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Technology Deep Dive: Employer Commute Suite — Redefining the Employee Carpool

Metropia’s Employer Commute Suite platform offers organizations a distinctive approach to employee carpooling: private carpool groups. This approach overcomes the mental barrier that inhibits some people from participating in conventional carpool programs by not matching them with total strangers. It also helps organizations achieve, track, and report on their sustainability and commute-related business goals. Private Employer carpool groups builds upon the basic functionality of social carpool groups.


Introduction

Organizations, particularly those with business sustainability and eco-consciousness business goals, are increasingly recognizing the value of providing more sustainable transportation options within their commuting programs for their employees. Metropia’s Employer Commute Suite platform goes beyond the traditional technology-enabled programs that enable organizations to handle their employee transportation needs and commuter benefit programs. With carpooling as a flagship program, the platform integrates functionalities such as real time trip planning technology and route optimization, the ability to accommodate hybrid workplace models, and enables incentives and rewards to subtly influence shifts in commuting behaviors. It accomplishes this with greater ease, flexibility and efficiency than more conventional programs.


Employer carpooling, which mirrors Metropia’s carpool functionality in the GoEzy app, follows a simple user journey as illustrated in Figure 1. The user can browse the details of the trip (e.g., pick-up/drop-off locations and time of the trip) by tapping the details and may either accept or reject the carpool pairing. Upon pairing, both users are notified and communication tools are provided within the app to facilitate a smooth passenger and driver experience. Social carpool groups can be public or private. 


Social Carpooling User Journey

Figure 1: Social Carpooling User Journey


Private Employer and Mega Employer Carpool Groups

Participating organizations, such as companies and universities, collaborate with Metropia to create customized and private Employer Carpooling Groups. Employer Carpooling Groups follow a similar user journey and functionality of social carpooling groups as outlined in Figure 1.


As members of an Employer-based Private Carpooling group, employees will be able to schedule carpools, find matches and take trips exclusively with their coworkers via the GoEzy app. For larger office complexes housing multiple organizations, business and industry districts, multiple companies may elect to join forces in the formation of a Mega Carpooling group. This allows the employees of multiple participating companies to share rides with one another, thus increasing the opportunity for matching and carpooling for every trip. The user experience of joining an Employer or Mega Carpooling group and scheduling trips is the same. 


Employer and Mega Carpool Group administrators both have access to data and statistics pertaining to their employee participation. For Mega Carpooling groups, administrators at the Management District level, for example, will have access to data of all the employees taking part under the Mega carpooling group umbrella, allowing for greater insight and analysis of activities within their business campus or district.


Participating employers have the option to encourage participation among their staff by establishing incentives and rewards for various levels of participation (e.g.: taking two or more carpools per week may earn a raffle ticket for a prize, or taking a carpool trip on a particular day of the week may earn a $5 gift card). The tracking of employee participation and the issuing of rewards can be handled automatically through the GoEzy platform.


Distinctive Features of Private Employer Carpool Groups

The formation and management of Employer and Mega Carpool Groups offer a number of key distinctions and advantages to other carpool program offerings:

  1. Verified Employers

  2. Trip Protection

  3. Chip In

  4. Trip Tracking and Trip Logging

  5. Telework

  6. User Statistics and Gamification

Each is briefly discussed below.


1. Verified Employees

Like other private carpooling groups, membership in an Employer or Mega Carpool Group is restricted. However, the gateway to joining these Employer Groups is through a verified company email address. Users may search for carpooling groups using their employer or student email address, as illustrated in Figure 2. GoEzy’s backend will search for corresponding email domains and return matching companies. After a user visits the Employer Group page and requests to join, an email is sent to the company email address they provided for verification. Once the user clicks to confirm receipt of the email and their employment is verified, they are members of the group.


Employer Carpooling Group Verification

Figure 2: Employer Carpooling Group Verification


2. Trip Protection

Some passengers or potential passengers indicate concerns about the driver failing to provide a ride as planned as an impediment to participating in a carpool; the possibility of being stranded and left without a ride is a risk many are unwilling to take. To overcome this mental barrier to carpooling and address the problem when it does occur, passengers are able to purchase “Trip Protection” during the carpool scheduling process, as illustrated in Figure 3. 


The non-refundable $2.75 charge entitles the user to compensation for a replacement ride of up to $50 should their driver cancel the carpool and another driver is unavailable to provide a ride. As such, this feature could support regional Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) or Emergency Ride Home (ERH) programs, sponsored by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) or other regional agencies. Trip Protection refunds are offered on a sliding scale that favors more environmentally friendly modes like transit over taxis and rideshares (see Figure 4).


Trip Protection Signup

Figure 3: Trip Protection Signup


Trip Protection Reimbursement Rates

Figure 4: Trip Protection Reimbursement Rates


3. Chip In

The concept of carpool passengers chipping-in for gas while sharing a ride is not new, but GoEzy makes it easier than ever. When scheduling a carpool trip, drivers can offer the ride for free or request a modest per-mile fee to be paid for the driver. Chip-ins can range from $0/mile (a free ride) up to $0.58/mile, which is the federal reimbursement rate for personal vehicles, to offset the costs associated with driving. The fee only applies to shared miles with the passenger aboard. During the matching process, passengers can see the Chip-in associated with each individual driver and can use that as one of the criteria to consider when extending, accepting or declining an invitation to carpool. 


Chip-ins are paid through the app via Coins, GoEzy’s unique currency. During the carpool scheduling process, as illustrated in Figure 5 and Figure 6, any Chip-in fees associated with the ride are reserved from the passenger’s wallet and held in escrow until the ride is either completed (and the Chip-in is issued to the driver) or canceled (and the Chip-in is returned to the passenger).


Driver Chip-In

Figure 5: Driver Chip-In


Passenger Chip-In

Figure 6: Passenger Chip-In


4. Trip-Tracking and Trip Logging

Tracking employee commuting behaviors and trips is a critical component of any employer commute program. By design, the GoEzy app’s intermodal trip planner captures detailed trip information, such as departure and travel times, origin, destination, mode, route and more. Thanks to the app’s multitude of validation systems--including GPS signals, transit ticket activations and carpooler confirmations, among others--the backend system can accurately verify and confirm that a trip took place. In addition to active trip-tracking, users may opt-into passive trip tracking, i.e., when the app is not in use. This opt-in option is provided to the user during the account creation phase.


Inevitably for one reason or another, some trips are not captured. Even the most ardent app users will find themselves with a dead cell phone battery, in a hurry or distracted, or any number of scenarios in which they forget or do not use the app while traveling. Furthermore, technical issues such as the loss of GPS signal in a remote area may cause a break in connectivity resulting in the loss of trip data. Additionally, as employers shifted policies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more employees are teleworking; the inability to capture the positive impact of not commuting to and from the office requires an innovative solution.


GoEzy’s intermodal Trip Log feature was developed to supplement the app’s automated, verified trip tracking with manual, user-supplied entries. By reflecting both verified and manually entered trips, the feature allows for a more complete picture of a user’s overall travel patterns while serving as a detailed and engaging statistics log for end users.


The Trip Log allows users to record trips which took place without use of the app. Trips can be manually entered up to two weeks behind or two weeks ahead, with a limit of three trips/day manually recorded in the Trip Log to prevent potential over-reporting while accommodating travel not captured otherwise. The interface is streamlined and designed to guide users step-by-step in providing the needed information, as illustrated in Figure 7. After selecting the date for the trip, users select their mode of travel from seven options: driving, driving a carpool, riding in a carpool, cycling, walking, taking transit or teleworking. From there, the user enters their origin and destination. A “Round Trip” toggle allows users to easily account for the return trip home for a work commute, for example, with the flip of a switch.


Figure 7: Trip Log Interface


5. Telework

While every alternative to a single occupancy vehicle has a positive environmental outcome, and potentially positive financial outcome for a traveler, no one benefits from the transportation system more than those working from home and avoiding travel altogether. That being said, there’s no means of capturing a ‘non-trip’ in a navigation-based app--until now. To address post-quarantine shifts in workplace attendance, GoEzy’s Trip Log was designed to capture Telework shifts and give users full-credit for those miles not traveled. Selecting Telework as the mode when recording a trip reveals customized entry options, as illustrated in Figure 8. Users are prompted to enter their workplace, as well as the location they are teleworking from. The Round Trip toggle is selected by default, while a new option--Recurring Trip--allows them to select multiple days for this entry. This capability makes it far more convenient to capture multiple and repeating work-from-home days as opposed to entering them one-by-one, day after day.


Telework Trip Mode

Figure 8: Telework Trip Mode


6. User Statistics and Gamification

Within the Trip Log feature, users get a detailed view of their travel history broken down by mode, as well as several key statistics that reflect the positive benefits their travel decisions have made to their wallet and the environment. At the top of the Trip Log feature, as illustrated in Figure 9, users initially see a rather bare-branched tree. This unique ‘living’ image serves as an innovative progress meter that reflects the users C02 emissions reduction over time. The more a user takes alternative modes of travel and reduces their carbon footprint, the more their tree grows additional leaves and flowers.


Trip Log Stats Tree

Figure 9: Trip Log Stats Tree


By tapping the Stats button at the top of the tree panel, users can access their detailed stats page. At the top of the Stats page, illustrated in Figure 10, users can not only see their C02 savings, but the money saved on fuel and driving miles reduced. A date filter allows users to select specific time ranges for their savings and further below they can see exactly how each mode contributed toward those overall savings metrics.


Savings Statistics by Mode

Figure 10: Savings Statistics by Mode


At the bottom of the Trip Log home page, users see a series of tiles reflecting the various modes supported by the feature. Within each tile, the user sees the number of trips taken for that mode. By tapping the tile, users can see the individual trips tallied under that mode and the dates the trips were taken; verified trips are indicated by a checkmark, whereas manually entered trips are not. Tapping any trip will pull up a trip-specific stat page reflecting their savings for the individual journey. This flow is captured in Figure 11 below. The Trip Log filters are available throughout this user experience, allowing the user to see their savings by specific modes and/or during specific time ranges. 


Savings Statistics by Trip

Figure 11: Savings Statistics by Trip


Metropia’s Commute Suite offers a tailored carpool solution that aligns with any organization’s commuter benefit programs and carries it to new heights. The platform offers a full range of commuter management solutions to guide your employees toward better ways to get to work and support you in tracking and reporting your organization’s cumulative progress in meeting their commute program, sustainability and ESG goals.


For more information check out our Metropia Employer Carpooling Tutorial Series

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