February 25, 2007
Honorable Eliot Spitzer
Governor of New York State
New York State Executive Chamber
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Spitzer,
The world energy crisis and global warming have the people of New York State
and our country looking to the government to provide leadership to address the energy,
economic and environmental problems we confront. The NYSDEC PEF/encon Steward’s
Council is recommending a plan, based upon the offering of commuter benefits to
employees across the state, as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other
air pollutants; reduce congestion, parking demand and consumption of our ever
tightening supply of oil resources; and to enhance smart growth principles and provide
local economic benefits. We are also working with Senator Breslin on a similar
proposal. Commuter benefits include transit subsidies, telecommuting, compressed
workweek, carpool incentives, flex time and other benefits that reduce vehicle miles
traveled (VMTs) by commuters.
The transportation sector consumes about sixty-six percent of the total amount
of oil used in the state and eighty-seven percent of oil consumed in NYS comes from
foreign countries - we are sending money and jobs out-of-state. Additionally, emissions
from the transportation sector are one of the largest contributors to global warming.
What is missing from most current energy plans is one of the fastest and most effective
strategies to reduce oil consumption in the transportation sector: the offering of
commuter benefits to commuters. In an energy crisis, energy conservation becomes
the primary strategy.
Our plan would offer commuter benefits to all State employees, which would
show leadership by example (several years ago the State of Arizona granted commuter
benefits to all eligible state employees). The plan would also direct state agencies, such
as the DEC and DOT, to encourage private and public employers across our state to
offer commuter benefits to their employees as recommended by the US EPA and US
DOT Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC) program. The BWC program offers
national and regional recognition and technical assistance to any employer who
provides commuter benefits to their employees. Third, the state could offer tax
incentives to encourage employers to offer commuter benefits to their employees.
Offering commuter benefits to employees is one of the fastest and least
expensive methods to reduce VMTs which will not only reduce oil consumption, but also
reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, congestion, parking
demand and consumption of oil resources. There is a drastic need for new ways to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Commuter benefits are very popular with employees
and they result in little, if any, legal challenges or opposition. Additionally, the
disposable income saved on commuting costs would be far better spent, and
economically productive, in the local and state economy. Commuter benefits also
support smart growth strategies. The DEC Bus Subsidy Program, Downtown Albany
BID Commuter Ca$h Program and the Cornell University Comprehensive Transportation
Plan, as well as many employer commuter benefit programs, locally and across the
country, have proven the effectiveness of commuter benefits.
At the national level, President Bush has called upon federal agencies to encourage
their employees to carpool, telecommute and use public transportation. Additionally,
the federal government is emphasizing the importance of telecommuting in regard to
maintaining operations of agencies during an emergency. By making commuter benefits
a priority, NYS would move to the national forefront for innovative leadership in energy
and environmental issue thus demonstrating a real commitment to solving the energy
crisis and global warming.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal further and to
respond to any questions. I may be reached at 315-793-2746 or correspondence may
be sent to my attention at NYS Public Employees Federation Division 169, Room 1404
State Office Building, 207 Genesee Street, Utica, New York 13501.
Attachment (see below)
cc: Judith Enck
PEF/encon Stewards Council
PEF/EnCon Commuter Benefits Proposal
To reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, oil consumption, parking demand and road congestion; to encourage smart growth and provide local economic benefits.
1) The state of New York would offer commuter benefits to all eligible state employees statewide. Commuter benefits include telecommuting, transit subsidies, compressed work week, pre-tax dollars for transit costs, rideshare matching and incentives, flex hours, etc.
2) New York State would actively support and cooperate with the US Environmental Protection Agency=s Best Workplaces for Commuters program which encourages public and private sector employers to offer commuter benefits to their employees.
3) New York State would enact state tax incentives to encourage employers to provide commuter benefits. i.e. Tax incentives for transit use, companies who allow telecommuting, the purchasing of rideshare matching software.
The offering of commuter benefits would surpass former Governor Pataki's "Comprehensive Plan to Cut New York's Dependence on Imported Energy" and provide a new strategy for reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. In an energy crisis, energy conservation becomes the primary strategy. Commuter benefits are the most expedient and effective way to address the energy crisis, especially in the transportation sector. They can help reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions; reduce parking demand, congestion and our dependence on foreign oil; contribute to smart growth planning and provide local economic benefits. The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to global warming and we are in dire need of new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Commuter benefits can be implemented almost immediately, do not face legal or political resistance like laws and regulations, are very popular with voters, and they have been proven to significantly reduce air pollution and fuel consumption. Commuter benefits not only save employees money, they reduce their commute times and stress, increase time at home with their families and, consequently, have a significant positive effect on the quality of their lives.
The DEC Bus Subsidy Program, Downtown Albany BID Commuter Ca$h Program and the Cornell University Comprehensive Transportation Plan reports are available upon request. These reports help document the effectiveness of commuter benefits.
Last Updated on February 28, 2007