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35 A proposal to discontinue the state program because of public agency naturally would be interested. Many budget cutbacks led to the emergence of a new cham- public employers are committed to reducing single- pion (Tennessee Department of Transportation), expan- occupant automobile travel to and from work, but a sion of the program, and a plan to implement similar champion within the public employer is instrumental programs with other transit agencies in the state. in converting this commitment to action. A member Intercity Transit (Olympia, Washington), a small tran- of the board of directors who works at a public agency sit system in a state capital, partnered with the state has been the champion in several case study examples. of Washington through the Department of General This suggests that board diversification can have unex- Administration to establish a successful program for pected benefits for the transit agency. state employees. Working together, the partners identi- Public employers need to be convinced of the ben- fied a funding source and worked with various groups efits of an employer pass program. The genesis of to brainstorm ideas to solve mobility issues at state the case study programs varied. Several grew out of a agency worksites. One important element of the State U-pass program for students. Others built on past part- Agency Rider (STAR) program that emerged from nerships, had a board member as the champion within these discussions is an Emergency Ride Home guaran- the public agency, or drew attention because of state tee. The partnership with the state and with the three laws or rules regarding trip reduction. Once the agency cities that house state agencies within the service area has the attention of the public employer, the empha- has encouraged land-use decisions that identify areas sis shifts to how an employer pass program will help of more intensive development and provide greater the employer (through increased employee morale, state employment density. The STAR program is an reduced need for parking, congruence with state or effective way to meet requirements of the statewide local goals, and ease of administration). Ideally, all lev- Commute Trip Reduction law, although the partnership els of the public agency are involved in program design between Intercity Transit and the State's Department and publicity. of General Administration preceded passage of the Public employers are not monolithic. Most programs law. Sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction were for municipal employers involve all municipal employ- not original program goals, but the STAR program is ees, although the definition of "municipal employee" very much in accord with these emerging state pri- is not always as obvious as the transit agency might orities. The state benefits through increased employee assume. State agencies appear to have more autonomy morale. in terms of the decision to participate in employer fare TriMet (Tri-County Metropolitan Transit District, programs. As the case studies demonstrate, some pro- Portland, Oregon) offers an array of employer pass grams for state employers are designed only for spe- programs to encourage participation. TriMet notes cific state agencies, and a specific state agency may that a program champion at the employer can increase emerge as the program champion. participation rates. Ease of administration and reduced The reasons for transit agencies and public employ- parking needs are clear benefits for employers. The ers to establish an employer pass program have statewide Employee Commute Option rule spurred shifted. The cost of providing parking for employees interest on the part of public and private employers. continues to be a motivating factor for public employ- Lessons learned include the importance of measuring ers, while the prospects of increased ridership and a program impacts on a regular basis and the wisdom of stable source of revenue are appealing to transit agen- addressing all scenarios regarding employee eligibility cies. Sustainability is an emerging goal in the public in the contract to avoid later disputes. The primary rec- sector and can spur interest in establishing an employer ommendation to those seeking to replicate its success pass program. is to develop a standard pricing methodology based A defensible pricing methodology and a means of on current transit use by employees to justify costs to estimating (preprogram) and measuring impacts employers. This involves the collection of data on tran- are important program elements. Many agencies sit use before the program begins. Use of a standard began by negotiating individual deals with specific pricing methodology is easier and more consistent than employers, but this is not a sound approach to expand- negotiating the cost with each employer. ing a program. Surveys of employees are useful in esti- mating costs before implementation and in measuring impacts. A pass that can be read and recorded by the CONCLUSIONs AND AREAS OF FUTURE STUDY farebox is useful in tracking transit use. Regular updates for participating employers regarding pass use by their A champion within the public employer is extremely employees keep the lines of communication open and helpful in generating interest in an employer pass remind employers of the value of the program. program. This is true for public and private employ- Flexibility in program design allows the employer ers, but the transit agency might assume that another to tailor the program to meet its needs. The ability

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36 to choose the level of subsidy offered and to define pro- reported programs for both the private and the public gram eligibility is important for employers and encour- sectors. Is this the most effective approach? ages participation. Accounting for externalities. Availability and cost of Build on and publicize successes. Word of mouth is parking have been repeatedly cited as factors outside a successful tool to encourage other public (and pri- of the control of the transit agency that affect program vate) employers to participate. News features on the success. Does the emergence of sustainability and program will get the attention of other public employ- global warming concerns affect the willingness of ers and employees. Public employees can be persuasive public-sector employers to consider partnerships with in convincing their agencies to participate. transit agencies? If so, is this widespread or confined to An employer pass program provides an attractive only a few cities or regions known to be "green"? Can employee benefit at relatively low cost. At a time transit agencies take advantage of this positive exter- when sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction have nality to start up similar programs? emerged as important goals, public-sector employers Pricing. Case study agencies reported price-setting are receptive to proven programs with a reasonable mechanisms based on existing transit usage by employ- price tag. In times of tight public budgets, provision of ees or on the extent of transit service in the employer's a new benefit for employees can boost morale within geographic area. What benefits and disadvantages are the public agency. associated with these approaches? What is the best way for a transit agency to set the price of a universal pass Findings from this synthesis suggest six major areas of or other employer pass? How does an agency balance future study: the risk in terms of revenue loss with the rewards in terms of additional ridership and improved cash flow The most appealing aspects of an employer pass pro- as a result of upfront payments? gram to the public employer. The case studies show Finding and encouraging program champions at pub- that public employers value these programs, but what lic agencies. In several cases, board members who work aspects of the program are most valuable to them? Is at public agencies have been the program champions. reduced need for parking important? How easy is it to Identifying the best contact person at a public agency fit the program in with other employee benefits? Would is not always easy for the transit agency. The "wrong" they like to change any aspects of the program? What person can limit the program's success or even keep it motivated the public employer to participate in the first from getting off the ground. How does a transit agency place? The case studies have provided partial answers find a program champion at a public employer? Can to several of these questions, but further research would the transit agency encourage the emergence of such a yield interesting results. champion? How does the transit agency handle a sit- Differences between public-sector and private-sector uation in which the public employer contact is not a employers. It might be assumed that tax benefits are strong supporter of the program? of greater interest to private-sector employers, but are Measuring the value of public employer pass pro- there other differences? What are the differences in grams. Transit agencies typically report ridership and marketing to public and private employers or employ- pass use. Would other metrics be more meaningful to ees? Are public-sector and private-sector employers public employers? Can the transit agency readily gen- more alike than different? Most survey respondents erate reports addressing these metrics?