TDM 101: How to improve your workplace

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 3/28/18 2:50 PM

So far, we've looked at transportation demand management (TDM) practices across cities and areas — the Bay Area and Seattle, specifically. Now, we'd like to look at it from a different angle: the corporate workplace.

WeDriveU Employee Commute ShuttleEmployees board a company-provided shuttle. (Photo courtesy WeDriveU.)

As we've explored, a successful TDM strategy requires input from all parties: the city, the transit agencies, the employer, and the individual. If transit service isn't reliable enough or doesn't serve enough of the area, then all the encouragement in the world won't be enough to make a substantial difference in ridership. And if your employer is offering you the ability to deduct transit costs pre-tax but still offers free parking? Well, it's pretty tempting.

That said, here are the top TDM tips for a corporate workplace looking to make a difference.

Set measurable goals

As with any large-scale resolution, you should try to break it down into measurable goals. Sure, it's great to say "I want to have fewer employees drive to work alone" — but how many? Without specifics, it's difficult to measure if what you're doing is working and even harder to iterate on your strategy to make improvements.

You should make them achievable, but still a stretch. If you currently have 10% of employees taking transit, it's probably not achievable to get that number to 50% by the end of the quarter. Maybe something more along the lines of doubling it to 20% in a certain period of time. If it doesn't look like you're going to get there, take a step back and ask yourself why.

Offer multiple options

Changing only one thing about your commuter benefits probably isn't going to do the trick (and definitely not if you don't market the changes to your employees to get them using it). The most effective TDM strategies are multi-pronged; no commuter is exactly alike. What works for one person will not work for another, based on destination and even personal preference.

The benefit with the highest impact is typically providing employer transportation services, such as a shuttle to/from the nearest train station. (We've often found that a way to increase shuttle ridership is to make sure there is real-time information available about these trips.) Another strong motivator is cold, hard cash for employees who choose not to drive alone to work.

Man in suit rides bikeWearing a suit doesn't mean you can't ride a bike. (Photo courtesy Active)

But consider including both financial incentives and transportation services! According to research, combining these two factors had "a particularly strong synergistic effect" and led to an implied 37 percent vehicle trip reduction.

Seattle Children's Hospital does both (and more), giving $4 a day to employees who don't drive to work alone. They also give free bikes to those employees who use them to drive to work, which is why they have 9 percent of employees who do so (double the Seattle average).

Make it part of your company culture

Offering a vanpool program can kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you getting more cars off the road and cutting down on the number of parking spaces you need the provide, but you're also bringing employees together out of the office.

You can make active commutes part of the company culture, whether it's by organizing a vanpool, hosting bike-to-work days, or even having groups of employees walk to the subway together. It's good for them, it's good for the company as a whole, and it will get you that much closer to your goal of reducing drive-alone commutes.

Anything else?

Did we miss anything? Have you tried to implement a program like this at your company and have some pointers for others trying to do the same? Tweet us @TransitScreen and let us know!

Topics: TDM, Workplace