AN ATLANTA-BASED ANALYSIS ON THE FEASIBILITY OF EMPLOYEE COMMUTE OPTIONS PROGRAMS AND SWITCHING FROM DRIVING ALONE TO ALTERNATIVE COMMUTE MODES
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Employee commute options programs – also known as employer-based transportation demand management (TDM) programs – are rooted in the philosophy of TDM and trip reduction. There is a long history of TDM policies and efforts undertaken by both the public and private sectors in the United States, although the name and shape of such efforts has varied over time. However, a common goal has persisted throughout, which is to reduce employees’ reliance on gasoline-powered single-occupant vehicles (i.e. traditional cars) for traveling to and from work. To this end, employee commute options programs today often focus on incentivizing employees to switch from driving alone to using an alternative commute mode. These alternative modes range from public transit (e.g. rail or bus), ridesharing (e.g. carpooling or vanpooling), “active commuting” (e.g. biking or walking), to even alternative work hour arrangements (e.g. telecommuting) where possible (Griffin 2020). Carrot-and-stick approaches are often used to motivate employees to make the switch – such as rewarding alternative mode users with financial incentives and/or workplace perks, or even imposing charges for driving and parking. In addition, the benefits of adopting alternative modes are often extolled to the employee audience to make these options appear more attractive to potential users. Commonly cited benefits of alternatives to driving alone include reducing travel times and commute-related stress, saving commute costs, improving commuter satisfaction, creating a more sustainable environment, and so on. Employer-based TDM proponents and enthusiasts tend to emphasize, perhaps overtly so, that employee commute options programs can and will help create lasting behavioral changes. All parties involved in this enterprise – namely employers, employees, and society at large – are assumed to reap rewards from adopting TDM approaches and goals.