Xpress knows that it can be tough to navigate and promote the region’s commute options—so we are doing the work for you!

We have provided resources that employers can use to begin a formal or informal alternative commuting program.

We have broken down how to create an alternative commutes program into these six easy steps:
1. Gaining Management Support
2. Incentivize Participation
3. Launch Your Program
4. Promote Your Program
5. Plan a Commute
6. Measure Your Program

In each step, you’ll find free articles, templates, and information about metro Atlanta’s commute options so that you can effectively promote alternative transportation to your employees.

Have questions about promoting alternative transportation in your work place? Email Tali Jackson directly so we can help you build a customized program for your company.

Need Help?
Email [email protected] to receive a custom plan for your business.

Support from your management team is critical to the success of your alternative commutes program. Without adequate backing and staffing, the program is unlikely to succeed. It will be important for your company’s management team to understand all the major impacts a commute alternatives program might have on your company.

Here are some general tips to help you secure support. Every office or building is organized differently, so you may need to modify these ideas to make them work for you.

Get your foot in the right door. Meeting with the right people is essential, but in large offices or buildings this is not always easy. Determine which decision makers need to support your program. Who has the ability to make decisions about employee benefits and purchasing? Often it’s someone on the senior management team; possibly HR Manager.

Set up a meeting and make a convincing presentation. Managers often are pressed for time. Make your presentation clear, concise, factual, and persuasive. Use maps that illustrate the issues and the opportunities. Select images that represent problems. Focus on the positive benefits that will accrue to your company and/or building if the project is pursued.

Some of the items to include in your proposal to your management team are:
• Estimated start-up and routine or monthly costs
• Potential cost savings
• Potential benefits to employees, the office, and the community
• Potential costs that might be incurred if the program is not implemented
• Internal administrative process of buying passes

Explain what similar businesses or companies are doing or plan to do. Do any of your competitors or peers already have established alternative commute programs? Have any of them received awards or recognition for their efforts? Does the trade or professional organization you belong to have an environmental policy or program? Emphasize public relations/marketing gains that your company or your building may receive as a result of implementing alternative commute programs.

Highlight the potential benefits from the program. Alternative commute programs can save companies money on parking and even lower their tax burden. By allowing employees to use pre-tax dollars to purchase their transit passes, companies are effectually passing along a pay raise to their employees taking transit. Connecting to transit helps widen the net to attract top talent not willing to drive for an hour just to get to work. Although more difficult to quantify, there are also less tangible benefits – such as improved morale and satisfaction among employees– that may result in lower turnover rates.

Try to anticipate concerns. From your initial research, try to determine what issues or concerns management and your fellow employees and tenants might have and address them in your presentation. Common questions include: Who on staff would manage the program and how will you spread the word?

Begin with a pilot program. Ask to set up a temporary program. Many managers are willing to try something new for a limited period of time, especially if it might save money or generate positive publicity.

Designing a program to fit your company’s and employee’s needs is critical to the success of your alternative commute program. Companies around the metro Atlanta region are helping their employees save up to 30% on their transit passes, without spending a dime.

Providing an alternative commutes program can be a win-win for both your company’s bottom line and your employee’s wallet. Most companies we work with choose to support their employees alternative commutes in one of these two ways:

The first is to directly subsidize transit passes. This can be done with a company reimbursing employees that have independently purchased transit passes or by the employer purchasing transit passes and then giving away or selling the passes at a discount to their employees. Companies that use this model tend to have high participation rates and are able to effectively use their program as a recruitment tool for new employees.

The second method is allow your employees to purchase their passes using pre-tax dollars. Just like other fringe benefits that your company facilitates, transit passes are eligible to be purchased using pre-tax dollars. For 2016, the IRS has announced that up to $250 of your monthly transit passes can now be deducted in the same way. This method is growing in popularity with many companies through out the region because it allows employees to save as much as 30% on their transit passes without the company directly subsidizing the cost. Your company’s bottom line also benefits since transit passes would be paid out of an employee’s gross income and aren’t taxable, your company wouldn’t pay payroll taxes on the money use to purchase the transit passes. This can result in significant savings for both the employee and employer.

You can purchase passes for you employees in a couple of ways.

1. Purchase directly from the transit provider. Breeze Cards are available for sale in our online store. MARTA, CCT and GCT passes would have to be purchased though their respective agencies.

2. Purchase all passes through your local Transportation Management Association (TMA). Many of metro-Atlanta’s TMAs offer one-stop transit pass shopping for companies located in within their geographic boundaries. Find your TMA here.

Want to learn more? Check out these official sources:

Once your company’s leadership has signed on your alternative commutes program, it is time to let all of your co-workers know about the new benefit your company is providing. Each person in your company has a unique commute so getting each one the right information can be intimidating. Where to start?

We’ve found that one of the most helpful first steps in getting employees out of their cars is to identify which employees are currently using commute alternatives or are open to the idea of exploring commute options.

Armed with this information you’ll:
• Get a sense of the scale and scope of your initiative.
• Identify transit-taking employees who will be eager to help you spread the word by providing testimonials and becoming a peer teacher.
• Develop a targeted list of employees that are open (and probably eager!) to trying out something new if it’ll get them out of traffic. By providing these co-workers with information specific to their commute, you can achieve some easy, early wins for your program.
• Ascertain persuasive and supportive data about the program to present to your management team.
• Build an accurate baseline measurement from which you can measure your program’s success.

To assist you in collecting these crucial data points, we’ve created some templates to get you started. First is a kick-off letter that can be emailed or delivered to all staff. The letter announces that your company wants to help its employees find relief from the mental and financial toll of their commutes and also prepares employees to take a short survey about their openness to commute alternatives.

Now that you have announced your program, it is time to get people to try to take an alternative commute. After all, your transit program can only be successful if your employees know about it. Don’t miss an opportunity to inform them of the benefits that taking transit can provide.

Here are a variety of ways to spread the word:
• Post signage around the office or on tables in the break room
• Place information in the company newsletter
• Include program information in your new hire packets
• Bring the alternative commute providers by scheduling a transportation fair or lunch and learn by contacting Xpress or your TMA
• Mention the benefits at staff meetings and ask current commuter to share their thoughts on their alternative commute

Try offering incentives to your employees. It doesn’t take much money to capture an employee’s attention. Have fun picking out prizes and even ask you co-workers to submit suggestions.

Here are some of our favorites:
• Give prizes to the divisions/floors/companies with the highest participation for a time period (e.g., month, quarter, year). This could be branded items from your company or tickets to a Braves game. Get creative about what your co-workers would enjoy.
• Are your new transit riders saving you money on parking? How about every team member that gives up his or her parking space earns a pizza party for his or her department? It will make her a hero and help spread the word about the program.

One of the most important things is don’t lose momentum. Make sure you continue to educate new and current co-workers about their options and how your company would like to help them.

Everyone’s commute is unique which means that assisting your co-workers in planning their alternative commute can be challenging.

To help commuters determine if Xpress is a fit for their commute, we have developed four resources that can be of assistance.

1. An easy-to-print or email handout, customized to your location. This one-sheet handout provides a great introduction to Xpress, including a brief overview of Xpress and a system map showing all of our routes. In addition to a general version that can work for employers anywhere in the metro region, we also have versions customized for Midtown and Downtown employers. We highly recommend including this in new hire packets and passing out at staff meetings.

2An online guide to beginning an Xpress commute: Our favorite resource is our website’s Discover your New Commute section, where a potential rider answers a few simple questions about their commute and we help determine which routes might work best for them. We’ll walk them through the steps to finding all the information they need about their Xpress route and email them a customized packet of information. And if they need additional help? They’ll have the option to sign up for our free one-on-one New Rider Onboarding service.

3. For employees who have a basic understanding of how Xpress can assist in their commute needs, and just need help planning their commute’s specific times and locations, we’ve worked with Google to create a customized trip planner. A rider can enter their home and work addresses, as well as the time they need to be at work, and Google does the rest!

4. Some riders may need to use multiple transit systems to get to and from work. For those employees, Xpress will help them plan their trip, understand how to transfer, and even buy fares, have your coworker email or call our customer service agents who will be more than happy to help plan a commute. Our agents can be reached Monday through Friday, from 5:30 AM to 8:30 PM at 404-463-4782 or email Customer Service [email protected]

When beginning a commute alternative program, it’s important to measure the impacts and effectiveness of your program. Tracking your progress will help you to make adjustments as needed, encourage ongoing management support, and even receive recognition from outside your organization. To get started, first, decide what you’ll be measuring.

Here are some example we’ve seen companies use:
• Percentage of employees who are registered as alternative commuters (alternative commuters/number of employees)
• Percentage of commutes taken on transit (trips sold/(number of employees*business days))
• Percentage of employees with a parking space (spaces/number of employees)
• Parking lot capacity (spaces filled/spaces available)
• Number of miles avoided (count alternative commuters reported miles)

Decide on the measures that will be most helpful to the success of your program and then determine if you have the resources available to obtain accurate measurements. Perhaps you can talk to another department or send out an annual employee survey to obtain information. It is helpful to capture as much of this information as early as possible so that you have a solid baseline from which you can promote your program’s achievements.

Once you have your commuters on board and are seeing more and more employees getting out of their cars, look for ways to promote your program.

Brief your management team. A successful commute alternative program helps strengthen your entire company—make sure you keep your management team informed.

Seek outside recognition. For instance, Georgia Commute Options hosts an annual awards ceremony recognizing companies that support employees by supporting alternative commutes. Learn more about the awards and application process by clicking here .

Publicize your program’s successes on your company website. A description of your program, paired with high success rates, will get job seekers excited about working for your company.

Seek out media coverage. Look for opportunities to partner with local newspapers or blogs that might be interested in covering your company’s efforts to be a good neighbor and employer.

Finally, contact your partners to see how they can help promote your efforts. Xpress, MARTA, and your local TMA would all be happy to brag about the great work you’re doing!