Getting your employees to work can be a daunting task when public transportation is not readily available. Transit agencies around the country have been joining with a wide variety of organizations to provide creative solutions to their needs. Below are some options your organization may be able to tailor to their specific situation:

  • Several transit agencies, including the Chicago Transit Authority, have built ridership by offering discounted passes to university students and personnel. The University of Washington has taken the U-Pass concept to the next level and offers a quarterly pass to all students, staff and employees. Funding for the UPASS comes from three sources: UPASS sales (covering 46 percent of costs), parking revenue (41 percent of costs), and a transportation subsidy from university administration (13 percent of costs). The pass is good for unlimited trips, and people who purchase a parking pass receive a free pass as encouragement to try the transit option. If your organization is located near a school, joint funding may be an option for you. For more information check out this web site (pdf).
  • In Chicago, Illinois, a non-profit organization called Suburban Job Link creates transportation solutions for companies not located in traditional transit markets. They offer staffing services to companies and improved transportation options for low-income employees. In one project, Suburban Job Link brought the Avon Corporation together with the Chicago Transit Authority to create a new bus route connecting Avon with a CTA transit hub. Employee fares cover most of the route’s cost, and Suburban Job Link pays the rest from the revenue generated from Avon. Avon saves money on their staffing needs, Suburban Job Link connects low-income people with good jobs, and the CTA provides a new public bus route. For more information on Suburban Job Link check out their web site.
  • The Chicago Transit Authority’s Corporate Connections Program is similar to Suburban Job Link in that the CTA can bring transit to a business’s front door. The CTA will work with businesses to either alter an existing route or create a new route to enable employees to get to work via public transportation instead of cars. Reducing employees’ transportation costs reduces an organization’s cost by effectively raising employee income and reducing turnover. For more information contact the CTA at:

Phone: 1-888-YOURCTA (1-888-968-7282)
Hearing Impaired: 1-888-CTATTY1 (1-888-282-8891)
Email: [email protected]

  • In Fairbanks, Alaska, carbon monoxide pollution is a serious problem during the winter months. As part of Fairbanks’ control strategy to remain in compliance with the Clean Air Act, officials have reached an agreement with the State of Alaska and the EPA to provide free bus service from November to March. The service is paid for by a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant (CMAQ) from the federal government. The program helps Fairbanks avoid non-compliance penalties to their federal road funding. During the months of free bus service, ridership climbs from about 600 to 1,000 customers per day. CMAQ grants are one of the most popular but competitive ways to fund new routes. If you have an idea for a route that will reduce congestion and/or pollution contact your local transit agency. For more information on the Fairbanks program contact Max Lyon at 907-459-1002.
  • In Boulder, Colorado, the transit agency RTD offers the Eco Pass, an annual bus pass purchased by employers for all of their full-time employees, with an option to exclude part-time employees. With Eco Pass, employees are entitled to unlimited rides on all regular RTD transit services. As an added feature all Eco Pass cardholders are eligible for a free taxi ride home in the event of an emergency, illness or unexpected schedule change that requires them to work late. By purchasing annual passes for your employees, their car expenses may decrease, providing financial relief that could translate into improved employee morale and reduced turnover. For more information on the Eco Pass check out thisweb site.

Patrick Bennett is the Senior Planner, Service Design and Development, for the Chicago Transit Authority.