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What if you could add a benefit for your employees and save the company money at the same time?

Ever hear of Commuter Choice?  As defined by the Federal Transit Administration:

Commuter Choice is a provision of the Internal Revenue Code [(26 USC 132(f)] that permits an employer to pay for an employee’s cost of commuting to work, in other than a single occupancy vehicle.  

Commuter Choice currently allows employers to offer their employees a tax free fringe benefit of up to $230 per month if they ride transit or a vanpool to get to work. 

The program is designed to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, and conserve energy by encouraging employees to commute by means other than single occupancy motor vehicles.

Like you, most employers today are faced with the spiraling costs of doing business, and yet still want to provide incentives to keep valued employees.  Commuter Choice could be a way to save the company some money and reward your employees at the same time.  Calculate the benefits for your company by visiting the employer savings calculators found here.

Learn more about Commuter Choice benefits on the CommuteInfo website:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/emp_why_choice.shtml

Street Smarts – Tips for Safe Commuting

Street Smarts - Tips For Safe Commuting Brochure CoverStreet Smarts is an educational campaign to provide safety information to commuters.  As part of the campaign, CommuteInfo staff helped produce and distribute information cards promoting safe commuting by bike, car, and by walking.  Under the tagline “Don’t Be a Road Zombie” each card emphasizes simple steps, and common-sense tips, that anyone can take to make commuting safer, no matter how they travel.

Check out all three commuter safety cards on-line:

Please help CommuteInfo promote safe commuting.  Follow the safety tips.  Let your employees, co-workers, family and friends know about the Street Smarts campaign and encourage them to take steps to be a safe commuter.  Don’t be a Road Zombie.  The consequences of becoming one can be life changing.

First 2010 CommuteInfo Webinar Scheduled

Webinars!The CommuteInfo program hosts webinars on commuting alternatives, employer transportation programs and other related topics.   All of the CommuteInfo webinar sessions are held from Noon – 1 PM on the date specified.

There is no cost to attend, all you have to do is sign up and get the log-in information.  

The first webinar of the year will be held on Thursday, March 4th.  The topic will be transportation demand efforts employed by the University of Pittsburgh to encourage their employees and students to take transit, vanpool, carpool or bike to campus.

Learn more about the CommuteInfo webinars and register on-line at: http://www.commuteinfo.org/comm_webinar.shtml

Emergency Ride Home

“I would like to try carpooling, but what if there is an emergency and I need to get home?”  This is a common question CommuteInfo staff hear from commuters and may be a question you have been asked when promoting commuting alternatives to your employees.

Life PreserverThe CommuteInfo Emergency Ride Home (ERH) service is designed to provide a contingency option for registered commuters participating in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool in the event of an unexpected personal or family emergency, personal illness, unscheduled overtime, or other eligible event. 

The CommuteInfo ERH service is available to commuters who are registered with the CommuteInfo program and participate in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool (how can you register?).

The CommuteInfo regional ERH service supplements, not replaces other existing more localized ERH programs (offered through individual businesses or Transportation Management Associations).

What happens if an eligible commuter needs an Emergency Ride Home?
The commuter simply makes arrangements to get themselves home. To qualify for reimbursement the commuter must be registered with CommuteInfo, participate in a registered vanpool, carpool or bikepool and ride in the bikepool, carpool or vanpool the day the ERH is needed.  The reason for the ERH must also fall within the program guidelines).

The commuter can check the list of suggested resources for help in identifying a provider, but the commuter can also choose a provider not on the list. The commuter then arranges for a ride, pays and gets a receipt. Then, within 30 days of the ride, submits the refund application and receipt to CommuteInfo for processing.

Will the eligible commuter be reimbursed for all of their costs?
The maximum number of trips that will be reimbursed annually is 4 per registered commuter or up to a total of $100 worth of trips (annually).

This program operates on a calendar year. Every January all participants must re-register and then start over with the 4 rides and the $100 limit (unused rides and/or reimbursements will not be carried over from year to year).

Learn more by clicking here or by calling the CommuteInfo staff at 1-888-819-6110.

CommuteInfo and Pittsburgh Pirates Offer a Triple Play Deal

As a thank you to current CommuteInfo participants and as a way to reach potential new employers, the CommuteInfo program has partnered with the Pittsburgh Pirates to Offer a “Triple Play” discount to games the weekend of May 7 – 9.  Take advantage of the discounted tickets and promotional items and stop by the CommuteInfo table at the game the night of Saturday, May 8th to let us know you are there!  Click here to learn more about the “Triple Play” offer.

Transportation 101 – Upcoming Sessions

What is transportation101?  It’s a half-day training course designed for human services professionals.  Through a “train the trainer” model, Transportation 101 teaches participants what transportation options are available—and how to use them.  As a regional employer, please help get the word out about this opportunity by passing along this information to your co-workers and colleagues who may be interested in attending these 1/2 day training sessions.

The next sessions of Transportation 101 will be held:

  • Mid Mon Valley area (March 17th)
  • Butler County (April 13th)
  • Allegheny County (date not yet set)

Registration is free, but you must preregister for this event:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/emp_101.shtml.  Contact CommuteInfo staff by emailing CommuteInfo@spcregion.org to learn more.

Commuting Options: Information & Resources

Transit

Port Authority of Allegheny County riders soon will experience a few significant changes

 New fareboxes are being installed on all Port Authority bus and light rail vehicles.   The new fareboxes will be installed over several months and replace the older and unreliable boxes now being used.  The new fareboxes behave much like modern vending machines – crisper bills work better!

The machines also will allow the Authority to later use smart card technology – something everyone will hear more about through the next two years.

Starting April 4, the first phase of route changes shaped through the Transit Development Plan will occur.   Employers with questions should review the information available online.

Specific details about the changes will be available on Port Authority’s Web site (www.portauthority.org) starting in mid-February.  Employers may receive email notifications of upcoming route changes by signing up on the Authority’s site.

More changes will be phased in throughout the year and be well-publicized ahead of time.

This is the first significant improvement to Port Authority’s route system in about 50 years. It is intended to make the system more convenient, efficient and easier to understand.

Most routes will change in some manner and route names are being simplified. Overall, the number of weekday bus trips will increase by 6 percent even though underused and overlapping routes will be consolidated.

To learn more about transit, visit the “Transit” page on the CommuteInfo website:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/comm_options_transit.shtml

Vanpooling

Vanpool Groups Looking for Riders

Several vanpool groups have seats available.  You can view the entire list of vanpool groups by clicking here.  The groups with the highest number of seats available are:

Origin: Pittsburgh (Group V502)
Destination: Boyers
Time Arriving at Work: 7 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 3:30 p.m.

Origin: Weirton (Group V140)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 7:20 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:05 p.m.

Origin: White Oak (Group V206)
Destination: Oakland
Time Arriving at Work: 8:10 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:05 p.m.

Origin: Mt. Pleasant (Group V126)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 7:40 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:10 p.m.

If your employees are interested in obtaining a complete list of vanpool groups that match their particular commute, encourage them to fill out a commuter profile www.commuteinfo.org or by calling 1-888-819-6110.  Your employees can join a vanpool group on either a full-time or part-time basis.   Learn more about the vanpool program on the CommuteInfo website

Carpooling

Carpool Groups Looking for Riders

Several registered carpool groups have seats available…this is just a sample, for a complete listing of carpools looking for riders, please click here:

Origin: Irwin (CLAWR)
Destination: Lawrenceville
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:30 p.m.

Origin: West Newton (CD052)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:30 p.m.

Origin: Conneaut Lake (C1245)
Destination: Oakland
Time Arriving at Work: 7:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 4:35 p.m.

If your employees are interested in obtaining a complete list of carpool groups that match their particular commute, encourage them to fill out a commuter profile today by visiting the CommuteInfo website at www.commuteinfo.org or by calling 1-888-819-6110.  Your employees can join a carpool group on either a full-time or part-time basis.   Learn more about the carpool program on the CommuteInfo website

Bicycling

Bike Commuters … Looking for Someone to Share Your Biking Commute

Are you or your employees considering riding a bike to work?  CommuteInfo can help find a bikepool buddy.  The process works the same way as finding someone to carpool with --- just complete a commuter profile by visiting the CommuteInfo website at www.commuteinfo.org or by calling 1-888-819-6110 and we will send a matchlist with other people interested in biking to work. 

Several registered bikepool groups are looking for participants…for the most up to date listing of bikepools looking for participants, please click here:

Origin: Highland Park/East Liberty (Group A)
Destination: Southside
Time Arriving at Work: 8:30 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:00 p.m.

Origin: Squirrel Hill (Group B)
Destination: Downtown Pittsburgh
Time Arriving at Work: 8:30 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 5:00 p.m.

Origin: Squirrel Hill (Group C)
Destination: North Side
Time Arriving at Work: 8:00 a.m.
Time Leaving for Home: 7:00 p.m.

Other Options

To learn more about walking, teleworking, flextime or compressed work weeks, visit the “Other Options” page on the CommuteInfo website:  http://www.commuteinfo.org/comm_options_other.shtml

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CI LogoPlease send community events or speaking opportunities where the CommuteInfo staff and partners can present information about commuting options and learn about local commuting challenges of residents and businesses in your area. 

Also, send your story ideas for this e-newsletter – email your ideas today!

The CommuteInfo program is dedicated to increasing the number of people who share a ride work or school.  The goal is for commuters living, working or attending school within the 10-county Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission region (including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) to choose ridesharing at least twice a week by providing them with viable options, incentives and encouragement.  CommuteInfo is also an information clearinghouse and resource center for commuters and employers.   

With approximately 60% of the Southwestern Pennsylvania region's 1.5 million workers traveling outside of their resident municipality to work each day, finding a better way to work is clearly an integral part of life for the region’s employers and workers. 

CommuteInfo is a program of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), coordinated in partnership with transportation management associations, transportation providers, businesses and non-profit service organizations throughout Southwestern PA. 

Check out previous e-newsletter editions by clicking here

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Thanks again for your interest in commuting alternatives and CommuteInfo . . . a better way to work.