The Washington Metropolitan area has the third longest commute in the country. With long-term forecasts projecting only a small increase in highway capacity, employers are making significant voluntary strides to alleviate the strain. For the past six years, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has been honoring local businesses for initiating and promoting alternative commuter programs. At a ceremony held at the National Press Club, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc., QED Consulting, LLC, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, all received COG’s 2003 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards for outstanding marketing, incentives, and telework programs.
"We salute these companies because they understand that changes in commuting behavior can improve quality of life and improve air quality and traffic flow for the entire region,” said Peter Shapiro, Chair of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. “Their actions serve as examples to other businesses who wish to create a “smarter way to work” for their most valuable asset – their employees,” Shapiro, who is also chairman of the Prince George’s County Council.
Recipients were evaluated on three criteria: benefits to employers and employees; economic and financial benefits, such as reducing commuter costs and improving the business climate; and, reduction of gasoline consumption and emissions.
"In recognizing the achievements of today’s winners we celebrate the partnership between Commuter Connections and employers who endeavor to strike the balance between the environment, regional transportation, and their employees’ quality of life.” We received an impressive number of nominations this year,” said Ronald Mitchell, chair of Commuter Connections. "Although we honor only a few outstanding employers each year, all are to be commended for doing their part to improve the quality of life for their employees and the entire region." We also salute the employers on the 2003 list of Greater Washington D.C. Region’s Best Workplaces for Commuters.
Commuter Connections is a network of area transportation organizations coordinated by COG, working toward easing citizens’ daily commutes and reducing vehicle emissions. COG is the association of 18 local governments working together for a better metropolitan region.
Brief descriptions of the award winners follow.
Winners by Category:
Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
This private, employee-owned company sponsors annual transportation fairs to continually educate staff on alternative commuting methods. The program has proven a great recruiting tool and is promoted in new employee orientations. Their intranet site is linked to area alternative commuting information.
Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.’s (SSS), September 2001 consolidation of three offices into one downtown Silver Spring site proved to be a springboard for their transit benefits program. They initiated a Super FareShare program and the number of employees enrolled in their pre-tax Metrochek program grew from 10 to 63. Today, about 31% participate.
For having the most registered participants in their local 2002 Bike to Work Day event, SSS won a lifetime membership to the Flex Car Program. They promote Guaranteed Ride Home registration, advertise Ozone Alerts, and have an emergency vehicle on site. They offer flextime and telework options, with seven employees who telework full-time and a dozen more who telework at least once a week. They provide secure bike racks and showers, and four employees regularly cycle and four walk.
The program has reduced the number of vehicle miles driven by an estimated 884,000 miles per year.
(301) 628- 3024
QED Consulting, LLC
QED Consulting, a private corporation with 44 employees at its Arlington, VA, location, initiated its transportation benefits program in May 1999, with two employees participating. Today, that number has grown to fourteen. Eight take transit, one teleworks full-time, and five are members of two carpools.
QED issues laptops to all employees, making telework an easy commuting option. It is located within walking distance of a Metro station and offers its employees subsidized Metrocheks up to $100 per month. Their easy Metro access helps them recruit talent and makes it easy for employees to visit clients’ sites around the region. They offer preferred parking for carpools and showers for those who walk, jog, or bike.
QED is designated as a Greater Washington DC Region’s Best Workplaces for Commuters an EPA national program which recognizes employers with exemplary commuter benefits programs.
(703) 525-5333 x1125
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), a federal agency that monitors the IRS’s programs and operations, initiated a pilot telework program, Virtual Resource Solution (VRS), in August 2000 and rolled it out agency-wide in October 2001.
Currently, 35% of TIGTA’s 950 employees at 78 sites nationwide telework two or more days a week. Of 227 employees at five sites in the DC area, 125 (55%) telework at least episodically, with an estimated average of at least once a week. That means an estimated reduction in DC-area vehicle miles of 5,070 miles per week, or 253,500 miles per year.
TIGTA has replaced all desktop computers with dockable laptops with a secure dial-in network. They subsidize Internet and telephone costs and provide equipment for those who telework at least twice a week. By using flexible office space, TIGTA expects reductions in space and overhead costs to far outweigh the costs of the program.