PARKING COSTS AND CAR COMMUTING COSTS AMOUNT TO BIG BUCKS—WHY EMPLOYERS ARE BEGINNING ENCOURGE EMPLOYEES TO ABANDON THE “FREEDOM” OF DRIVING ALONE TO WORK
With Burlington area employers led by the “troika”, University of Vermont, Fletcher Allen Health Care and Champlain College--now encourage employees to abandon solo driving and, preferably, take the bus, walk, rideshare, and bicycle to work perhaps the cost of a parking space comes into play.
Solo drive commuting still ranges 80-90 percent in much of urban Vermont which means for each solo driver there must be a place to park at the workplace. A surface parking place may cost as little as $3 a day while a parking garage space at $30,000-$40,000 to build each nudge into double digit dollars territory per workday, and underground parking costs really are out of sight. About a quarter million of the 340,000 Vermont workforce still solo drive to work. The Burlington troika through incentives including reduced or no-cost bus support have cut solo driving down to about half their workforce and used incentives to reduce students bringing cars to campus or using them very much when they do.
The daily cost of $3—including maintenance, taxes, construction and debt service—still amounts to 10 cents a mile employer support in the form of a “free” surface parking space for the average Vermont commuter’s one way commute of 15 miles. For the 40 mile one-way commute, the surface space translates to 3.8 cents a mile.
From the cost of driving standpoint, taking public transportation rather than a car amounts to even far larger numbers. The yardstick for operating a car is the yearly federal reimbursement rate for personal use of a car—for 2013 it is 55.5 cents a mile. So, a commute in Vermont—15 miles one way—costs $16.65 a day or $3,330 a year for the typical 200 workdays which take into consideration leave time, vacation, etc. By providing encouragement a worker to get to work other than solo driving helps that worker save up to $3,330 a year. The 40 mile one way commute cost? $44.40 a day, $8,880 yearly. The cost of the 40 mile Montpelier-Burlington Link commuter bus service per day? $8.00. Per year? $1,600. Or to put it another way, a Montpelier-Burlington commuter can reduce commuting costs by over $7,000 a year through riding the Link commuter bus. And, the worker’s employer saves another $600 through avoiding the cost of a dedicated surface parking space for that employee
It is clear why employers and employees share a common interest in getting to work by finding a way to work other than solo driving, once the accepted norm in the now all but forgotten “Chevrolet age.”
NOTE: This analysis does not even address the resource savings (energy, land, etc.) , increased safety as public transit is safer than driving, reduction in congestion costs, etc--all with substantial gains with solo commute abandonment.