Companies offer incentives to encourage alternative commuting options

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin continues to grow, so does the number of cars on the road. At present, there are 75 Central Texas companies trying to make a difference by offering incentives to encourage employees to take alternative commuting options.

Many of these employers have teamed up with Movability, a nonprofit focused on transportation management and finding the best options for all commuters.

Movability works with employers across the area to help them incorporate solutions such as teleworking, flex hours, passes to services like Car2Go or B-Cycle, subsidized transit passes, and assistance with carpooling.

“We don’t do cookie-cutter plans, it’s not just one size fits all when it comes to mobility,” Kate Harrington, the outreach and engagement manager at Movability said.

They helped create a mobility “menu” for Archer Malmo, a digital marketing and advertising company in Austin offering a variety of options for employees.

“Main courses” include options to carpool or ride the bus and “side dishes” offer a little bit of biking, car-sharing and scooters, as well as an emergency ride home option.

Not only did Archer Malmo incorporate the diner-style menu of transportation options for the company, but they began offering a $180 stipend.

“Every employee gets that stipend and you choose how to you want to spend that money on this menu,” Meredith Cuevas, the company’s senior vice president, group account director and general manager.

So far, the small company of 25 has shifted from 100% of its employees driving alone to work each day to only 37% — just nine people.

“I bike to work,” said one employee.

“I bus and walk,” said another.

“I scoot and bike but most of the time I walk,” Samantha Thorgaard said. She’s one of the employees who decided to try a new commute. She walks a mile to and from the office every day and doesn’t allow rainy weather to stop her.

“I bought like a nice umbrella that’s supposed to withstand gusts of wind and got new rain boots,” she said.

Thorgaard is able to pocket the $180 incentive she receives every month.

The stipend has also helped the company stay competitive.

“We identified some lofty goals with Movability for ourselves and for this policy and one of them was to attract and retain the best talent out there,” Cuevas said.

While Cuevas said she’s proud of the difference they’re making to reduce Austin’s congestion they still have work to do and that includes finding a solution for herself.

“I have three children and currently it’s difficult for me to not see me have my car at my disposal,” she said.

Cuevas is not alone.

A lot of people face that hurdle but she believes there is a solution and hopes to find one in the future.

At present, Movability is signing up companies for the Mobility Challenge — which tackles alternative transportation goals. The organization can accept up to 25 companies. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis and have a couple of slots left.

The sign up process ends next month.

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