Dulles Area Transportation Association Wins Regional Recognition for Onsite Ridematching Program
2019 Commuter Connections Employer Services Organization Achievement Award
On June 21st, Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation organizations coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, awarded the Dulles Area Transportation Association its 2019 Employer Services Organization Achievement Award for its work with the Onsite Ridematching Program. At the ceremony, held at the National Press Club, DATA President and CEO Doug Pickford accepted the 2019 Award on behalf of DATA’s bilingual Onsite Ridematching Team members, Elizabeth Darak and Karla Nativi. Also present at the ceremony was one of DATA’s private partners in the program, Anna Lyons, General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Sterling, Virginia.
DATA’s Onsite Rideshare Coordinator program, which began in 2011, was conceived when a hotel human resources director lamented that losing a Spanish-speaking employee who provided transportation for a number of other well-trained staff members inevitably meant losing all employees who carpooled with the departing employee. This scenario repeated itself all too often and was a burden for the employer on multiple levels. Carpool passengers in these types of situations were often unable to find other transportation options due to a lack of English language skills, limited computer proficiency and access, literacy challenges, and other barriers which often resulted in job loss.
To bridge the gap and provide affected employees with the wherewithal to seek out and find alternative means of transportation, especially through ridematching, DATA was awarded a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The grant was for a pilot program that underwrote funds for a bilingual ridematching specialist to travel to employment sites and personally assist employees with finding reliable transportation to and from work. The program began with just eight hotels and rapidly expanded to include employers such as Airserv, Lansdowne Resort, Quest Diagnostics, and the Reston Hospital Center. With subsequent funding from a Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) federal grant, the Onsite Rideshare Coordinator program offered bilingual ridesharing assistance for Dulles Airport employees and to members of community and faith-based organizations.
Over 30 organizations have hosted the Onsite Rideshare Coordinator, many on a recurring basis. In 2018, there were 89 potential carpoolers entered into the Commuter Connections Ridematching database. DATA estimates that approximately one-third of employees were successfully matched with carpools, and DATA has integrated the concept of onsite ridematching into its other outreach activities.