Mass Transit and Carpooling

Office Transportation Checklist:

  • Subsidize Transit for Employees
  • Carpool/Vanpool Parking Preferences
  • Bike Parking/Showers/Lockers
  • Flexible Work Arrangements
  • Hybrid Electrics for Fleets
  • Re-Refined Motor Oil/Recycled Antifreeze

Cars and Parking
Don’t overlook the energy use or environmental impact represented in a parking lot. The daily energy used in transport to and from a building can exceed the energy used by the building itself. Parking lots that aren’t shaded collect and radiate heat on hot, sunny days. This ends up adding to the cooling load of the vehicles and buildings in the area. Parking lots are typically impervious surfaces that generate a lot of storm water runoff when it rains. This runoff can have detrimental impacts on local waterways. On the savings front, you can also set up a policy to have employees park with their vehicles facing ‘out’ rather than just pulling in. Studies show that the majority of parking lot accidents occur when someone pulls back out into the driving lane. By instituting this park face out rule, you may not save the planet, but you will save your employees the burden of dealing with insurance companies and repair shots which eat at away at productivity!

Subsidize Transit for Employees

Many businesses find that a transit subsidy for their employees is a valuable employee benefit. Employees will save money on gas and parking when taking the bus or light rail and employers save too. Parking spaces around your office will become available, attracting additional customers. It may be possible to eliminate part of your parking lot and convert it to more productive uses. Tri-Met offers an annual pass program called “Passport” where employers can purchase annual passes for their employees at reduced rates. In fact, businesses don’t have to pay for the entire cost of a transit pass. Most firms pay $20 to $25 per month, a cost that can be eligible for the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC). Small investment in making employees’ commutes easier and less costly can result in more satisfied employees, more customers, lower parking costs, and a corporate tax credit too.

Mass Transit FACT:  A transit bus with as few as seven passengers uses less fuel per passenger mile than a single-occupant car. A transit bus with full rush hour load of 44 passengers uses much less fuel than 11 cars with four passengers each.

Carpool/Vanpool Parking Preferences Not everyone can take transit every day. The next best alternative is to encourage sharing rides by reserving as many parking spaces as possible for car and vanpools. A carpool is just two or more people commuting together. They don’t have to both work together; one of them could work for a nearby business. Vanpools use larger vehicles to take more people and usually travel farther. In either case, there’s a significant savings in gasoline, parking spaces, and greenhouse gas emissions. Carpool or vanpool investments can also qualify for the BETC (Business Energy Tax Credit).

Be sure to put carpool and vanpool parking spots where employees prefer to park, and sign them prominently. This serves as a nice benefit to employees who can’t use transit and might remind solo drivers of the possibilities.

Carpool FACT: Boosting the US rush hour traffic from one to two people per car would save 40 million gallons of gasoline a day, over 15 percent of US gasoline consumption.

Flexible Work Arrangements Most employees consider flexibility a key element of their work life. Offering flextime, or flexible working hours, not only benefits them; it’s better for the company. A recent Business Week survey found that 42 percent of employees believed work had a negative impact on their home life. Unhappy employees are more likely to be distracted, less productive, and to seek other employment. Flexible work schedules can help in recruiting and retaining high quality employees. With some employees arriving early and others leaving late, you may even be able to expand your hours of operation.

A compressed workweek will cut your employees’ commutes. A schedule of four 10-hour days per week cuts commuting time, cost, and emissions by 20 percent. A schedule of nine nine-hour days over two weeks will save 10 percent. Even in situations in which people adjust their shifts within a typical Monday through Friday work schedule, worker productivity benefits. The City of Los Angeles found that its employees were 18 percent more productive when they were allowed to select their own work schedules.

Some people may even want to telecommute or work from home one or more days per week. This staffing tool is frequently used by businesses that have space constraints. With today’s technology, many employees can work from home and still do almost everything they could in the office. Removing the distraction and worry of the commute adds to employee morale, which can boost productivity.

Telecommuting FACT: A survey referenced on the Telework New Zealand web site states, “48% of technology professionals currently telecommute; 96% want to; 39% would take a pay cut to be able to do so.”

Sample ROI – Give a little to Get more work from employees
A Xerox customer service center turned decisions about work schedules over to employees. Employee work teams now control the scheduling, resulting in improved morale, better customer service, and a 30% reduction in absenteeism.

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