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31 vides employees with the assurance that if they use level of subsidy. The employee then can use pretax dollars to alternative transportation they can get back home if pay the difference. The employer has the flexibility to define the need arises. employee eligibility in its contract with TriMet (within the The state benefits not only through reduced parking requirements of the Employee Commute Option rule that needs but also through increased employee morale. any program be offered to all employees who work at least Employees appreciate the program. 20 hours per week), and all employees within a defined eli- gible group are included in the Universal program. TRIMET (TRI-COUNTY The Universal program has 228 employer sites with METROPOLITAN 58,566 employees. Of these, 48 employer sites are public TRANSIT DISTRICT), agencies (at the city, county, and state levels), with a total of PORTLAND, OREGON 11,222 public employees participating in the Universal pro- gram. Decision making is decentralized: each city, county, TriMet began operation on December 1, 1969. The agency and state agency makes its own decision regarding imple- began operating Fareless Square, a free-fare area in down- mentation and structure of a transportation program. At town Portland, in 1975 or two years before the opening of most of these participating public-sector agencies, a cham- the transit mall. The Banfield light rail line began service pion promotes sustainability and strongly believes in the in 1986, and the light rail system now has four lines. TriMet importance of this program. The champion's commitment to serves an area with a population of 1.3 million and oper- the transit program and to sustainability encourages broad ates 532 peak buses and 81 peak light rail vehicles. Annual participation. TriMet has not needed to market the program ridership is 100.6 million (FY 2007). TriMet uses the GFI to public agencies. cents-a-bill farebox. Select Program TriMet reported three employer-based fare programs: Universal, Select, and Direct. TriMet offers the same product The Select program has one important difference from the mix to public-sector as well as private-sector employers. Universal program: it works on an opt-in basis. An employer can purchase annual passes at $946 apiece for all employ- Universal Program ees who commute by transit and can resell the pass to the employees with or without a subsidy. An employer in the The universal program provides an annual pass to all Select program is not required by TriMet to survey its employees of participating employers. An employee receives employees, because the price of a Select pass is set. TriMet a sticker to place on his or her ID card. TriMet produces provides stickers to place on participating employee ID badges for employers without ID cards. cards or provides badges for employers without ID cards. The Select program was designed for employers who wanted The cost of the program to the employer is calculated on to offer a transit benefit but did not want to purchase passes a sliding scale based on the existing transit mode share for for all employees. the commute trip. The program is designed to be revenue neutral. TriMet takes advantage of the statewide Employee Twenty-four employers are enrolled in the Select program Commute Option rule that requires all employers with 100 or with 2,048 employees. Of these, five are public agencies, more employees to implement a transportation management accounting for 645 employees. An employer (public or pri- program or a plan to reduce drive-alone work trips by 10%. vate) would find the Select program more appealing than the The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requires Universal program if the employer does not offer the pass to employee surveys as part of administering this program. The all employees and does not provide a subsidy. surveys indicate the existing mode share. TriMet then prices the Universal program within a range of $35 to $946 (the TriMet will conduct an on-site Transportation Fair at cost of an annual pass) per employee annually, depending the request of an employer kicking off either a Universal or on mode share. Some smaller employers approach a transit Select program. mode share of 100%. Participation in a transit program satis- fies the requirement to have a plan in place by the DEQ (this Direct Program generally applies to all programs). The Direct program is a retail program in which employers pur- The program is attractive to employers because it pro- chase monthly passes or tickets for resale (at whatever subsidy vides a desirable employee benefit at a reasonable price, it is level determined by the employer) to their employees. These easy to administer, and there is complete flexibility regard- passes can be purchased with pretax dollars. The employer ing the level of subsidy the employer offers to employees. orders the number of passes and tickets desired each month The vast majority of participating employers provide some and can return unsold fare media to TriMet at no charge.

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32 Factors Contributing to Success recently moved to online surveys. Program setup can be complicated in deciding which employee classifications are There are 228 employers (48 public employers) participating eligible (not always a straightforward task). The employer's in the Universal program, 24 (five public employers) in the transportation coordinator is required to understand the pro- Select program, and between 25 and 225 in the Direct pro- gram thoroughly. It is important to establish a valid and reli- gram. TriMet credits the following factors as contributing to able data collection method that eliminates to the greatest the success of its employer-based fare programs: extent possible the opportunity for misuse or fraud. A program champion at the employer. A champion for Lessons Learned both public and private employers is helpful. The exis- tence of a champion committed to sustainable policies TriMet offered the following lessons learned: and to transit's role in reducing single-occupant auto trips is associated with higher participation rates. Have a means of measuring program impacts on a The Employee Commute Option rule. This statewide regular basis. The biennial surveys provide important rule serves as an impetus for employers to partner with information regarding ridership changes and mode TriMet. Employee surveys required by DEQ under this split for the commute trip. rule provide information on current mode share, which Address all scenarios regarding employee eligibility in TriMet uses to set the price of its Universal pass. the contract. Even though it creates a level of complex- Ease of administration. Stickers and passes for the ity upfront, this effort avoids disputes later on in the Universal and Select programs are distributed annu- program. ally in return for a single annual payment. Most important, develop a standard pricing methodol- Reduced need for parking. Employers have a valuable ogy based on current transit use by employees to justify benefit to offer to their employees in lieu of a parking costs to employers. Collect data on transit use before space. you start the program--do not assume anything. Rely on a standard pricing methodology rather than negoti- The ongoing program requirement to survey employees ate the cost with each employer. biennially is a drawback to employers, although TriMet has