DRIVING CHANGE WITH DATA
Emory University is the largest employer in DeKalb County and the second largest employer in the metro Atlanta region. Nestled in the Druid Hills area, Emory lacks direct access to an interstate and is more than three miles from the nearest MARTA rail station. In 1998, Emory, along with other major employers in the area joined together to form the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association or better known as its acronym – CCTMA. Emory and its partners within the CCTMA implemented transportation demand management (TDM) strategies to mitigate the impacts of growth. Those strategies continue to evolve with enhanced data collection and analysis methodologies.
GETTING TO KNOW THE DATA
Analyzing available data was one of the first steps in improving Emory’s commuter incentives plan. Using employee ZIP codes, Emory populated a hotspot map to develop potential lists of carpools and vanpools. All employees and students may purchase a parking permit, which costs them $56 a month, but choosing a commute alternative reduces parking fees and offers benefits for all members of the carpool or vanpool. By providing employee population information to Gwinnett County Transit, Emory was able to bring the first direct commuter bus service to its Clifton Road Campus.
LEVERAGING DATA TO BUILD SUBSIDIES
Emory targets employees based on their ZIP codes. Marketing and outreach efforts are tailored to the transportation systems near the employee’s home or along their daily commute. Emory’s carpooling incentive cuts the cost of an annual parking permit in half. The additional passenger receives a free 20-swipe parking pass valued at $100 for backup as a non-primary driver. If carpools include three or more people, the entire carpool parks for free.
Emory has programs for vanpoolers, cyclists, transit riders, and pedestrians. Vanpool participants receive a 20-swipe parking pass, and Emory subsidizes the cost of the vanpool seat up to $100 a month per rider. Transit riders also receive a 20-swipe parking pass, and Emory covers 100 percent of the transit costs, about $250 per month, for employees who ride MARTA, Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA), Gwinnett County Transit (GCT) or Cobb County Transit (CobbLinc).
Employees who bike or walk to work, or are dropped off at campus, also receive a 20-swipe pass, two 20-trip MARTA cards, or a combination of the two, for use on days when they need to use another commute option.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Promoting the program requires a strategic communications plan, starting with the employee onboarding process. Recently, the University HR department added a commuter incentives presentation in new hire onboarding plans. Additionally, Emory organizes four tabling events per month at partner sites, distributes emails and frequently posts on its website and Twitter account.
The proverbial dust will not settle on this 20-year effort to improve the commute options to Emory and all of the partners within the CCTMA. Emory continues to update its commuter program and communicate new incentives to employees to gauge participation. Currently, 15 percent of employees participate in the program, mostly via transit.
And since transit is a popular option for employees, Emory is exploring ways for GRTA Xpress to add direct service, and for GCT to enhance direct service to the Clifton Corridor. Adele Clements, senior director of parking and transportation at Emory University said, “As an employer, we want our employees to have options for their commute. Knowing where they live and the options available for their area allows us to target our efforts, maximize our resources, and advocate for more service for under-served areas.”
In the end, it is the leaders and participants together who continue to provide direction and vision for the evolving strategies of Emory’s successful commuter program.
If you’re interested in setting up an employer commuting program, please contact us at info@GACommuteOptions.com.
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