Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Focusing on the Retention of Carpoolers and Transit Riders

I just returned from annual meeting of the Southeast chapter of Association for Commuter Transportation in Sarasota, FL where I heard several interesting presentations about "new" approaches to reducing vehicle trips and vehicle miles of travel. Rick Steele with NuRide demonstrated their incentive-based approach. NuRide offers commuters the choice of a wide range of rewards provided by local and national businesses to commuters who use travel options other than driving alone and record their trips. An added benefit - the value of these donated rewards are used by some communities as local match for funding purposes.

This apparent win-win focus is on rewarding people to increase "loyalty" and frequency of those commuters who use of options other than driving alone. Another outcome from this approach is increased word-of-mouth advertising to increase participation.

While many TDM agencies seem to focus most of their resources on trying to convert the "drive alone" commuter, approaches like NuRide reflect an understanding that it should be less expensive to retain existing customers (and increase "purchasing" behavior) than attract new customers and pay for performance (the more you do, the more points you earn). Given the erosion of the regular use of transit and carpooling over the years, one wonders how many more people would have remained in those modes if more attention (and resources) were placed on retaining existing transit riders, carpoolers, etc. Still, it isn't too late to start.

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