Slide - Try Transit
Rethink Your Commute. Try Transit.
Use Caltrain, BART, or Ferry to get to San Mateo County.
Slide - Bike
Rethink Your Commute. Ride a Bike.
Ride a bike for part or all of your commute.
Slide - Train
Rethink Your Commute.
Catch up on work or grab a nap on your way.
Slide - Traffic
Rethink Your Commute.
Who wants to deal with the hassles of traffic?
Slide - Challenge
Rethink Your Commute and Be Rewarded.
Be a part of the solution - join the Challenge.
Traffic Challenges in San Mateo County
Let’s face it, traffic in San Mateo County is bad and getting worse. Our county is the beneficiary of a robust economy, but a by-product of that success is traffic congestion that now extends well beyond the traditional peak hour commute periods and locations. While there are some promising projects being considered to ease the traffic congestion in San Mateo County, most of them are many years and millions of dollars down the road. In the meantime, it’s up to all of us to make small changes to our commutes so that collectively we can make progress in reducing traffic congestion in the county.
Can you trade your drive to work for a bike ride or a transit trip? How about carpooling with coworkers? Does your employer have a telework option? San Mateo County’s transportation demand management agency, Commute.org, wants to know if you are up to the challenge. We recognize that most commuters can’t leave their cars at home every day, but using a commute alternative one or two days a week can make a huge difference.
We know that driving alone to and from work has typically been the most convenient option for most commuters, but given the increase in traffic over the past couple of years that equation has started to change for many. In an effort to get people to consider options to driving alone, Commute.org is hosting a county-wide Commuter Challenge and anyone who commutes to, from, or thru San Mateo County is invited to participate. The Challenge has been underway since April 1st and Commute.org has been working with San Mateo County businesses and organizations of all sizes to encourage their employees to bike, carpool, vanpool or ride transit to work, instead of driving alone. So far, Commuter Challenge participants have logged over 600,000 miles of alternative commutes which has resulted in an estimated 150 tons of CO2 reductions. And those commuters who reported using an active mode like biking or walking have burned over 1.5 million calories on their logged commutes.
The purpose of the Commuter Challenge is to get people who regularly drive alone to try active and public transportation, or to coordinate with coworkers and friends for a more sustainable commute to work. Not only are commuters likely to save money on their commute, but they will also be making a healthier and environmentally friendly choice when it comes to getting to and from work. From now through the end of May, San Mateo County commuters can keep track of their commute trips on the challenge web site - my.Commute.org. Everyone who logs a trip is eligible to win weekly prizes as well as grand prizes. More importantly, those commuters who use alternatives to driving alone are doing their part to help us improve the quality of life for everyone in San Mateo County.
If you need help getting started, visit the Commute.org web site where you can apply for free transit tickets, find carpool partners, and plan routes that combine multiple modes of transportation. Additionally, the Caltrain, SamTrans, BART and San Francisco Bay Ferry web sites can help commuters navigate what initially might seem like a complex public transit network. These transit agencies are dealing with capacity issues of their own during peak commute hours, but are still encouraging commuters to give them a try. Join the 2016 Commuter Challenge and become part of the solution for San Mateo County.
Great news for commuters and employers
The tax and spending package signed into law late last year included a provision that increases the maximum allowable transit benefit from $130/month to $255/month. This bill permanently restores parity between transit and parking benefits and allows commuters who take public transit or vanpool to save on their transportation costs.
This increase applies to companies offering both subsidized transit benefits as well as those allowing employees to contribute pre-tax salary towards their transit or vanpool commuting costs.
For employees, ask your employer about increasing your transit benefit amount for 2016. The increase will be especially helpful for long distance commuters who travel on BART, Caltrain, and SF Bay Ferry.
For example, a monthly pass to ride Caltrain from San Francisco to Menlo Park currently costs $179 and a month riding BART roundtrip from Berkeley to Millbrae can cost over $200.
For employers, encourage your employees to increase their benefit amount if needed. This is a valuable employee benefit that can increase satisfaction among staff and also provide tax benefits to your bottom line. Whether you implement direct, pre-tax or combination, this is a win for all commuters and employers.
If your company does not currently provide a benefit to employees (read article below to see if you might be required to do so), you could be missing out on significant tax savings while also lacking a key employee recruitment and retention strategy. Commute.org can assist your organization in learning more about the pre-tax commuter benefits.
Contact Commute.org’s Employer Outreach team for more information on enhancing your company’s employee commuter benefits in 2016.