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Ride-Share Week: how ridesharing works for Kodak’s employees

Ride-Share Week: how ridesharing works for Kodak’s employees

Geof Cryer, Health, Safety and Environment Manager for Kodak!

For this year’s Ride-Share Week, I thought it might be neat to see how some businesses have encouraged ridesharing in their workplaces.

So I spoke to Geof Cryer, Health, Safety and Environment Manager for Kodak, about the company ridesharing program implemented at their Burnaby office.

Have a read through—perhaps this can help your office encourage ridesharing in the workplace!

I understand that Kodak has really encouraged its employees to rideshare to the office. Can you tell me a bit about the program?

Well, we started with very little in the way of ridesharing. We were interested in reducing our environmental footprint—we have a green team that pushes environmental initiatives in general—and when we did a survey, we found that 80% were vehicle drivers, 52% were single occupancy vehicles. This has a massive impact. If you can do something about ridesharing, this will have more impact than turning off a few light bulbs.

So we wanted to get together a program that would work comprehensively. There was a huge opportunity to improve!

Where is the Kodak office located? Is there anything that makes your location more conducive to ridesharing rather than transit?

We’re in Burnaby, at Kincaid and Gilmore. It’s a 20 minute walk to nearest SkyTrain. Buses stop right outside our office, but many of our 550 employees are living out in Tri-Cities, North Vancouver, and Surrey. So the commute will be very long if you take the bus service. I can’t remember the exact times for Port Moody, but the transit trip in itself is something in excess of an hour and a half. So some sort of personal transport is definitely needed.

How did you get started?

We went about it in a number of ways. The first was to map everyone’s home postcode onto a map of Vancouver, so we could see all our employee as red dots. We wanted to show that the concept that there isn’t somebody near you is not true. And I certainly discovered in my own area there were 30 people living very close to me.

Then we went to the Jack Bell website and set up a corporate subsite for Kodak, and we publicized that. We got some people signing up for carpooling as a part of that. During last year’s Ride-Share Week, we promoted the week and in fact extended it for a month and offered prizes. But still after a month, we didn’t make the kind of big improvements we were after, despite coming 1st place.

Really, the thing that made the big difference was that we had the opportunity to provide preferential parking spots. Some parking spots are a reasonable walk to the building or they’re outside. So we’ve got a badge entry system, and if you register with the rideshare site, you can get access to the preferential parking lot. That gave us 100 spaces in the parking lot that you couldn’t get into unless you registered on the rideshare site. So quite a lot of people registered at that point.

But of course that established the pool, and once you have a pool, you can get the ridesharing part started much more easily. So the preferential parking provided the incentive to do the easy stuff.

How effective has the ridesharing program been?

It’s difficult to establish percentages. But we did a car count in the overflow parking lot, the one that anyone at Kodak can use. We started out renting 90 spaces there, but there’s only about 25 cars parked there at the moment. So that’s a net reduction of about 65 cars on the road right now.

So what’s next for Kodak? Are you planning anything special for this year’s Ride-Share Week?

We are keen to keep promoting it, and the green team keeps banging the gong. I think you’ll find that some people will never rideshare. But there’s a huge opportunity at the moment with times being tough, and people being short of money. Coupling transport with the dollars they save can be a useful sell. But for people who are ridesharing, it’s a win-win. Ridesharing reduces the boredom factor and it gets the costs down. I think we’re finding that in general people are getting to like it.

For Ride-Share Week this year, I’ll volunteer some help with Jack Bell. But otherwise we’ll run the program as is, and use it as an opportunity to promote ridesharing. We’ll offer an attractive prize—a digital Kodak camera.

Do you have any advice for businesses that are thinking of encouraging ridesharing in their workplace?

I would say sit down and think about it. Make it a project plan. Certainly I would have no hesitation saying set up a Jack Bell subsite, that’s kind of a no-brainer. But think about it—think how you’ll incent people to get engaged with it. People who are used to one particular kind of activity will be reluctant to change. So you need to give it some thought and a proper project and work through your ideas to make sure you can do it.

Most behaviour change things take time. Some people will be first adopters, some will be waiting to hear from colleagues as to what it’s like. If this was Europe, it would probably be a no brainer. But if it’s not part of the normal activity it takes a while to adopt. It’s a normal process.

I understand you rideshare yourself. What has that experience been like?

I do, with one colleague and one family member. We don’t ride share every day, we do as often as we can. Typically we just send a text message a night before to see if it’s on. We probably rideshare three days a week.

My colleague drives from Port Coquitlam, drives through Port Moody on his way to work. It’s not the most natural route for him but it’s not ridiculous. Typically we drive to a meeting point en route, or somebody’s house, and everybody dumps their car. Then one person drives the rest of the way. You alternate cars to make it fair. Then you don’t have to get into the hassle of who’s using their car more, etc.

How did you find your rideshare partners?

I think I found out about it through the processes at Kodak, although this particular one is not a consequence of the Jack Bell site. But that’s not too surprising because I speak to everyone at Kodak about these things.

That’s all the questions I have! Is there anything you would like to add?

Ridesharing is a win-win solution if you actually plan it well. If you make it easy for people to participate, there’s no reason it can’t be successful at anybody’s business.

Thanks Geof!

If you’re looking for more real-world examples of ridesharing, make sure to check out Carolyn’s ridesharing story, or Jen’s ridesharing story from Ride-Share Week last year!