Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alternative Transportation Challenge

One of my volunteer projects at work, in other words not officially part of my job, has been to create an alternative transportation proposal to the HP Boise site leadership council. I started this project as I see a large opportunity for our business to decrease traffic, congestion, and air pollution through increased use of alternative transportation methods. With somewhere near 3000 employees working on the site, there is clearly ample opportunity for a measurable impact.

This is not to say that there aren't a significant number of participants already. Last year our company was awarded the silver participation award for the May in Motion alternative transportation program. This is based on percentage of employee base using alternative methods. As a whole our employees reported over 8000 one way commute trips utilizing alternative transportation during May 2007.  We hope to greatly improve on this measure this year.

My proposal to the site leadership council offered background education on the valley's air quality and traffic congestion issues, and presented a number of options for programs to make alternative transportation use easier and more convenient for employees. This ranged from company sponsored subsidies to sponsoring new bus routes, vanpools, etc. While a number of options are still being discussed, we did decide to roll out what I feel is the most significant program.  Company management has decided to challenge all on site employees to use alternative transportation at least one additional day per week than they are today. The message went out to employees this last week and will be reinforced in communications over the next few weeks.

While I would like to see more programs rolled out, I feel this one is very significant. We could subsidize the cost of alternative transportation for employees, but the cost is rarely the issue. Most alternative transportation options are less expensive than what employees are using today.  Additionally, most of our employees could afford it anyway. Our employee base is usually very good at responding to challenges, so we will see how this goes.

Other programs with incremental investments are still on the table.  The key determining factor to fund those programs are the employees response to this current challenge. If our May in Motion results are significantly better than last year, there is high likelihood we will invest in some of these additional flexibility options.  The decision will be to favor projects that provide more options to employees versus simply subsidizing the cost.

This next week, in celebration of Earthday, we will be hosting an information fair for all employees to help educate them on the various transportation options available. I hope to see Hewlett-Packard at the top of the May in Motion results this year!

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