The Atlanta metro area is one of the fastest growing urban centers in the country and, according to the Forbes magazine 2008 ranking, enjoys some of the worst traffic in the U.S. 13% of Atlanta-bound commuters spend over an hour commuting to work, with the average commuter spending more than 60 hours every year hassling their way to work on ever more crowded roadways. Atlanta ranks in the top ten cities for air pollution.
Clearly Atlanta is a perfect opportunity to employ all efforts available to reduce traffic. Heather Pastrick, from Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Atlanta operation, recently explained how one important component of those efforts consists of the 110 vanpools (and growing) provided by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Rideshare program throughout the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
Started three years ago in Atlanta, the Enterprise Rideshare program operates under the approval of the Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA) who provides a $300 subsidy for each van pool. Throughout the state some 1,250 people on average participate in the program every month. GRTA assists 13 Georgia counties that exceed Federal Clean Air Act standards for pollution and particulate matter.
“Enterprises Ridesahre program is an appreciated addition to the area and this region’s efforts to reduce environmental hazards and commuter expenses,” says GRTA’s executive director Dick Anderson.
Enterprise plans on expanding along with the growth (and traffic) of the greater Atlanta metro area, hoping to double its fleet of vans within the next year and creating a vanpool capacity equal to taking 2,200 cars off the road.
Growing to meet community needs
The rideshare program initially started in 1994 in Southern California, three years later moving north to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. In order to respond to local needs, Enterprise takes a regional, decentralized approach, expanding the program where market demand has been most responsive, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Portland. The largest programs remain in LA, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and now, of course, Atlanta.
Ridesharing as a company perk
There’s nothing like arriving to work already frazzled from the long, slow drive into the office. Who feels like getting down to work when you’ve risked life and limb (not to mention sanity) just getting to your desk?
For businesses operating within and drawing their workforce from areas like greater Atlanta that are plagued by choking traffic and long commute times, the Enterprise rideshare program is a ready-made vanpool solution that helps make for happier employees, increased productivity, and reduced costs for both workers and employers.
A typical company program consists of 7 to 15 co-workers riding together in a late-model van, each paying a low monthly fee that cover use of the van, maintenance, insurance, and roadside assistance. Participants take turns with driving duties.
By providing a valuable perk, both companies and their employees benefit from the program. Workers can reduce their commute-related stress and arrive to work ready to be productive. The program also provides tax benefits by allowing employees to deduct $230 a month from their pre-tax earnings to pay for the program, lowering their tax burden as well as the employer’s payroll tax obligation. Everyone wins.
A growing number of companies in the Atlanta area have started vanpools for their employees using the Enterprise rideshare program, including Allstate, Coca-Cola, Georgia Power, Home Depot, and many others.
25,000 workers ride to work every day using company-sponsored Enterprise rideshare programs.
Start you own vanpool
Enterprise offers the same vanpool package to individuals interested in started a ridesare program so they can share the burden and expense of their commute with other like-minded people in their community.
Making sustainability mainstream
When I spoke last year with Pat Farrell, Enterprise’s vice president for corporate responsibility, he made it clear that “we are not environmentalists.” I think this is an important point. In all of the company’s efforts, from its recently announced “hybrid branches” to its overarching and evolving strategy of corporate sustainability and responsibility, Enterprise sees its role in these areas as a pragmatic one.
Enterprise isn’t an environmental advocacy group. They rent cars. But to the extent that they are a basically a car rental company, they offer solutions that help not only promote the viability of their brand, but also ways to respond positively to the needs and desires of their customers.
Everyone I’ve spoken with at Enterprise – from Pat Farrell last year to Heather Pastrick last week – demonstrates a company philosophy that reflects the world in which they live. Enterprise provides an excellent example of a business that understands that the only truly sustainable business model is one that works toward a triple bottom line.
Image Credit: TheCityFix.com
I live in St. Louis (where Enterprise is based) and have heard Pat Farrell speak about being green. They are a good example of a responsibly managed corporation. They openly say that they are a car rental business, not environmentalists. But they also say that as a business with thousands of vehicles on the roads, they do have a responsibility to consider the imnpact of their business actions. What a refreshing change of pace from the ususal profit at all cost mentality.
Ironically, the van rideshare program wouldn’t be well received in their home town. We simply don’t have the traffic of any of the other locations (I have lived in three of them).
I have been really disappointed with Enterprise lately. While I applaud their green efforts, I will not use their abuse of taxpayer money by playing victim for bailouts. The Wall Street Journal did a expose. You can read about it here:
You have to pay to get the full Wall Street Journal article.