Westchester County

Choosing Your Strategy

Step Four: Choosing Your Strategy

Listed below are a number of strategies that can be used to develop your “Work Site SMART COMMUTE Program.”

Guaranteed Ride Home: (GRH)
A Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program, also known as an Emergency Ride Home program, can significantly increase employee participation in transit use and ridesharing by allaying an employee’s concerns about getting home in an emergency (such as when a child is sick).  While it is entirely up to the employer to establish eligibility requirements for a work site’s GRH program, most programs consider such things as the breakdown of a rideshare vehicle, missing a carpool or the last bus due to unscheduled overtime, or sudden illness to be bona fide reasons for using the GRH program.

Because most GRH programs work on a voucher system (where arrangements are made with a transportation provider for billing), usage can be easily tracked.  This can also discourage abuse since employees know that their usage is recorded.  An alternative is to ask employees to pay the provider for the ride home and be reimbursed later.  In either case, what is surprising to most employers is how little a GRH program is actually used.  It is a remarkably effective and cost-efficient program for promoting the use of transit and ridesharing.  A turnkey GRH program that Westchester employers can join is available through MetroPool, Inc. 

For more information, contact MetroPool’s Westchester Representative at (914) 993-0649 or 1-800-FIND-RIDE.

The $Commute-n-Save$ Program (TransitChek)
Commuters can save up to $2,760 a year by using pre-tax dollars for commutation costs if they are getting to work by bus, rail, ferry, subway or eligible vanpool. For more information, contact Westchester SMART COMMUTE Program at (914) 995-4444 and ask about $Commute-n-Save$.

Management Support/Positive Attitude
This is an in-house requirement for any program to succeed.  High-level management support helps to ensure employee confidence in a commutation program.  Also, the manner in which a new program is conveyed can be the difference between success and failure.  Maintaining an enthusiastic, helpful attitude is the best way to present potential commute alternatives to employees.  Remember, Westchester’s SMART COMMUTE Program is voluntary for employees as well as employers, so employees should never be pushed into changing commute modes.

Parking Management Strategies
Parking strategies can be structured to provide incentives to employees who carpool or vanpool, or to encourage the use of transit.  Measures can include parking charges, preferential parking for car and vanpools, reduced parking costs for car and vanpools, and reduced parking supply.  For more information and to explore possibilities at your work site, contact Westchester SMART COMMUTE Program at (914) 995-4444.

Incentives/Awards/Recognition
Incentives reward an employee choice to use a commute alternative.  Incentives may be small or large and may include TransitChek vouchers, preferred parking, free lunches, movie passes, oil changes, car wash coupons, days off, gift certificates, etc.

Most people enjoy being recognized for their efforts.  A simple way to maintain employee participation in using commute alternatives is to reward them with certificates or awards of some kind for regular participation over an extended period of time.  Employees can also be recognized in company newsletters, through designations such as “Commuter of the Month,” where the employee’s picture is posted in a common area, or an annual recognition lunch or picnic.

On-Site Facilities/Services
Provision of facilities like bike racks and showers and services such as postal, dry cleaning pick-up/delivery, banking, food services, sundry shops, direct payroll deposit, shoe repair pick-up, etc. will help eliminate the need for employees to drive alone.Local businesses are often willing to make arrangements with employers or building managers to provide these types of services.

Trip Planning Service for Individuals
Your employees can receive an Individual Trip Plan for their commute.; This Trip Plan details specific transit routes or other options.  If appropriate, transit timetables are sent out with the Plan.To access this service, contact Westchester SMART COMMUTE Program at (914) 995-4444.

Ride Matching & Vanpool Organizing Assistance
You can host and schedule a meeting to bring Metro-Pool’s Westchester Representative to your work site! Employees can learn more about car and vanpooling, and on-site assistance can be provided in matching and organizing interested participants. Call MetroPool in Westchester at (914) 993-0649 or 1-800-FIND-RIDE.

New Employee Commute Information Kits
You can obtain a supply of New Employee Commute Information Kits to distribute to newly hired staff by contacting Westchester SMART COMMUTE Program at (914) 995-4444. These kits contain detailed information about transportation services available to Westchester commuters as well as free try transit bus tickets that can be used on any route of the Bee-Line System.

Employer-provided Shuttles to/from Transit Stops
If the distance between your work site and nearby transit is too great for most people to walk, your organization may want to consider offering employees a shuttle (usually a van) to/from nearby transit stops or stations.  A company-owned vehicle may be used for the service, or it may be contracted with a private bus operator. A list of private shuttle providers is available through Westchester’s SMART COMMUTE Program by calling (914) 995-4444.

Marketing Your Program
There are a host of ways to market your “Work Site SMART COMMUTE Program including the following:  newsletters, posters, e-mail bulletins, fliers, transportation fairs, display racks, award events, etc. Upon your request, Westchester SMART COMMUTE Program can provide you with the two turn key services noted below.

Just call (914) 995-4444.

Transportation Information Fairs
A Transportation Fair at your work site will be tailored to your location and may be as big or as small as you like.  You may want to combine the Fair with another event, such as a Health Fair, Environment Day, or Site-Services Day.  A representative from Westchester’s SMART COMMUTE Program will attend along with representatives from appropriate transportation providers.  Tables will be set up in a common area of your work site, usually during lunch hour, and employees can learn about their commute options in a casual atmosphere.  Westchester’s SMART COMMUTE Program will provide posters to promote the Fair prior to the selected date and will set-up on the day of the event.  To encourage attendance, employers often provide refreshments.It is that simple, fun and a valuable benefi; and it is free.

Commute Information Racks
Commute Information Racks are display units, large or small depending on your needs, that are filled with transit schedules and other commute brochures appropriate to your work site.  Keeping your rack stocked and up to date is simple.  This also, is a free service.