Employers, Providers Collaborate at Last Mile Summit

On June 9 Movability Austin, Capital Metro, Chariot, The Thrival Company, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) hosted Austin’s first-ever Last Mile Summit, an event that brought providers and employers together to customize last mile solutions for Austin commuters.

The term “last mile” refers to the gap that exists between a transit stop and the commuter’s final destination. That distance can be enough to discourage commuters from using transit, especially during Austin’s hotter months.

“One challenge we hear about over and over again is from companies that are somewhat near transit, but not quite close enough to walk comfortably,” says Alix Scarborough, Membership Program Manager with Movability Austin. “Solving that ‘last mile’ connection can make transit feasible and seamless, instead of inconvenient.”

During the summit employers shared their challenges and successes in mobility programs while service providers – from car share to vanpooling to shuttles – presented ways to make alternative commute options convenient and stress-free for employees.

Whole Foods Market, for example, participated in a pilot program to establish a circulator shuttle from its downtown locations to transit hubs, with the help of Movability Austin and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The City of Austin has also experimented with ways to encourage employees to use alternative commute options, and has seen success in incentivizing the use of mobility options.

Employers also participated in breakout sessions after the presentations, meeting with other companies in their geographic area. Groups of employers from Tech Ridge, Downtown, Northcross Mall, and other areas met to brainstorm how they could work together to share mobility resources.

Many employers had similar challenges, including parking and difficulty accessing transit, and many were interested in implementing solutions like ride sharing, shuttles, and incentivizing alternative commutes.

Solving the last mile conundrum at offices makes it easier for employees to use alternatives like bus and rail. And getting more cars off the road benefits everyone, from individual commuters and employers who can regain time lost to traffic, to the community at large, which benefits from cleaner air.

“For employers, this is a tangible benefit to offer employees, allowing them to regain their commute time and reduce stress and transportation costs,” says Scarborough. “Employers with constricted parking find another benefit in reducing the demand for parking by encouraging employees to share a ride or leave their car at home when they come to work.”

More and more companies are working with Movability Austin to provide better options for employees, as traffic worsens and transportation challenges mount. The good news is that with collaboration like the Last Mile Summit provided, there are many partners who can deliver solutions from last mile services to strategic mobility planning tied to employers’ business goals.

About the hosts:

Movability Austin is a transportation management association that acts as a connector between employers and service providers in the Austin area. Movability members will have the opportunity to participate in more events like this to share best practices and network with other organizations leading the way to a better commute.

Capital Metro is Austin’s regional public transportation provider. The agency connects people, jobs and communities by providing quality transportation choices to Central Texas that include MetroBus, MetroExpress, MetroRail, University of Texas shuttle, MetroRideShare, and Night Owl buses. Capital Metro was established by a voter referendum on Jan. 19, 1985.

Rocky Mountain Institute engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI employs rigorous research, analysis, and whole-systems expertise to develop breakthrough insights and then convenes and collaborates with diverse partners—business, government, academic, nonprofit, philanthropic, and military—to accelerate and scale solutions.

The Thrival Company was founded on a passion for combining technological solutions with high performance leadership. As a social entrepreneurial management consulting firm, The Thrival Company focuses on leading organizations to consistent high performance culturally, socially, financially, and environmentally.

Chariot is reinventing mass transit for commuters, companies, and fun-seekers with fast, reliable, affordable, and comfortable service.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of over 3,000 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals.

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