By Marc-Antoine Ducas
Moving to and from the office can be a challenge for a lot of employees and it can be a headache for employers. Actual mobility solutions are not always optimal and some employees have to use their car. When office parking is saturated, companies have to offer better commuting options or face the prospect that valued employees will look at other job opportunities that make their life easier.
The solution is to encourage employee carpooling and there are numerous strategies that many companies already use to great effect. All successful employee carpooling programs have one element in common – make carpooling as easy and convenient as possible to position it as a viable alternative to commuting in a single-occupancy vehicle.
When coordinating carpools for large groups, obstacles such as differing work schedules, unpredictable weather and accounting for last-minute changes are inevitable, but the overall benefits do outweigh the challenges. As 100% of carpooling drivers have to park when they get to their destination, we realize that parking is the key incentive to change their behaviour. Travel time and use of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes also interest people in carpooling.
Netlift works with companies to determine needs and constraints in relation to employee mobility. Our goal is to provide a sustainable mobility solution while optimizing parking facility usage.
Employees install the Netlift app and enter their commute route. Parking access, ride payment, employee contributions and reimbursements to drivers are all handled through the app, taking the hassle out of commuting and making the most of current parking facilities.
But when an organization runs out of parking spots then that means building new parking lots or hiring shuttle services, an important cost. Netlift’s ongoing objective is to optimize available parking by putting more people per car.
To achieve this, Netlift recently launched an innovative pilot project in partnership with the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), located in a congested neighborhood in Montreal, with the support of the Government of Quebec, the City of Montreal and the Borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. This initiative is a world first: a solution to a large employer’s mobility challenges that combines carpooling and street parking.
Necessity is often a catalyst and the MHI had to look at its options when it lost a hundred parking places at a nearby school. Seeking an effective, rapid solution, the MHI has partnered with Netlift, and with our technology platform we pair employees for carpooling and in turn optimize available parking spaces.
License plate readers, located at the entrance to the parking lot of the MHI, let in employees who carpool with passengers matched using the Netlift application. It’s simple, if a driver is alone in their car, the parking door will not open as the GPS tracks left by enrolled employees are used to ensure that there has been carpooling.
To expand the reach of the initiative, the project allows the city to repurpose the street parking spaces near the MHI for dedicated carpoolers, with the co-operation of the City of Montreal and the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough. Parking enforcement officers use licence plate recognition technology designed by Genetec Inc., a strategic partner of Netlift, to ensure that only carpoolers use the spaces dedicated to the pilot project.
Éric Alan Caldwell, the City of Montreal executive committee council member responsible for urban planning, explained the city’s decision to participate in the project. “Montreal must seize all available opportunities to improve mobility and help more people get around, more efficiently. Any solution that focuses on reducing reliance on single occupant vehicle trips, such as carpooling, is an ideal avenue for Montreal. This partnership with Netlift will enable us to test this project, which offers promising benefits for the city, and we are pleased to be part of it.”
This innovative project will help solve the mobility issues currently faced by the MHI, a major challenge in terms of recruiting and staff retention. By combining carpooling and street parking and incorporating licence plate recognition technology, we are providing a simple, effective solution that will also reduce the urban automobile population and greenhouse gas emissions.
We think many companies and cities will see the potential of this solution, which is both practical and environmentally responsible. This project also counters the problem of solo driving, which is widespread in every major city in the world.
About the author: Marc-Antoine Ducas is the founder and CEO of Netlift, the developer of a smart platform for planned transportation that combines carpooling, parking management and taxi rides to deliver faster, less expensive and more environmentally friendly travel.