Employee Transportation Benefits in High Transit Mode Share Areas: University Case Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - capacity, infrastructure - vehicle, policy - parking, economics - benefits, mode - mass transit


Transit, Subsidies, SOVs, Single occupant vehicles, Public transit, Passes (Transportation), Parking capacity, Parking, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mass transit, Local transit, Fringe benefits, Employers, Employees, Employee benefits, Cost control, College students, Case studies, Campus transportation


Employers large and small in urban areas are beset by steadily increasing costs of providing heavily subsidized parking for their employees. Motivated by this problem and by creating a more sustainable policy for their institution, a group of graduate students and faculty participated in a special studies course during the spring 2007 semester at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The resulting proposal is currently under consideration by MIT’s administration to help control costs for the university and increase the use of public transportation to campus. This paper first reviews previous research into group transit purchase programs. In these programs employers become the purchasing agent for transit passes for all their employees. Rather than paying the full cost of a pass for each employee, they pay on the basis of current transit usage at the work site. Traditionally, these programs have been implemented in low transit mode share areas. In higher transit mode share contexts, the motivations for employees and employers to participate are substantially altered. Different variations on these programs are explored before arriving at what is being called a mobility pass, which combines the parking and transit benefits programs offered by many employers into a single program. The class proposed that a mobility pass be implemented for MIT. It is predicted that this will result in significant reduction in single-occupancy vehicle mode share and a more sound financial footing for the university with respect to its growing transportation benefit subsidy. It is concluded that a program with a phased design would help control the university’s costs in the long run and reduce the cost of more than 80% of students’ and employees’ commutes. The type of phasing that is required to implement these programs is also examined. Although these issues are explored in a university context, it is believed that the conclusions reached apply broadly to other organizations and their employees.