The cornfield in “Field of Dreams” could easily have been talking about Houston freeways when it told Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella “Build it and (they) will come.”
Pouring concrete is not only expensive and intrusive, it’s also a game of catch-up as new road projects fill up rapidly with frustrated commuters.
But according to Commute Solutions, part of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), if companies encouraged employees to try a new way to get to work just one day a week, Houston would see reduced traffic congestion, cleaner air and some serious infrastructure cost savings.
The Energy Corridor District, in a partnership with H-GAC, is seeking Energy Corridor companies to join the “Road Warriors for Smarter Commuters” campaign.
“For Energy Corridor companies – many of which have become leaders in providing commuting solutions – joining the campaign can earn valuable recognition for undertaking sustainability efforts,” explains Kelly Rector, TDM program manager, “and could mean winning a Clean Air Champion Award, one of H-GAC’s coveted annual honors.”
The idea behind the “Road Warriors for Smarter Commuters” campaign is simple: encourage commuters to try a different type of commute once a week, such as taking a bus, vanpool, carpool or a bicycle.
The campaign targets Houston’s four most traffic-choked highway corridors: IH-45 North, US-59 South, US-290 and the Katy Freeway.
While population and business growth lead to congestion, Texans’ addiction to driving single-occupancy vehicles to and from work is a huge contributor, says Rector. But the good news is that reducing work travel via single-occupancy vehicles is the most cost-effective solution to cutting traffic.
“While many Energy Corridor companies provide some of the commuter incentives behind the campaign, we’re encouraging employers to consider offering additional incentives that can entice employees to try something new,” Rector says.
Some incentives Energy Corridor companies can provide include:
• Discounted transit passes;
• Vanpool incentives;
• Alternative work schedules, such as compressed or staggered work hours and/or flex-time schedules;
• Telework one or more times a week;
• Rewards or incentives to employees for giving up a parking space;
• Preferential parking for employees who carpool and vanpool;
• Finding dependable carpoolers and vanpoolers among employees;
• Amenities such as bike lockers and bike racks;
• Guaranteed Ride Home program for employees that ride the bus, vanpool and carpool;
• Prize drawings for employees using commuting alternatives on a regular basis;
• Information and awareness materials for employees;
• Helping organize company transportation fairs and events;
• Letting employees know that by enrolling in NuRide, they can log their “green” trips to receive added incentives such as rewards.
Most of all, it makes good business sense to join the Road Warriors campaign. There are tax benefits when companies offer cost assistance to employees who use transit or join a vanpool. Cutting traffic congestion can reduce stress, a primary contributor to lower productivity. And companies could save money by not building more parking facilities.
The Energy Corridor District can help companies organize a transportation fair at their campuses. It also has a bevy of commuting information it can share, such as The District’s Commuter Solutions webpage found here.