TDM at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Since 1995, Seattle Children’s Hospital has run a trip reduction program designed to reduce the number of employees driving alone to work to just 30% of trips by 2030. In the initial planning phase, the organization identified two areas that would have the greatest influence to make the desired changes – (1) aligning hospital policies with desired changes, and (2) providing workplace amenities that would reduce barriers to using alternative modes of transport, like lockers, showers, and bike parking. A key component of this program’s success was having the support of the hospital’s top managers who not only recognized the strategic importance of the program but also played an instrumental role in promoting it internally to their employees and regularly modeling the desired behaviors. 

One major policy change supporting the rollout of this program was eliminating free employee parking and monthly parking permits. While patients and their families could still park for free, on-site lots were gated and staff using the lots were charged based on how long their vehicle occupied the lot. The transition away from free staff parking was communicated through senior management who could present the change within the context of the hospital’s overall mission. Incentives were also offered to encourage alternative modes of transport. One such incentive was a commute bonus that paid employees up to $4.50 every day that they did not drive alone to work. To encourage the use of shuttles and city transit, the hospital offered subsidized transit passes and covered the cost of increasing the frequency of the local bus service from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes, in addition to operating a free employee on-demand shuttle service that ran for 16 hours a day between major transit hubs and hospital facilities. 

Recognizing that not all destinations staff traveled to and from were location that could be reached via the shuttles, the hospital arranged to have a carsharing service vehicle on-site that car-less staff members could use for business purposes. The costs associated with the use of this vehicle were placed on the hospital’s account and not the responsibility of individual employees. Registered vanpools were another form of alternative transport and were able to use prime parking spots at the hospital free of charge. While employees that carpooled did have to pay a fee, the cost for parking was automatically split between each staff member in the car when they swiped their ID badges. These staff members were also credited with the commute bonus, which further reduced the cost of carpooling. 

Employees that chose to cycle to work were offered several incentives and resources including cycling classes, free bicycle tune ups twice a year, on-site full-service bike shop, an on-site bicycle service center (open 3 days a week), and free covered and secure bike parking located close to free lockers, showers, and towel service. Additionally, free bicycles were available for any employees who committed to bike at least two days a week, every week. The hospital also built a connector ramp to provide cyclists with easy access to and from a nearby regional bike path. In the event of an emergency, guaranteed rides home were made available to all staff who came to work by an alternative transport method. To support this program and facilitate staff use of alternative modes of transportation, a personal commute plan was provided to all new staff members and updated plans could be requested by staff that had moved or had a change in work location. Employees also received semi-annual commute summaries that detailed their travel patterns, how much they had earned in commute bonuses, and how much they had paid for parking. An internal platform was used to manage the program’s rewards and parking charges. To earn their commute bonus, all staff had to do was visit a commute calendar each day and drag and drop the appropriate icon (showing mode of transport) onto the calendar. 

To evaluate the success of the program the hospital conducted periodic audits in addition to a staff commute survey that was administered every two years. Twenty years after the program was first launched, only 33% of employees drove to work alone, down from 73% in 1995. 
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