By Glen Van Peski
Community & Economic Development Director
City of Carlsbad
Carlsbad businesses are on the cutting edge of technological innovations that change the way people live their daily lives; it stands to reason that the city is in the forefront in thinking about new ways to get people from place to place.
This effort, called transportation demand management, provides alternative means of travel to reduce dependence on motorized vehicles.
“It’s basically a concentrated effort to give people options for their travel, with a primary purpose of relieving traffic congestion,” said City of Carlsbad Transportation Manager Craig Williams, who is spearheading the city’s transportation demand management strategy. Williams said that our current overdependence on vehicles is difficult to sustain for the long term, as the city’s road system cannot be continually expanded to accommodate more cars.
Substituting public transit and bicycle travel for car trips are obvious transportation demand management choices, but there are other less obvious ones that many businesses use. These include flexible work schedules, which shift work hours to off-peak travel times; telecommuting, which allows employees to work from home; and a compressed work week, which gives employees a day off each week or every other week in exchange for longer work hours on other days.
Some Carlsbad businesses are setting the pace by getting smarter about how they transport their talent between locations and how their employees travel between home and work.
ViaSat, a Carlsbad-based satellite communications company, is a leader in transportation demand management. This global firm houses more than 2,000 employees in 12 locations on its Carlsbad campus, so it’s understandable if employees are tempted to drive from point to point. To help them resist this temptation, ViaSat provides beach cruisers that workers ride between locations.
This form of trip substitution reduces congestion on city roadways and cuts greenhouse gas emissions while promoting a healthy lifestyle, which are all positives.
ViaSat sees this as a way to attract talent, as today’s workforce blurs the line between work and play. Carlsbad’s climate and location offer a perfect setting to do that.
A business that has capitalized on the trend toward an active workforce is MAKE, a 170,000-square-foot multi-tenant office complex near the beach. Developer Cruzan converted the former Floral Trade Center on Avenida Encinas into a modern workplace that combines indoor and outdoor space where tenants can work, meet and socialize.
The office complex offers many amenities for tenants, some of which embrace the concept of transportation demand management. For example, MAKE provides shuttles that take tenants to nearby restaurants, Coaster stations and the Village. It also provides beach cruisers that tenants can ride to – where else – the beach. By thinking creatively, MAKE has attracted such cutting-edge firms as GoPro, which makes digital action cameras, and Verve Mobile, a location-based digital publishing and advertising platform.
Recognizing the need to reduce traffic congestion, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, has instituted tax incentives and subsidies to help reduce employees’ car trips. SANDAG offers a vanpool program, which is a leased vehicle that can seat from five to fifteen passengers. SANDAG provides a subsidy of up to $400 a month to eligible vanpools.
SANDAG provides transportation demand management tools through iCommute, which encourages transportation alternatives and offers assistance to help businesses develop customized commuter programs that benefit their employees.
The city’s Traffic and Mobility Division will also be standing by to assist employers in managing their transportation needs.
“The key to success will be developing alternatives that Carlsbad employers and employees find convenient,” said Williams. “We’re trying to put mechanisms in place that take the hard thinking out of a transportation demand management plan.”