COVID resulted in approximately 30% of the workforce working from home on a daily basis, and another 25% of workers telecommuting at least occasionally. Most workers don’t miss the time spent in car traffic, but as they return to offices, perhaps their commutes can be better – less stressful and impactful on the environment.  Commute Connector [swflroads.com] is a program of the Florida Department of Transportation that encourages the use of alternative transportation options to decrease traffic congestion, decrease harmful emissions, improve air quality, and strengthen our region’s quality of life.

Working with employers, commercial property managers, and large institutions, like universities or hospitals, Commuter Connect develops customized alternative transportation options for each client, such as carpools, vanpools, transit connections, biking facilities, and programs to support telecommuting and compressed workweeks. They offer transit training to help map out the best transit routes, organize ‘Bike to Work’ promotions, provide Cycle Savvy training, and match rideshare participants. Moreover, Commuter Connect incentivizes participation in these programs through a web portal that tracks usage and offers rewards for commuter points earned. Employees earn points by logging their trips to work and telework days using a free mobile app [swflroads.com] or desktop website [commuteconnector.agilemile.com]. The points can be redeemed for deals, discounts, or prizes at local stores and shops, such as 25% off of the total bill at Good Day Café, or a Papa John’s Pizza, or perhaps $10 off a purchase of $30 or more at Books a Million.  Additionally, they offer an Emergency Ride Home (ERH) Program that allows employees to be reimbursed for the expense of a ride home in special circumstances if they use alternative transportation options as their primary commute.

Solving transportation challenges of organizations through planning, promotions and the development of commute options has both environmental and economic benefits.  Taking cars off the road and promoting non-motorized transit reduces GHG emissions, but it also helps organizations attract and retain talent by increasing accessibility.   Commuter Connect also nominates participating employers for national recognition in the Best Workplaces for Commuters, a helpful recruiting tool.

Commute Connector is a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program of the Florida Department of Transportation serving District One and funded through FDOT.  The resources and consulting services are free and available to residents or employees of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee, Polk, and Sarasota counties.  We encourage businesses in our region to reach out to them if you think your employees or patrons could better utilize transit to reach you, or you want to explore ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your operation.