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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Georgia Power Company - Atlanta, GA

FAST FACTS ABOUT: GEOrgia Power Company - Atlanta, GA
Types of TDM:
Modal shift, Location shift
Keywords: Company sponsored vanpools, Fleet vehicles, transit subsidy, telework, intranet
Employer Demographics:
Program: Smart Ride commuter options program. Offers a variety of commuter options to employees
Results: 15% Compressed/flex time, 13% Vanpool/Carpool, 5% Telework
Cost of Program:
Staff: 3 FTE. 1 Project Coordinator, 2 Corporate Facilities Analysts
Contact: Jane Franklin, Project Coordinator 404-506-1967

Summer Olympics + Increased Parking Demand + Poor Air Quality = New Commuter Benefits
Georgia Power, an investor owned utility that serves customers across the state, boasts office locations throughout the State of Georgia. 5,500 of the approximately 8,800 Georgia power employees are located in the greater Atlanta metro region. Executives at Georgia Power were concerned that there was not enough parking at the downtown Atlanta Georgia Power Headquarters location. As such, in 1994 they decided to provide the commuter benefits to downtown employees. The commute options program, titled SmartRide, included subsidizes for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) transit tokens. Initially, the SmartRide program was only available at the downtown Georgia Power facility but eventually expanded to other regional offices.

With the upcoming 1996 summer Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, employers throughout the greater Atlanta region were concerned with the impact the Games would have on traffic congestion and employee accessibility to the workplace. Additionally, in 1996 Georgia Power was consolidating two downtown offices into one building. Given these two pressures, executives at Georgia Power opted to increase the types of transportation programs offered. Unfortunately, in 1997 the consolidated downtown building experienced serious parking problems. Georgia Power also responded to pressure from the 1998 Voluntary Ozone Action Program, which encouraged state agencies and major corporations to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 20%. To reduce demand for employee parking and assist in reducing Atlanta’s worsening traffic congestion and air pollution, Georgia Power redesigned their SmartRide program.

Vanpool Becomes Mode of Choice
In 1998 Georgia Power extended their SmartRide program from a downtown focused transit subsidy program to an extensive regional commute options program. The program featured company sponsored vanpools, fleet vehicles, free MARTA passes, telework, flextime, alternative work locations, free and preferential parking for vanpools and first come first serve preferential parking for carpools. Of the commute options benefits offered, the company sponsored vanpool is the most popular among employees.

Fleet vehicles are available to employees who use alternative transportation to get to work. This is an important transportation strategy the company offers because employees do not feel “trapped” in the office once they carpool, vanpool or use transit.

As of summer 2003, approximately Georgia Power supports over 50 vanpools involving over 500 employees. Fifty percent of vanpools travel to the downtown headquarters office and fifty percent travel to regional offices. The vanpool program is offered to all employees, including temporary contract employees. Currently, the longest vanpool trip documented is 160 miles round trip from Rome, Georgia to a North Atlanta metro regional office.

Additional Program Details
Fleet vehicles are available to employees who use alternative transportation to get to work. This is an important transportation strategy the company offers because employees do not feel “trapped” in the office once they carpool, vanpool or use transit. Employees are allowed use of a fleet vehicle to run errands or go to meetings during the work day. Keeping with its desire to be good environmental citizens, the Georgia Power vehicles are either powered by electricity or ethanol.

To keep track of employee usage of transportation options, an internal alternative mode tracking system was developed for Georgia Power. Also called SmartRide, the software provides employees with a web-based reporting portal that offers a user friendly way to track carpool, vanpool and transit use. Separate internal timekeeping software is used to report when employees telework, work at an alternative location, or work an alternate schedule.

Georgia Power participates in the Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) funded by Commute Connections, the regional rideshare agency. Employees who use alternative transportation have access to a free ride home in case of an emergency or unplanned overtimes. If there are any overages in the program, Georgia Power supplements the program.

In previous years, the program was highly marketed through e-mail, and messages on televisions monitors around the downtown campus. Employees received information from management and letters from the CEO that encouraged individual travel behavior changes. Additional program marketing and outreach was done in conjunction with the smog alerts season which initially lasted from May to October but eventually became a year round event. Given budget cuts, Georgia Power currently markets the transportation program through human resource orientations, word of mouth and occasional e-mail messaging. Georgia Power attempts to increase awareness of the transportation benefits program during smog alert season but to a much more limited extent.

Measuring Success
The main goal of the commuter options program is to get as many cars off the roads as possible. Georgia Power has been successful in accomplishing this goal as the company boasts over 1.2 million VMT reduced each month. Even with a downturn in staff, participation in the programs has been steady with 13% of employees carpooling or vanpooling, 15% working compressed or flex time schedules, 5% using transit while another 5% telework.

The success of this program is also measured by employee reaction. Employees recognize this as a good benefit and management sees it as a recruitment and retention tool. Georgia Power’s efforts have been recognized with a host of awards from local, regional and national organizations since 1997. As recipients of the 2001 Clean Air Campaign’s HOVie Award, Georgia Power’s program was acknowledged for encouraging the use of HOV lanes through carpooling, vanpooling and/or alternative fuel vehicles. The company has also been honored as a designated US EPA Best Workplace for Commuters, and was awarded the 1999 Outstanding in the Field Award from the Southeastern Association for Commuter Transportation.


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