Employee Carpool Programs: The Essentials

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Employee carpool programs can make strong contributions to organizational performance and sustainability. They aim to shift commuters away from single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) toward shared alternatives.

Commuters’ over-reliance on SOVs contributes to a long list of problems. From the employer’s perspective, these include higher parking costs due to sustained increases in demand. 

Explore proven methods for shifting commuters away from solo driving in favor of shared carpools

More concerningly, studies have also associated SOV-based commuting with:


Meanwhile, carpooling generates powerful organizational benefits. These broadly include:


Employee carpool programs also promote collegiality by helping participants forge and foster stronger social ties. They also reduce the feelings of isolation and alienation that so often arise from solo driving. The resultant benefits, while often intangible, can dramatically improve the way commuters feel about their jobs and coworkers.


Organizations looking to get started with employee carpooling programs can draw on several impactful, proven development strategies. These approaches extend program reach and visibility, drive higher participation rates, and maximize the associated benefits.


Follow these essential steps to get started:

Gather information

Successful employee carpool programs work because they offer new solutions to problems commuters face every day. With respect to SOVs, these generally include things like:


  • Rising gasoline costs
  • Heavy wear-and-tear on commuters’ vehicles
  • Losing time idling in heavy traffic
  • Stress associated with navigating congested roads at peak hours
  • A pervasive sense of social isolation



Some of these issues may affect broader cross-sections of your commuter base than others. To build the program’s appeal, it should target the most common and pressing problems faced by the majority of your organization’s commuters.


Commuter surveys offer an ideal way to gather specific information about the transportation-related issues facing your people team. Use them to ask employees who commute with SOVs about their average commute lengths and distances, specific pain points they face, and any other situationally specific factors that may impact their modal decision-making.


You can then use those insights to craft bespoke employee carpool programs that respond directly to commuters’ concerns.

Create powerful incentives

Most people are on board with general program goals like reducing carbon emissions, easing traffic congestions, and improving organizational sustainability. 

At the same time, experience shows that commuters are more likely to join a carpool if they’re given an appealing nudge. Incentives and rewards create that nudge, and are a key driver of higher participation rates.

Employee carpool programs can use many different incentives and rewards to entice commuters. Popular examples include:

  • Parking cash-out programs. Parking cash-out programs offer employees one-time or ongoing cash payments in exchange for rescinding their SOV parking privileges. Organizations have succeeded in reducing their parking costs by up to 25% using this strategy. You can also reserve preferred parking spots for carpooling vehicles, which brings employee carpool programs a desirable element of visibility.

  • Gamified commuter challenges. Commuter challenge programs can be designed for individual participants. However, they more commonly involve teams who compete against each other to see who can rack up the most sustainable commutes over the course of the challenge. Reward winners with fun and valuable prizes, and your commuters will be playing for more than just team pride.

  • Points programs. Some employers allow commuters to earn points every time they log a sustainable commute. Commuters can then redeem their points for prizes like gift certificates, merchandise, gift cards, store credit at popular retailers, or anything else that might inspire your commuter base to take part.


  • Cash rewards. Cash incentives require employers to make stronger financial investments in their programs, but they are powerful motivators. Some major employers have found success by offering monthly cash rewards to carpool drivers and participants who log a specific number of shared commutes each month.

Appoint a representative

In some jurisdictions, employers of a certain size are required by law to create commuter programs and appoint specific personnel to manage them. Even when commuter programs are voluntary, it is still a good idea to have a dedicated person to oversee their administration.

Here’s why:

  • Messaging will always come from the same channels, which builds familiarity with participants
  • It improves the continuity and consistency of program management
  • Organizational decision-makers, program participants, and other stakeholders can offer feedback for direct implementation
  • Commuters with questions and concerns will know where to turn for answers


Many larger employers organize their employee carpool programs centrally, then administer them on a departmental or team-based scale. In these situations, it often works to appoint someone from each departmental or team-based unit to serve as the liaison between the group and the program organizers.


In smaller organizations, one or two people can usually manage the entire program. Many small businesses simply fold associated program management duties into an existing team member’s portfolio of duties, which relieves the need to hire an external transportation demand management (TDM) professional.



Promote the program

To get employee carpool programs to work, people need to know about them. While this may sound intuitive, employers often overlook the critical importance of promoting programs to their commuters. This is especially true in larger organizations, where messaging can easily be overlooked or forgotten.


First, consider your messaging channels. Promote the program across multiple media, including:



  • Internal email systems
  • Instant messaging and online groups
  • Physical signage in prominent, high-traffic locations
  • In person, during team meetings or company-wide events



Make your messaging clear, simple, and consistent. Ensure that it covers:


  • Program objectives
  • How the program works
  • How commuters can participate
  • Financial benefits, incentives, and rewards



Back up your messaging with strong onboarding support for those who join. It’s especially critical for commuters to have positive early experiences with the program. Otherwise, they may stop participating at an early stage. 

Analyze results

To track the success of employee carpool programs, TDM managers need to monitor and analyze the results they generate. Look for specific indicators of program success, such as:



  • How many people carpooled to work before and after the program was launched
  • Whether participation rates responded to the introduction of new incentives, rewards, or other program changes
  • Rates of sustained and long-term behavior change



If participation rates aren’t where you want them to be, you could have a fundamental flaw in your program design.

Adjust as needed

Targeted adjustments can improve the performance of employee carpool programs without the need for a major overhaul. It often works best to implement changes one at a time, since this allows you to directly measure the specific impact of each change.

Some questions you may want to ask at this point include:

  • Do enough people know about the program?
  • Do commuters understand how to participate?
  • What incentives or measures might convince reluctant commuters to give the program a try?
  • What other barriers to participation might commuters be experiencing?
  • Are the incentives and rewards being offered appealing enough?

Precision changes in these areas may provide just the antidote your program needs to soar its way to success.

Make Pave Commute your partner in building employee carpool programs that work

Technology is an increasingly important element in creating successful employee carpool programs. The Pave Commute app is a powerful example: the award-winning software platform connects commuters to available carpools through instant ride-matching features. Pave Commute makes it easy for employees to find and join a carpool, while employers enjoy access to an enriched set of data-tracking and analytics features for monitoring program performance.


Pave Commute offers flexible pricing plans suitable for organizations of all sizes and budget levels. You can launch Pave Commute-powered employee carpool programs with just a few clicks.

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