Western Union 1

How Western Union took the lead in commuting options in Denver South

By Evan Gatseos

An employer in Denver South was recently named the winner of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Way to Go Employer Champion Award and we couldn’t be more excited.

Western Union has been working in partnership with Denver South on approaches to alternative transportation since at least 2017, ahead of its office relocation to its new, more visible location off of I-25 and Belleview in the Denver Tech Center. The company’s goal was to be a good community partner and a steward of the local environment, and we at Denver South were committed to helping make that a reality.

Handed out every year, the award recognizes organizations which demonstrate leadership in promoting commute options other than driving alone. This is a huge honor for WU and the Denver South region.

With this in mind, Western Union took several steps, in partnership with Denver South’s transportation experts, to promote commuting options beyond the typical single-occupant vehicles which contribute to traffic and congestion problems along the I-25 corridor.

Here was the action plan:

Employee outreach: Western Union’s new headquarters has enough parking for its employees; however, in order to reach their sustainability goals, WU still encouraged employees to use alternative commutes. And it got proactive, reaching out to current employees through HR in order to promote commuting alternatives.

Timely recommendations: With this extremely in-depth survey data, we made recommendations to Western Union that resulted in the creation of an Action Plan and goals for the program. The company started off promoting with cycling as an option in June with Bike to Work Day. Then, as the weather turned colder, we began to promote transit options in September and October to coincide with DRCOG’s Go-Tober Challenge.

Free EcoPasses: Here’s the best part: Based on the survey results, Western Union opted to do a Transit Pilot Program which included RTD EcoPass and Guaranteed Ride Home. The original estimates were to expect about 256 new transit users to request an EcoPass … in the end almost 600 employees requested a pass!

And they used them – 63 percent of the employees who requested an EcoPass from the company used it at least once a week, 24 percent used between once a month and once a week, and 6 percent used it every working day. Only 11 percent of employees requested a pass and didn’t end up using it at all.

Based on these numbers alone, Western Union and its employees prevented approximately 348 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere!

Skip the commute: Although it is not widely measured yet, the company also encourages telecommuting, with many employees teleworking about one-day per week. Apply that to the whole community of 1,250 Western Union employees in Denver South…tons more CO2 reduction.

When Denver South began working with Western Union, it was obvious from both C-suite execs all the way down to frontline employees that their primary motivation was limiting the environmental impacts of their commutes. Certainly, there are additional fringe benefits to the employee in terms of increased fitness and well-being and saving money, but the overarching goal of this process was always to be a good corporate citizen.

And it’s working.

The moves Western Union has made over the last two years was a huge first step to make the employees’ daily commute a priority for themselves and the surrounding environment.

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