Downtown employers will gain another incentive to save money, cut congestion and reduce pollution as part of a new public-private program that will launch on Nov. 16.
Called the Commute Advantage Community Leader program, the effort will recognize companies that provide top-notch encouragement to employees who avoid solo-driving commutes in favor of buses, carpools, bicycling and other forms of transportation.
"This is gold-star recognition for employers who promote green commutes that reduce congestion and cut the amount of air pollution from vehicle exhaust," said Goran Sparrman, director of the Bellevue Transportation Department. "Employee parking is a significant cost for many downtown employers, and this program helps them avoid that expense."
The new Community Leader effort builds on the successful Commute Advantage program that's been in place since 2007. During the past two years, nearly 100 downtown employers have participated in Commute Advantage workshops and consultations.
As a result, 42 employers in the program have revised their parking and commute programs to encourage alternatives to solo driving. Overall, more than 10,000 of the roughly 40,000 employees who work downtown now have transit passes partially or fully paid for by their employer.
Plans call for expanding the new recognition program beyond downtown to employers citywide in early 2010. The Community Leader effort is expected to run through 2011.
Program organizers estimate that if 50 companies improve their employees' commute efforts through the Community Leader program it could have a substantial impact. Potential reductions include approximately 200 fewer solo drivers on the road to work, an annual total of up to $450,000 in parking garage cost savings, and approximately 650 fewer tons of carbon dioxide per year released into the atmosphere.
Under the new program, employers are recognized if they provide at least $25 per month toward employees' transit passes or vanpool costs, or at least 50 percent of the cost for an annual ORCA Passport (a comprehensive transit pass), and implement at least two other measures that facilitate alternative commutes.
Recognition will include acknowledgment in local publications and websites, marketing materials, consulting services and other support from TransManage, part of the Bellevue Downtown Association.
The Commute Advantage Community Leader program is sponsored by Bellevue and administered by TransManage. Additional support comes from the state Department of Transportation and from federal assistance, such as economic stimulus funds awarded through the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant program.
Choose Your Way Bellevue offers more information about the Commute Advantage Community Leader program. Employers interested in the program should contact Caryn Walline, TransManage Outreach Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-0644.
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