Washington, D.C. – Three companies in metropolitan Washington – the CoStar Group, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, and Booz Allen Hamilton – were honored today at the National Press Club by Commuter Connections for providing outstanding commuting options and alternatives for employees.
Commuter Connections, a program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) focuses on making alternatives to drive-alone commuting practical and attractive.
Each of the companies voluntarily implemented strategies to support alternatives to driving to work alone, such as carpooling/vanpooling, teleworking, walking, bicycling and taking public transit. Such alternatives help reduce gasoline consumption, ease traffic congestion and the stress that long commutes place on employees, and provide for cleaner air through reduced auto emissions.
“The employers we are honoring today demonstrate a concern about the quality of life for their employees and the region. We hope that through their example, other employers will embrace similar practices,” said Todd Turner, TPB Chair and Bowie City Councilmember. “On behalf of the Transportation Planning Board, I congratulate the winners of the 2012 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Awards and thank them for their continued commitment to excellence by helping to reduce traffic congestion and improve the air we breathe.”
The CoStar Group, which is based in the Washington, DC, was awarded the Incentives Award for the development of its 10-point commuter assistance program that was launched alongside the company’s move from Bethesda, MD to its new, Gold LEED-certified building on L Street in the District.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, which is based in Frederick, MD, won the Marketing Award for developing a creative twist on the traditional transportation fair. The campaign, “More Parks, Less Parking”, delivered the message that fewer parking spots can help increase green space and beautify the workplace.
Booz Allen Hamilton, which is based in McLean VA, was awarded the Telework Award for its “Way We Work” (WWW) program designed to improve employee commutes, reduce traffic congestion, and lower the company’s overall carbon footprint through a program that allows area employees to work at office centers closest to their homes.
More detailed explanations of the winning organizations are provided below.
Commuter Connections works closely with local businesses to educate and promote alternatives to drive alone commuting practices of employees. With free assistance from Commuter Connections, employers can offer a wide array of commuting options from transit subsidies or pre-tax benefits to telework and ridesharing programs. Commuter Connections also manages the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides peace of mind for commuters using alternatives to driving alone by providing a free ride home in the event of an emergency. In addition they offer the ‘Pool Rewards incentive program which provides up to $130 in cash to drive alone commuters who start or join new carpools.
2012 Commuter Connections Employer Recognition Award winners*:
- The CoStar Group (Incentives Award): CoStar’s relocation from Bethesda, MD to its new, Gold LEED-certified building on L Street in D.C., was the catalyst for the development of its 10-point commuter assistance program. Initiated in October 2010, CoStar’s commuter assistance program has remained in place to improve employees’ commutes, reduce staff reliance on driving alone and reduce CoStar’s carbon footprint. Commuter assistance incentives include: a subsidy to cover the cost of each eligible employee’s commute via public transportation equal to the maximum amount allowable by the IRS;; free parking for carpoolers; free employee shuttle service to and from Metro Center; guard-monitored bike racks; shower facilities, lockers and fresh towels; a fleet of loaner bicycles, and Segways and a Segway safety training class, all at no cost to employees.
CoStar also offered a company-wide relocation benefit for employees moving to the DC office. The $14,000 relocation package required that employees become DC residents. For employees who were not able to relocate and who were incurring a longer commute, CoStar gave away Apple iPads to distance commuters who enrolled in the transit benefit. During its relocation, the company provided $792,000 in relocation assistance to 59 employees who moved to DC. Staff response to the ongoing commuter assistance program has been outstanding and as a result, 85% of CoStar’s workforce uses public transportation (up from 49% in 2010). The company estimates employees receive an average of $1,800 per year in commuter assistance benefits. Of its more than 557 employees, approximately 500 take advantage of the commuter assistance incentives, traveling 4.8 million fewer vehicle miles and saving 242,000 gallons of gasoline per year.
- Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (Marketing Award): Wells Fargo Home Mortgage promoted employee carpooling and vanpooling with a company-developed marketing campaign that offered a highly creative twist on the traditional transportation fair. The campaign, “More Parks, Less Parking”, delivered the message that fewer parking spots can help increase green space and beautify the workplace. Centerpiece to a company-wide special event was a parking space turned into a park for a day. Fresh grass and a park bench were installed within the painted boundaries of a parking space, with a “More Parks-Less Parking” sign to attract attention. Transportation alternative service providers attended to explain their services and calculate the benefits to employees, including vRide, who showcased a commuter van to build interest in vanpooling. Employees learned how to join or start a vanpool from TransIT’s Vanpool Incentive Program, and received information on bus service, carpooling, Commuter Connections’ ‘Pool Rewards program and WageWorks’ transportation subsidies. Flyers and emails encouraged employees to visit the “park” at lunch, play a game of horseshoes and enjoy free snacks. The “More Parks, Less Parking” event drew nearly 200 employees who were encouraged to sign a pledge to try alternatives to driving alone at least once per week for the next month.
In addition, the campaign encouraged participation in a voluntary survey to identify the transportation options employees used, and help determine future approaches to outreach. Approximately 40% of Wells Fargo’s 1,600 employees responded to the survey with 21% of respondents reporting they use greener ways of getting to and from work instead of driving alone to its suburban office. The survey provided Wells Fargo with the information it needs to build future marketing strategies to make transportation alternatives a viable option for employees and add to its estimated savings of 518,400 vehicle miles traveled and 26,181 gallons of gasoline per year.
- Booz Allen Hamilton (Telework Award): Booz Allen Hamilton implemented its “Way We Work” (WWW) program to improve employee commutes, reduce traffic congestion, and lower the company’s overall carbon footprint through an initiative that realigns Washington area employees to “hoteling” offices closest to their homes. It provides Booz Allen employees the flexibility to work where they need to, when they need to. Hotelers use an online system to reserve office space equipped with phone lines, a keyboard, monitor, network cables and other essential office supplies. Employees also have access to collaborative meeting space, a centralized Managed Print System, and full suite of technology tools to stay connected to each other, such as company-owned laptop computers and a telephone system that can be accessed from home, cell or office phones.
Since WWW’s inception, Booz Allen’s headquarters at the Tysons McLean campus has been reduced from five buildings to three as employees have been realigned to offices closest to where they live. Hoteling resources such as training programs aimed at managers and staff who work in a dispersed environment are regularly available to employees. Booz Allen employees are also eligible for flexible work schedules, compressed work weeks, and job sharing. An internal website showcases commuter options offered through Commuter Connections and the WageWorks monthly pre-tax commuter benefit transit subsidy program. A free daily shuttle to and from the West Falls Church Metro station and between two work locations further reduces the need for vehicles. Employees are encouraged to bike to work, with bike racks, storage lockers and showers available in most locations. Onsite fitness centers are available at many local offices, allowing employees to exercise before or after work and avoid peak commuting hours. With 14,500 employees at 22 worksites throughout the Washington Metropolitan region, approximately 80 percent of Booz Allen’s employees telework. Booz Allen estimates that 1,155 fewer employees travel to McLean each day; saving 5,303,760 employee vehicle miles traveled and 267,866 gallons of gasoline per year.
*Photos available upon request.