CCTA offers business- and employee-friendly commuter program

first_imgBrutal economic times spur resourcefulness and innovation, two attributes that aptly describe Smart Business, a new commuting program from the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) that delivers savings incentives to savvy employers and their employees.Through the Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21), the federal government provides financial incentives to encourage more workers to commute with public transportation, through programs like Smart Business.The program is convenient and easy to administer. Participating businesses purchase monthly “Smart Passes” for use on CCTA’s local buses and LINK Express regional commuter buses. The employer enjoys flexibility in how much of the benefit to pay for, and how to distribute the passes and administer the program. The Smart Pass can be on hand and available any time an employee wishes to take advantage of public transportation. It can be offered formally as a fully-paid benefit or as a pre-tax transportation, or shared-cost, benefit.“This program is a perfect fit for any manager who wants to retain quality employees,” said CCTA General Manager Chris Cole. “It saves employees real money at a time when every dollar counts and provides business with a tool to recruit and retain employees. “When subsidized commuting costs are offered as a perk, employees and employers reap the rewards. Employees realize a greater real dollar value for their hard work by circumventing the state and federal payroll taxes that come with a traditional raise. They eliminate parking fees or worse yet, regular trips to feed a meter, as well as the hassle of parking a great distance from their workplace. They needn’t budget for unforeseen spikes in gas prices, a concern that drives many quality employees to consider taking a job closer to home. Smart Business provides a reliable, stress-free ride and an opportunity to support global green initiatives, an important factor for many participants.“Smart Business was a factor in my taking the job,” said Chaim Rochester a Burlington commuter who splits his transportation expense with his employer Healthy Living.“The bus is my ride to work and it’s a consistent one, getting me to work regardless of the worst winter weather. Taking the bus saves me from paying all the fees associated with a car.”The amount of money employees can save with Smart Business depends upon their current commuting costs — the longer the commute, the more they’ll save. John Fairbanks at Vermont Housing Finance Agency commutes 400 miles a week from his home in Montpelier. Calling himself “a huge fan,” Fairbanks says “I get up a little earlier in the morning but that’s a trifle weighed against the convenience and savings.” Using the fuel calculator featured on the CCTA website (CCTAride.org) it is estimated that Fairbanks realizes an annual savings of more than $2,000. On average, workers spend thousands of dollars a year driving to work each day in a single-occupancy vehicle.A hidden benefit of Smart Business is Sure Ride, a reassuring safety net for Smart Pass holders who experience unexpected overtime, illness or a personal emergency. CCTA will cover cab fare for up to $25 per ride, up to four times a year without a lot of red tape. Pre-approval isn’t required, just a receipt.Employers find enrollment in Smart Business, well, a smart business decision. Apart from all the tax benefits, Smart Business is a great morale booster and recruitment tool that widens the pool of potential quality professionals and provides added value to employment contracts. Partnering with the Smart Business program broadcasts the message that the company cares about its employees and its carbon footprint, a bold statement that increases employee and customer loyalty. Smart Business distinguishes a company in a competitive marketplace. ##last_img

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