Making TransitScreen a daily tool for your residents

In this day and age, making sure your apartment building stands apart from hundreds of others in the same city is a must. Each amenity has to top the last. While some are nice-to-haves, others are more necessity than a bonus.

Feature photo with TransitScreen in mail room of an apartment building

TransitScreen provides both elegance and utility to residents. To make sure you can get the maximum ROI from us, make them a true destination within your building.

Placement

The first step in making your TransitScreen a real destination starts with where you place it. If it’s hidden in some corner of your lobby, in the mailroom, or behind the front desk, chances are your residents won’t pay attention to it. 

A great, high-visibility location is right next to the elevators. You have the opportunity to reach residents as they are leaving for the day. Even if they have decided how they’re going to commute, knowing when the next bus or train is coming gives them time back for other tasks. They can get a quick breakfast, grab a coffee, or simply take their time getting to the bus stop. Another option to achieve a similar effect is next to the front doors of the building..

Messaging and information

Using your TransitScreen as a messaging hub for important building information can lead to your screen becoming a consistent stop for your residents. You can display building events, upcoming maintenance, and, in the current situation, safety guidelines and procedures. As residents become more accustomed to receiving information from the TransitScreen, they will become conditioned to check it more often.

You can also use the Nearby feature to highlight local attractions, restaurants, and shopping to your residents. Currently, restaurants and retail stores have modified hours of operation, and not everyone will be up-to-date on these changes.

The primary purpose of a TransitScreen is to display up-to-the-minute transit and mobility information. But that’s not the only function it has – or should have. We want to ensure our customers (you) are using our product to its fullest potential in order to give your customers (residents) the best experience possible.

In-home information

Extending the visibility of your screen further than just your lobby will improve your resident experience as well. CityMotion, our mobile app, gives your residents the power and information of your screen in the palm of their hands.

Our goal is to reach commuters before they leave for their commute. We know for large apartment buildings, the lobby offers the highest potential visibility of the screen. Reaching residents before they leave their apartment is the ideal situation. When someone is still in their apartment, and knows exactly when the bus is coming, or how many bikes are still at the bikeshare dock, they get even more time back in their day. CityMotion makes that possible.

Want to learn more about how TransitScreen and CityMotion can improve your resident experience? Connect with our team today!

Why equity is necessary for your return-to-the-office commute plan

Working on your return-to-the-office plan? You’ll need to take into consideration both in-office operations and commuting safety. We’ve said this before, but no two employees have the same commute. This will be especially true when companies return to the office.

commute equity in return-to-the-office commute plans

Creating an inclusive and equitable commute management plan for your company’s return to the office is a must. Some employees may decide to work from home more permanently, and others may need to choose a different commuting mode. However individual employees decide to commute, you need to ensure you’re assisting them.

What is commute equity?

Commute equity is offering equal and fair benefits and assistance to employees who have different commutes. So if one employee drives and parks in a $200 per month parking spot (that you pay for), then employees who bike deserve to receive a similar benefit value.

Why it’s important

For the average American worker, commuting was not a positive experience before COVID-19 hit. Those who drove alone to work were sitting in record-breaking rush-hour traffic jams. Employees were leaving jobs because commuting was getting so bad – nearly 25 percent of employees, in fact. Even worse, 60 percent of employees felt their employers were doing nothing to help. Unfortunately, COVID is going to make the situation even more perilous.

Commuters have already expressed other concerns for returning to the office post-COVID. Nearly 20 percent of adults who regularly rode public transit said they won’t anymore, and 28 percent said they planned to ride less often, according to an IBM study. While this doesn’t make us (or other transit-oriented teens) happy, it does present an opportunity for employers.

Now is the time to offer new types of commuter benefits and explore creative solutions to ensure employees don’t end up driving alone.

Creating a level playing field for your employees ensures they will have the resources and support to either adopt or resume sustainable ways of commuting. Simply offering the same benefits as you were pre-COVID won’t suffice; the current situation requires much more effort.

For non-car owners

Giving in and offering free parking to employees who own cars is an easy fix. You are letting them drive alone and have an isolated commute. The reality is, though, not every employee owns a car and will need help with clean, safe commutes.

These car-less employees will need extra benefits and help. Whichever solution you find needs to equal the cost of a parking spot in money and convenience. We did some math to give you an example to show the difference in price of helping an employee buy a bike and paying for a monthly parking spot.

Let’s say a sturdy, dependable bike is $1000, and the average annual cost to commute by bike is $350 per year. So the upfront cost and annual maintenance of commuting by bike is roughly equal to paying for a $200 a month parking spot for seven months.

The more than fair thing to do (in our eyes) is to help an employee buy a bike and help cover the annual maintenance costs. We’re not saying you necessarily have to give them $1400 upfront, but definitely do it if you can. If you can’t spare the full cost right now, which is completely understandable, you can pay an employee a little more per paycheck to help them pay off a bike. Maybe $200 per month, or the cost of one parking spot.

This is just one example of how you can fairly assist employees who drive and don’t drive. If you need more help or inspiration, check out our current state of TDM blog for more commuting options you can offer.

For drivers

What if your employees do own cars, but you can’t accommodate more drive-alone commuters? Well you could help them find another way to commute, like we showed you above. Or you could pay them not to drive.

Including a parking cash-out program in your return-to-the-office plan gives your employees incentive not to drive, while saving you money. 

First, let’s cover what parking cash-out is. Parking cash-out is simply offering your employees who drive a monetary incentive not to do so.

What you could do is add 75 percent of the cost of a spot to an employee’s paycheck per month. So if you’re paying $200 per month for one spot, you can offer an employee $150 in cash per month. If you want to go a step further, you can offer a transit or bikeshare subsidy to give a little help in the change.

There will still be people who have to drive to work, of course. But employees who drive just because they have a guaranteed, free spot may change their minds.

Work from home

Returning to the physical office will be a reality for some of your employees, but not for others. Those employees who continue to work from home more permanently deserve commuter, or non-commuter, benefits as well – even if it’s only a few days per week. The goal of offering benefits for alternative commuting methods is to lower drive-alone commute rates. Not driving to work does just that, and needs to be rewarded equally.

Work-from-home benefits are another form of commuter benefits. We’re not going to tell you what you need to offer them, because there are so many routes to take (yes, pun intended). But if you offer free parking for employees who drive, or subsidize metro passes for you employees, you should offer equal benefits for employees who stay home. These benefits can come in the form of:

• A home office stipend

• Noise-cancelling headphones

• A productivity stipend

• A second home monitor

You don’t have to help your employees build a state-of-the-art home office, but these employees are making a decision that’s best for them (and your company).

Making benefits known

The next, and one the most important steps in your return-to-the-office plan, is effectively marketing the benefits you’ll be offering. Creating a commute management plan is best maximized when your employees are aware and taking advantage of it. You need to make the effort to inform, help, and guide your employees in the right direction to ensure they’re using the best benefits for them.


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Announcing the newest addition to our platform: CommuteWise

When our co-founder and CEO, Matt Caywood, developed the inspiration for what would become TransitScreen, he simply wanted to be able to compare a few bus and metro options in San Francisco to be able to get to campus on time. Now, nearly a decade later, we’re providing real-time information about every type of urban transportation to commuters around the country – and the world!

Over the past few years, we’ve expanded our software products from apartment lobby-based screens, to a mobile application that gives our customers’ employees, residents and tenants access to transportation wherever they are. We’ve added new transportation choices like scooters, and features like messaging, nearby attractions, and transit service alerts. Throughout it all, we’ve been there helping people get to and from work.

Now we’re introducing our newest product, the cornerstone of a commute management solution for transportation, facilities, HR, and benefits professionals: CommuteWise. 

TransitScreen expands commute management platform with CommuteWise

CommuteWise helps employees choose the best door-to-door commuting option. It’s the only product that understands both your company’s commute benefits and how to communicate them with employees in the simplest, easiest possible way. 

It’s the perfect tool for helping you manage the return to the office, and for managing commutes throughout the employee lifecycle. You’ll be able to apply company-wide changes to transit and parking benefits, encourage carpool and biking as alternatives to driving alone, and help employees manage flexible work schedules. We’ll be there as your offerings continue to change, creating a fully customized experience for you and your employees.

Combined with the real-time information available through our mobile app, CityMotion, your employees will have less to worry about when it’s time to come back — which means you’ll have less to worry about, too.

Here’s how it works.

Open up CommuteWise! You can include a link to our web app in your onboarding packet, employee benefits portal, company intranet, or emails you’re sending out about reopening. It will use your company’s branding — so imagine your company logo instead of Placeholder below.

CommuteWise title page

Step 1: We’ll ask employees a couple simple questions about their habits — which days they usually commute to the office, where they’re coming from, which office they’re going to, and when they’ll be in the office.

CommuteWise commute schedule page

These questions are particularly important for employees who may now only be working a few days a week on an adjusted schedule, or possibly coming in at different hours. What made sense as a commute from 9 – 5 may not make sense when coming in at 11 a.m. and going home at 7 p.m.

Step 2: Magic happens! CommuteWise analyzes time, cost, and information from our thousands of data sources to present employees with a selection of options specific to their commute. These options also take into account your company’s specific benefits and policies, so if you’re offering employees a $100/month subsidy, or pre-tax transit, those will be included. 

CommuteWise will sort options the way you (the commute manager) choose, helping steer employees toward options you’d like them to be using. Employees can also sort by cost and time.

CommuteWise commute option selection page

Step 3: Sign up! Once they select their preferred commute, CommuteWise explains how to sign up and, if applicable, links directly to benefits providers like Edenred, WageWorks, or Navia. If employees need to take further steps, like registering for a parking pass, it will walk them through those.

CommuteWise confirmation screen

Step 4: Keep it going. Once employees download our mobile app, CityMotion, they’ll have access to their full commute plan on the go. This includes automatic MyCommute alerts for their chosen morning and afternoon commute times, ensuring they have all the real-time information they need to get going.

Why CommuteWise?

One of our guiding principles as a company has always been to give people exactly the information they need, when they need it. That’s why TransitScreen has real-time information in building lobbies, before people get to the train platform. And that’s why CityMotion allows you to see this information wherever you are, easily looking ahead to the next step on your commute.

With CommuteWise, you can reach employees before they’ve made any decision about how they’ll be getting to work — when the “fresh start effect” gives you the greatest ability to influence their choices. Unfortunately, the default choice for many people is driving, simply because it’s the lowest effort choice. CommuteWise can help you head off that choice before Day 1.

By providing employees with information upfront about company benefit offerings, particularly in the context of how much money they’ll save, you make it much more likely that they’ll choose transit or vanpool. Why spend $400 to park when you could take transit subsidized by your employer for free?

Why now?

With COVID-19, we’ve all been working from home. That means that upon going back to the office (whenever that may be), companies are going to have to re-onboard every employee.

Between not commuting for three or four months, and a hesitation toward crowded trains or buses, employees are likely to want to drive. For HR and commute management teams looking to avoid this scenario (especially in cities where TDM laws require staying below a certain level of driving, or where the cost of employer-provided parking is prohibitive), CommuteWise helps employees choose the safest, most sustainable option available.

Our full product suite can help you achieve your goals of a safe and sustainable commute. Once your employees are all set up via CommuteWise, they’ll be able to download CityMotion and receive alerts (and messages from you!) about mobility options every morning before work. Whether the problem is service interruptions on the train or temporary office capacity restrictions, they’ll be in-the-know.

If you’re in the process of planning your return-to-work strategy, reach out by clicking “Request Demo” above. We’d love to hear about your return-to-work commute and find ways to be helpful. Your employees will be glad you did.


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Provide your employees with real-time parking data, now in CityMotion

At TransitScreen, our focus has always been on lowering the number of drive-alone commutes — whether that’s through public transit, biking, carpooling, or any myriad option. With the onset of COVID-19, however, commutes have been completely disrupted (to the point where many of us are simply traveling from our beds to our couches).

Real-time parking information in CityMotion

As offices begin to reopen and employees begin commuting once more, concern over increased drive-alone rates is rampant. Many employers can’t afford to add more parking (or simply don’t want to), but employees may not initially feel safe on the subway or bus. We’re incorporating real-time parking into our CityMotion mobile app to support your commute management program through this challenging time, while continuing to provide information to push your employees toward sustainable options.

Continue reading Provide your employees with real-time parking data, now in CityMotion

UPDATE: Introducing service alerts for a smoother commute experience

At TransitScreen, our goal has always been to make it as simple as possible for people to make their daily commute decisions. That means real-time information about bus and train arrivals, as well as availability of nearby bikeshare and scootershare. Now, at long last, we’re introducing another feature to help keep commutes going smoothly: service alerts.

service alerts blog feature image

Continue reading UPDATE: Introducing service alerts for a smoother commute experience