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Financial motivators are the most effective thing you as an employer can offer your employees to encourage changes in commuting behavior. Thoughtful and strategic subsidies and incentives can bolster your Commute Trip Reduction program and alleviate strain on company resources like parking lots.

Commute subsidies

Commute subsidies are a direct financial benefit the employer provides that lowers employees’ costs of commuting. Examples include:

Subsidized ORCA cards

Provide free or shared-cost transit cards to incentivize commuting by transit.

Pre-tax benefits

Allow employees to use pre-tax income to purchase transit or vanpool passes, or to purchase HOV parking at the jobsite.

HOV parking

Offer discounted or free parking to carpools and vanpools.


Give vouchers or cash to employees who carpool, bike or walk to work.

Commute incentives

Commute incentives are an offer of a reward that can motivate employees to try an alternative commute or avoid driving alone to work. Examples include:

Prize drawings

Employees who change their commute habits are entered in a drawing.

Time and food

Offer paid days off or free lunch for using commute alternatives.


Offer cash bonuses to employees who form new carpools or vanpools.


Run bicycle commute mileage contests or other competitions to incentive staff to try new commute options.

Better commuting through smarter parking

Providing employees with free parking for their private vehicles can be a large company expense and a surprising source of strife if demand outstrips supply. Offering free parking also actively discourages employees from alternative commuting modes. Even charging for parking spaces can end up encouraging people to drive to work more often!

Consider the following strategies for making your jobsite parking support your company’s commuting goals:

Parking cash-out

First calculate your company’s daily per-vehicle parking cost. Then offer employees who drive to work the option of accepting a commensurate cash payout to give up their parking spot. The payouts can be distributed weekly or processed along with payroll.

Daily parking

Charging employees a monthly price for parking creates a sunken cost effect that encourages more driving. If you’ve already paid for parking this month, you are actually more likely to drive because you want to get the most bang for your buck. Shifting to charging for parking by the day discourages driving by making each commute a choice where the employee weighs the cost of parking versus other commute options. This approach frequently encourages positive commuting behavior change.

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