Yes, We Hate to Be Uncomfortable and Try New Things: The Story of Public Transportation in Austin

In this podcast, AEN Editor Amy Stansbury visits the offices of NetSpend, a financial services company in Austin that has decided to try and do the unthinkable – convince their employees to ride public transportation.


If NetSpend can get their employees using public transportation, you can do it to. Check out this list of tips and ideas for implementing workplace mobility programs (compiled from interviews with NetSpend employees and Elizabeth Frisch):

  • Start with a pilot program. This allows for better flexibility and experimentation and requires less of an initial commitment, making it an easier sell for the bosses 🙂 
  • Get creative! There are lots of fun and interesting ways to get your employees riding public transportation. Some clever ideas include:
    • Ask your company’s president or CEO to start riding the bus one day a week. This will send a message to your employees that the company is serious about embracing public transportation and encourage them to embrace it as well. For extra encouragement, let employees know which bus the president takes, rewarding them with some extra face time with him/her, but only if they choose to take the bus.
    • Organize a public transportation field trip during lunch for your employees. Buy them all a CapMetro day pass and find your office’s resident public transportation guru to walk them through the process of riding the bus/rail/etc. for the first time.
  • Start an employee carpool system. With their permission, collect employees’ addresses and identify those who live close enough to participate in a carpool. Connect those people and let them know that the option of carpooling to work is available to them. Provide perks and incentives to employees who embrace carpooling.
  • Contact Capital Metro about starting a vanpool service for your employees. CapMetro’s vanpool service is essentially like carpooling, but with a designated vehicle. CapMetro will even host an info session about its vanpool service at your office and subsidies are available for groups using the service.
  • Contact local app companies RideScout and Carma about hosting info sessions at your office. RideScout is a free mobile app that brings together all available transportation options in one place. Carma is an app that facilitates carpooling. Both companies are happy to educate new users about their product and teach others how to embrace alternative transportation.
  • Gamify it! Turn public transportation into a game by rewarding employees who try out as many new alternative transportation options as possible. Create an atmosphere at the office where transportation is fun!
  • Be flexible. Let your employees know that they can arrive a few minutes late or leave a few minutes early to catch a bus. Make it clear it to them that you support their decision to embrace alternative modes of transportation. 
  • Offer incentives for employees who want to give up their parking space and contact CapMetro about potential discounts. With its MetroWorks program, CapMetro offers discounted transit passes for employers, making it cheaper to provide bus passes to employees who decide to forgo their parking space. Provide extra support to these employees by giving them access to company car2go or uber accounts in case of emergency.
  • Sign the Mobility 20/20 pledge! The pledge is a promise by the city’s largest employers to reduce drive alone behaviors by 20 percent by 2020. Participating companies are given access to a wide variety of free consulting services to help them achieve their goals. 

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