Hitching a "Smart Ride" -- Using Awards to Motivate Ride Sharing.
People Performance Magazine
It's ten to nine in the morning. You should be in your office preparing for a 9:30 presentation, but instead you're sitting in traffic, the 225th car in line to cross the bridge, enter the tunnel, exit off the highway. There's got to be a better way, you think, as you fiddle with the radio presets.
Some of the better ways, of course are carpooling, vanpooling and taking mass transit such as the train and bus. Taking advantage of these alternatives not only makes drivers less stressed but reduces traffic congestion and air pollution. Leaving a single occupancy vehicle at home can also save gas, insurance and other wear and tear expenses. Riders can work during their commute time, catch up on their reading, listen to music or nap.
While the number of people taking mass transit and other alternative forms of transportation has been growing, it's still difficult to coax people out of their single occupancy vehicles. But the Connecticut and New York Departments of Transportation, together with Stamford, Conn.-based MetroPool, Inc., a non-profit commuter transportation company, and regional transit operators are trying to do just that with the SMART Ridge Stuff Commuter Rewards Program.
Designed to encourage the use of mass transit and alternative transportation, the incentive program rewards tide sharers with discounts at more than 200 merchants representing more than 7,000 locations in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and nationwide.
"We have national hotel chains, AMF bowling centers, Sam Goody music stores, video stores, restaurants and more participating," says Peggy Hetherington, marketing director of MetroPool.
To qualify for the free program, commuters must use an alternative transportation/work mode at least once a week, including carpooling, vanpooling, riding the bus or train, bicycling, walking, telecommuting or working a compressed work week. They must also live in nine designated counties in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
Ride Stuff member receive a merchant catalog list the merchants offering discounts to member every time they present their Ride Stuff Membership card or Metro North monthly/weekly/10 ride ticket, monthly bus pass or multiride bus ticket with the SMART Ride Stuff logo.
The SMART Ride Stuff program originated as a demonstration project with the Connecticut Department of Transportation in 1996-1997, covering only two counties. About 1500 commuters registered for that program. A total of 8200 participants are involved in the program to date.
MetroPool is also marketing SMART Ride Stuff to are companies through their employee transportation coordinators. "We're distributing brochures, posters and applications at their sites," says Hetherington. "It's basically a turnkey incentive program that they can add to their own commute programs. We're at the early stages, but we're encouraged by the results so far, and we've actually received a lot of inquiries about the program from other areas of the country."
To further encourage the use of mass transit, Connecticut's transportation officials are addressing other commuter concerns such as greater flexibility of train and bus schedules and an increased number of parking spaces at some train stations.
Annual Operating Costs for Vehicles
(Includes gas, oil, maintenance, tires, license, registration, insurance, taxes, depreciation and finance charges.)
Source: American Automobile Association and Runzheimer International, 1996
Small Car Mid-size Car Large Car Sport Utility Van 10,000 miles/year $4,380 $5,140 $6,270 $5,980 $5,230 15,000 miles/year $5,565 $6,510 $7,095 $7,485 $6,690 20,000 miles/year $6,680 $7,780 $8,440 $8,620 $7,940