NCTR’s theme is to make public transportation and all other travel choices, safe, effective, efficient, desirable, and secure. This project focuses on increasing the desirability, effectiveness, and efficiency of employer-provided commute benefits (e.g., transit subsidies, telework, etc.) by providing national recognition in a membership-based program – Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC) within the NCTR National TDM and Telework Clearinghouse.
Changes in fares paid by commuters can improve transit’s desirability, effectiveness, and efficiency. TCRP Report 107 Analyzing the Effectiveness of Commuter Benefits Programs (Transit Cooperative Research Board, 2005) found that lowering the cost of transit via employer-provided commute subsidies increases transit ridership and attracts commuters who drive alone. The same report found that “Transit benefits programs can make up a substantial portion of systemwide ridership and revenues. Employer transit benefits programs can make up a substantial portion of total transit agency ridership and revenues. Among the agencies interviewed, employer programs contributed 5 to 25 percent of total transit riders and 5 to 40 percent of customer revenues.” While the impacts can be significant, access to these benefits is very limited. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7% of civilian workers have access to subsidized commuting (transit) benefits. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017) Increasing the number of employers that provide transit and vanpool subsidies and/or provide commute friendly services such emergency ride home, bicycle lockers, etc. is an effective strategy for increasing use of transit, ridesharing, etc. Helping the employers and the agencies that promote transit and all other travel choices is what the Clearinghouse and BWC is all about. They do this by providing technical assistance and recognition to those BWC employers-members such as Florida Hospital, IBM, Seattle Childrens Hospital, U.S. Geological Survey, Fairfax County, and Yale University. Through webinars, case studies, online knowledge base, e-newsletters, and listservs, they seek to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the TDM and transit industries’ outreach efforts as well as support continuing growth among employer commute programs. As evidenced of its growing popularity and recognition of BWC, the BWC website has about 20,000 users and 100,000 page views per year. Finally, this project will be leveraged with $20,000 in program-generated income from the BWC workplaces. CUTR has operated Best Workplaces for Commuters since 2007 and has leveraged NCTR funding to obtain over $132,000 in cash payments over that time. Most of this income is from employer-paid membership dues at $230 per year that meet the National Standard of Excellence.