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Improving Public Transportation Mode Share for Employees 175 airport operators have located employee parking lots to remote sites, most operators still pro- vide space for ample employee parking somewhere on the airport. A few airports such as Boston, LaGuardia, and San Francisco have severely constrained sites where parking costs begin to approach those seen in congested downtown areas. In these com- munities, despite aggressive programs to encourage the use of public transportation, large employee parking facilities are provided to accommodate the needs of airport, airline, and other tenants. For example, the available parking supply for employees working at the United Airlines Maintenance and Operations Center at San Francisco International Airport significantly exceeds the demand. United is bound by employee labor agreements that require parking for each employee. Nevertheless, the closest and most convenient parking spaces are reserved for vanpools and buses to provide some incentive for using public transportation or ridesharing, while much of the single-occupant automobile parking is located a significant distance from the work site. In addition, as noted earlier, United Airlines offers bus service to employees at this facility. The typically low cost of parking for employees is also a significant barrier to encouraging transit use. Given the typically longer travel times and lower comfort levels of transit compared to a private vehicle, the availability of free or low-cost parking makes transit even less competitive. It is difficult to increase the cost of parking paid by individual employees at the airport. Some airports have employee parking costs defined in their airline use-and-lease agreements. Often, the airlines are bound by employee labor agreements that specify availability, proximity (or travel time), and cost of parking. Consequently, airport operators may not be able to increase the costs for employee parking, either because rate increases are not allowed or because the additional costs could not be passed on to employees. Thus, the net cost of parking that the employees pay is low and is often free. The lack of this disincentive to the automobile is a major challenge. Some airport operators offer transit subsidies to selected groups of employees. While this can help provide comparable costs between driving and public transportation, subsidies can become expen- sive and require continuous monitoring to prevent abuse. As an alternative to direct subsidies, the federally sponsored Commuter Check program is available to employers with more than 100 employees. Commuter Checks, up to a maximum of $100 per month, permit employees to save paying taxes on the amount and save the employer payroll taxes. The program does require the employers to incur administrative costs to either operate the program themselves or hire a third- party administrator. United Airlines operates a Commuter Check program in Denver. Employees are required to turn in their parking permit to receive $30 commuter checks each month. In some communities, employee discount programs are offered by the private and public operators of scheduled bus services. Bus operators serving airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles offer commuters substantial discounts when they buy ticket books. Another challenge to effectively using these types of incentives on a wide scale is the airport's multiple employers, each with a full range of employee types. Because subsidies are frequently provided through employers, a comprehensive program requires significant coordination and commitment by all parties. Extent and Adequacy of Transit Service Hours To be a viable option for a significant percentage of employees, the hours of operation for the transit service must address the operating conditions at an airport. It is not unusual for employee shift times to begin at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. and other shift times to end at 10:00 p.m. For tran- sit to be an option for employees, the service needs to be operating at those times. In addition, the service needs to be operating at a convenient frequency. In Boston, early morning shuttle