For many people, public transport is a way of life. It’s how they get to and from work. It’s how they get around in their spare time. When public transport works well, it is great for the environment and also quite cheap for the commuter.
However, in many countries, public transport is perceived to be undependable due to long journey times and indirect routes. Additionally, commuters often complain about public transport being dirty, loud, unsafe and it can quite expensive in some countries.
“Many companies pay a premium to be located close to good public transport routes to improve employee mobility. However, they are often left disappointed with the low numbers of public transport commuters.”
What can companies do to make public transport a more attractive option?
A key barrier for many employees regarding public transport is the cost. To incentivise people to leave their car at home, your organisation must offer big savings. In many countries, public transport is heavily subsidised or free.
“However, if your organisation is headquartered in an area of excessive public transport fees, employee allowances must be provided.”
If you think about how much you are spending each year to provide alternative travel facilities, most companies can offer a large subsidy and still make an additional saving. To further your savings complete some research on your company’s region for possible tax incentives regarding public transport subsidies. Schemes like Ireland’s Taxsaver allow companies to offer staff savings up to 50% on their public transport costs by writing off costs against income tax.
Bus and trains operate of set schedules. Imagine your company’s standard workday is 9 a.m. – 5.30 p.m. and you have an employee who lives 45 minutes away. Every day your employee is left with a choice. They can either get the 7 a.m. bus and be 75 minutes early for work, or they can get the 8.30 a.m. bus and be 15 minutes late. They are a newly hired worker; therefore, to maintain good standing with high-ups they decide to take the earlier bus. However, the earlier bus, after time, will leave them exhausted.
The rigidity of the public transport system can cause great clashes with the average commuter’s workday. Some employees will be vocal about this issue and approach HR to ask can they work from 9.15 a.m. – 5.45 p.m. or can they just take a shorter lunch to make up for the time they lose in the morning. Equally, they might ask they work from 7.30 a.m. until 4 p.m. so they can get an earlier bus to avoid being sat in traffic for half the day.
“However, many employees don’t want to be seen to rock the boat and will say nothing. Instead, they will resort to taking the car to work or even search for alternative job options because they are fed up with their commute.”
To ensure your employees are not frustrated with their commutes, you should ensure that every staff member is asked as part of their employee inductions and performance reviews if the standard working hours make it harder for them to get to work. Cultivating a culture of understanding around mobility challenges is something which becomes really valued by your staff.
Due to factors such as high crime rates, unsafe routes, or previously negative experiences many employees may find the bus or train quite daunting. A great way to overcome their fears is to create formal or informal travel groups.
This is not dissimilar to carpooling in that you identify people who share similar routes and connect them with each other so they can travel together. Sharing journeys not only improves feelings of security but also establishes community within the workplace.
Many companies are located in areas which are just a little far away from the nearest high-frequency commuter stations.
“By embracing multi-modal initiatives, your organisation can make it easier for your staff to still make large parts of the journey using public transport.”
By motivating employees to complete the remainder of their journey via a Park & Bike scheme, using public transport will seem daunting. Your organisation can also run shuttles from local transport hubs to the workplace, taking the burden of the remaining journey off of your employees.
Looking to reduce your company’s dependency on cars, check out our handy guide.