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Center Identification Number: 416-11

Project Title: Quantifying the Business Benefits of TDM

Principal Investigators: 

Philip L. Winters, TDM Program Director

Francis Cleland, Senior Research Associate


Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

FDOT Project Manager: Elizabeth Stutts

I. Project Objective

To assess research that has been conducted and current practices in quantifying the business benefits of public transportation and transportation demand management, and to assemble the various tools that have been used to measure business benefits.

II. Project Abstract

Many of the strategies to encourage the use of alternatives to driving alone to help reduce congestion and air pollution depend on the cooperation and support of employers. Employers set work hour policies that can influence whether an employee can use transit or participate in a compressed workweek program. Employer parking policies determine the availability and price of parking that influence mode choice by employees. The provision of bike and locker facilities by employers can make the difference between someone choosing to drive or use a non-motorized method.

Public transportation professionals have long believed that the availability of transit and transportation demand management (TDM) services can enhance employers’ ability to recruit and retain employees, improve employee morale, reduce absenteeism, and enhance customer service, especially valuable benefits in a time of competitive labor markets. Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests that some companies also have increased productivity and reduced operating costs through the application of commuter program strategies.

Employers also have the advantage of being a communication link for public transit and TDM programs. Employers can reach their workforce through internal communication tactics such as staff meetings, new employee orientation, bulletin boards, email, newsletters, and Intranet.

Most past research projects that have evaluated benefits of commute programs have concentrated on the transportation and air quality benefits, "social" benefits that may have little relevance for most employers unless they were subject to a trip reduction mandate. Clear documentation and hard, quantitative evidence of benefits that accrue directly to businesses from a wide range of programs could offer a strong motivation for employers to begin, continue, and/or expand travel alternatives support activities.

The four studies mentioned in section VII of this proposal provide a starting point for this evidence, but more data are needed to confirm the benefits observed, quantify the value of the benefits, and document the costs of implementing the programs under various administrative approaches.

From this point, a subsequent step for future research (not part of this project) would be the development of specific tools (such as a custom-designed software application) to assist employers in assessing the costs and potential business benefits of implementing TDM programs. This would also present an opportunity to advance employers’ interest in travel alternatives programs.


III. Task Descriptions

Task 1 Research Review

This task will involve a comprehensive review of past research into previous efforts to document the business benefits of transit and TDM programs. This literature review will identify methodologies and findings from past studies to serve as a starting point for the research. This will help avoid "reinventing the wheel" and refine the specific gaps and deficiencies in the existing body of knowledge.

In the review, we will examine research conducted since the late 1970’s on the benefits of ridesharing to employers. Other known benefits studies to be reviewed include two case study projects recently conducted for the Florida DOT and Union County, NJ, and regional studies now underway in Washington State and Pima County (Tucson) AZ. The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will be consulted to identify more recent and unpublished research.

As part of this project, CUTR will seek the cooperation of public agencies that are or were responsible for implementing trip reduction mandates for employers. Specifically, CUTR will seek to survey or interview employers who are subject to a trip reduction mandate, as well as those companies who were previously subject to trip reduction mandates but have since been deregulated. For deregulated companies, this relief from the mandate may be due to changes in minimum size thresholds for the ordinance (e.g., ordinance changed from >100 employees to >250 employees) or the change from a mandatory to voluntary requirement. The comparison of data from regulated and deregulated companies may help to identify the business benefits perceived by deregulated employers, and explain why they have or have not have continued the program. This analysis may in turn identify the gaps in current efforts to promote public transportation and TDM programs to businesses.

Task 2 State of the Practice of Business Benefits Measurement

Tools to measure the transportation and air quality benefits of employer TDM programs have been refined over the past five years and standard practices are clearly emerging. One form of these tools is the monitoring and evaluation methodology included in the ACT TDM Toolkit.

However, standardized methods to measure business benefits, in an acceptably rigorous manner, are far less known to the public transit and TDM research communities. These might include tools to measure benefits such as cost savings for employee recruitment and retention, increased productivity, reduced tardiness and job stress, and even reduced health insurance costs. Because these topics are more commonly applied by human resources professionals than TDM professionals, expertise in fields related to human resources measurement tools will be sought through a human resources consultant.

The product of this investigation will be a description of current measurement tools available for business benefits, including data collection needs, analytic tools, level of accuracy, and reporting of results.

Task 3 Final Report

The findings from the research review and state of the practice will form the basis for the final report. Recommendations on next steps will be made.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used in the collection, synthesis of information, and technology transfer support.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

Other early projects attempted to identify the "intangible" benefits of these programs to employers, but have done so in a very subjective manner, inquiring of program administrators whether they perceived any of the benefits presupposed. One such project was conducted by Commuter Transportation Services, Inc. in 1985 and was entitled "The Benefits and Costs of Ridesharing to Employers." "Commuter Choice Initiative", a federally-funded project conducted by the Association for Commuter Transportation in 1995, included a national survey of employers to determine the nature of transportation benefits provided to employees.

Recently, four known research efforts have been undertaken to examine business benefits more directly. Two studies, conducted for the Florida Department of Transportation and Union County, New Jersey examined benefits cited by employers in case studies. Both studies documented employers’ enthusiastic perception of having received benefits but few employers could provide hard evidence of the benefits or of the financial value of the benefits to the companies. Two other studies, now underway, are examining employer benefits in Washington State and Pima County (Tucson) Arizona.

ACT has a proposal for federal funding that could work to enhance this project and further the development of tools to assist employers. The ACT proposal will be closely coordinated with this NCTR project to help advance employers’ interest in public transportation and TDM programs.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review

This research project is structured to increase the knowledge of public transit, TDM professionals, and employers about the business benefits of alternatives to driving alone. Any documentation that is prepared will be made available at conferences and, in Florida, through independently scheduled and funded training sessions. Information will also be made available through TDM Review, the quarterly publication of ACT. In addition, CUTR staff will participate in additional training sessions, as requested, during the Association for Commuter Transportation annual conference, Transportation Research Board annual or mid-year conferences, and other transportation conferences or workshops.

Peer reviews will be conducted on a continual basis with the Association for Commuter Transportation in an effort to coordinate with their pending project and maximize the research value of both projects.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project

Research into current methods of measuring business benefits should result in TDM and other transportation agencies having a clearer understanding of the value to business of TDM programs. This in turn should allow agencies to improve levels of employer participation in TDM and other transportation programs and thus provide reductions in congestion and air pollution for Florida and other states.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Transportation demand management, public transit, business benefits


National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: