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Tax-Free Commuter Benefits Guide

Learning how to administer a pretax or tax-free subsidy program and whether or not your business could benefit from working with a third party administrator is a crucial step in program planning. This guide makes understanding options, rules and program administration easy so you can start your own commuter benefits program today.

Commute Seattle

Commute Seattle is SDOT’s service delivery partner for Seattle’s citywide CTR Program. Meet the program leads and get connected to the programming and resources offered.

Commuter Trip Reduction (CTR) Seattle Program

In 1991, the Washington State Legislature passed the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Law requiring employers to work with employees to reduce the number and length of drive-alone commute trips made to the their worksite. These pages summarize Seattle specific CTR programming and how it serves worksites by neighborhood/network.

Transportation Benefits Toolkit

Comprehensive toolkit for employers and property managers covering regulations, how to create a transportation program, what are the elements of a successful transportation program, and how to communicate and market a transportation program.

Transportation Benefits Toolkit Chapter 1: Commute Trip Reduction Basic Information

Chapter One of a comprehensive toolkit for employers and property managers covering regulations, how to create a transportation program, what are the elements of a successful transportation program, and how to communicate and market a transportation program.

Transportation Benefits Toolkit Chapter 2: Transportation Program Creation & Implementation

Chapter Two of a comprehensive toolkit for employers and property managers covering regulations, how to create a transportation program, what are the elements of a successful transportation program, and how to communicate and market a transportation program.

Transportation Benefits Toolkit Chapter 3: Transportation Program Elements

Chapter Three of a comprehensive toolkit for employers and property managers covering regulations, how to create a transportation program, what are the elements of a successful transportation program, and how to communicate and market a transportation program.

Transportation Benefits Toolkit Chapter 4: Communications & Marketing

Chapter Four of a comprehensive toolkit for employers and property managers covering regulations, how to create a transportation program, what are the elements of a successful transportation program, and how to communicate and market a transportation program.

Introduction to Transportation Demand Management (TDM)

TDM is the general term for strategies that increase the overall efficiency of our roadways by encouraging fewer trips in single occupancy vehicles. TDM seeks to reduce these drive alone trips by increasing travel options available to individuals by providing information and incentives to encourage people to change their behavior.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Overview

In 1991, the Washington State Legislature passed the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Law requiring employers to work with employees to reduce the number and length of drive-alone commute trips made to the their worksite. This overview explains the law, why it works and what is required.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Survey

A survey completed by employees at CTR-affected work sites. Employees answer questions about how they commute. Responses are aggregated and measure progress towards work site Drive Alone Rate reduction goals.

Recommended Transportation Program Elements

What does Commute Seattle recommend for a transportation benefits program? We get asked that question a lot. And there never is a short answer. We attemtp to summarize the basics of a successful transportation program on these pages.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Program Report

A standard report completed by CTR-affected worksites that describes transportation programming and amenities, especially the actions taken to promote alternative commute modes (i.e., non-drive alone).

TMPs, MUPs, MIMPs, LEED

An introduction to Transportation Management Programs (TMPs), Master Use Permits (MUPs), and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Employee Incentives

An incentive is anything that motivates someone to take a particular action, especially a desired, premeditated action.

Promoting Annual Campaigns / Important Dates

Many local government agencies and transportation organizations will manage and launch annual marketing campaigns, free for anyone to participate, with prizes and resources to incentivize people to try alternative modes of transportation.

Commute Concierge – Trip Planning for Employees

Your employees probably know how to drive to and from work, but do they know the safest bike route or the fastest bus route? A Commute concierge program is an internal program that helps employees plan their morning and afternoon commute.

Neighborhood Amenities

One of the most common barriers to overcome when switching your employees commutes away from single occupancy vehicles is the perception that they need a car to run errands after work. What many employees don’t realize is their workplace is often surrounded by corner markets, grocery stores and coffee shops where many small errands can be complete before heading home.

Transportation Fairs & Other Events

Similar to, and often combined with wellness or benefits fairs, transportation fairs are a great way to provide your employees with the latest commuter information. They often include information on transit service changes, new tools and technologies, new services such as iCarpool or carsharing services, and much more.

New Employee Orientation

New employee onboarding is a structured process where a new employee learns the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their new position.

Posting Program Information

A Program Summary is any communication piece used to share transportation options with your employees. Examples include a PDF, physical flyer, or intranet site.

Individual Behavior Change

Just as it sounds, behavior change is the term used to describe the steps and processes, both emotional and logistic, that a person experiences when trying something new. A common example would be when an employee tries bicycling to work for the first time.

Subsidies and Reimbursements

A subsidy is a broad term for financial support provided by an employer to offset the costs of any commute mode. A subsidy is provided before the employee makes the purchase to use a commute mode. A reimbursement is the same as a subsidy, but provided to the employee after the purchase is made.

Flex Schedule & CWW

Employers can increase productivity and morale by offering flexible “flex” schedules and /or compressed work week (CWW) programs.

Telework

Teleworking (i.e., telecommuting, remote work) allows employees to work from a remote location, whether at home or satellite office, within the framework and expectations described in standard policies.

Walking

Employer walking programs provide structure and encouragement for walking commutes, combining walking with transit, or incorporating walking into meetings and daily routines in the office.

Bicycle

Compared to the hundreds of dollars a month investment needed to provide parking spaces for employee vehicles, bicycle parking is a cost-effective and healthy investment in your employees and your company. Currently about 3% of employees bike to work, but this number is growing rapidly.

Parking Management

The single most effective way to reduce your company’s DAR is to switch away from monthly parking passes, which incentivize employees to drive to work every day, rather than consider their best commute options for the day.

Free Ride Home

Free Ride Home (also known as Guaranteed Ride Home or Home Free Guarantee) programs provide employees with a direct trip home in case of an emergency. These programs further encourage employees to use transit and other alternative commutes by easing anxiety over transportation needs in case of one-off emergencies.

Rideshare

Rideshare encompasses all on-demand driver/taxi services including app-based companies Uber and Lyft.

Carshare / Bikeshare

Carshare and Bikeshare companies are on the leading edge of transportation management. These companies allow users to use a car for a short-term to move around a designated area. Current examples of carsharing include Car2Go and ReachNow which allow users to borrow cars to go throughout the city, while the city-owned Pronto bike share system allows users to ride bikes throughout Downtown, Capitol Hill and the U District.

Carpooling

Both formal and informal carpools are a great way for employees to reduce the cost and stress of commuting. Carpooling gives drivers access to the HOV lanes on I-5 and 405, reduces the cost of parking, and is good for the environment. For businesses, carpooling saves money and increases teamwork across departments and team.

Vanpool/Vanshare/Company Shuttle

The fact of the matter is not every employee will be able to take transit to work. For employees who lack direct or frequent transit service vanpool, vanshare, or a company shuttle may be a great option. If your company offers ORCA Business Passport the deal is even better, since the ORCA card will cover a vanpool or vanshare fare!

Transit

Employer transit programs provide tools, resources, and subsidies to encourage employees to use various modes of transit to get to work. In Seattle, these transit modes include bus, streetcar, light rail, and train.

Pre-tax / Tax-free Benefits

Employers can receive tax benefits for providing certain types of employee transportation benefits. Employers who subsidize their employees’ commute may receive equivalent deductions free of additional payroll and federal income taxes.

Utilizing Peer Support

Your fellow Employee Transportation Coordinators (ETCs) are an invaluable resource for you while implementing CTR programming and expanding your transportation benefits. They have experience working with management to implement change, know the unique challenges of your industry, and can simply give you someone to bounce a few ideas off of.

Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) Job Description

The CTR Law requires affected employers to appoint an Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) to implement, promote and administer the CTR Program on an on-going basis. Our experience with nearly 600 organizations affected by the CTR Law has shown that selecting the appropriate staff is critical to the success of your program. While an ETC can be found at any level or in any department in your organization, the following list considers the factors that can affect your ETC’s success.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Champions

Employer investments in transportation programs, benefits, and amenities continue to produce real results that reduce congestion and improve commerce and quality of life in Seattle. The CTR Champions program recognizes employers who achieve progress towards reducing their drive alone rates, provide innovative and comprehensive commuter programs to their employees, and show high levels of engagement with the program and their peers.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Law

In 1991, the Washington State Legislature passed the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Law requiring employers to work with employees to reduce the number and length of drive-alone commute trips made to the their worksite. These pages summarize the regulations and provides links to Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 25.02, Washington State Commute Trip Reducation Law, and the Federal Clean Air Act.

bicyclist wears bright clothing to be seen

2017 Bike Commuting 101 Flier

Join Commute Seattle for an upcoming Bike 101 seminar this spring. We are offering free seminars between March and May. Bring your lunch and get ready for Bike Month!

2016 Mode Split breakdown

2017 Mode Split Press Release

A new Commute Seattle survey conducted by EMC Research shows that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters [2] opt for transit, ridesharing, biking, walking and teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2012 and 31 percent in 2014. Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95 percent of the net increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.

2016 Mode Split breakdown

2016 Mode Split Survey Infograph

Commute Seattle conducts a bi-annual survey to find out how Seattle workers get downtown. This info graphic provides an overview of the findings from the 2016 Mode Split Survey.

Seattle Center City Mode Split

2016 Center City Commuter Mode Split Survey

This study is conducted to understand how commuters travel to Downtown Seattle and how those behaviors have shifted over time. This report combines the data from the most recent 2016 mode-split study with data from Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT’s) survey of employees at larger Center City businesses affected by the State of Washington’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Efficiency Act. This report reflects the data collected from commuters to CTR-affected worksites throughout the 2015-2016 survey cycle.

Webinar: 2015/2016 CTR Survey Training

CTR, ETC, SRF, DAR, VMT, oh my! It’s been two years since the last survey cycle, and if you are new to Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) or would like a refresher of how to conduct the survey and incentivize employees, please join us for the following webinar training.

WorkSmart telework seminar

Webinar: 2016 Teleworking and Flexible Schedules

WorkSmart is a nationally recognized award winning program offered by King County that provides free assistance to employers to learn: *How a telework or flexible work-hours program benefits your business’ bottom line *What other local business leaders have done to implement programs *About WorkSmart’s FREE consulting services for developing or expanding teleworking and flexible hours

Guide: 2016 Commute Trip Reduction Law

General information sheet on CTR Law and Requirements

Webinar: 2016 Program Report and Summary

Do you have questions about the requirements for your biennial CTR Program Report and Summary? This training is for you! During this seminar we’ll cover the basics of the CTR Program Report, the CTR Program Summary and share best practices on how to get the most out of these essential tools.

ORCA Business Passport

Webinar: ORCA 101

An informative one hour webinar on ORCA, the region’s all inclusive transit pass. ORCA 101 covers all the transit options available to you and your employees through the ORCA card system. Learn the difference between personal ORCA, ORCA Choice and ORCA Passport accounts. See if you are taking full advantage of the cost saving benefits of your transportation subsidies. Form commuter programs to help employees create transit routes to and from work. Learn how to stay informed on transit changes in our region.

employer transportation benefits

Report: 2016 Seattle Employer Transportation Benefits

The research aims to show the type of commute benefits employers offer in Downtown Seattle and in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as identify barriers and opportunities for ORCA Business Passport services in the future.

Toolkit: 2016 New ETCs

Commute solutions for Downtown Seattle Employers

Press Release: Bike Friendly Business Network

taxes and transportation

Guide: 2016 Tax Free Transportation

Use this guide to take advantage of commuter benefit programs, save on federal and state taxes, increase employee spending power, and make commuting to work more affordable, convenient and sustainable.

Commute Seattle Property Toolkit

Toolkit: 2016 Property Manager

Commute Seattle, The Downtown Seattle Association, and The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Seattle King County are pleased to offer you a toolkit providing a one-stop resource for sustainable transportation products, services, and incentives in Downtown Seattle.

bike counter

Video: 2nd Avenue Bike Counter Display

Watch a short video documenting the unveiling of Commute Seattle's donation to the City of Seattle and people who ride bikes.

bike everywhere

Webinar: Bike Commuting 101

Get great information on urban riding techniques, staying dry in wet weather, picking a safe route, gearing up for safety and more!

Press Release: 2016 Bikes and Bagels

Bikes and Bagels is a Commute Seattle tradition. Each year we celebrate Bike Month with a fun event thanking Seattle bike commuters with bagels and coffee.

bike counter

Press Release: 2016 2nd Avenue Bike Counter Display

Find out more about Commute Seattle's donation of the 2nd Avenue bike counter display.

commute Seattle bike fix it stand

Press Release: 2013 Bike Fix It Stand

Find out more about Commute Seattle's donation of a public fix it stand at McGraw Square.

Press Release: 2014 Mode Split

light up your ride

Press Release: 2015 Light Up Your Ride

Light Up Your Ride is an annual event to promote bicycle safety through education on bike lights, safety gear and more!

taxes and transportation

Webinar: Taxes and Transportation

Learn how employers and commuters can take advantage of commuter benefit programs to save on federal and state taxes, increase employee spending power, and make commuting to work more affordable, convenient and sustainable.

Map: ST3 Draft Plan

Map of ST3 draft proposal

transportation options in Seattle

PPT: 2016 Seattle Transportation Options

A comprehensive presentation of Seattle transportation options

Poster: 2014 Mode Split

Logo: Commute Seattle

Full color high res

bike parking evans school

Report: Improving Long Term Bicycle Parking In Seattle

Student report identifying opportunities to improve access to secured bike parking Downtown

2015 Bicycle Parking Inventory

Poster: 2015 Bike Inventory

Infographic on how Downtown building's bike infrastructure has changed

employer bike summit

Report: 2015 Bike Amenity Inventory

2015 Commercial Bike Amenity Inventory

2014 Mode Split Study

A report on Downtown Seattle commute trends