Luuminary20 | Day Two | Session Notes | Recording and Transcript
Luuminary20 is now, officially, a wrap—as this post concludes our recap of the inaugural, two-day conference. We’ve been receiving a lot of great feedback and requests for specific information since last week. So, if you have any questions or need help being directed to a particular piece of Luuminary20 content, please don’t hesitate to reach out via our contact form or send an email to email@example.com.
And now, without further adieu, here are some hand-picked highlights from Day Two Sessions. Below this, you will find links that will auto-start video at the beginning of the corresponding session as well as a full transcript of the day.
SESSION ONE – LIGHTNING ROUND RESPONSES
Secret commute weapon?
Jenny – “The opportunity to get in front of every new employee and throw commute info at them.”
Melanie – “The team – our commute coaches and walkup desk.”
Jessica – “The shift from evaluating entire programs to evaluating individual components of the program. That way we can isolate variables to understand which [policies] we should drop and which we should amp up.”
Employee commutes should be _____?
Jenny – “Employee commutes should work. Not stressful or difficult.”
Melanie – “Flexible, adaptable, and resilient.”
Jessica – “So good that people miss them when they’re stuck at home.”
What’s your one wish for TDM?
Jenny – “A name change. TDM is a mouthful. Ok, but really my wish is that employer commute benefits are put on the same level as other benefits like healthcare. Seen as must have not a nice to have.”
Melanie – “TDM is meaningfully improving the commute experience – making people feel better off with the change.”
Jessica- “No more free parking so we can stop swimming up stream!”
Seeing three women leading their own session was good to experience.– Anonymous Luuminary20 Attendee
What was the most inspiring moment for you?
All of it! I enjoy hearing what other companies are doing to get ideas for my own. Hearing the specific aspects of their programs was helpful.– Anonymous Luuminary20 Attendee
Click on the links below to be taken directly to the start of that session or just push play on video below to watch full webinar.
SessionOne: Phased Policy Approach with Jessica Roberts (Alta Planning + Design), Jenny Cadigan (Oregon Health and Science University), Melanie Truhn (Expedia Group)
Session Two: Rebounding with Vanpool with Chuck Welek (Commute with Enterprise)
Session Three: How to Help Your Employees Relearn their Commute with Rachel Karitis (TransitScreen)
Session Four: Carpooling’s Role in the Future of the Commute with Trevor Boylan (Scoop)
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF DAY TWO SESSIONS
Kelly: So, hello to everyone who is joining us, and welcome to Luuminary day 2. We’ll get started here in just a couple of minutes. But while we wait, go ahead and tell us what your commute choice will be when you return to the office. Will you stick with your old mode, or are you going to try a new mode? I know I for one am a normal transit rider, and I will be getting back on the bike commute this summer for the first few months at least.
Welcome to everyone who’s joining the call. We will get started in a few minutes. But while we wait, go ahead and tell us in the chat box how you plan to commute when you return to the office.
Wow, a lot of bikers, a lot of telecommuters. This is awesome. We’ll just give everyone about 1 more minute to sign on. I see the numbers are still coming in as people log on. But again, if you’re just joining us, while we wait, tell us in the chat box what your choice commute mode will be when you return to the office.
Alright, we’re going to get started here today. So, welcome, everyone, to Luuminary day 2. My name is Kelly Hostetler and I will be one of your moderators today. I’m the Director of Marketing at Luum. I will be joined by my 2 colleagues, Madeline and Lisa. They will also be moderating some panels today. And then for those of you who weren’t on the call yesterday, just a quick reminder to use the Q&A for questions. So, when you have questions for a panelist or for a presenter, put those in the Q&A box and then use the chat box for chatting, for talking to each other, sharing resources, those types of things. And today, we did make the change from yesterday. So, you should now, as an attendee, be able to see the questions that have been asked and not yet answered in the Q&A box. So, there is a Zoom setting very deep that we found. And so, you should be able to see those.
So, before we get started, I just want to do these quick polls to see who’s on the line. If you did this yesterday, don’t feel like you need to do it again. It’s 3 questions, you should see it on your screen now. But just first curious, you know, what… who are you representing today? Are you a university, a private employer, or a hospital, service provider? And then what stage are you in and your return-to-the-office planning? And finally, where are you focusing your commute program investments your time as you return to the office and plan for that? I know I can speak for Luum that we are practicing what we preach and starting an active commute bonus when we return to the office. So, you might have heard me say this earlier on the call, but I’m excited to get back on my bike commute.
So, I’ll just give everyone another 2030 seconds. Make sure you hit Submit at the end for the questions or the answers to go through. See a bunch of you are voting. I will share the results with you all once here in about another 15 seconds.
Excellent. Okay, go ahead and submit your answers. I’m going to end the poll, and share the results. So, now you should see the results on your screen. It looks like today we have a little different spread, more public agencies. I believe yesterday, private employer was the highest. And still everyone working on a plan. That’s great. That’s why we’re here to collaborate and work on those return-to-the-office plans. And yes, another big focus on telework policies as a way to manage demand when we all return to the office or partially return. Excellent. Thank you all. It’s good to know who we’re joined with today.
So, quick, quick thank you to our sponsors and friends. Commute with Enterprise is our gold sponsor of Luuminary. TransitScreen, Bikes Make Life Better, and Scoop are our silver sponsors. Thank you so much. You will hear from a few of them today. And then thank you to ACT, the Association for Commuter Transportation, as being our associate partner. If you are not a member, I highly recommend joining. It’s an excellent resource for TDM professionals everywhere.
So, with that today, I will just preview the agenda and then we’ll kick off the first panel. I am really looking forward to this first panel, the Employer Panel on the Phased Policy Approach. We will have an Expedia Group who just relocated to Seattle, but prior to that move, for years, phased in policies and made changes that drastically reduced the drag alone rate at their organization. So, we’ll hear from Melanie about that.
Then we’ll hear from Jenny at OHSU, a University Hospital who cannot relocate (like many of you universities out there), but has been phasing in policies over the last 2 years at a really large scale campus wide. So, she’ll be able to share some insights and pilots that they’ve done.
And then finally, Jessica Roberts from Alta Planning and Design will offer that behavior change lens and the science behind why these policies worked, and how we can apply these policies as we all return to the office. What can we learn from past phased policy approaches as we all attempt to phase in policies this… this fall and next year?
And then we’ll round out the rest of the day with some short and very informative sessions on return-to-office planning, first with Rebounding with Vanpool from Commute with Enterprise. You’ll hear from Chuck over there. Then we’ll hear from Rachel at TransitScreen who will be helping you help your employees relearn their commutes. And then finally, we’ll round out the day talking about carpooling’s role in the future of commute with Trevor from Scoop.
So, it’s going to be a great day today very focused on return-to-the-office planning. We’re so glad that you all are on the line today. And with that, I’m going to hand it over to my colleague, Madeline. She’s a customer success manager here at Luum, and will be moderating the employer panel on phased policy approach. So, take it away, Madeline.
Madeline: Thanks, Kelly. My name is Madeline Feig, as Kelly mentioned, I’m the customer success manager with Luum. It is a huge privilege today to be joined by 3 fantastic women in the transportation sphere. Our panelists today as, you can see on the screen are Jessica Roberts, Principal at Alta Planning and Design, Melanie Truhn, Commute Program Manager at Expedia Group, and Jenny Cadigan, Program Manager at OHSU.
So, to start us off, Kelly gave some excellent background, but I’m going to have each of our panelists go ahead and introduce themselves a little more fully, tell us a bit about their backgrounds. And let’s start off with Jenny.
Jenny: Thank you, Madeline. And I’m Jenny Cadigan. I’m the Program Manager at OHSU in their transportation and parking department. I’ve been in this role for about 4 years now. So, basically, I used to say I managed everything that wasn’t parking. But slowly parking has crept into my role. So, we have a lot of people coming to OHSU. And so, our role as a department is to help everybody access to OHSU, whether that’s employees, patients, help them get there, help them navigate campus. It’s not the most intuitive place.
Previously, I was the executive director for a Transportation Management Association in Washington County, which is the suburban region just west of Portland. So, I was there for about 3 years. So, overall, I’ve been in kind of the TDM employee commute sphere for about 7 years. I’m very happy to be here today.
Madeline: Alright, let’s go over to Melanie for an introduction.
Melanie: Hi, everyone. I’m Melanie. I am a Senior Associate with Nelson\Nygaard. I’ve been embedded at the Expedia Group client for about 5 years, starting in 2015 when they announced they’d be moving their Seattle headquarters basically from Bellevue, Washington to the inner Bay neighborhood of Seattle. Prior to that, I was doing some community planning in the East Village of New York. And prior to that, did TDM type work in the Lloyd district of Portland. So, definitely, I’m very familiar with the employer-commute problem solving and excited to speak today with Jenny and Jessica.
Madeline: Thanks, Melanie. And go ahead, Jessica.
Jessica: Hi, Jessica Roberts with Alta Planning and Design. So, I manage a group at Alta. We’re consultants who basically work exclusively with public agencies and private employers. And we design, run, and evaluate behavior-change campaigns, obviously, they’re either called TDM, or active transportation. But our goal is always to get people driving less often and doing everything else more. But in the course of nearly 15 years of doing that, I’ve gotten more and more convinced that we can do a better job of integrating evidence and theory into our work to get more effective programs. And so, the last few years of my career, I’ve been working very closely with some different research scientists in the behavioral science field. And so, I’ll be sharing some of their insights and the work that we’re doing together.
Madeline: Thanks so much to all of you for that introduction. So, as you all know, the focus of our discussion today will be phased policy implementation within commute programs. So, Melanie and Jenny, I’m wondering if you could give a little bit of information about your policies and programs and the unique challenges you’ve been facing at your organizations. And let’s start out with Melanie this time.
Melanie: Great. So, Expedia Group is a large travel company of about 4500 people in the Puget Sound. They decided in 2014, I believe, that they were going to build a new brand new headquarters, about 12 miles as the crow flies west of their previous central business district offices in Bellevue, Washington, which is when they decided to partner with Nelson\Nygaard to figure out how they could make that change a little more palatable to employees as they would also be facing changes to their office life, their work styles, etc. So, that is when they engaged with Nelson\Nygaard.
Our program philosophy for the Expedia Group commute program has always been flexibility. The goal is to give employees the freedom to choose the commute that meets their needs on a daily basis. We’ve done this, by slowly phasing in different types of policy changes kind of 6 months to 6 months year over year, helping get people more comfortable with that flexible arrangement, instead of deciding that one way is the way they always get to work. Our real goal is that we want everyone to be the expert of their own commute and understand all the options that are applicable to their lifestyle and not just one thing.
The key programs that really back up our philosophy and help structure our program are daily parking. Our commute coaches, which are 2 wonderful team members who interface with employees constantly, they man our email channels, our slack channels, our walk of desks, etc. They’re really the concierges of everyone’s commute, and without them, we would not have the success that we have today. We have transit passes for everyone that are fully subsidized, and we also have a cash incentive program for various active commute modes. And those really kind of build the framework of how our program works. Jenny?
Jenny: Alright. So, again OHSU, we are the only academic medical center in Oregon. We are also Portland’s largest employer. We have about 18,000 employees throughout the region and about 15,000 of those are located on in our central campuses. So, we are located just south of downtown Portland and we have 2 main campuses. One is up on a hill, our Markham Hill campus. The other one is on the South Waterfront. Very close as the crow flies, but you know, we have some freeways in between. So, we actually have an aerial tram that connects our 2 campuses, which has made it really cohesive as one campus.
We’re not a typical University in the sense that we have many more employees than we do students. We have about 2 to 3000 students on campus, mostly graduate level. We are a 24/7 institution. So, we do have people commuting at all hours of the day, all days of the year, which does make it difficult for some.
In terms of our transportation program. We have very heavily-subsidized transit passes. And about 30%… pre-COVID, about 30% of our employees were… were coming to work on transit. We do have a bike-and-walk incentive. We have a bike valet. We have a Scoop-managed carpool program. We offer subsidized Lyft rides for people commuting late at night or early in the morning when transit is not running frequently. We also have an inner campus shuttle and the tram which I mentioned.
One of our difficulties is just limited parking. We have about 7000 parking stalls for 20,000 plus daily visitors. Further, our parking environment is not easy to understand. We have free parking for patients and patient visitors. We have paid parking for everybody else. There’s multiple types of permits and rates and way to access parking. So, we have a lot of people and annual parking permits, which everyone in the TDM world knows that just incentivizes driving and parking.
So, one of our big goals is to transition from annual parking to daily parking. In 2018, we completed a TDM plan with about 34 strategies, and transitioning to daily parking was one of those key strategies. So, that will be kind of most of what I focus on today.
Madeline: Thanks, that’s really excellent background and information for us to have moving forward. So, Jessica, I’m wondering, from a behavior-change perspective, can you give us some insight into how TDM Program Managers like Jenny and Melanie might use behavioral science to inform their program decisions?
Jessica: Of course, my favorite topic. And I… there are 2 ways to answer this, right? One is actually getting into the behavioral principles that we could use; very important, we’ll touch on that later. But another way to answer that is, how can we actually, you know, do science in our TDM programs, meaning how can we bring in evidence and… and generate our own evidence?
So, I thought I’d tell you a story about, I think, a very enlightening example that happened in the city of Durham. I did not do this program. This was led by the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, which is run by Dan Ariely; if some of you have read some very popular books. And they had Luumberg funding partnered with the city of Durham and their overall goal was to reduce single-occupancy-vehicle trips into downtown by 5%. But they of course, you know, you can’t… can’t eat an elephant all at once, right? So, they decided to tackle first city employees. They had access to city employees and also all city employees had a free transit pass, but most of them did not take transit to their workplace, which was also downtown. So, their… their first goal was to increase city-employee use of transit to get to work, obviously, with the goal of shifting that away from driving.
So, they began by starting with a literature review, and did a lot of qualitative research. In this case, that meant a lot of focus groups. They did some ride-alongs where they actually traveled with people for their commutes and made observations and asked them different things about what they liked and didn’t like. They… out of that lit review and the qualitative work, they came up with some initial ideas that were well-supported by evidence and also seem to be addressing the actual barriers that… that these real people were… were experiencing. And they were a personalized-commute route plan. And the idea of a bus lottery, which is that, for every day you ride the bus, you’ll be have one entry into a drawing. And every week, everyone… you know, there’s a drawing for… they decided making $163 in cash. They literally Visa card, but cash sounds so good, right?
So, those… that already… that… that process alone is, I think, could benefit a lot of TDM programs have taken the time to do the lit review and say, “What does the evidence suggest?” and taking the time to really work with the end users and learn about their challenges and preferences. But then they took it one step farther and said, “Great, we have these ideas. Let’s put them to the test. Let’s do what’s called ‘Don’t get scared, a randomized controlled trial’,” that just means, “You know, let’s figure out if they work.”
So, they did a 5-week trial. Employees were randomly either put into a group. There were 3 groups. One that didn’t hear… It was the status quo, right? Whatever communication would normally happen happened, but nothing additional happened. They were the control group. The second group received a personalized commute plan, personalized trip plan, which by the way, was prototyped, again, with user input on many roads. I can show you a slide about that if you ever want. And then the third group received both the personalized travel plan and the invitation to participate in the bus lottery.
To jump to the… the reveal, what they found is that, for people who received the personalized travel plan, they reduce their drive alone trip rate by 8%. And there was an additional 1% boost for the bus lottery. The bus lottery is fun and sexy. Everybody loves to talk about it. But actually, the personalized trip plan was the bulk of the impact, and it was free. So, you can imagine what they’re proceeding with.
So, that’s great, but a single trial doesn’t mean, “Yay! We know for sure that it works,” and it doesn’t necessarily mean we know that it’s guaranteed to work in any context. So, these being good proper capital S Scientists, they said, “Great, we’re really excited about these preliminary results. They suggest to us that this might be a very productive strategy. Let’s try to replicate it, and let’s learn more about the context in which this strategy works. And if we can amp up the effectiveness.”
So, they’re… they’re just wrapping up a second replication trial in a different organization. It was at North Carolina State University, which is a historically Black college and university in the triangle region. And this time, they… they scaled… anyway, they delivered the trip plans. They’re still doing analysis on that, but I can tell you that the initial results are looking promising, that there is a positive impact… well, a negative impact on SOV rate, right? But… but that the intervention is successful. And they are in talks with some other public agencies to do replication trials there and maybe like layer on some concepts that… that they think could maybe make it even more effective.
So, I’m sharing this as an illustration of what applying behavioral science might look like in the context of our programs. And, you know, this was work, but it was also done fairly quickly and… and I think can be scaled in different ways. So, hopefully that gets you excited and thinking about like, you know, “Are there opportunities for work like that in my program?”
Madeline: Thanks, Jessica. So, Melanie and Jenny, looking kind of retrospectively at some of the policy changes that you put into place at your organizations, what lessons have each of you learned from this phased approach that you took in implementing these new transportation policies? Let’s start off with Jenny this time.
Jenny: Alright. So, again, I’m going to talk about our phased approach to implementing daily parking. And to provide you with a little bit more background before I dive into lessons learned. So, again, we have about 5000 permitted parking stalls on our campus. About 4000, maybe just under 4000 people have an annual parking permit. So, they’re on a fixed-rate payroll deduction, they’re paying the same amount regardless of whether they show up to park. But, you know, most of those employees are driving every day and parking when they do come to work. The other 1000 to 1200 of our stalls are on a daily parking model. People can go online and reserve, pay a much higher post tax daily rate, first come first serve. So, that’s kind of our working environment before launching into this transition.
So, again, our end goal is to get most all employees on a daily parking model. We are using Luum, which makes this very easy. So, our first kind of pilot project was with a brand-new building that opened up on our Night Cancer Research and our Night Cancer Research building that opened up in 2018. And so, this was a new building, state-of-the-art. And the project, put 70 parking stalls in for their 700 employees. And so, already, we’re like, “Great, this is going to be a great example of SOV reduction, because they didn’t build that many parking stalls.” But we took a group of people that had an annual permit and we transitioned them to this garage where they were going to be on a daily parking model. So, again, they… they can still have access to parking, they don’t have to go online and reserve, but they’re only going to be charged when they swipe their badge at the gate. The gate sends a parking charge to Luum. And then that… that amount is deducted from their paycheck. So, their parking is really dependent on how often they use it.
And further, we went to a tiered daily parking model, which means there was 1 rate for the first 8 parking events of a 10-day, 2-week pay period and then we increased the price on the 9th and 10th day. So, the message was really about, you know, 1 day a week, can you change your behavior, whether that’s working from home, or biking or transit? So, we did this kind of at 1 facility to start with, definitely learned some lessons. And then, since… since 2018, we’ve we have rolled out it 2 additional garages.
So, first lesson is communication. Very important, very difficult at a large campus. You know, our institution controls a lot of the communication outlets. Not everybody reads email. Not everybody checks kind of our staff news blog. And so, as much as possible, we tried to get in front of people. It was… it was a very kind of complex change. And it was hard to explain in writing. So, as much as possible, we tried to get opportunities to present to staff meetings, to have focus groups, to somehow get in front of people and talk directly to them and walk them through the changes and what it meant for them. So, we weren’t able to get in front of everybody, but as much as we could, like that was a much easier conversation to have.
The other thing we learned related… related to communication is… is their name. We named this Parking… Guaranteed Daily Parking. But that just confuses people. It’s not daily parking. It’s not annual. So, we’re still working on a new name; open to ideas. We also learned it’s really hard for people to conceptualize cost on an annual level. We had a lot of people who kind of did their own math and they said, “Well, I work Monday through Friday. I… I work all the time. I don’t take vacation. I don’t… I’m not sick.” So, they did their own math and said, you know, they were outraged because they thought their parking was going to be you know, 2 and a half times as expensive. And we had to do a lot of hand holding. And basically, what we did was we used their perk in history from the previous year to show them, “Well, if you had been on this daily model last year,” like 9 times out of 10, we were able to show people they would have saved money. But just this conceptually going from like a annual model to a daily model was really hard for people to comprehend.
People will be upset, but they get over it. That was the lesson we learned. Kind of a lot of outrage at first. People are very passionate about parking and their… their right to parking. So, it was kind of like a lot of backlash at first, and then it went quiet and most people ended up paying less for parking than they had before.
Timing is really important. So, with the first building, actually, 2 out of the 3 garages we converted to this model were brand new facilities. So, we were able to capitalize, you know, on some level of disruption to change the way our parking was being priced. So, already they were moving to a new worksite or moving to a new parking location. So, it was a little easier there to kind of implement new changes associated with this new facility.
One of the facilities was not ne. People had been parking they’re like on their annual rate. And then we just flipped a switch and said, “Okay, you’re now on this new daily model. You don’t have a choice.” But we did decide to make that… that flip in our pay period that incorporated both Christmas and New Year’s. And so, we really lucked out. I mean, those are 2… 2 holidays where we don’t charge anyway if people come to work, plus, most people take some amount of vacation over… over those holidays. So, out of the gate, people’s first payroll deduction on the new daily model was significantly lower. So, we capitalized on that timing to have… have a win.
Another thing we learned was… was defined champions of the project. People listen to their peers a lot more than they like to listen to the parking people. Yes, we’ve been called that. And so, you know, we were able to find a faculty member who has parking but is also an avid cyclist. So, he was thrilled because, all of a sudden, he’s not paying for parking those 4 months out of the year when he likes to ride his bike. So, kind of finding people that… that can champion this and speak about it positively amongst their group has been really helpful.
Yeah, and then I just also want to point out like it would have been nice to kind of do this pilot, work out the kinks and then be able to launch daily parking all at once, just rip off the band aid and… and have… have everything transitioned over to a daily parking model. But that wasn’t feasible for us. Probably not feasible for… for a lot of institutions. But, you know, we are able to make incremental change by converting facilities as we’re able to. And so, you know, it does kind of help us meet our end goal, even if it’s piecemeal. But, yeah.
Madeline: Thanks, Jenny. Melanie, what about some lessons learned on your end?
Melanie: Yeah. So, prior to 2015 and Expedia announcing their move from Bellevue to Seattle, the commute program was really just subsidized parking or a transit pass. There was not a lot of interaction from anyone. It was… it took place during new employee orientation, you asked if you wanted a parking space or transit pass, no more conversation about commuting. So, it’s pretty low bar, if you will, pretty low engagement, low investment from the company as a whole. So, I think the… the place where we started was needing to build an entirely new commute program and way of thinking about commuting for employees and for leadership at Expedia from the beginning, and then create a program that was adaptable, both for the landscape in Bellevue, which was high rises, central business district, you know, 3 distinct office locations that would translate to the new campus, which is, you know, one building-ish. A little bit out of downtown Seattle has… has a couple of challenges as far as transit commutes go. But we really need to make those programs translatable from one to the other. So, we had a set of challenges in that respect as well that we thought about, you know, kind of over time as we learned more about how the campus would be designed, how employees were responding to our programs.
And then the other piece that we learned and worked on through the phased approach was our requirements as part of our permitting process. So, Expedia has a TMP with the City of Seattle, which requires them to do things like charge market rate parking. It has an SOV goal or limits every 2 years. So, we needed to make sure that our programs would also be able to meet those requirements laid out for us. So, as we built the program in phases, we also learned more about what the program needed to do in phases.
But by having that long lead time of 5 years, 4 years, we were able to really build trust and confidence with both employees and leadership at Expedia. So, we use the time to really engage with our stakeholders, facilities, real estate, HR, finance, etc., to build confidence in the program and its abilities, and, you know, kind of prove that commuting was important to employees. It was a way to bring them into the company, keep them into the company, make them feel happy when they got to work. And then engaging with employees, teaching them that it wasn’t just parking or transit passes, there were a whole host of things you could be doing and that we were really thinking about it at the big picture. It wasn’t just, “Today in Bellevue, you were going to do this thing,” it’s, “You may try this today. It could also work for you at Campus But here are all the other ways you could maybe commute or think about commuting, and we’re here to help you do that.”
So, I think the phased approach really allowed us that timing to help get people comfortable with all of the options we were providing and trust us when we brought a new program out. You know, like lots of things could have been questionable or criticized or not had a large adoption rate. But I think people learn that we were really experts in our field and we had brought them good ideas in the past and that made them more… made everything more palatable as time went on.
Specifically, I have a great story about one of our senior leadership members. She has kids. She works all the time. She’s, you know, on conference calls a lot during her commute. Drove in Bellevue, was dead set on driving to campus. Didn’t think that our programs would work for her, even though she was privy to them, you know, at all levels of planning, thought they were great ideas, but didn’t think that they were necessarily for her. Within like her first 2 weeks at Campus, she tried our program and sent us a great shout out and said that she was a full convert. She loved the Wi-Fi. She loved the ease of getting on the bus. The drivers were so nice that still allowed her to work.
So, really being able to see that change with people on a personal level has been great. And it happened through all the phases. It wasn’t just when we got to campus. So, yeah, that… like that trust-building was really our learning from the phased approach. And I would recommend starting, you know, earlier than later when you want to get a program off the ground, because you need all that buy-in from finance, from leaders, from everyone, and then really that time to talk to employees to the changes.
Madeline: Thanks, Melanie. And sort of along those same lines, and something I know employers often struggle with when making these kinds of decisions, at what point did you, Melanie and Jenny, incorporate employee feedback into these processes? We can go back to Melanie, if you’re not sick of talking yet.
Melanie: Always. We have had a really great communication stream with employees. It’s both very informal emails, one-on-one meetings, group meetings, drop-in hours where people can just swing by and ask questions, Slack, etc. And then we’ve done more formal engagements like specific mode workshops, specific move group workshops. So, as folks are moving to campus, they were split into move waves. And we met with every one of those move waves about their options, tried to get really personal and help them understand their, you know, preferences for commuting to the new site.
We have done large events, I guess, both independently, like transportation fairs, and more broadly with the different stakeholders for the campus where we’ve done different engagement activities, like, you know, polling for what types of programs we would like, to, you know, surveys online. We take tons of notes on the feedback that we get from emails and on Slack. So, we have a pretty robust methodology as to how we track that feedback. So, we’re constantly using it to improve and change programs and make sure that employees feel like we’re heard.
We also have incorporated a monthly report out newsletter to employees. So, that kind of shares with them how we’re using their feedback to adapt programs, to change policies, to just broadly answer questions that we think a lot of employees have. It’s been really, really valuable to us to have that level of engagement with employees.
I would say our best way of communicating with employees and engaging their feedback is through a walk up desk, which we were hosting 3 days a week prior to the move and just after, where players could just stop by a set location and one of our staff would always be there and they could ask questions, they could give feedback, they could take actions, you know, use the Luum system to request an ORCA pass and give it to them, right? Then… and that has really been like our most valuable and consistent form of employee feedback.
Madeline: Awesome, thanks. Jenny, what about you?
Jenny: So, we have something called ST PAC, the Strategic Transportation and Parking Advisory Council, that we coordinate. It as a group of maybe a dozen or so members across the institution. They represent our 2 different unions or different mission area… mission areas research, healthcare and academics. And we use them basically as a sounding board to run new ideas off of them. And, you know, they’re kind of a liaison to the people they represent. So, it’s a great way for us to kind of get… get feedback from employees and from different… different facets of the institution. And then, you know, once we get their buy-in, you know, we know that we can kind of move forward with something. Or, you know, they’re great at shooting holes in our plans or telling us why it won’t work for certain facet of the institution. So, we use them as an ongoing resource.
We also, during our TDM planning, we did a lot of outreach. We did a survey to and for open to… I mean, anybody who wanted to take it, about their commute options and preferences and barriers and how they felt about different strategies. We also did modal-based focus groups. And so, we had one specifically for drivers, whether they drove alone or carpooled. But to better understand, you know why people drove. Were they happy with that? Do they… was there another mode they would try? But really kind of understanding from the different commute groups how they felt about their commute.
We also do a annual survey, we call it the commute census, understanding people’s commute modes and behaviors and choices and barriers and kind of… we get a ton of data from the survey which is always great. Specific to the daily parking, besides the feedback we got through the TDM plan, we did do a post launch survey after we launched daily parking at our first site, as well as the post-launch focus group to understand how people felt about it beforehand, how people felt about it afterwards, you know what kind of concerns they had.
We… prior to COVID, we were getting ready t cut a lunch or next phase of daily parking up on Markham Hill. And we were planning, a survey and a town hall, all which had been put on hold for now. But, you know, we do find employee feedback to be very helpful.
Madeline: Great, thanks so much for sharing that. So, not all of us are relocating our workplaces, but we all have had a huge disruption in the form of COVID-19. Jessica, I’m wondering if you can tell us a bit about your research and the ways in which you’re thinking about returning to the workplace as an opportunity for behavior change?
Jessica: Well, you already used a really critical word, which is disruption. And basically, all of us whether we’re using that term or not, are thinking really hard right now about the disruption that has happened in our commuters’ habits, and how we can use that for good and minimize the negative impacts of that. So, there’s lots of research on what’s often called habit discontinuity, which means when some kind of external factor interrupts someone’s habit, they’re more likely to change it. And I interpret that to be in 2 different ways. One is if the status quo literally isn’t an option, right? Like, under normal circumstances, if your route to work, you know, is closed for construction, you just literally can’t take it, or you know, if you are taking the bus, maybe if the… if budget cuts lead to the bus coming much less often right then maybe like you can’t go stand there at the same time. So, that’s… that’s some kind of disruption.
Another form of that is what’s called the fresh-start effect. And that’s a little more internal. That’s when there’s some sort of symbolic temporal landmark that we pass through and it leads us to a little moment of self-reflection and more open to changing our habits critically in a direction that we’re interested in changing them, not in the… you know, not because someone else wants us to change them, but because we’re authentically motivated.
So, I think both of these factors in other areas of literature, and… and there’s a little bit of research on transportation mode choice, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests when this external disruption and/or a fresh-start moment like moving homes or maybe a significant birthday or beginning of the semester or change of seasons, you know, any of those things, that were more likely to change our behavior. So, we’ve just seen that. People have changed their behavior worldwide in ways that we never would have thought possible. But I think all of us on this call are probably worried about, in particular, the shift from shared modes in transit to driving alone, especially for people who have a car.
So, some of the things that… that I and my friends who are researchers are talking about is how we can create something that feels like a fresh start moment moving into the future. If I thought that the world was going to be closed one day and open the next and that was going to stick, then we will be talking about that. But I’m pretty convinced that’s not how the lifting of stay-at-home orders is really going to play out. I think it’s going to be more gradual with some setbacks.
So, I think we all have to be scanning the landscape for when is the moment when we can really activate that sense of fresh start. And I don’t know what it looks like. We’re… I don’t think we’re close enough yet, but it might be like, “Yay, we’re allowed to go back to the office! It’s a start of a new era! How are we going to get there?” Or it might be more like, you know, people talking about like, “This phase of my life that is wrapped up the stay-at-home. I really missed my… my commute and I miss my colleagues. And let’s all think about how we’re going to get to the office.” So, those are some of the things that are on our mind.
I want to bring in some other concepts too that are relevant, don’t necessarily lead us to different conclusions, but the biggest challenge in overcoming habitual driving is the status quo bias that people have to just continuing to do the same thing. And especially when you combine that with the sunk-cost effect, which is basically, “I paid for this train… this parking pass. I’m going to get my money’s worth out of it. And any day I don’t drive and park, I’m losing money on that sunk cost.”
So, all of that is normally really, really challenging. But right now, we’re in a moment when there is no status quo to have a bias about, and our sunk costs, nobody’s paying for parking. And one of the most… the things that… that I would encourage all of you to think about is that, if you haven’t yet made the leap from bundled to daily parking, I think that this is our moment. Because your commuters don’t want to be paying for monthly or quarterly or annual parking passes any way. They want the flexibility. They’re cancelling them if you allow them to cancel them, which is having presumably a fiscal impact on some of your budgets. People actually don’t want the old product.
And I think there’s a case to be made for shifting to daily parking now with the authentic cover that we need to prepare for workplaces where people are, you know, maybe coming less often working from home, you know, 70% of the time, coming the office 30% of the time. We don’t know exactly what the future will look like. So, preserving flexibility for every individual user is… is the best way that we can serve our employees. And of course, we all know it’s the best way that we can reduce that status quo bias around driving, and nudge people to really think on a daily basis, “What’s the best for me today? And is it worth it for me to pay to drive rather than get paid to do something else?”
And maybe I’ll just also allude to the fact that we’re doing some lab testing right now on different message framing around like time, money, social norming, for invitations to participate in TDM programs. So, we’ll have some interesting results on that.
Madeline: Awesome, thanks, Jessica. And then, Jenny and Melanie, just really quick, to the extent that you’re able to share with us, what are your organizations doing to plan for the post-COVID return to work? Let’s start with Jenny.
Jenny: So, as a hospital, we never completely shut down. You know, when the initial kind of outbreak happened in March, we quickly changed some of our operations to address the COVID concern. So, we stopped valet parking patient cars. We had to reduce their capacity on the tram from 80 people to 20 and then down to 10 people. There was a mandatory telework initiative put in place saying all who are able to work from home, do so. We went from pay-to-park environment to free parking. We stopped running our shuttles. Our bike valet went to self-parking.
We probably have several thousand people on campus now. And since May 1, some more have started to return. So, we are thinking about, “Okay, what does the return to work look like?” OHSU has kind of pointed this as OHSU onward. And I think as Jessica said, it’s not going to be lift off the band aid, “Okay, on September 1st, everybody comes back,” right? So, it’s… it is going to be very slow, phased approach.
We have this people-first mentality at OHSU that has been communicated as a top value right now. Not just right now, but in general, you know, we like to prioritize people. And as part of that, we are keeping parking free as long as possible for the people that are required to come to work in this scary time, working on the front lines.
A lot of people might have been taking transit, we don’t want to put an extra financial burden on them. So, as long as demand allows, we are keeping parking free. And then we might even go to a tiered daily rate. So, for the people that had been paying a higher $15-a-day daily parking rate because they didn’t have a permit, we might offer $5-a-day parking or $10-a-day parking to accommodate those, you know, used-to-be transit riders. At some point, we will have to go back to our full parking rates.
We are taking this opportunity to do something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, which is moving to assigned lots. So, our permits used to be kind of more in zones and people had the ability to park in multiple locations and move throughout the day. And we were trying to kind of lock down on that. And so, instead of being in a zone, we’ve taken this opportunity to be like, “Okay, here’s your parking assignment. This is where you get to park.” So, we’ve kind of done the first wave of that.
We have one of our executives has coined telework forever. So, we have formed a committee to establish a formal telework program at OHSU that can be cohesive across the institution. It’s something we’ve really struggled with in the past. We’ve had a very small amount of employees teleworking, and it’s been kind of ad hoc from department to department. So, we’re really trying to understand what those barriers are and kind of create some cohesive policies and procedures around telework that can be implemented institution-wide.
I think there’s a real opportunity to increase biking. OHSU already has a really high bike rate. I think about 15 to 18% of our employees bike. But bike rates, bike sales are through the roof across the country. I think, you know, the people who had been thinking about biking, this might spur them into to trying bike commuting. So, we want to capitalize on that.
You know, we see it as our responsibility to inform our commuters, you know, what our transit agencies, what our partners like Lyft and Scoop are doing, as they’ve changed their operations to keep people more safe. We’ve also used this opportunity to kind of start dreaming big and figure out what other kind of programs we want to launch for people when they return. You know, so we’re talking about a commute champion program or commute office hours, or other things that have kind of been on the back burner. And now that some people have more time working from home, it kind of gives us a little bit of downtime to launch new programs too.
Madeline: Thanks, Jenny. And Melanie, what about on your end?
Melanie: Yeah, Expedia Group is really following the local government and health officials to determine… (I don’t know if you guys can hear but my toddler screaming in the background) to determine what going back to work looks like, and to echo Jessica and Jenny, will definitely not be everyone all at once, looking at a very phased approach to bring folks back to campus. And again, identifying those modes that we think will keep our employees safe and comfortable on their commutes back to work. So, really investigating how we want to message to employees and what we want to message to employees right now, thinking about who may be coming back first and who might take a little bit longer. So, it’s all… it’s all very in the planning stages right now, I would say.
Madeline: Awesome, thanks to all of you. In the interest of time, noting that we just have a little over 10 minutes left, I’m actually going to pivot right over to audience questions. Looks like we’ve already got quite a few in the Q&A box. And if folks have additional questions, feel free to keep adding those as we go here. I will also note that our panelists are going to be able to stay on afterwards and answer some more additional questions by typing them out to you in the Q&A. So, if they don’t get answered here, don’t fret, there will still be a chance.
So, I’m going to start off. Let’s see, looks like you have a question for Jenny about, “Have you done any cost projections for how the move from annual to daily parking might impact your revenue stream? And maybe if you could share what kind of system you’re using for garage access and payroll charge?” I’ll give you a really technical question right off the bat.
Jenny: I’ll answer the second part of that question first, and then I can go back to the first part. We are using a (unclear) [52:36] gates. We have… so, our badge is swiped at (unclear) [52:41] gates. They send charges to Luum. We import those… a file from Luum kind of back into another system T2 Flex, which we export to our payroll. I have no idea the name of our payroll system. But yeah, so it’s a little bit of… god, I’m moving across lots of systems. And I’m definitely not the technical expert on my team.
And the other question was revenue projections. Yes, it is something we’ve looked at. We… we have kind of acknowledged that, you know, our end goal of reducing SOV might mean less parking revenue, and that’s okay. But we operate kind of on a 10-year financial model. And, you know, our goal as a department is to break even over 10 years. So, yes, we bring in a lot of money from parking revenue, but that helps fund a lot of our TDM programs. So, on a high level, I’ll leave it at that.
Madeline: Thanks. That’s awesome. Jessica, here’s one for you about parking culture, “What would you recommend for places that offer free parking and staff believe they should have it?”
Jessica: I typed out an answer to that, but can go into a little bit more detail. I think strategically, I would say you’ve got to find a divide and conquer strategy. You have to find, you know… well, for one thing, what mode… what drive-alone mode share are you starting with? Especially if the only benefit you offer is in fact free parking, or perhaps just free parking or no access to parking, but you can have a transit pass, right? That leaves some people out. And depending on your land-use context and your starting drive-alone mode share, you know, you may only have a small group of people who are currently receiving no benefits from you and their needs are not being met. They’re the ones who are biking, maybe carpooling if you don’t have a program or only driving sometimes, right?
So, starting by figuring out, you know, “Are there people who you could get excited about a change that benefits them?” And then in particular, figuring out how many people there are who buy your bundled whether it’s annual or monthly parking pass because they want to drive sometimes. And that’s the only way they can get access to parking or if your daily rates are just so out of whack with that, that it makes financial sense. Those people stand to benefit if you go to an à la carte model. And making sure that you find them and let them know that you’re meeting their needs can get some supporters and some people are excited to counterbalance the inevitable grumpiness that you’re going to get.
But then the other thing is… is, you know, trying to express the benefits to everyone of creating more flexibility and only making you pay for what you need. So, why should someone be paying for parking when they’re on vacation, when they’re sick, when they’re, you know, telecommuting with permission? That doesn’t really make sense. So, if you’re using Luum and you have any data about how often are people actually driving and parking, compared to how much they’re paying for under a bundled model, I think you can start to work with that. It’s not a silver bullet, you know, change is hard. But I think there’s a… there’s a way to kind of make sure there are some people who feel that they benefit from your proposal and make sure they’re heard.
Madeline: Awesome Thank you. Let’s see, question for Melanie and Jenny about kind of the results of these daily parking, pilots or changes and sustainable mode incentives. Have your organization seen a drop in drive-alone rates and an uptick in alternatives to the extent that you’re able to share? Let’s start with Melanie this time.
Melanie: Yeah, we have seen a substantial decrease in single-occupancy vehicle parking. I think in Bellevue, the year before we moved, we had a recorded 40-ish percent drive-alone rate. And then in our most recent Washington State… Washington State commute survey, we had a 16% drive-alone rate. So, like very substantial changes with the flexible parking and the incentives for active mode and ride-sharing mode.
Madeline: Awesome. What about you, Jenny?
Jenny: So, our… the population of people that have been transitioned from annual to daily parking is very small still. It’s about 10% of our annual parkers. So, it’s a little hard to make assumptions based on such a small number. We do know that people are not parking 10 days out of 10 days, it’s a little hard to know whether they are changing their behavior because of that daily parking rate, or that was just they never parked 10 days out of 10 days because they work off site 1 day or they their conference schedule, whatever.
You know, we do get the data on Luum if they choose to log in alternative trip. And because we incentivize walking and biking, those are the trips that tend to get logged most. And so, we do know that some of our partners do walk or bike on occasion. If they are not choosing to log a transit trip or another mode that’s not incentivized, it’s a little hard to tell if they’re using another mode on Sundays and we’re just not capturing it, or if they didn’t come to work that day.
Madeline: That makes a lot of sense. Another question for Melanie and Jenny about, what you think your most popular commute component might be? Jenny, right back to you.
Jenny: Most popular. We have a program called Lyft Off. It’s subsidized Lyft rides for people traveling late at night and early in the morning. This is a population of people that always drove because they didn’t have another choice, or in some cases, it meant somebody couldn’t accept a job because they didn’t own a car and couldn’t get to campus at 11:00 PM at night when their shift started. So, we started this program 2 years ago and it has been wildly popular.
Madeline: Awesome. Melanie, what about you?
Melanie: Our ORCA pass program, so subsidized transit and vanpools for employees is above and beyond our most popular program. We, prior to COVID-19, had, I think a 23% transit mode share and an 11% vanpool motor. We have really advocated for vanpool in recent years, and are one of King County’s top 5 employees for vanpool. Which puts us in the rankings with like Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon who have 10s of thousands of more employees than we do. So, that has quickly become a hugely popular mode for employees.
Madeline: Thanks for the next. Let’s see about 2 minutes here, I want to wrap up with our 3 lightning-round questions. And just as a reminder, let’s keep these super short and sweet, anywhere between a word and a sentence if possible. So, let’s start out with your… in your current commute program, what’s your secret weapon? Let’s start with Jenny.
Jenny: We as a department have the opportunity to get in front of every new employee, which I think presents a unique opportunity to throw some commute info in front of them?
Madeline: Awesome. Melanie, what about you?
Jenny: Our team, the commute coaches, the fact that they do the walk up desk, all the feedback tracking or spying new employees, like we couldn’t have the success that we do without them.
Madeline: Awesome. And Jessica, in your work, what’s your secret commute weapon?
Jessica: I have to remind myself what I said. Well, yes, it’s a little more aspirational than real, but it would be a shift from… from evaluating entire programs at all, to evaluating individual components of the program. So, shift from a blackbox evaluation approach to isolating variables and figuring out which ones we can drop and which one should we should amp up.
Madeline: Perfect. And then let’s fill in the blank, “Employee commutes should be __,” Melanie?
Melanie: Flexible, adaptable and resilient.
Madeline: Beautiful. Jenny?
Jenny: I’m dropping a word, “Employee commutes should work.” It should not be stressful or difficult. They should just work for people.
Madeline: And Jessica?
Jessica: “Employee commutes should be so good that people miss them when they’re stuck at home because of a global pandemic,” like I miss my bike commute.
Madeline: I love it. And then last but not least, what is your one wish for TDM, Jenny?
Jenny: I’m cheating. I have 2 wishes. The first 1 is change transportation demand management is too much of a mouthful. And my more serious wish is that employer benefits would be put on the same level as health benefits and retire… retirement benefits, and seen as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
Madeline: Agreed. Melanie, how about you, what’s your one wish?
Melanie: That TDM is meaningfully improving employee commute experiences. It’s not just replacing an SOV trip, but really making people feel better off with the change.
Madeline: Awesome. And Jessica, you’re one wish for TDM?
Jessica: No more free parking so we can stop swimming upstream.
Madeline: I love it. Well, thanks again so much to Jenny, Melanie and Jessica for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure talking with all of you. Again, they’ll stick around for a few minutes to answer some additional questions in the Q&A box. So, feel free to keep chatting with them in there. Now I’m going to pass it off to my colleague, Lisa, to go ahead and introduce our next breakout session. Thanks again, everybody.
Lisa: Awesome, thanks, Madeline. So, next up, we have our first breakout session of the day. Chuck Weleck is with us from Commute with Enterprise to talk about Rebounding with Vanpools. Chuck is a 21-year veteran with Enterprises, spending the last 8 years in the commute division. He’s the strategic sales manager for the West Coast and the Northeast. His primary role is to establish and maintain commuter vanpool programs for larger employers with needs in multiple US markets. And he synergizes with local communities to provide a superior level of consistent service and ROI.
He’s here today to present the benefits of returning to work via vanpool. The industry needs as many trusted commute options as possible as the nation’s rebounding with a lot of uncertainty during this time. He’ll give an overview of the vanpool industry today, including the rankings and safety, efficiency, cost per trip, and what Commute with Enterprise is doing to get you back to work with a peace of mind.Toward the end of his presentation, there’ll be a few minutes of Q&A as well. So, be sure to ask your questions in the Q&A box. And thanks for being here, Chuck, take it away.
Chuck: Alright, Lisa, thank you so much. Can you see my screen okay?
Lisa: Yep, we see it.
Chuck: Awesome. Okay, great. So, I really do appreciate the introduction. It is super exciting to be a part of this event. It’s so great to be able to present to all of our industry partners and colleagues during this interesting times. I have to start off by thanking everyone at the Luum team for being super creative and keeping the event in tact by going virtual. The same goes for everyone on the call today, for all that you’re doing to keep the citizens, yout employees in your respective regions safe now and in the foreseeable future, all in response to COVID-19. It was an absolute no-brainer when asked if this gold sponsorship. But who would ever have imagined that we’d be in the position we’re in today with the types of agenda topics we’re seeing the last couple of days being covered the past 2 days when Luum presented the opportunity last year? So, at the very least, what a world we’re living in, right?
So, a little housekeeping. I know that we mentioned at the beginning, but we’d love to see people add their questions and comments in the Q&A box. We do have a couple colleagues looking at those throughout my presentation. So, hopefully we can answer those as we move along. But there will be some time at the end to address any open questions. And if we happen to run out of time, then we can always answer those afterwards. So, more the… more the merrier.
Okay, so now we wanted to take this opportunity to remind and educate the TDM community of what the role vanpool is played over the years. And what we continue to do with our view at Enterprise on the future as many prepare to enter a totally new work environment.
So, what is a vanpool? Let’s start with the basics. Vanpools are an element of the transit system that allow groups of 4 to 15 people to share the ride much like a supersized carpool, with concurrent savings in time, fuel, and operating costs. Vanpools have a lower operating and capital costs than most transit services because the driving responsibilities are shared amongst the participants. It’s a true communal experience.
Now, the prime candidates for vanpooling are those that live 15 or more miles from work, and typically have set hours. This is by no means a requirement. But did you know that within the average worksite, 20% of the employees live more than 20 miles from the office? That number is definitely growing. And these individuals typically live in what we call transit deserts. So, they mostly have to rely on the dreaded single-occupancy vehicle as their commute mode. It’s been super rewarding to see the number of vehicles still on the road over the past couple of months, because your average vanpooler is really that essential worker at a common worksite.
So, how does it work? The key concept is that people share the ride from their neighborhood or a meeting spot and travel together to a common destination or work center. At Commute with Enterprise, we take a super proactive approach and finding those prime candidates within any given worksite, and then we connect them with their co-workers or possibly friends living nearby. A recent survey told us that 70% say friends at work is crucial to a happy working life. Building camaraderie is a huge benefit of vanpooling.
So, depending on the size of the group, we then offer them a variety of recent models, 7 to 15 passenger vehicles, to choose from before approving the volunteer drivers and nominating a coordinator. An added benefit for the approved drivers is that they can utilize the vehicle minimally or for personal use on the weekends as well.
The vehicle is rented to the coordinator or their employer at times on a month-to-month basis with a turnkey package. It’s very common for the employer to incentivize vanpooling as well, with preferred parking spots, a subsidy, or at least the option to utilize pre-tax payroll deduction to pay for it. 70% of employees say perks influence job acceptance.
We believe this is huge right now with the incoming workforce today coming out of college who likely had to learn how to live car-free while they were there. It’s safe to say that they’re quite used to getting rides from other people, and they love it. So, reliable and fun way of getting to work without purchasing a car is right up their alley.
The beauty of the flexibility of only having a 30-day commitment is that obviously, things do change and you aren’t burdened with the long-term commitment. It also allows users to give it a try for a month or 2. But as they start getting that time back to their day, they start enjoying the savings, having less stress, we’re happy to report the average length of rental in our program is actually over 6 years. Pretty amazing stat.
So, what role does vanpool play? In the grand scheme of things, there’s a few factors that have to make it work. The vanpool fills the gaps in the transit agency… in the transit system, sorry, where it isn’t conceivable to run a bus or light rail or a ferry to every single resident in the community, right? So, as all public-transportation programs seek to reduce the number of cars on the road, vanpool is consistently ranked annually as the safest and most efficient mode. There’s additional efficiencies to the participant as well. Those include, as mentioned before, time savings because now they, can take advantage of those HOV lanes in certain markets. And then those that don’t have to drive now are able to get some work done, they’re able to click on their phone, maybe even take a nap. 2 and a half hours is the typical time commuters get back in their day. Who wouldn’t love that?
The fixed schedule also makes your life a little bit more predictable. You know when you… you have to get to work, but then you also know when you’re leaving. There’s a big value in that as well. Cost savings is always at the top of the list. But you’re now reducing the wear and tear, the insurance, and the fuel expenses for your own car. That averages about $6,000 a year in savings when you commute with Enterprise.
Now, for the employer, the benefits for endorsing such a program include the reduced parking responsibilities, not only building and rent costs, but the maintenance… maintenance of the facility as well. It improves employee recruiting and retention. I would even add morale to that list. And then it definitely support the sustainability initiative, while doing the right thing as a corporate citizen in the community. I’d say the role of vanpool is a large one, and it’s only getting larger.
So, let’s talk a little bit about the industry. There are actually 20,000 vanpools across the country today, but it’s actually been quite stable for years. Outside of the 12,000 vehicles that Commute with Enterprise is operating. The remaining are either owned and operated by a few transit agencies, or they’re privately owned by an employer or an individual. For those programs offered through a public agency, there’s a requirement for the participants to report daily ridership in order to receive a subsidy. This activity contributes to the national transit database through the overall reporting… reporting sent to the Federal Transit Administration.
So, here are some of the fun facts and figures on that reporting. In 2018, the average miles per trip was nearly 36 miles vanpool. And that speaks to that ideal candidate living in a transit desert. And in the larger metropolitan areas, that type of distance easily translates into about an hour each way.
Fuel efficiency. In the most recent NTD report it also shows that vanpools are not only taking cars off the roads, but also taking the long-distance gas guzzlers off the road. Our vanpools run at 80 plus percent occupancy on any given day, which means those gallons of gas are getting stretched further and further while the footprint is being reduced. For a transit agency, did you know that the operating expense for vanpool is only $0.13 per mile, or about a quarter of what it costs to operate rail or bus?
As we tend to get more and more requests on this number, I wanted to include this too. The average cost per trip across the Commute with Enterprise program is $3.83 per trip. That’s before any subsidies. And so, when you apply any transit agency subsidies that are available, that number is actually dropping to less than $3 or $2.95. A trip. Pretty awesome.
Not only is vanpool at the top of the list for efficiency, as we’ve mentioned, look at this stat on the past 12 years… I’m sorry, in the past 10 years regarding safety. We’re going to talk plenty about safety being priority number 1, and the steps that Enterprise is taking to raise those levels as we plan to return to work. But commuter vanpool was already ahead of the rest.
So, let’s get into who is Commute with Enterprise? As part of the Enterprise family, we’re wired to put people first. For commuters and companies, that means always having your back, providing solutions, or even a ride home whenever you need us, especially in times like this. We’ve been operating examples for already over 40 years now. And with 12,000 vehicles, you can rank us as the 10th most passenger miles carried amongst public transportation agencies in the country. The impact numbers really are astounding. And imagine the congestion and air quality if there were no vanpools?
For those that have been in the industry for a while, you’ll recognize the names vRide and Enterprise Rideshare. But after the integration, we rebranded as Commute with Enterprise. Our mission became providing comprehensive commute solutions for employers, employees, in communities around the world. So, our vision is to evolve from just being a vanpool provider. The world of transportation continues to change. There’s no doubt. And in these unparallel times, we continue to listen to our customers to understand what the next 20 years needs to look like. Carpool, micro transit, shuttles, these all seem to be part of the overall solution. But what else? We are all ears and we welcome your feedback.
As it relates to Government and Public Affairs, we will continue to utilize our resources to preserve the funding and benefits that the industry lays on today. As the needs evolved, we will band together with our colleagues to make recommendations for the entire industry. Some recent example… examples of that are extremely active support of the acts listed here, in addition to the preservation and improvement of the transit benefit. The 70-plus transit agency partnerships that Commute with Enterprise has around the country today have never been as mutually valuable as they are right now. Together, we will continue strategizing on the ways to service the communities with the most efficient use of funds and the return on the investment.
So, what does Enterprise do to make this all work? So, the transit agencies obviously play an integral role in the larger metropolitan areas that we service today. The monthly subsidy provided by the agency in return for ridership data reduces the barrier of entry to new vanpoolers. The more sustainable riders in the program, the better it is for both parties. More and more employers are now providing a commuter benefit to influence the right modes too. We’ve heard a lot about that the past day and a half. Here’s a shout out to those municipalities that have instituted a transit ordinance requiring employers to offer qualifying commuter benefits programs. We would love to work with any of you looking to start something soon.
In order to find the most people traveling to the same place at the same time every day, it’s a… it’s a… it’s not an easy concept, but we secure the partnerships with those employers who have at least 250 people at their worksite. At that point, there is substantial employees enough to start at least a handful of vanpools. On average, there’s potential for at least 1 vanpool per 100 employees. But we need that endorsement of the employer, so we may gain access to educate the employees.
So, once we customize that marketing strategy with the employer, which typically includes incentives as mentioned before, we meet with a screened group of employees who live in areas not well serviced by transit. And then we present them with benefits either in person typically, or we have now started doing this virtually all at once together. This dramatically increases the likelihood of forming a new and sustainable vanpool. A great recent example is shown right here is one of our reps in South Carolina was presenting to a group of employees at a VA hospital. He has the mask on, and there’s plenty of distancing in the audience. I thought that was pretty cool.
There has to be a variety of vehicles and options to accommodate with the customers looking forward to that, whether it be a cost-conscious group are one that’s looking for a little bit more comfort and amenities for those longer distance commutes. Either way, we’ve got you covered. We’re going to customize the seating arrangement in one of the larger vans as shown here. Or we might even add the plug-in hybrids to the program. Just let us know what your needs are. We have the vehicles.
In terms of flexibility, this is the point where we’re super, super fortunate to be privately-held in a family owned company that can be flexible with the needs of our customers. This is… this is exactly who we are. Because of this, we’ve been able to (and will continue to) do what’s right for the customer and for the sustainability of the program.
The positive impact stats for an employer only solidify the return on investment. A well-implemented program in a worksite with 1000 employees, for instance, will free up 85 parking spots, save employees over $650,000 in commuting costs, and reduce the footprint by nearly one and a half million pounds of carbon emissions per year. And that means there’s a lot of smiling faces all around.
We understand the desire you all have when it comes to data. There’s no doubt. That is definitely the buzzword lately. You need access to these statistics to help build that ROI. So, your local rep with Enterprise will gladly meet with you quarterly to sit down and review those industry updates and share your scorecard (shown here), either per worksite or it can be bundled at a nationwide level for those employers that have programs in multiple markets. We actually are the only nationwide vanpool provider today, and we know that communication is key.
Speaking of communication, we’re here to share the steps we’re taking to protect our customers and employees as we all rebound from COVID-19. We must go above and beyond, and we know that. Confidence is absolutely key to getting people back on the road. It’s about an ongoing commitment at Enterprise, we’re calling the complete, clean pledge. Cleanliness is incredibly important and we have rigorous standards. But those standards have been relaunched across the board. It has actually turned into a true rally cry for our entire organization to get behind the pledge. It starts with the rental division, but it encompasses all divisions.
For our division, which is Commute with Enterprise, our approach had to be super unique. As you can imagine, once we make that initial delivery, we might not see that vehicle for a year. But we have an opportunity right now, while many of the vehicles are sitting idle. Jessica mentioned earlier the fresh start. This is that fresh start. We create… we created the commute ‘Complete Clean’ Starter Kit where we are providing each idle vanpool and all new deliveries moving forward, a box of cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment for all. We’re encouraging all the writers to take the pledge to create good habits with the daily checklist and keep the vehicles clean.
Our strategy ultimately is to listen to our customers, react, and then do the right thing. There is no one-size-fits-all solution as you’re seeing different guidelines State by State, municipality by municipality. So, you really need to evaluate each single program case by case. Even… even if it is a single employer with programs in several areas around the country.
We totally understand that people are going to be hesitant to share a ride to work when they return. But we also understand that vanpool is different from the other modes. A vanpool is made up of a group of people who commute together daily (we call these ‘vamilies’), and they’ve been together for months, if not years now, and they know each other very, very well. We absolutely need to play practice good hygiene and follow safety guidelines. And the communal nature of a vanpool instills good habits to begin with. So, we truly believe you can control your environment in a vanpool.
So, once we know your company’s safety guidelines as those start to formalize as we speak, we’re going to build a strategy with you, we’re going to make sure that vanpool is an option for the employees who don’t own a car, or for those that might not be able to take public transit or a shuttle for some time. Our local teams are going to do what’s right for you and your program. With that, I want to give the opportunity for Melvin Justice, Senior Project Manager at Tesla, a couple of minutes here to speak on what’s been happening with his program the past few weeks. Melvin?
Melvin: Thanks, Chuck. And a wonderful presentation. It’s wonderful to hear all the great things Enterprise is doing, and happy to be in partnership with you at Tesla. Hello, everybody. My name is Melvin Justice. I’m a Senior Transportation Project Manager at Tesla. And I basically handle all of our TDM programs, our bike, vanpool, carpool programs.
Our vanpool program at Tesla has been hotcakes. You know, we have about almost 200, vanpools, and those are all active. Those aren’t sitting around. You know, we make up 1% of that… that little pie chart that Chuck threw together. But, you know, we’re really excited. We came up with a COVID-compliant plan to weather the storm that a lot of our companies and folks here are going through. And we worked with Enterprise to see what was possible and how we can actually move the needle.
And the great thing is, is you may see on the news, we’ve had a lot of people back to work. All those folks are in COVID-compliant vans, they received those PPE kits that Chuck has just talked about. And Tesla has also doubled down by providing PPE as well. So, we’re doing a lot of things to partner with Enterprise. And, you know, we took the time to understand how to, not only listen to our users, our… right, or our core group of vanpoolers, but then how do we enroll… how do we enroll the current staff of folks that we have that are in our vanpools? And how do we adopt and educate to get those that are interested? How do we get them over the hump, really get them over the finish line, as I call it?
And we took some time. You know, it’s… it’s one thing to have a program and then have this grand opening, no one’s there because you’re not advertised it or speak to your audience. And so, you know, I took the time to dive in audience, came back to Enterprise. We emulated some best practices that we saw at our huge areas, our huge sites to even our smaller ones. And we’ve seen immense amount of adoption by finding some of those… finding some of the secret sauce, I guess you could say by, you know, implementing some of these smaller initiatives and strategies.
But it did not happen alone. It didn’t happen overnight. It really took the effort of the reps that are on the ground, a lot of these sites really stepping up, which they have. And then overall, overarching the body of Enterprise from the top down. So, really, throughout the organization from the ground level all the way to the top, we’ve seen immense support at Tesla. Our stakeholders internally are very, very happy and have stuck out for Enterprise at a time when maybe commute subsidies that some organizations are being cut, maybe they’re pulling back vans. They actually doubled down and ended up working out really, really great for Tesla.
So, we look forward to continuing that relationship. We’re looking to get over 200 van mark, hopefully next couple of days here and get to 300. So, super excited, and really happy that we have continued this great relationship.
Chuck: That just makes me feel so good, man. It’s really good to hear that, Melvin. Thanks for sharing that. Thanks for coming on. We couldn’t be more proud of the program that’s been built at Tesla. But, you know, we can’t wait to see how far this goes. It’s been great working with you and, you know, much appreciated.
With that, I’m going to wrap it up. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the history lesson today, and hope that you learned a thing or 2 about the industry and Enterprise. For those that we don’t do business with today, please reach out. That’s what we’re here for. We’d love to hear from you. We’d love to talk to you about customizing a program for you. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, folks. No one has the crystal ball, but I do know this Enterprise is going to listen to you, we will react, and we will do the right thing. Thank you. My contact information is here. I hope you choose to rebound with us. Please give me a call. And let’s go back to Lisa for a few minutes of Q&A here.
Lisa: Great. Thank you, Chuck and Melvin, for speaking here. And we have some great questions, and Chuck’s colleagues have been answering some of our… some of these questions in the Q&A box as well. So, some… if some haven’t been addressed or aren’t addressed here verbally, there’ll be typed answers there. But one question we wanted to touch base on is, is what do you think are the key factors in growing a successful vanpool program? And this can be for Chuck or for Melvin since you’re kind of working on building that up right now as well too. Just like using different… different things like subsidies, communication, tools, and whatnot, what are… what’s helping them grow and expand your programs?
Chuck: Melvin, if you like the answer, if not…
Melvin: Yeah, I can jump in. And so, you know, having, you know, a contingent of 14,000 at 1 location, maybe 300 or 200 at another, I think that there’s about 3 key elements I look at. Number one is, “Are you in the restaurant?” meaning, “Are you in that restaurant every day? Do you understand what’s happening in those sites?” You can’t walk into a restaurant in and start ordering food if it’s not the food the restaurants serve.
So, you have to understand how these villages work and understand the village, i.e. your worksite is probably the most important. What’s the medium that matters the most to them? Is it paper ads, unfortunately could be, you know, with our… with our program, we use a lot of banners, right? We caught people in walkways and insurances, and areas that they would convene for lunch. A lot of the mass transit locations that some of the things that we want to have them see would be visible. I think communication of what the message is, is important. You don’t want to have an 8 and a half by 11 description of the program on a banner, right? We’re all… we’re all seen ads. We’ve seen what matters. Marketing majors and people that have done this for a long time. But you need big letters, big lights, you need something that attracts.
Our program, very simple. You know, we offer free vanpool program, which we’re lucky enough to do. Basically, it’s free vanpool, free vehicle, and for us, free valet and premium parking, right, those are the things that matter to our people is getting into work, I can throw the keys or valet or get a prime parking spot in the front. I can get a free vehicle right away. And it’s all free. Everything’s covered. So, we learned the tag word ‘free’ became huge. And we realized that mattered most. And as Chuck well put in the presentation, you look at the cost overall as a company are now fit here and you go, “Well, how much would a shuttle cost? How much would mass transit costs? How much would it be to possibly do a carpool if you’re not subsidizing your biking? Same thing if you’re not subsidizing. And how far are you coming from?”
So, it took the time to roll that out. We actually… I’ll stop here, but we utilized our current vanpools also, provided them incentives. And also create a community with them, right? Take them out, hang out with them. I’m a driver myself in my own vanpool. I hang out my guys all the time, reach out, “How you doing? How’s everything going?” So, creating that community is huge. And we use that community to enroll others. People want to be a part of something. It’s almost like a fraternity in a way or sorority or combo, I guess, you’d call it a sorority or I don’t know. But that’s basically what it is. It’s the… it’s creating community, and then building around your audience to speak to them. And I think those are the key components.
Obviously, having things free are great. But even if it wasn’t free, I think the community side and then the COVID-compliant idea and then strategy to double down on the community aspect really was the breadwinner for us, for folks, you know, getting our employees re-aligned back into the work mentality, and then also with Enterprise Vanpooling.
Lisa: Great, thanks for that, Melvin. And I think just probably 1 more question just to finish this off. Obviously, with the current landscape around COVID, you touched a little bit on this, Chuck, but what are you guys doing to make users and writers feel safe during this? Have… has there been hesitation and whatnot? Is there… is social distancing possible in these vans? What are you doing to address that right now?
Chuck: Yeah, good question. So, there’s a lot, you know, it’s coming in phases, and it’s in different markets. So, again, I mentioned there’s not a one-size-fits-all. But if you sit down and you listen to folks of what they’re looking for, and what their heart burns are, you address those, right? And so, if it… if the guidelines come down from the health and safety teams that, “This is the guideline for our company,” boom, then we know what we… we’re working with, and we build a strategy with the Melvin’s of the world to say, “Alright, this is how we’re going to do it.”
You know, actually, we’ve gotten a lot of high-5s, you know, coming back because we are taking an extra step of making sure the vehicle is extra clean when it starts, and then we have those kits so that they can build good habits to keep each other safe. And so, they’re just excited to get back to work is what we’re sharing right now. For those that are hesitant, I can’t blame them. But, you know, let’s… let’s figure out a way to distance. You know, if we need to separate people 1 per row in a vehicle, thank goodness we have the variety of vehicles. I mean, the rental car industry right now is going through a little tough time. That means we have a heck of a lot of inner… inventory for the commute division. So, we can spread people out, however they see fit, whatever it takes right now. That’s what we’re doing. And, you know, we’re happy to continue to do that.
Lisa: Great, thank you for that, Chuck. And thanks, Melvin as well for joining in here. And again, Chuck and his team will be answering any other questions you might have about vanpool in the Q&A box. So, feel free to continue asking those if you have any more. And now, I’m going to pass it off to Kelly who’s going to introduce our next breakout session.
Kelly: Yes. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much, Chuck and Lisa and Melvin. That was excellent. Now, we have Rachel from TransitScreen. Rachel is the director of marketing and a wonderful human. And she’s here to talk to us about helping your employees relearn their commutes. So, as employees start returning to work, we all know this, their commutes are not going to be exactly what they were before most likely, unless they were the lucky walkers or bikers. So, today, we’re going to learn how to access reliable and updated information so that you can give your employees the tools to make the safest and smartest commute choices for them. So, with that, I will hand it over to Rachel.
Rachel: Awesome, thanks, Kelly. I luckily am one of those lucky walkers. So, hopefully, I’ll remember how to get there. Thank you so much for that introduction from another wonderful human as well. I’m going to share my screen real fast. Alright, full screen here. And like Kelly said, I am the Director of Marketing at TransitScreen. For those of you who are not familiar, we are a DC-based company focused on providing commute management solutions around relevant real-time mobility information throughout the employee lifecycle.
So, as I’m sure a lot of you can relate, March felt like a pretty terrible time to be in the commute management business, and frankly, in marketing as well. But over the course of April and the beginning of May, I’ve been spending a lot of my time trying to talk to as many employers as possible about how they are approaching this, changes they’re planning to make and, you know, generally commute options they’re looking into for the future.
And, you know, I think the one thing that I’ve started to realize and that people I’ve been talking to have been starting to realize is that, you know, this isn’t just going to be about returning to work or reopening back to the way things were before. It’s really going to be about reimagining the workplace and reimagining the commute along with it.
So, as we all know, one of the most time-consuming parts of implementing, you know, any commute management program is making sure that your employees are not only aware of it, but are actively engaging with it and are participating and making sustainable choices. Obviously, this is going to be a little bit more difficult in the face of this pandemic with so much uncertainty and confusion and anxieties around public spaces, public transportation, going back to work etc. But the goal has always been to reduce single occupancy vehicle commutes for us and for, you know, many on this call. But it’s going to take an even more sustained effort to achieve this and a lot of creativity on our part.
A lot of the other speakers today and yesterday have touched on some of these specific commute options that you have. But I’m really going to focus my talk today on how to make sure that regardless of what you end up deciding to offer, and you know, when you decide to start going back to the office, your employees have all the information that they need to either learn a new commute or go back to their old one.
So, in terms of my talk, I’ll first be giving a brief overview of some of the current effects that the stay-at-home orders have had on transportation. I’ll keep that brief, since I’m sure a lot of us are already familiar with that. I’ll then be diving into a variety of modes and tactics that will be available once we go back to work, threats and opportunities in this situation, how to come up with a plan, and then finally, tools to use to effectively communicate it to your employees. And then obviously, we’ll have time for Q&A.
So, as you may expect, travel of essentially all kinds of down significantly since stay-at-home orders were issued. That was the idea. In regards to commute specifically, about 7% of workers used to have the option to telecommute. Now, we’ve moved to a world where 34% of people who used to commute are actually working from home. And based off of surveys, about 40% of them would actually prefer to continue this moving forward. I don’t know if anybody saw, but you know, Twitter, for example, announced that it was going to be giving all of its employees the option to be working from home on a permanent basis. This does make a lot of sense for companies to consider, particularly those who, you know, will need to save money on real estate, considering that offices will need to be revamped for social distancing in the near… at least the near future. Overall, estimates predict that as much as 30% of the American workforce will continue to work from home at least several days a week through 2021 and maybe even farther than that. But that still leaves us with 70% of workers who will be going back into the office every day, every week. So, what does that look like for them?
In the near term, you know, we can expect public transportation rates to probably be significantly low for a while. Depending on the city, ridership is down anywhere from 50 to 90%. While this is understandable in the current moment, given the prevalence of, you know, transmission in enclosed and crowded scenarios, we don’t necessarily expect this to be a long-term situation. I personally hope it’s not. But at this point, simply having everyone begin to drive alone to work is, you know, not an option for a number of reasons.
Our responsibility as a community, as employers, is really to make sure that our employees are as comfortable as possible using whichever mode of transportation makes the most sense for their commute, while still trying as much as we reasonably can to mitigate the number of single occupancy vehicles.
So, let’s dive in a little bit. Since there hasn’t been much of any traffic during this pandemic, air pollution has been increased dramatically. To immediately reverses would be frankly irresponsible, but this is one of the threats that is truly facing us alongside the return to work. Although driving alone may feel safe to employees, given the situation, we all know that it leads to longer commutes, lots of traffic, overall frustration, lower work productivity and satisfaction and… and more. I don’t think any of us want to go back to work to this kind of situation.
And frankly, some companies may not be able to afford to have all of its employees parked at work. And that leaves them with a couple of options. One is, you know, subsidizing additional parking elsewhere for a large cost or, you know, passing that cost along to their employees, neither of which is a great option. If that park was even available. I think we could all agree we’d like it to look a little bit more like this with people still using a variety of modes, spread out, each feeling safe and not particularly crowded on any of them. And it may actually be more achievable than you’d originally think.
As Jessica spoke to earlier, I won’t dive into it too much, but in case anybody didn’t… didn’t catch that panel, we have a fresh start available of truly an unprecedented size with millions of Americans having the impetus to change their habits for the better. So, what is the fresh-start effect? As Jessica touched on, psychologists have found that temporal landmarks or special occasions create a clean state internally and encourage people to start better behavior.
A good example is New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing specifically different about January 1st, but people tell themselves there is and it inspires them to, you know, start drinking 8 cups of water that day because, you know, here’s their chance. And in this case, we have a pretty universal fresh start on the commuting front, several months long break from it where people get the chance to start a new.
Another relevant phenomenon that Jessica also touched on is the status bias, which is the preference for the current state of affairs. This is why it’s more difficult to get someone to stop driving once they’ve already started doing it than it is to get them to choose a different option initially. The removal of the usual status quo bias in this instance really gives us an opportunity to avoid having people choose to drive to work. And if we have people who, you know, choose that option when they otherwise might not have, we’re going to lose out on you know, being able to convert them over once they feel more comfortable on other options again. However, if we approach the situation by providing enough commute options and making it as simple as possible for employees to choose them, they’ll be much more amenable to choices outside of driving alone.
Here’s a little bit of, you know, what I’ve been hearing from employers about what they’re considering investing in, some of which we’ve heard on this call today and yesterday. Carpooling, bike share, whether that’s company-based or otherwise, scooter programs, vanpooling, adjusted shuttles or Uber and Lyft credits. Most of these are either individual based like bike share, scooters, or walking, or simply require interaction with 1 or 2 others, like carpool or Uber. As Chuck mentioned, the idea of carpooling with, you know, 1 co-worker who you trust and know is going to be a lot more palatable to employees than say getting on a crowded bus with strangers, at least initially.
So, I actually have a poll. Kelly, if you want to pull it up. I would love to hear from everyone, you know, which commute mode are you planning to increase your investment and when you return to the office?
Kelly: We’ll just give it 20 more seconds, a third of the votes in.
Rachel: Just going to say I recognize some people on the call may be from some of these providers. So, if you don’t, you know, have the ability to be the one choosing to increase your investment, that’s fine too.
Kelly: Okay, I’m going to close the poll. So, go ahead and submit your mounts if you have them. And there are the results.
Rachel: Awesome. Yeah, remote work is obviously, I think, one of the easiest. And bikes especially, I think, you know, it depends a lot on when we all start going back. I… not that anybody really knows, but especially if that happens toward, you know, the end of the summer, I think people are going to be a lot more amenable to bikes than they might be otherwise.
And then the second poll, I’m going to touch on a little bit later. I don’t know if we’re able to pull that back up, but… oh, awesome. Well, regardless of which of these you pick or your company, you know, decides to invest in, it’s going to be essential that you make sure that your employees are both aware of and able to choose the option that works best for them.
So, let’s talk a little bit about some strategies that we can use, you know, to have available to support them once they’re in the office. First, adjust that work-from-home policy and make it crystal clear to your employees. Looks like a lot of people were interested in remote work as an option moving forward. Right now, it’s pretty easy because we’re all working from home, but that is probably not the case moving forward. To avoid any confusion, you’re going to need to establish guidelines for exactly who can work from home and when. That way, everybody is totally clear on it and there’s not any, you know, up in the air.
A lot of people that we’ve been talking to are considering having some people work from home Mondays and Wednesdays, the other half Tuesdays and Thursdays. This would help, you know, keep office capacity at a safe level and also deal with any parking availability concerns.
Another option that I actually didn’t include in the poll was introducing flexible work hours. This is a good solution on several levels. It, again, lowers the number of people who would be in the office at any given time. Helps manage crowding on public transportation. And also allows parents to more easily manage childcare in the event that schools haven’t opened back up yet.
If you really don’t have any parking available at your office, which is, you know, definitely be in case for quite a few companies, some of your employees will… will have to take public transportation, whether or not that’s something they feel comfortable with. Rather than going during say a traditional rush hour like 8:00 or 8:30, they could instead opt to come in around 11:00 AM when the trains would be less crowded and thus, you know, making social distancing easier, then head home closer to 7:00 PM.
Along with these flexible work hours, you want to make sure they have access to real time information about all of those mobility options. If somebody is going to take the subway, it’s going to be a lot safer for them to do that while spending as little time waiting on the platform as possible, which can be accomplished with tools like either TransitScreen or our mobile app, City Motion, which gives you real-time updates about any of the options you might want to choose. They also give you customized reminders about your commute, what time you need to leave, and allow people to make the smartest decision every day.
As you continue to have employees come back into the office, you’ll want to survey them about how it’s going. Although I am about to suggest a little bit later that you should survey them before you go back, doing so once they’ve already you know headed back is going to give you an even more accurate reflection about how their habits have changed. Since none of us have you know lived through this before, I don’t think that we even know for sure how we’re going to react. So, it’s possible that we might feel more comfortable doing things than we realized, or the reverse. But by talking to your employees who have come back, you’ll be able to evaluate usage of any of the changes that you’ve made to your program or be able to adjust further before any more employees return.
No matter how your commute program ends up changing, you are going to want to send out routine reminders about what you’re offering, especially if you continue making changes. This should take place in as many ways as you can and as often as you can, whether that’s through email, meetings, tools like Slack, anything like that. All of these are going to be great once you, you know, go back to the office, but let’s be honest, we don’t really know when that is. And the majority of the planning here really does need to happen before you head back. That includes making sure that your employees have their new commute figured out and ready to go.
Before you even choose that return date, there’s a lot you can be thinking about. Some of you, I’m sure already have, but just wanted to break it down a little bit. The first thing you’re going to want to do is create a comprehensive cross-team commute task force. You may already have one as part of your regular commute options. But if, you know, the commute wasn’t at the top of your mind before, you’re going to want to come up with one.
In the poll a little bit earlier… oh, perfect. Thanks, Kelly. I didn’t know if we’d be able to bring it back up. So, this is actually exactly who we recommend. Definitely including, you know, a mix of people in these… in these areas across your company is going to be great. Maybe having some of that involvement from the C suite is going to be helpful. If you need to have like an increase in your budget or, you know, need that authority to get the plan across the finish line. So, having that buy-in and support initially is going to be really helpful.
Once you have that put together, you do want to go ahead and survey your employees. Don’t assume that they’ll be commuting the same way they were before based on their previous behavior. Like I said, none of us done this before, people are going to have different comfort levels about, you know, what they’re going to do when they come back.
It’s also going to give you the ability to evaluate your current offerings. So, you know, do you need to provide money for public transportation right now? How many shows do you have? How many shuttles do you need to add to make them, you know, socially distance? How many parking spaces are there? How many would you be able to add if you had to?
If you survey your employees, you’ll know right away if there’s anything you can cut out completely. Really think about how much you’re spending on options that fewer people are going to be using. You know, as I alluded to, shuttle programs in particular are going to need to be adjusted quite a bit, and will result in spending way more on additional routes or vehicles to make sure social distancing is an option. This might not be a great fit, maybe you would need a vehicle instead. So, I’m sure a lot of you, like I said, thought about this already, but you know, really keeping track of all of this in one place, like a spreadsheet with costs and number of employees is going to be helpful as you play around with the options and see which makes the most sense.
That being said, now’s a great time to start coordinating with vendors, especially if you’re planning to switch up any of the benefits that you’re offering. You’ll want to start talking to providers. There’s a lot of different options out there, and you’ll want to talk to as many as you can to find out which is best for your company and situation.
You know, let’s say you’re looking into bike share. There’s a lot to think about. Are you going to use electric bikes, or just standard bikes, operate your own fleet, lease them out, have it managed externally? You know, there are a lot of people to talk to you, you’re going to want to start doing it now.
Along the same lines, if possible, you could start making minor strategic infrastructure changes. So, you know, related to the physical office itself. If you are going to be introducing more bike-related options, which it sounds like a lot of people are considering, you’ll be needing more bike related infrastructure, whether that means bike parking, showers, etc. But no matter what you need, having it fully ready to go when your first, you know, phase begins of people returning is going to be really important. Because if people have a negative experience trying something new like biking to work, they’re not going to want to try it again, and they’ll just end up reverting to something like driving alone.
You’ll also want to come up with, as many people have alluded to, a phased-work-return plan. Given just the nature of the physical space alone, you’re not going to want to have everybody come back to work on the same day. This also gives you the advantage of figuring out what commutes are going to look like. You can test in the first phase, see how it goes, and make adjustments from there.
But now, final topic I want to talk about is communicating these changes to your employees. Without placing an emphasis on making sure each employee understands all the options that they have available and has a specific plan in place, everything we just talked about is going to be one be less effective. So, head of the return to work, make sure it’s extremely clear to your employees what you’re offering them. That could mean a few different things, whether it’s sending out several emails with all that information, talking about it in a company all hands, hosting a specific meeting, doing a chat etc. Honestly, you should do all those things. Repetition is really the key here.
If you have an existing company app for example, that would be a great place to house this information. Whether it involves sending push-alert reminders or just having messages available where your employees already go for information. It’s always really helpful to have this commute-related content, you know, integrated where people already trust the information and go to find it.
You could also do something more creative like setting up Slack alerts for if somebody, you know, in a channel types in something like, “I’m driving to work,” can pop up and say, “Hey, actually, did you know we have a carpool program?” and kind of get people there.
But something that’s going to make a huge difference is people are going to be more likely to do something if you speak to them individually and have them agree to do it, you know, with you. I think earlier, someone was speaking about having commute concierges. It’s a tactic people use actually like in digital organizing a lot of time is giving people that hard ask, and it’s really hard to say no to somebody. So, if you want people to sign up for a carpool, you know, it’s not going to be enough to just post about it once over Slack. you’re much more likely to get someone to do that if you’ve spoken to them about it one-on-one, identified somebody they can actually carpool with, you know, talk about what time they need to leave, really get into making a plan.
Now, depending on the size of your company, that might seem daunting, or maybe even impossible to do with each employee individually, but that’s why we set up a task force. So, putting 10 minutes, just 10 minutes on each employee’s calendar is really going to be worth it, and, you know, can be done over the course of now through when you actually go back to work, whenever that might be. Let’s say we have 1000 employees, 5 people in your task force, that’s only 200 a person. Still sounds like a lot. But, you know, if you’ve got 5 weeks to go, you know, conservatively, you only need to do 6 hours a week at about an hour a day of outreach, which is a lot that is really going to be the investment that makes the difference between, you know, putting all these things together and getting people to actually use them. You could also, you know, go ahead and deputize a few extra people for that task force and get it down to a little bit of a more manageable workload.
So, overall, making sure that you’re actively communicating these commute options to your employees as often and as specifically as possible, is going to be really essential to coming out of all of this (whenever that may be) without ending up with a wildly high drive-alone rate at your office.
All of these factors are important, but the bulk of this needs to happen before you get back to the office. The fresh-start effect is very real, and so is the status quo bias. And it’s going to be a lot easier to get people to try a new commute than to get them to stop driving once they’ve already defaulted to that. Although it is going to take slightly more effort on, you know, your… your team’s part, providing that level of customized trip planning and consultation for your employees about their best options, is going to make a substantial difference in their ability to, you know, relearn how to commute.
So, I’ll go ahead and wrap up. Like I said, I wanted to thank everybody for taking the time today. I would love to hear from anybody if, you know, they also want to discuss their commute. Like I said, really trying to learn a lot about what people are thinking. We also have all of this available in an e-book on our website if anybody found this helpful as a guide to getting started. And we’ve also recently come up with some new products and solutions at TransitScreen that can kind of help people through this. So, if you’re interested in any of that, I am always happy to talk. But other than that, I am also happy to take some questions.
Kelly: Perfect, thank you so much for that, Rachel. That was a really helpful and clear plan that you laid out there. One question I have before I’ll jump into the Q&A box and ask people from there, you mentioned the fresh-start effect, which Jessica Roberts also mentioned this morning as a great way to change behaviors. I’m just curious, you know, as we approach this return to work with still so much uncertainty, do you have ideas for ways that employers could, as Jessica mentioned to you this morning, you know, set their own fresh start sort of like…
Kelly: … because you can’t create it on your own. It’s not just going to be one day we reopen.
Kelly: Any ideas around how… how we could do that?
Rachel: Yeah. I think a good example would be, you know, let’s say biking, which a lot of people mentioned. You know, if people haven’t biked to work before, they’re probably not just going to start doing it, right? Well, they might. People are buying a lot of bikes. But making it as easy as possible by maybe starting like a biking group at work where you can… you know, you have a bike buddy and you can use this time to test out the route while there aren’t as many cars on the street, talking about the advantages and doing that. Offering to pay for a bike for employees. Maybe exploring some electric bike options, which really, you know, ups the radius of people who are going to be able to do that realistically. And… and making it seem like something, like I said, if it’s the summer and people are like, “Oh, it’s nice, I could bike. That’s a thing that I’m going to enjoy my commute more,” really making it more of a social thing in that way while also socially distant, I think is a good example of something that employers could do to make that, you know, seem more appealing to people.
Kelly: Yeah, and I love what you just said, because we’re all going to be so starved for…
Kelly: Like this is a great way of doing what you said, you know, what this bike-commute train, even though we’re still distanced, it’s like, “Oh my god, I get to see some colleagues,” you know?
Rachel: Right. And all I’m doing right now is like sitting in my apartment. Like, I would love to bike right now. Like, I gotta be outside.
Kelly: Exactly. Okay. So, here’s a question from the Q&A box. So, first, James said, “You know, Rachel, there was this one study from the Netherlands which you’ve probably read about this but, you know, about people missing their commute mode and… and they’re using this to advocate, you know, in the returning to normal. But 45% of car drivers miss their commute; only 45%. Transit riders that goes up to 65% who is commuting. E-bike, 91% miss their commute. Biking is fun, especially when you have some power. And then walking, 86% miss commuting, miss their commute. So, what I’m wondering for you is how can we leverage, you know, this idea of missing your commute to encourage behavior change, you know, when we return to the office?”
Rachel: Yeah. I think honestly, the one that is going to be the hardest is really is the public transportation. You know, as somebody who does often take the bus myself, I think it’s just realistically going to be hard for a while. But I also think those are probably the people who, once they feel safe again, like won’t drive alone forever.
I think, you know, really honing in on that, what, 55% of drivers who don’t miss it, of course they don’t miss it. I’m surprised that’s even that high, honestly. But honing in on that and, you know, using this as a chance to kind of convert those people who… who were driving alone before, I think is the interesting opportunity here. As opposed to the threat of, you know, more people starting to thrive, I think there really is that opportunity to enable people to do something else.
Kelly: Yeah, definitely. And the secondary question related to that that James asked was, so that study was from the Netherlands, which is maybe why more people…
Rachel: Why bikes are so high? I don’t know if you haven’t ridden an e-bike that really… that’s… I don’t think people are talking about the e-bike part of it enough. Like, that really will make it so much easier for so many people to bike to work if it’s like, they’re able to go further without the physical part.
Kelly: Yeah, I agree… I agree with that. But that could be why the car commuting is higher because they don’t have as much congestion. But their question was, do you know if there’s any studies like this done in the US yet or…?
Rachel: That’s a good question. I think there are a lot of studies out there. I don’t know… I actually might have a couple. I’ll look and see if I can follow up with any if he wants to drop his email.
Kelly: Okay. And you can do that in that Q&A box actually.
Rachel: Oh, cool. Oh, perfect.
Kelly: Yeah, perfect. Well, thank you so much. I must say that I see a TransitScreen every day that I go shopping just around the corner at the Co-op.
Rachel: At the central Co-op?
Kelly: Yep, Central Co-op.
Rachel: (unclear) [02:01:28]
Kelly: Yeah, so it’s excellent. And I always smile and think of you and your team and the awesome work you’re doing in DC. So, thanks again for… for being…
Rachel: You’re welcome.
Kelly: … partners.
Rachel: Yeah. Thanks, Kelly. Thank you so much for having us. It was my pleasure.
Kelly: Thank you. And you can… Rachel can jump into the Q&A box. So, if anyone has more questions, just start feeding them in there and she can type out responses to you. And, of course, her contact information, very straightforward is on the screen, transitscreen.com. And with that, I’m going to share my screen again, but then I’m going to pass it off to my colleague, Madeline, to introduce our last panel of the day.
Madeline: Thanks, Kelly. Hi again, everyone. I am pleased to introduce Trevor Boylan who is the East Coast Regional Director at Scoop to talk to us a bit about carpooling’s role in the future of commute… commute. Trevor, over to you.
Trevor: Awesome. Thank you, Madeline. Can you hear me okay?
Madeline: Sounds great.
Trevor: Awesome. Let me share… can I take over the screen sharing really quick? Perfect. If you can just confirm when you can see my screen, that would be great.
Madeline: We can see it. Thanks, Trevor.
Trevor: Carpooling, perfect. Well, thank you for the introduction. And you know, we’re very grateful to you and the Luum team for the opportunity to present today. I’ve really enjoyed the sessions over the last 2 days and I’m excited to talk about the role of carpooling in this new landscape we’re all trying to navigate through. You’ll see some themes from the great presentations we’ve seen so far today. So, we’ll try to move through those points pretty quickly.
But to kick things off with a brief introduction, my name is Trevor. I lead Scoop’s partnership efforts with employers across the US. I am an Atlanta native, so I’m coming to you from Atlanta right now. I like to tell people that my passion for TDM came from 32 years of sitting in Atlanta traffic. But Scoop was also founded in 2015 by 2 brothers who are born and raised right here in Atlanta. And today, we’re the largest corporate carpooling solution in the country, with just over 9 million shared rides to date that have resulted in 70 million pounds of CO2 emissions. saved from eliminating cars off the road. We partner with over 15% of the Fortune 100 and other large employers to help connect their employees entering rides to and from the worksite.
Now, Scoop was founded on this belief that we could enrich the lives of millions of people if we were able to help make the commute a more meaningful part of their work day. And as commuters across the country are in… we’re all working on, you know, this beginning of returning back to work, I believe that this mission is more important than ever.
As we’ve heard a lot today, it’s no surprise for any of us in transportation that the road we knew in January has changed rapidly. Scoop, like many other transportation companies, has not been immune to the impacts of this. So, you know, in the last 6 weeks, we spent a lot of time connecting with our customers, executives, and commuters to better understand what has changed and how we think about the commute and really inform our point of view on what the role of carpooling could be in the future.
So, today we’re going to unpack you know our perspective on how things have changed, what organizations will need to prepare for the future of commuting, and discuss how carpooling can play a major role in your successful return to workplace plans. At the end, we’ll be sure to leave about 10 minutes for Q&A. But feel free to leave questions in the chat throughout the presentation as you have them. Since then… since I now in the last session of the day, we’re going to start off with a poll. And I would love to know from the group, what interested you in joining today’s session?
Looks like we’ve got both up there. Perfect.
Madeline: We’ll just give it another 20 seconds. About half of everyone has submitted.
Trevor: Awesome. We’re actually going to jump around a bit. So, we’ll start with question 2. I’m surprised I don’t see a higher percentage of, “I needed a break from my kids,” based on conversations I’ve had with friends recently. But no, in all seriousness, thank you for sharing. Based on the results here, I’m hopeful that we can help provide some answers to your questions today through the course of this presentation.
So, to start off, let’s talk about some of the new realities that we’re facing in the world today. You know, the pandemic continues to transform all aspects of our daily life. And shelter-in-place requirements across the country (as many have talked about) have really brought the commute into what used to be a daily ritual for all of us to a standstill for most. You know, we continue to learn more about the virus on a daily basis and the implications that it has on our society. But there’s still a lot of unknowns out there, that we’re all trying to grapple with. And you know, after weeks of closure, governments across the nation are now putting together plans to reopen. And in many, many States like Georgia where I’m sitting, some of those orders have already been lifted.
So, organizations, like many on this call, are really having to fast track thinking about what that return is going to look like. And as we’ve had conversations with our customers and with employers, we’ve heard overwhelmingly, and the themes on this call today or the session… these sessions today are different that workplace safety is the top priority. We hosted a webinar last week and nearly 70% of the attendees on that call said that safety is the number 1 focus in their organization right now. And the reality is that our belief is that a safe return-to-the-workplace plan really begins, not when the employee walks into the office, but it begins at the second they leave their home and walk out of the door to begin their commute.
So, taking a step back for a bit and looking at this from the lens of what employees are thinking, you know, for many organizations, the commute has historically been an employee’s responsibility. And as a result, you know, when employers think about returning to workplace, we’ve heard a lot that they start with the experience inside the worksite and the commute is further down the list. But I think it’s important to call out that employees are approaching it from the opposite perspective.
Both our internal research and data from organizations like JLL are finding that commuting back to work is the top concern for employees when returning to the workplace. So, you know, what does that mean for us as organizations? Well, you know, the commute really begins the work day. So, it’s what your employees are bringing into the workplace, and it’s also what they’re bringing home to their families. So, as a result, our belief is really that every return-to-work plan has to include a commute plan if we want our employees to be and feel safe at work.
When we look at, you know, how different companies are adapting to this, our belief is that companies who recognize the commute as a really core component of this plan will benefit, will see higher employee engagement, a safer workplace, and a better financial rebound once they return. By contrast, employers that don’t will likely take on more risk. They’re going to have reduced real and perceived safety at the workplace, and the risk of reclosure from new outbreaks is much higher. Ultimately, this could lead to a strain on financial and revenue performance.
So, if we could pull that poll report… results back up and look at it. We’ve already taken both of them. In looking at, you know, whether or not organizations have factored in commute as part of their workplace, could we pull those results back up again, Kelly? So, it looks like many of us are just getting started, which is what we’re hearing as well. You know, I’ve heard a lot of the presenters today talk about, you know, really providing employees with options. And that’s very important to us as well here at Scoop and how we think about carpooling fitting into the bigger picture.
So, you know, let’s dive in a bit to the employee commute and start talking about how the questions that employees are going to start asking as workplaces reopen, and many of you may already be getting these. Some of the questions we’ve started hearing is… are things like, “Is my employer going to step in and help me figure this out? You know, what if I don’t have a car and I don’t feel comfortable taking the previous mode of transportation that I used to commute? You know, if I am required that I do need to come into the workplace, does that mean that I have to prioritize my income over my safety? And what happens if everyone starts driving in their cars by themselves? What will that do to my… my trip… the amount of time I’m spending in traffic on a weekly basis? What about the parking constraints that already existed on my campus before COVID? What about the environment?”
See, as you all know, when it comes to mode, commuters have always had a variety of choices. And that still holds true today. In a lot of ways, the concept of density in transportation is sacred. It’s common knowledge, denser transportation modes allow for better quality in our cities, reduce traffic congestion, and they create more livable environments. But there is a significant paradigm shift that’s happening. And it’s going to be challenging for a lot of us that have been in transportation. Because for the commuter, density is no longer the primary transportation goal, it’s actually safety. And it’s not just actual safety, but it’s the perception of safety, which I think is an important distinction.
The table on the left here highlights results from a commuter survey that we conducted earlier this month. When we asked commuters to rank modes by safety perception, transit carry beliefs perceive safety at 16%, while perhaps unsurprisingly, driving alone by yourself carry the highest perceived safety of 82%. In a separate poll that was conducted by Gallup, 90% of respondents stated that they are currently afraid of public transportation, and was 78% likely to avoid it in the foreseeable future. As I’m sure you all know, every form of group transportation is facing decreased perceptions of safety. And this creates a real equity issue.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some great positives here too that we should consider. We’re learning how to telework effectively and realizing the benefits of scheduling flexibility can happen on our mental well-being. Bike sales, like we just talked about, have increased significantly as way more people are looking at walking or biking to work in the future. And many Americans are fortunate to own a personal vehicle that will allow them to have total control over the safety of their commute.
On the flip side, though, when we look at teleworking, less than 50% of the US workforce can actually work from home. The average American has a one-way commute of 10 miles or more, which wouldn’t really make for a fun bike ride on a summer day here in Atlanta, given the humidity. And a third of the US workforce doesn’t have access to a vehicle, not to mention the significant traffic… traffic implications that we would be looking at if everyone decides to get in their car and drive alone.
So, our belief is it needs we must find solutions in the short term that help address some of these fears. And, you know, the search for solutions will likely involve a toolkit of modes that ensures all employees’ needs are being met. I agree wholeheartedly with what’s been talked about today that it should be an employer’s goal to provide safe options, and then it’s the employee’s job to choose what mode really works best for them.
Some key considerations we would advocate employers make in evaluating these priorities, obviously safety, you know, “Can I get my… can I get the employees that need to be at the workplace there safely?” From a reliability standpoint, “Are the solutions that I am providing reliable enough to where they’re able to be used anytime an employee needs to come into the workplace?” And from an equity perspective, “You know, can I truly tell every employee in my organization that there is a safe way for them to get to the workplace or a fair alternative?”
The reality is in that… that in the near term, this could mean some changes and commuters desire to use modes that they have historically been relying on, like transit or employee shuttles while we see an increase in people driving alone, biking or carpooling to work. Now, this sentiment certainly shouldn’t and hopefully will not last forever, but will be particularly important for organizations to consider in these first phases of planning for returning back to the workplace.
So, let’s talk about carpooling. And, you know, now we’ve really laid out the importance of prioritizing a strong commute plan. So, let’s talk about why carpooling should be a viable part of that solution. And going back a bit in time, carpooling has repeatedly served as reliable mode during crises. Back in World War 2, people use carpooling as a conservation method to save on rubber and gas and wear and tear on their vehicles. We saw it again spike in the 1980s during the oil crisis as a means to save money. And historically, we see upticks in carpooling throughout various times of economic downturns or crises.
Which brings us to today. You know, everyone on this call is familiar with carpooling. It’s not a new phenomenon. But today, we have technology that eliminates traditional barriers that had been blockers for carpooling in the past. You know, things like reliability, scheduling flexibility, having awkward payment conversations, and ongoing management, have historically been challenges to increasing carpooling usage in cities. But today, Scoop and other technology-based carpooling services have worked to eliminate these barriers and provide solutions that meet the needs of today’s workforce.
You know, tying that back into our current environment, carpooling offers in place a safe, reliable, and equitable transportation option for getting back to their workplace. And by providing a low-density solution with enforceable policies and a familiar network of coworkers, employees feel like they have more control over their surroundings and who they’re commuting with. So, going back to that survey we talked about earlier, our recent commuter survey, carpooling with 1 other person was viewed by… by our responses is the safest option among alternative commute modes.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that everyone’s going to feel comfortable with carpooling. That’s not reality. And that’s okay. In many cases, carpooling doesn’t come with high fixed costs, so it can scale with demand or with employee usage based on what your employees feel comfortable and safe with.
The other big benefit carpooling offers is around employee well-being. We’ve heard a lot in the conversations we’ve had with commuters that people are concerned about their finances. They miss the interaction with their co-workers. In a recent study that was conducted by MetLife, financial wellness was the top concern that employees are dealing with right now.
And from a mental well-being standpoint, in our survey, it was revealed that only 32% of people felt that they were truly connected with their colleagues while working from home. Contrast that to 72% of respondents who felt connected while they were working in the office. See carpooling not only helps employees save money, but it also offers a meaningful way to reconnect coworkers as they adjust back into the office environment, even if the rider is sitting in the back and everyone’s wearing masks.
So, let’s pivot really quickly to some of the things Scoop is doing to try and promote safety in the car. You know, we, as I mentioned earlier, believe that carpooling can play a major role in the future of commuting, but it means dedicating the right amount of care and attention to safety as being the number 1 priority.
So, as a result, we’ve implemented multiple changes to our products and community guidelines to ensure that this stays top-of-mind. Things like limiting carpools to only 2 people, requiring masks, ensuring the writer sits in the backseat, encouraging airflow instead of air conditioning are just a few of the things we’ve implemented to ensure that our commuters are protected.
We’ve developed comprehensive guidelines that are in compliance with CDC and WHO recommendations that we continue to update as new instructions come out. And because feedback is captured after every Scoop trip, adherence to these protocols is enforceable, as is contact tracing, which adds to commuters feeling psychologically safe in the car.
Finally, you know, we’ve really focused on making sure that our program structure meets the needs of employers given the current economic environment. There’s so much uncertainty that exists today. So, Scoop, like many carpool offerings, is really built on flexibility that is tied directly to impact without having to take on significant fixed expenses.
Carpooling can scale up quickly based on the phased approach of your business while offering the skill needed to work across different offices or geographies. But, you know, really, at the end of the day, we recognize that we’re all trying to figure this out together. There is no playbook for something like COVID-19 as we’ve never experienced a pandemic like this in our lifetimes.
So, our goal is to really help all organizations prepare for a safe and successful return to the workplace. And in the spirit of this, we’ve created a free safe commute toolkit that includes customizable transportation matrix, a return-to-workplace polled survey, and a manager’s discussion guide. When we… when used together these tools can provide you with really good data on employee sentiment and transportation knowledge to help craft a comprehensive return-to-workplace plan around your commute.
Following the presentations today, we’ll be in touch with attendees to provide a copy of this. But please feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions or would like us to do a custom evaluation for your organization.
And with that, we’ll leave some time for Q&A.
Madeline: Awesome. Thank you so much, Trevor. And we have some really good questions in the Q&A box here. So, I’ll just get started with a couple ones. And there were a couple of surrounding that survey about the perception of safety questions about how many people were surveyed. Do you have an answer for that one?
Trevor: Yeah. So, we surveyed our entire carpool community. I believe we had over 2000 respondents. So, we will be giving a full readout on that survey next week at one of our webinars that we’re doing on commuter sentiment. But I believe it was it was around 2000 respondents of industry participants.
Madeline: Awesome. That’s super helpful. And then kind of talking about that perception of safety, and you talked a little bit about what Scoop is doing to help promote that perception of safety, do you have any sort of recommendations for from an employer perspective, what ways we can educate commuters about helping them see carpooling as a safe mode? What kind of messaging we can use upon returning to the office that encourages people to kind of trust carpooling as a commute mode?
Trevor: Yeah, I go back to some of the previous… previous presentations about just communication in general, helping them understand what the… what the revised protocols are around promoting safety in the car what their options are for commuting, and allowing employees to make the best decision for them. I mean, I think, you know, safety is one of those things that everyone’s going to have a different point of view on… on what is going to be the best for them, and what’s going to be safest for them in commuting to the worksite. And our goal here at Scoop and from a carpooling point of view is to… is to, you know, align with what the guidelines are from a CDC standpoint, while also ensuring that we’re promoting that on a regular basis, so that when I… when I talk about feedback, you know, being left after every trip by the rider and driver, that’s a way that we can monitor and make sure that those policies are being followed, and ensure that our community remains strong.
Madeline: That makes a lot of sense. Thanks. And then there’s a couple of questions about Scoop’s coverage nationwide and whether it’s available in all cities, and if so, where?
Trevor: We’re available in cities across the country. If you have… my recommendation would be my email is super easy, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org, t r e v o r. So, if you have questions or interest potentially in seeing if Scoop is available in your city, I’d be happy to chat with you about it.
Madeline: Awesome, thanks so much. And then a question about kind of the… if there’s a sweet spot when it comes to distance where we should promote carpooling, like distance away from the work site, I assume that means.
Trevor: Yeah. So, you know, we find the sweet spot for carpooling is those 5 or 50-mile commutes. And, you know, that’s… that’s really where we see, when we look at our community and where a lot of the trips were coming from, I’d say that’s really the sweet spot for carpooling. You know, within a few miles of work, biking, walking, those are all very viable options, you know, depending on where you live, time of year, etc. But, and then above 50 miles, we see vanpooling be pretty prevalent, but the 5 or 50 mile is really the sweet spot for carpooling.
Madeline: Awesome, thank you. And then when it comes to kind of shifting into this post-COVID world, are you seeing employers making different decisions about encouraging employees to stick with the same carpool mates each day or making a more on-demand choice?
Trevor: It’s a great question. So, I’d say we’re seeing a mix of both. The beauty of technology like Scoop is that employees have a lot of control over, you know, who they end up wanting to carpool with. And that’s also a feature that we’re rolling out as part of our changes post-COVID is to allow you to really manage that. But we have a concept of favorites in Scoop that our algorithm will essentially take that into account first and look to match you with people that you’re accustomed to carpooling with that are your neighbors or your coworkers. So, that’s a way that they can manage that and make sure that it’s someone they’re comfortable with.
You know, the challenge with traditional carpooling historically, has been that, you know, the world we live in today is so full of competing priorities, and it’s hard to balance, you know, are… on my own schedule on a daily basis, much less someone else’s to. And so, when we, you know, built Scoop, we did a lot of research on what were the reasons why traditionally, you know, a lot of cities across the US carpooling, has been a challenge or declined. And one of the top reasons was that flexibility component of, you know, trying to manage ongoing with the same person whether or not we’re going to be going in, or if you are going to be on PTO for 2 weeks, I need to find another ride or whatever it is, is hard.
So, solutions like Scoop and other technology-based carpooling providers offer a lot of flexibility so that if, you know, as part of returned to work, I get to telework 3 days a week and I can go into the office 2 days a week, I can just choose to use Scoop on those specific days and match up with a co-worker.
Madeline: That’s a great answer. And then, similarly, we have a question kind of about those new work-from-home policies that a lot of companies have been announcing recently. Do you have any idea, at least from your perspective, how that might affect the future kind of picking the landscape and Scoop as a company?
Trevor: That’s a great question. You know, I think there will definitely be a portion of the workforce that this work from home experiment we’ve been in, you know, for better or worse will be permanent, right? We’ve heard companies that have announcing that they’re going to keep part of their workforce home. We know that companies are going to be staggering their return back to the workplace. But I keep going back to the fact that, you know, even… even at a high level, that doesn’t even come close to half of the US workforce.
So, there’s still a lot of… there’s still a lot of the population that’s going to have to come into work. And granted, that might be staggered, it might look like, you know, different days of the week. And it’s going to be different than what it looked like in January for sure. But I think people will always have a need to commute. And so, the… you know, in our eyes, the goal is to really make sure that we’re providing those employees when they do need to come into the office with solutions that are safe and that are workable for them.
Madeline: That’s a great answer. And then kind of relatedly here, we have a question about maybe some new flexible work schedules that are going to be promoted by employers upon the return to work. And a question about whether Scoop intends to only be a match for those peak commutes, AM, PM, or whether they’re going to kind of expand looking into this flexible work schedules?
Trevor: In terms of like… like working different split shifts or 3:00 to 7:00, stuff like that?
Madeline: So, it sounds like, yeah.
Trevor; Yeah, absolutely, we can accommodate that.
Madeline: Cool, that’s awesome. Let’s see, there’s a question about assuming that there’s going to be a mode shift upon to carpooling in the post-COVID world, what group of pre-COVID commuters do you think will be most likely to make that shift over to carpooling? Will it be folks using transit? Folks using shuttle? Do you have any idea from that perspective?
Trevor: My perspective, I’d say is based on the conversation we’re having with our customers right now, which… which is, you know, we’re seeing a lot of companies that we worked with looking to offer supplemental options, at least, you know, especially in the near term to people that relied on to transit or employee shuttles or high-density modes. That’s what we’re seeing a lot of right now.
You know, it’s tough to predict the future, because I think that things are evolving so rapidly. And what we knew last week isn’t the same as what we know today. But, you know, the conversations we’ve had with our customers and prospective customers are really centered around making sure that those employees that may not, you know, perceive transit as safety in the near… as safe in the near future have a viable option. And, you know, continue to offer transit as an alternative, but to give them options as well.
Madeline: Yeah, agreed. Absolutely. There’s a question here about incentives that employers might offer to encourage carpooling. Would offering carpool drivers gas cards as a reward be a good incentive to influence the fresh-start effect?
Trevor: So, I mean, I think just in terms of like people’s buying behavior, motivation and influencing, incentives are always a positive driver of, you know, behavior change in general. I think it depends on the incentive. We have some… some great recommendations, I would encourage, if this… whoever asked the question would like to connect after this, we can talk through some of the recommendations we make to employers to incentivize the right behavior. I mean, just throwing, you know, money at the wall is not… can’t be a solution, right? So, we want to make sure that we incentivize the right behavior. And whether that’s a gas card, whether that’s preferred parking in an environment where parking lots are probably going to be a lot more full once people come back, you know, there’s a lot of different things you can do. But we’d be happy to have a conversation offline about what would be best for your organization.
Madeline: Perfect. And then just a last question here. You mentioned a lot about kind of what Scoop is doing to encourage safe practices, you know, in the return to work. Has Scoop used any contact tracing already during the pandemic? And if so, how has that been going?
Trevor: So, one of the things that’s unique about Scoop is that we’ve partnered directly with employers to launch programs that… that, you know, are very specific to their needs as an employer. So, that by default, and because we only have 2 people in the car, that gives both the employer a lot of view into who’s riding with who and how many rides are being taken on a daily basis. So, it gives them that information to use how they see fit. It’s not necessarily something that we are actively doing on our own in the background, but we are empowering our customers with the information they need to make the right decisions.
Madeline: Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Trevor, again, for joining us. And thanks to everybody who was able to join us today. I’m going to go ahead and pass it back over to Kelly to officially wrap things up.
Trevor: Thank you, guys.
Madeline: Thanks, Trevor.
Kelly: Yeah. Thank you so much to everyone who presented today. It was just wonderful, both days. And I think one… if I could sum it up and in one sentence, to me, what really stood out is that no one has a crystal ball. We… you know, we don’t… we can’t see into the future. But we do have a wonderful community here of TDM people who are smart and passionate, and collaborative. And so, we’re truly in this together and… and I think we can… there’s a lot of opportunity for positive change as we return to the office and commuting.
So, just again, thank you to our sponsors. We couldn’t do this without you. And for all of you on the line, thank you so much for tuning in. We will be sharing the recordings and the highlights on Friday. So, get excited for those. And just a reminder that you can access some commute resources for return-to-the-office planning at luum.com, as well as, as you saw from many other folks on the line today. So, check those out. And then join us. We’re doing our second employer forum on, “What’s your return policy?” online June 2nd at 9:00 AM. So, be on the lookout for an invitation, but the programming continues. And so, thank you so much for tuning in to our first ever Luuminary Conference. We’ll be in touch soon. Have a wonderful day everyone. Stay safe out there.
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