There are millions of Americans who commute daily to work, 78 percent of whom drive solo. This one-person-per-car habit costs individuals, businesses, and the environment significant resources, money, and time. Commuter benefits make it easier for staff to choose healthier, more eco-friendly means of getting to and from work.
Twenty percent of US greenhouse gas emissions come from vehicle gasoline consumption. Traffic is increasing nearly four times as fast as road capacity, and traffic jams along with it. In fact, traffic jams account for the equivalent of 9 billion gallons of gas each year, or 800 times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. This results in longer and more stressful commutes for the average person, which reduces employee productivity and job satisfaction.
The capital costs of a single surface parking space can range from $2,000-$5,000; a space in a two to three story structure anywhere from $10,000-$12,000. In addition, these parking spaces must be maintained, at a cost of 1.5 percent on the initial capital cost per year. These concrete auto storage units decrease permeable surface area, increase water runoff and pollution, and to the extent that they encourage people to use vehicles, also increase air pollution, congestion, noise, and motor vehicle accidents.
A recent report entitled, 'The Going Rate: What It Really Costs To Drive' by the World Resources Institute concluded that of the $33.3 billion spent by the US government every year to build, improve, and repair roads, only 60 percent is funded by gas taxes, etc. The rest of the costs are absorbed by property taxes and other non-road-user sources.
Greening America's commute
Businesses, government agencies, and individuals are now working together to find solutions to commuting-related pollution. For instance, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has partnered with businesses to create the Best Workplaces for Commuters program (BWC, formerly known as Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative), a voluntary initiative that establishes a "Standard of Excellence" in commuting benefits that an employer (private or public sector) may offer to employees. It's estimated that if just half of all commuters in the US worked for a BWC member business, it would be like taking 15 million cars off the road.
Related employee health issues
On average, American workers spend 47 often aggravating hours every year commuting, adding up to 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas consumed. Providing employer commuter programs is beneficial both for employees and companies. Many job-seekers look for employers willing to provide commuter benefits; companies that do so are better able to attract and retain good employees, while also enhancing their public image.
Questions to get you started...
- Do you track employee commuting? What are the modes of transportation used? How many miles are traveled with each mode?
- What is the average fuel efficiency of employee vehicles?
- Are there incentives for employees to carpool to work, choose public transportation, or telecommute?
- Are there incentives for employees to purchase hybrid vehicles?
- What are the closest modes of public transportation to the office? How far are they?
- Does your office plan to relocate in the near future? Would office locations close to public transit be preferred over other locations?
- Do your facilities provide employees with bike racks and showers for self-powered commuting?
- Best Workplaces for Commuters - Fast Facts
- Arlington Transportation Partners - Services for Employers
- Environmental Defense - Making the Commute a Smooth Ride
- International Bicycle Fund - Environment, Health & Transportation
- International Bicycle Fund - Transport Economics (Road Pricing): Who Pays?
- TreeHugger - How to Green Your Work
- SunTran - Employer Info: Commute to Work