Commuter Benefits

Letter to Gov. Spitzer (in Adobe)

Text of Proposal          (in Adobe)

 

February 25, 2007

Honorable Eliot Spitzer

Governor of New York State

New York State Executive Chamber

State Capitol

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.

Sincerely,

Terry Tyoe

Division Leader

NYSDEC PEF/encon

Attachment (see below)

cc: Judith Enck

PEF/encon Stewards Council

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PEF/EnCon Commuter Benefits Proposal

 Objective:

 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.

Proposal:

 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.

Justification:

 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.

 

 

 

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Last Updated on February 28, 2007