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Sun Rideshare News | Summer 2018


A simple way to combat loneliness without lifting a finger

Struggling with feelings of isolation? Ironically, many others are in the same boat. In May 2018, the results of a national survey of 20,000 American adults showed that nearly half of all Americans feel alone or left out either some or all of the time. The high numbers can’t be blamed on the aging population. In fact, seniors over age 72 reported the least loneliness, while people ages 18 to 22 reported the most. And in case you’re wondering: whether respondents heavily used social media or didn’t use it at all had no bearing on how lonely they felt. Even worse, there was a connection between loneliness and less-than-good health.

Is loneliness good for morale? Do people show up to work when they feel unwell? Is any of this great for productivity? These are some of the big questions employers must consider. Then they can start exploring ways to give their employees a greater sense of connection and belonging.

That brings us to the good news. The same survey revealed some practical ways to fend off feelings of isolation, and two of them together—having a job and daily in-person interaction—point to at least one obvious solution: making better use of carpools, vanpools and transit. Can you, as an employee, take one of these alt modes? Can you, as an employer, make it easier for your workforce to do so? Because the evidence is in, and riding with other people to work is good for what ails us!

Doubtless, there are dozens of ways employers can skin that cat. Count the free resources from Sun Rideshare to help promote alt mode usage among them. Transportation coordinators (TCs) and human resources directors also can help by incorporating carpooling/vanpooling/transit information and incentives. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employees can help by being open to trying something new. Pick an incentive. Pick a day. Big changes start small.

Sharing the ride, whether in a carpool or vanpool or on a bus, is a step toward less isolation. That’s a step toward better mental health, which is a step toward better physical health. And all of it could result in improved productivity and presenteeism for an improved bottom line.

EMPLOYER TIP: Nearly 90% of survey participants who said their relationships with coworkers were good, very good or excellent were also in good, very good or excellent overall health. Compare that with 65% of those with fair or poor relationships with coworkers.


Tiny rewards can lead to big changes

Until recent years, Europe’s largest business school was having trouble engaging students in one of its requisite online courses. Students had to take the course, but they rarely stuck their neck out to be involved in it. Then a few researchers decided to see if rewards could make a difference. The title of their follow-up Harvard Review article was “Even Tiny Rewards Can Motivate People to Go the Extra Mile.” It should be required reading for companies trying to reduce the motor vehicle emissions generated by their commuters.

In a nutshell, the researchers found that student homework submissions quadrupled when students were offered just a tiny reward. Even more interesting, the rewarded students answered about one-third more voluntary questions than those who weren’t offered a reward. They were correct more often, too. What itty-bitty carrot led them to this change? They were offered a mere 0.70 bonus points per optional homework assignment completed! The moral here is that a big budget isn’t necessary to motivate people to make behavior changes such as giving up the drive-alone-to-work habit. Even a very modest reward can make a difference. If a company has a million-dollar prize for the carpooling champions in its midst, more power to them. But offering a pizza party for transit users or a bonus casual-attire day for cyclists? Those kinds of things work well, too.

Tell us what your organization is doing to encourage cycling, carpooling, vanpooling, walking or taking transit. We’d love to share your example as inspiration and motivation for others working toward the same goal.

 

EMPLOYER TIP: Wondering what other local employers are doing to encourage employees to do less solo commuting? Here are a few examples:

HealthNet: Participating in at least one alternate mode of transportation per week qualifies employees to win a pair of movie tickets. Employees are allowed to enter once per month, and a total of three winners are chosen each month.

Centene Corp.: Centene provides SunGo bus cards to employees. The company pays half the charges while the employee pays the other half via payroll deduction.

Comcast: Through an integration with the WageWorks benefits program, employees at Comcast can use pre-tax wages toward purchasing a SunGo bus card. 


Going MOD: A new way of getting around

This summer, an innovative transportation solution called AMORE is being piloted in Rita Ranch, Civano and selected areas of Vail. AMORE, which stands for Affordable Mobility with Reliability and Efficiency, is meant to help individuals get to where they need to go with greater ease.

Funded by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration, AMORE is an endeavor of the Regional Transportation Authority and private partners RubyRide and Metropia. During the pilot phase, participants will be able to schedule free door-to-door transportation service through a smartphone app. How? They’ll simply log into the AMORE app the night prior, schedule their trip for the next day—whether that’s to work, a doctor’s appointment or a meeting—and a driver will be assigned to them. The driver will pick them, and if another AMORE passenger has scheduled a trip heading in the same direction, they may be paired up for the ride.

Do you live in the service area for AMORE? Why not sign up to be a pilot program participant? 

Commuter Spotlight: Patricia Van Egmond

Patricia Van Egmond serves our nation’s veterans as a nurse for the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. She’s been working at the VA since March 2016 and has a 14-mile commute each way, a not-unusual commute length for a Tucsonan.

Van Egmond used to make the trip by driving, but the cost of driving 140 miles every week was significant—in fuel as well as vehicle wear-and-tear—so she began considering transit. Could she save by taking the bus? Yes, and she’s been doing just that since November 2017.

To make transit doable, Van Egmond had only to request a change to her work schedule. The revised schedule improved her bus-connection wait times, and she says she now enjoys not only the financial savings but also the benefits of relaxation and reading on the bus, plus a little more exercise to get to her stops.

“[As a] benefit of taking the bus, I get more walking in every day, and on most days, I achieve at least 10,000 steps,” she says. “When time and weather permit, I get off the bus at an earlier stop and walk to my connecting stop.”

How much could you save by taking the bus? Check out our commute cost calculator to estimate what you’re spending by not taking it. Then pick a day in the next two weeks to give transit a try. It’s easier than you might think! Know someone with a commuting success story for Sun Rideshare News? Share it with us here.

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TRP employer recognition awards announced

Twice yearly, Pima Association of Governments formally recognizes employers that have exceeded annual Travel Reduction Program (TRP) program goals at their worksites. A tremendous congratulations and thank you are due to these award-winning employers for their efforts toward improving regional air quality.

 

Upcoming training opportunities for TCs

No TC trainings are scheduled for the summer months. Please be sure to watch the next Sun Rideshare News issue for fall trainings. In the meantime, if your well of ideas has run dry, visit the free resources page designed just for you at SunRideshare.org. The resources are periodically updated and can be used to quickly and efficiently get the word out about alternative modes.

 


Guaranteed Ride Home discontinued

As of July 1, the Guaranteed Ride Home incentive that was previously funded through Vehicle Emission Inspection fees is no longer available. Note that some area employers provide their own emergency-ride-home cab vouchers for employees who regularly use alternative modes to get to and from work. Please explore your options with your company's benefits administrator or transportation coordinator, and remember that the cost of a cab ride is likely to be significantly offset by the savings you realize through using alternative modes.


Meet Chris Blue, new TRP outreach coordinator

Chris Blue is the new Pima Association of Governments (PAG) Outreach Coordinator for the TRP. Like his predecessor, Genine Sullivan, who moved into a new position at PAG, Chris will be serving in a role of advocacy and client relations for businesses and organizations throughout Pima County. Chris will assist TCs and leadership at TRP-qualified companies in their continuing efforts to understand and implement the resources, responsibilities and programs associated with the TRP.

Chris, a native of Washington State, received his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington and his master's degree at the University of Arizona. Prior to joining PAG in a transportation planning role in 2016, he served as the Planning Supervisor for the Tohono O’odham Nation. He can be reached at cblue@pagregion.com

Need an article for your company/neighborhood newsletter? All articles in Sun Rideshare News are available for non-commercial reuse. When you reuse an article, please ensure that all links remain active, all photo attributions remain intact, and attribution is given as follows: Published courtesy of Pima Association of Governments. 

Interested in having your company sponsor TRP incentive programs? For more information on how your company can sponsor TRP incentive programs, contact Mary Carter, PAG Director of Engagement and Partnerships, at mcarter@pagregion.com.

 

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