The cost of fuel is rising and employee wages are not. In the present economic environment, what can employers do to help employees save money while they get to work? Buy a group bus pass for your business. Annual group bus passes are now available to Central Oregon employers through Cascades East Transit.
The group bus program is designed to involve more employers in encouraging employees to ride the bus to work. “The more people who use public transit the better for our community and environment,” says Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options. “Employers who take advantage of the group bus pass program invest not only in their employees but in the community at large.”
When employers buy in to their local transit organization, it also helps to increase services. “The more we can get the business community to embrace this program, the more investment we have in transit and the more services we can offer,” says Karen Friend with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) and Cascades East Transit (CET).
A recently completed merger between CET and Bend Area Transit (BAT) means that the two are now managed by COIC. COIC serves as a project leader, planner, and project administrator for a variety of regional transportation planning and coordination initiatives.
“Cascades East Transit is now a regional public transit system that operates within, and connects, Warm Springs, Madras, Redmond, Prineville, La Pine, Sisters and Bend,” says Friend. With the merger also come a number of improvements, including a soon to be launched Regional Rider Guide, new website and single phone number (541-385-8680) to seek information and make reservations.
“We’ve made many small schedule changes to improve the customer experience,” says Friend. Customers will also soon benefit from more convenient ticketing, combined call centers and better connections between Central Oregon destinations.
The group bus pass program works on an annual contract basis. Rates are based on a company’s number of employees and how many transit zones they travel through on their way to and from work. Employers pay a per-employee price, but the rate is figured to account for the fact that not every employee will use the passes. A minimum of 10 employees is needed for the program, though organizations of fewer than 10 employees may pool with others to enter into a contract.
Like other employee benefits, the program is a tax deductible expense for employers. But the program is an even bigger benefit to employees. “Riding the bus is a safe, affordable way to get to work,” says Friend. For many employees who pay a considerable part of their wages just to get to work, an employer-paid bus pass could make a positive impact on their monthly finances.
To find out more about the Cascades East Transit Group Pass Program and how it might benefit your company, contact Karen Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 541-548-9543.
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.