How to Set Up an Employer Incentive Program for Better Commuting

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A number of practical, physical and psychological barriers prevent commuters from breaking the habit of drive alone commuter trips. One of the main objections that comes from commuters is “It’s too far for me to bike.” But biking to work is just one of many, many transportation options available to Central Oregon commuters.

Commute Options exists to serve the community in finding transportation choices that work for them in order to reduce the impacts of driving alone. “Commute Options can help tailor a partner program to any size, and any type, of business that will help employees get to work without driving alone,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options.

Any business in Central Oregon can get help with setting up an employer incentive program by becoming a Commute Options Partner (COP). Commute Options works one-on-one with partner employers to develop a customized transportation plan, reward employees using commute options, and provide presentations, brochures, posters and materials, and a website for promoting smart commuting choices.

“We help Commute Options Partners and their employees to think outside the box when it comes to commuting. If employees live too far from work to bike or walk, we can help them set up vanpools, group bus passes, or carpool matches. We can also provide information on how telecommuting can help employees and a company’s bottom line at the same time,” says Monson.

In exchange for these services, COPs agree to use the resources provided by Commute Options to educate and encourage their employees to walk, bike, carpool, vanpool, bus or telework instead of driving alone to work. The business selects an employee to serve as an employee transportation coordinator, to represent the employer and participate in Commute Options activities, including training, tallying information on employee travel behavior, coordinating the company’s role in the Commute Options Week commuter challenge, and other promotional events. 

Commute Options Partners can also choose to participate in the COP Rewards Program.

The program awards a $20 gift certificate to employees who commute to work 45 round trips using a commute option. Along with this monetary incentive, employees receive information on how much money they’ve saved and the positive impact they’ve had on reducing the effect driving alone has had on their community. 

Altrec, an online outdoor gear retailer located in Redmond, is a Commute Options Partner. Because many of their employees live in Bend and elsewhere, much of their efforts focus on creating carpool matches. Jim Helmich, vice president of human resources for Altrec, believes that carpooling is good for the company’s team building, as well as for the environment.

“Aside from the monetary incentives that Commute Options provides for carpooling – and saving gas and lessening our impact on the environment, a nice side benefit of carpooling is that employees who would not otherwise have casual interactions are now forming stronger relationships that help the overall team,” says Helmich.  He also believes the partnership with Commute Options fits into the company’s mission to genuinely make a difference, in the bigger sense.

“The COP program is a win-win-win proposition,” says Monson. “The program allows employers to create a low-cost benefit for their employees while giving back to the community at large by encouraging environmentally responsible travel,” says Monson.
To register your business as a Commute Options Partner, visit www.commuteoptions.org.

 
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.

Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.

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