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The Hidden Goldmine of Commuting by Transit

ChamberofCommerce.org provided this guest post: 

  

The average American loses $5,748.05 annually just driving to work every year. With gas prices and parking fees rising, commuting costs are becoming increasingly unmanageable. However, commuting by transit provides a major money-saving alternative for individuals and employers when it comes to the office. 

  

  

Taking transit offers additional advantages beyond the direct cost benefits – from less stress to sustainability perks. Using real-world statistics and examples, this article will break down the financial and quality-of-life upsides of commuting via bus, train, or other public transit options. 

  

Saving Money Commuting By Transit 

  

What exactly constitutes “commuter benefits”? MetLife defines them as a type of fringe benefit offered by some employers to help employees offset the expense of getting to work through public transportation options like buses, trains, ferries, or vanpools. The most common type is pre-tax transit benefits, which allow workers to allocate up to $300 per month of earnings tax-free towards commuting costs. 

  

The savings quickly add up when analyzing the dollar and cents difference between commuting by car and public transit. Studies show that the average car commuter spends thousands per year on gas and parking costs alone. In contrast, a resident with an unlimited annual subway pass spends around $1,000 on transit per year – saving nearly $2,000 annually versus driving. And in cities with extensive public transit 

commuters can save over $9,000 per year compared to those driving their cars. 

  

Money in the Bank for Companies 

  

For employers, facilitating and incentivizing public transit usage for staff commutes also provides financial returns. According to Jawnt, companies can save an average of $234 per employee per year in payroll taxes when offering pre-tax transit benefits. The C40 Knowledge Hub cites research on the substantial savings businesses experience when locating offices near public transit hubs. For example, one San Francisco company saved $50 million over 20 years in capital expenditure and operating costs for parking facilities by situating its headquarters near a Bay Area Rapid Transit station. 

  

For small and mid-sized businesses, reducing commute-related costs through transit incentives means redirecting funds towards other productive areas like hiring, expansion, or improved benefits. A helpful fringe perk like subsidized transit passes can boost employee satisfaction and retention without breaking the bank. 

  

Business Gains From Commuting By Transit 

  

Beyond direct cost savings, commuting via public transportation provides additional benefits for individuals and organizations. 

  

For starters, the ability to relax, work, or even nap (especially with excruciating early commute times) while riding transit results in less stress than dealing with congested roads. And several studies confirm that freedom from driving directly correlates to increased productivity. A report from the University of Utah showed that public transit users can achieve up to 40 additional minutes of working time per day 

based on their commutes. Overall, less commuting leads to a better work-life balance. 

  

The walk to and from transit stops provides daily exercise as well. Medical research indicates that public transit users walk significantly more steps per day than car commuters. And more physical activity correlates to reduced risks for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. 

  

From a recruiting perspective, access to robust public transportation makes cities magnets for attracting young professionals. Surveys demonstrate that most millennials would relocate to a new city if it had high-quality transit options. Retaining employees is also easier with transit commutes. According to the American Public Transportation Association, over 80% of public transit riders are satisfied with their commutes to work. 

  

Sustainability – which matters greatly to today’s workforce – gets a boost, too. According to the Public Transit Voices advocacy group, public transportation produces 95% less carbon emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles. So, transit is good for environmental health and employee attraction/retention. 

  

Time For Businesses To Support Transit 

  

With the immense combined cost savings and other advantages explored, the verdict is clear on embracing public transit for commuting. Forward-looking companies in regions with subpar transit access would be wise to advocate for increased funding and more rapid expansion. Motivating employees to utilize existing transit options through incentives like pre-tax benefits and passes can immediately start producing returns. 

  

Other impactful steps businesses can take include allowing flexible scheduling for transit commuters, promoting transit usage through company communications, moving offices closer to transit hubs when possible, and facilitating transit-oriented development projects. Collective action from regional employers and chambers of commerce holds immense power for realizing positive local change. 

  

Prioritizing commuter transit solutions is a win-win situation, substantially slashing expenses for companies and individuals while providing sustainability, recruiting, and retention gains. Now is the time for Middle Tennessee business leaders to support public transit expansion for the economic and quality lifestyle benefits it promises. 

  

ChamberofCommerce.org provided this guest post to assist small and mid-sized businesses in reducing commuting costs through transit incentives and advocacy. 

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