For many, public transport is a way of life. Employee public transport is how they get to and from work. The bus is how they get around in their spare time. At it’s best public transport works is great for the environment and cheap for commuters.
However, in many countries, commuters have a negative attitude to public transport. They think it is undependable due to long journey times and indirect routes. Additionally, commuters complain about public transport being dirty, loud and unsafe. In some countries it can also be quite expensive.
“Companies pay a premium to locate near public transport routes to improve accessibility. Yet, they are often disappointed with the low numbers of public transport commuters.”
What can companies do to make public transport a more attractive option?
A key barrier for many employees is the cost. Offer big savings to incentivise people to leave their car at home. In many countries, public transport is heavily subsidised or free.
“If your city has very expensive public transport, employee allowances must be provided.”
Think about how much you spend each year to provide alternative travel facilities. Most companies can offer a large subsidy and still make an additional saving.
A robust commuter benefits scheme is a must. Increase savings by researching tax incentives available to employees who use public transportation. Commuter benefits ordinance schemes are becoming increasingly popular in US cities.
Densely populated areas like San Francisco roll out these schemes to tackle congestion. Companies team up with specialist companies like Commuter Benefits or WageWorks to implement. Employee commuter benefits is a growing area and will be appreciated by staff.
Bus and trains operate of set schedules. Imagine your company’s standard workday is 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and you have an employee who lives 45 minutes away. Every day your employee is left with a choice.
They can either get the 7 a.m. bus and be 75 minutes early for work, or they can get the 8.30 a.m. bus and be 15 minutes late. They are a newly hired worker; so to maintain good standing with high-ups they decide to take the earlier bus.
Yet, the earlier bus, after time, will leave them exhausted.
The rigidity of the public transport system causes conflict for many commuters. Some employees will be vocal about this issue. Alternative arrangements can be made.
Maybe employees can work from 09:15 to 17.45. Or can they take a shorter lunch to make up for the time they lose in the morning. Equally, they might work from 07.30 until 16.00 so they can get an earlier bus to avoid being sat in traffic for half the day.
“However, many employees don’t want to be seen to rock the boat and will say nothing. Instead, they will resort to taking the car to work. Or even search for alternative job options because they are fed up with their commute.”
Ensure your employees are not frustrated with their commutes. Ask every staff member as part of inductions and reviews if their hours cause them issues. Cultivating a culture of understanding around commuting challenges becomes valued by your staff.
Offering emergency parking benefits for staff who normally take public transport is also a great incentive. This means staff know they can access a parking space if they really one.
High crime rates, unsafe routes or negative experiences make many bus or train commutes quite daunting. A great way to overcome fears is to create formal or informal travel groups.
This is not dissimilar to carpooling. Identify people who share routes and connect them so they can travel together. Sharing journeys improves feelings of security and also establishes community within the workplace.
Many companies are located just a little far away from the nearest transport hub.
“Embrace multi-modal initiatives. Make your it easier for staff to still make large parts of the journey using public transport.”
Motivate employees to complete journeys via Park & Bike schemes. Suddenly, using public transit becomes less daunting. Companies can also run shuttles from local transport hubs to the workplace. This takes the burden of the last mile off of your employees.
Looking to reduce your company’s dependency on cars, check out our handy guide.