Your Employee Commute Program
By implementing an employee commute program, you’ll encourage transportation alternatives to driving alone — like transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking, biking, teleworking or compressed work weeks. Over seventy local companies are already seeing the positive effects of giving employees commute benefits or otherwise encouraging non-solo commuting with the help of Choose Your Way Bellevue Business Services.
Telework Program Support
Employers who support telework and alternative work schedules benefit from improved retention, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, expanded geographic access to skilled workers and improved continuity in case of emergency. Just ask, and we can help you navigate the new normal of "making telework work" at your worksite. Get information and tips to help you get started on page 20 of our Business Options Toolkit. Find detailed resources, including sample agreement templates and checklists, at King County Metro's employer telework page. You can even find King County's prior expert webinar recordings on telework and hybrid work options in their webinar library.
For a general overview, you can also check out this guide (from Jotform).
Contact Us for Assistance
Have a question about any of the information on this page? Want to get straight to a human being? Businesses can reach us at any time at 425-990-3097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Business Commute Options Toolkit has everything you need to know about setting up your program.
Ready to get started? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:
Step 1: Contact us! Email email@example.com or call 425-990-3097 and our team will ask a few questions to get to know your worksite so we can help you craft a commute program to suit your company’s needs. To get a jump start you can fill out this form and we'll follow up!
Step 2: If possible, designate an employee transportation coordinator to be the point person for managing your program and keeping your employees informed.
Step 3: Use the guidance and resources below to determine which options and services work best for your company and employees:
Set up a Consultation Below
Bike-Friendly Worksite Resources
May is bike month! While many of your employees may be working from home, now is the time to plan for making your worksite more bicycle-friendly upon return-to-office. Check out our resources below.
- The Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals provides information and criteria for consideration regarding about designs, siting and other aspects of employee bike parking in their 2015 publication “Essentials of Bike Parking.”
- Employee bike parking is the focus for numerous bike rack and bike parking system manufacturers.
- To help your employees have their bikes maintained and repaired conveniently while at work, consider engaging with a mobile bike repair service that offers corporate partnerships. You can include full or partial subsidization of maintenance and repair costs as a bicycling incentive.
- Consider making a bike and/or e-bike fleet available to your employees for commuting or trips during the workday. You can partner with a fleet provider to lease bikes for your employees, thus avoiding the need to purchase and maintain your own bike fleet.
- Tap into consultant expertise/platforms for worksite amenities or trip logging campaigns.
- Consider applying for a Choose Your Way Bellevue Mini-Grant up to $8,000 that can support one-time capital purchases and/or an event/campaign to reduce drive-alone trips to your worksite; bicycle-related amenities are eligible. Learn more here.
- Check out this "Future of Bike Commutes" article featuring David Allen of Bikes Make Life Better, about how can employers can support the boom in bicycling due to coronavirus.
One Regional Card for All (ORCA)
Note: Choose Your Way Bellevue is currently offering ORCA rebates and starter cards for employers and property managers! Learn more at our Financial Support page.
ORCA is a transit fare payment system that offers businesses and employees a menu of transportation options. With ORCA, transit riders use the same transit pass on seven regional transit agencies, including Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and the Washington State Ferries. Businesses have two programs to choose from to provide employees with important transportation benefits: Business Passport and Business Choice.
Visit ORCA Business Accounts for information on how to determine the best product for your company. Want personalized support? The Choose Your Way Bellevue team is here to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 425-990-3097.
Accessing Your ORCA Business Account with New ORCA
Now that the new ORCA system has officially launched, it's important to know what exactly has changed and what has stayed the same. For instance, to access your account on the new myorca.com website, you'll need to run through several steps. Check out full details here.
ORCA Business Passport
ORCA Business Passport allows companies with 20 or more employees (5 or more employees for Downtown Bellevue companies) to offer multiple commute options to all their employees for one low price.
What does a Business Passport provide your employees?
- Unlimited rides on six regional transit agencies (King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit and Kitsap Transit)
- Unlimited access to the Sounder Commuter Rail, Link Light Rail and the Seattle streetcar
- 100% monthly subsidy towards a vanpool fare on Metro, Community Transit, Pierce Transit and Kitsap Transit vans
- 100% subsidy toward a Metro Vanshare fare
- Home Free Guarantee – 8 emergency taxi rides home a year
- Passport must be purchased for all full-time employees, but is deeply discounted from retail per-pass pricing.
To recoup some of the expense, participating employers may charge each ORCA card holder a co-pay of up to 50 percent of the annual cost of their pass. Choose Your Way Bellevue is currently offering rebates for new Passport customers of $50 per pass in the first year and $100 per pass in the second year of an ORCA Passport program.
Learn more about Business Passport at the ORCA website, or contact TransManage staff at email@example.com or 425-990-3097 for direct assistance.
ORCA Business Choice
2022 Update: Changes are coming to ORCA Business Choice including deactivation of orcabiz.com website, reduction of ORCA card cost, virtual open house and more.
Business Choice is a flexible “a la carte” option for employers and employees. Businesses can provide ORCA cards to as few or as many commuters as they choose and load each card with a variety of options including a monthly pass (at retail cost), E-purse or E-voucher.
What options are available for Business Choice?
- Monthly transit passes for bus, train, ferry or Metro vanpool.
- E-purses that store value on an ORCA card for employees to pay for travel on a per-trip basis or to purchase a monthly pass.
- E-vouchers that allow an employer to provide a set value that their employees can convert to an e-purse or monthly pass. If the voucher goes unused for 30 days, the value is refunded to your company.
Learn more about Business Choice at the ORCA website, or contact TransManage staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-990-3097 for direct assistance.
Comparing Passport and Choice
Still not sure which product is best for your business? View our helpful ORCA business account comparison.
Tax Benefit Programs
State and federal tax benefits are available to employees to help offset costs incurred for employee commute benefits. Additionally, pre-tax accounts can save employees money on commute and parking expenses, as well as providing tax savings for employees.
Washington State tax benefits
If your company is providing commute trip reduction incentives (whether or not it is affected by the Commute Trip Reduction law), it may be eligible to receive Washington's Commute Trip Reduction Tax Credit.
- Eligible companies and property managers – those paying business and occupation (B&O) or public utilities taxes (PUT) can receive tax credits of up to 50% of the amount paid for each employee's transit, ridesharing, carsharing or non-motorized commuting.
- Up to $100,000 is available for each company and property manager per fiscal year.
- Tax credits have a cap of $60 per employee.
- An application must be submitted between January 1 and January 31, following the calendar year in which the applicant made the commute trip reduction incentive payments. The credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis while each year's funding lasts.
More information is available on the Washington State Department of Revenue's web page.
Federal Tax Benefits
Per the 2018 tax law, employers can still offer their employees a commute benefit free of payroll taxes. Federal tax benefits apply when the employer, or qualified third party, delivers the commute benefit to the employee in the form of a pass, ticket book or voucher.
Depending on who pays for the program, these tax benefits take the form of a tax-free employer-paid subsidy; a pre-tax payroll deduction; or a combination of both.
If the employer pays:
- The employee receives the benefit of the employer-subsidized pass, ticket book or voucher up to $255 each month, tax-free. (When the employer and employee share the cost of the pass, ticket book or voucher, the total combined tax-free and pre-tax amounts may not exceed $255 per month per employee.)
If the employee pays:
- The employer can allow the employee to pay up to $255 (see stipulation in parentheses in bullet above) for all eligible transportation expenses each month through a pre-tax payroll deduction.
- The employee saves federal withholding and FICA payroll taxes on the amount deducted.
- The employer saves paying FICA on the amount deducted.
Tax Benefit Resources
Benefits services firms can handle the administration of pretax programs. Examples of firms that offer such services include:
For additional information, check out King County Metro's Commuter Tax Benefit page. Employers are also highly encouraged to consult a tax advisor for detailed information regarding the tax implications of commute benefits and incentives.