City of Austin Leads the Way for Other Large Employers in Central Texas

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Mayor Adler recently said during his State of the City address “I am proud of the commitment our City Manager has made to reduce our transportation footprint as a major downtown employer.” Here is why City Manager Marc Ott is getting high praise.

On April 10th 2015, the City Manager wrote a memo directing all Department Directors to implement strategies that accomplish a 20% reduction in City employees’ commute trips during peak hours. Here are some of the highlights (in our best imitation of Thucydides style “close to what was said or was warranted for the occasion”)

It’s needed One of the most effective ways to tackle traffic congestion is to reduce single occupancy trips during peak hours. We can do this by encouraging alternative travel options, alternative work schedules, or shifting travel out of the peak commuting hours. I have challenged employers to reduce their employees’ single occupancy vehicle trips.

It can be done As one of the city’s largest employers, we need to lead the way to prove this can be done.  Therefore, I am directing Department Directors to reduce employee commute trips during peak hours by 20%. I am phasing in this requirement. We will begin with our employees commuting to and from our central Austin facilities. For this subset of your employees, you need to meet the 20% reduction by the beginning of our next fiscal year – October 1, 2015. A plan to reduce employee peak hour trips by 20% for your remaining employees must be submitted by October 1, 2015 with a goal of achieving those reductions by October 1, 2016.

There are lots of implementation options There are many tools at your disposal, including flexible work schedules, teleworking, free transit passes, reduced cost bike share passes, and numerous ridesharing options. There are also last-mile solutions like Car2Go and Zipcar available for transit riders. I encourage you to avail yourselves of our internal resources in the Austin Transportation Department to help educate your workforce on their options.

It’s about good business, not just altruism. Other than the obvious advantage of reduced travel during congested peak hours, there are benefits to our community and for our employees…reduced pollution, healthier lifestyles, and some personal time back for those who choose to commute via transit. I believe the benefits for our community and our employees far outweigh the short-term adjustment to new behaviors.

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