What is Commuter Data and Why Should Employers Keep Track of it?

Oct 3, 2022

Zoë Randolph

Content Strategist

Data is the catalyst for modern innovation, and commute optimization is no exception. If you want to assess your baselines, identify gaps, and make improvements, you’re going to need quality data. Without it, you’ll be left to rely on guesswork, implementing ad hoc programs and hoping for the best. Not, we can safely say, an ideal scenario. 

Luckily, there’s ample opportunity to harness the power of data to optimize commuting programs for the good of our employees, our organizations, and the planet. When we can collect and centralize dynamic information, we have access to the insights we need to change commuting for the better. 

Which commuter data matter?

There’s no shortage of metrics you can measure (or try to measure), but ultimately, you should aim to gather data for three key buckets:

  • Time. How long do people spend getting to and from work?

  • Cost. How much do people (or you, as an employer) spend on commuting?

  • Carbon. How much C02 do people emit while commuting?

The optimal commuting scenario scores low across all three categories, and by taking stock of where your employees fall on both the individual and aggregate level, you’ll start to see patterns, gaps, and opportunities. 

Build better programs 

What kinds of programs do your employees want and need? Where can you invest resources for maximal ROI? Without commuter data, these questions are impossible to answer with confidence. 

The results of this uncertainty are everywhere: Organizations often funnel time and money into costly commuter programs, only to see them go under-utilized or have lower-than-expected impacts on employee behavior. 

With access to solid commuter data, you’ll be able to get to know the profile of your commuter base (Where do they live? How do they move? When do they come to the office? What other circumstances impact their commutes?) and even model potential solutions to gauge their effectiveness. Then, once you’ve chosen a path, you can pull dynamic live data that will help you see how things are going and where adjustments may need to be made.

Stay compliant and get certified

Environmental standards are increasingly prevalent. In some cases, they’re enforced by governmental regulations, as is the case with Washington, D.C.’s parking cashout law. In others, they’re pursued voluntarily, as with LEED green building certifications

In either case, tracking commuter data is an essential piece of the puzzle, because employee commutes are major contributors to any business’s indirect emissions numbers. Doing so will allow you to figure out where you’re currently falling short of requirements, identify the most effective ways to make improvements, and finally, to prove your success!

Data, data, everywhere

Most employers are sitting on more commuter data than they think, but the odds are that it’s scattered across various platforms and repositories. A spreadsheet that tracks, say, how many people have monthly parking passes or participate in the carpool program are useful but limited if they’re not centralized alongside all the other information at your disposal. 

Sources of commuter data include:

  • Surveys, through which employees share information about their commuting habits. Not all surveys are created equal, which means that the wrong questions asked via a one-size-fits-all platform can often offer little insight. When well right, a commuter survey can paint a detailed picture of your commuting status quo and the most lucrative gaps you can address.

  • Flexible spending cards, like Commutifi’s Mobility Card, which allow employers to track the way commuting (and reward/incentive) money is spent. By distributing funds via payment cards, you’ll get a more complete picture of how employees move. 

  • Smart systems, like parking gates, that log who comes and goes. These systems help you keep track of aggregate numbers and individual behaviors so you can see how and when your amenities are used.

  • Third party applications, like carpool, rideshare, and bikeshare apps. Normally, these data are lost, but with integrations, you can pull important information directly from the tools your employees already use. 

Knowledge is power

The only way to maximize the impact of your commuting programs is to leave the guessing games behind. Commuter data, when dynamic, centralized, and integrated, makes plain the information you need to build internal buy-in, execute the programs people will actually use, and report on your success. 

See how Commutifi helps you harness the power of connected commuter data. >>

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.

Better commuting starts here.