Several properties with Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs managed by Wells + Associates have been recognized as 2021 Best Workplaces for Commuters and Best Sites for Commuters. Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC), a membership organization that operates out of the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida, reports that this year’s list of winners is the largest group in the history of the designation. The 2021 Best Workplaces list exceeded 450 properties, up from approximately 330 properties in 2020, and the Best Sites list reached 27, up from 22 in 2020.
W+A client The MITRE Corporation, a research and technology non-profit which occupies multiple Class A office buildings in Tyson’s Corner, earned the Best Workplaces for Commuters designation for the seventh time since first being recognized in 2014.
Many of these residential and mixed-use properties have received the honor multiple times. However, 2021 is a particularly momentous year for The Boro: since this mixed-use site opened in 2019, it achieved the Best Site designation after just 1 year of operation, making it one of the youngest sites on the list.
All of the honorees met BWC’s National Standards of Excellence, which apply to both the Best Workplaces and Best Site designations. The standards stipulate that TDM programs provide one primary benefit, such as employer-paid transit passes or the ability to work from home, and at least three secondary benefits, such as shuttle service to transit stations or carpool matching. The Boro, for example, promotes transit benefits and telework, provides real-time transit information, provides numerous bicycling amenities, and regularly surveys its tenants regarding their travel behavior and preferences.
The Boro: The Latest Leader in Site-wide TDM
As the latest W + A client to make the “Best Site for Commuters” list, The Boro represents Wells’ long-time commitment to creating high quality places through TDM. When BWC started recognizing TDM programs in 2000, it focused solely on employer-based programs, usually operated by one tenant in an office building. Alternatively, buildings considered “Best Sites” run TDM programming at the property-management level, meaning the program extends to all tenants at the site.
Although both designations hold the same standards, the list of Best Sites for Commuters is much shorter than the list of Best Workplaces simply because running a site-wide TDM program is a newer and more innovative approach.
Senior Associate at W + A and The Boro’s TDM program manager, Linsey Burch, explains the history of site-wide TDM. “In the years after the Best Workplaces list was created, we started noticing that multi-tenant clients of ours, like Towers Crescent, had strong TDM programs that were getting results comparable to offices on the Best Workplaces for Commuters list. We thought these site-wide programs should be recognized as well.”
TOD Enhances the Benefits of TDM for Developers and Properties
Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, transit-oriented development became increasingly popular, and the benefits of TDM were getting noticed by developers and properties beyond Office. Residential and Mixed-Use buildings began establishing their own TDM programs to connect tenants to mass transit networks while also designing multimodal places under the “Live-Work-Play” model. These buildings used TDM to not only make commuting more efficient and enjoyable, but to improve the ability for all kinds of visitors to access the site.
In 2011, the W+A TDM team saw this trend unfolding at the multi-tenant properties it supported and decided to partner with Fairfax County DOT to advocate that CUTR recognize these sites for their top-notch TDM programs. In 2012, the criteria for the new “Best Site” designation was officially established. That year, W+A submitted Towers Crescent and Access Tysons for consideration and both properties were honored on the first list of Best Sites for Commuters.
The fact that there was a need for a Best Sites designation is a testament to W+A’s commitment to being at the frontier of TDM. Creative place-making efforts at developments like The Boro continue to advance Transportation Demand Management, making site-wide connectivity and multimodality the new standard.