best commute
solutions for your employees:
Is your goal to reduce drive-alone rates?
Calculate the percentage of employees who primarily drive alone to work.
This is your drive-alone rate and the number you may want to target for
reduction. Be realistic about what you can accomplish – perhaps by setting a
goal to reduce the drive-alone rate by three to five percent in the first year
– and monitor how your program performs.
Are employees using any commute alternatives already?
Employees who already use a commute alternative are generally more open to
adding another day or using a different mode. Consider encouraging this group
to bump it up one more day a week by offering an incentive if they increase
their use of a commute alternative.
Where are your employee commute clusters?
Using employee zip code information, identify groups of employees who live
near each other but drive alone to work. If many of your solo drivers live
near the worksite, focus on a walk and bike campaign. Carpooling is a good
option for people who may need flexibility but want to share rides at least a
couple of times a week, while vanpooling works well for groups of six to 15
employees with regular schedules who travel more than 20 miles each way. Take
the time to research high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) and express lanes and Park
& Ride lots that could serve specific employees, and include this
information in your outreach.
Do you want to promote public transit?
BART, Caltrain, SMART, ACE or ferries are good alternatives to promote if
enough employees live near stations or terminals, but you should also consider
how employees will get to and from these stations – often referred to as the
“first mile” and “last mile.” Many employees want to drive from home to a
station or terminal, but they need adequate parking at the station to do so.
Others can take a bus to get to their station, but need discounted transfer
fare to afford it. Take a little time to explore whether parking is available,
whether there is secure bike parking, or whether the transit agencies offer
special incentives (like carpool parking) or inter-agency transfers (many
do!). Make sure to include this information in your outreach.
What do employees cite as the largest barriers to using commute
One common barrier for employees is uncertainty in the event of an
emergency. Be sure to promote any guaranteed ride home programs available in
your county. Some programs require the employer to register before employees
can sign up, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the requirements. If
you have worksites in multiple counties, you’ll need to take the time to
research the programs available in each. Check out The
Ultimate Commute Program Resource, select your county and look for
information on guaranteed ride home.
Another common barrier for employees is their fixed work schedule. If your
company does not offer flexible schedules, talk to your management about
whether this could be an option. Allowing employees some flexibility opens up
more possibilities for carpooling and vanpooling.
Now You’re Ready to Start
Once you’ve considered these factors, you’re ready to start putting together
a commute program tailored for your employees. The program you design may
include the following:
- Information – This can include transit and shuttle
schedules, resources for finding carpools and vanpools, details on HOV and
express lanes and other infrastructure supports, tips for successful bicycle
commuting or even policies to allow telework.
- Assistance – This can include hands-on trip planning with
an employee to review their commute options; this can be tremendously helpful
in encouraging them to overcome barriers to trying an alternative. If you
don’t have time to do this one-on-one, consider offering group commute
consultation sessions on a regular basis, e.g., every other Monday at
- Supports – These can include infrastructure supports such
as lockers, racks, and showers for bike commuters, or programmatic supports
like finding a carpool partner or helping a commuter get home in an emergency
via a guaranteed ride home program.
- Incentives – These come in all forms and can range from
ongoing benefits to one-time rewards. Ongoing incentives include a pre-tax
transit benefit program or vanpool subsidies, or possibly preferential parking
for carpools and vanpools. A one-off incentive could be a reward that program
participants earn or win. One-off rewards can be financial, but some employers
may find it easier to offer perks like extra vacation time.
One more note: Employees with alternative fuel vehicles often believe they
are already doing their part by not using a “gas guzzler.” While this definitely
helps reduce their carbon footprint, it does not reduce congestion, which also
contributes to air pollution. Alternative fuel vehicles on the road still result
in extra cars on the road, increasing idling time for conventional vehicles.
Encourage these employees to consider taking a passenger – eliminating not one
but two conventional fuel vehicles from the road while also reducing
Ultimate Commute Program Resource for links to a variety of how tos and best
practices in designing your commute program.