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Blog Entries With Tag "Transportation"

One for the Ride is so 1990’s: Spring to Commuting

Posted by at 12:00 PM, 03/22/2010

Just how much of an incentive do you need to leave your car at home and walk/carpool/vanpool/bike to work? Are pre-tax dollars and prizes sufficient? Here’s how Uncle Sam helps. As of February 2009, federal tax law allows commuters to set aside up to $230* of pre-tax income each month to pay for mass transit and vanpool fares plus up to $230* per month for qualified parking.  That’s pretty generous.  How about earning prizes to jumpstart and promote participation?

Enter RideSpring—one of the first contestants in Cleantech Open’s Business Competition, and finalists in the 2006 and 2007 competitions. RideSpring offers, according to Paul McGrath the founder/CEO, “the most cost-effective and complete commute incentive program for companies.” 

RideSpring claims to be a fraction of the cost of vanpool programs.  Born out of Paul’s frustration as a commuter, RideSpring’s SaaS platform is now used by companies throughout the US, from San Diego to New York, Seattle, and Texas. The RideSpring program provides companies with an alternate commute solution that includes a carpool ride-matching program for co-workers, and an incentive program to reward employees who bicycle, walk, use vanpools or public transportation to get to work. Employees enter their alternate commute activities and are eligible for monthly prize drawings, including gift cards and vouchers from large retailers and local businesses.
Paul tells me that instituting a commuter program like RideSpring is a great employee benefit. In many companies, the largest component of their personal and private carbon footprint is the commute to and from work. Many companies lose employees if the commute is a problem. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to commute on 880 every day from the East Bay to San Jose, then you know this to be true.

RideSpring offers companies a very easy way to launch a sustainability program and keep employees engaged. According to RideSpring, the greatest challenge with commute programs is to get as many people as possible participating. At SAP Labs in Palo Alto, California, close to 30% of the employees have subscribed to RideSpring’s service. RideSpring users can easily claim alternate commute credits and see how much gas, money, and CO2 they are saving every month. SAP employees can also win valuable prizes such as gift cards to retailers like Williams Sonoma and Macy’s by participating in the program. To date, RideSpring users at SAP have reported savings of over 40,000 car trips, reducing CO2 emissions by over 650,000 pounds. 

Paul is enthusiastic about the fact that significant behavior change can also be achieved with RideSpring. For example, one employee at another RideSpring client, worked in Palo Alto, but lived in Salinas. Even though she lived next to a transit stop, she was driving five days a week to work. When her employer deployed RideSpring, she decided to give alternate commute a try. She now drives only one day a week on average!

RideSpring’s system helps companies track their commute incentive program very easily. Whether employees carpool, vanpool, bike, or take mass transit to work, organizations have a great tool to track their contribution to CO2 reduction. Paul is very proud that, over the last few years, RideSpring has had a significant part to play in the “greening” of the environment by removing 525,000 car trips, saving about 350,000 gallons of gas, and reducing nearly 7 million pounds of CO2.


It must be very gratifying for employees to see how they can personally and directly help the environment.  Now, if I was a chief sustainability officer, I’m pretty sure I’d be looking into a solution like RideSpring.

* Through December 31, 2010



Written by Uma Subramaniam

Uma thoroughly enjoys working at the Cleantech Open. She is passionate about helping clean tech startups morph into successful, sustainable companies. She’s equally enthusiastic about promoting the “wonderfulness” of the Cleantech Open. When not doing stuff for the Cleantech Open, Uma runs marcom360, a boutique strategic communications agency. Doing everything from messaging, to public relations and the Web, Uma enjoys putting companies on the map. She takes pride in being a “one-stop marcom department.” Recently, she’s taken on the fun project of writing up alumni success stories for the Cleantech Open website. On the personal side, Uma loves cooking exotic food, solving cryptic crosswords, and traveling to exotic destinations.

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