Annual Report FY2016

We are proud to announce the release of our annual report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2016. The report can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the image below.

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Please let us know what you think. If you have any comments regarding our annual report, email us at alliance@commute.org or connect on Twitter @SMCountyCommute.

FINAL SBSM-2014-WEB Front Cover

Safe Bicycling in San Mateo County is a popular handbook for new and experienced bicyclists, and is now available in both digital and print formats.

The booklet provides bicyclists tips on riding safely, bicycling to transit, options for bicycle parking and storage, and more. This revised edition offers information on new laws and bicyclists' responsibilities, road etiquette, and important websites including DMV, local transit agencies and bike organizations. Safety tips include the basics on CPSC-rated bike helmets, locking skewers (preferred over cable locks), and being visible day or night. How-to instructions in the booklet advise bicyclists of safer ways to deal with difficult situations and road hazards.

To access the online version of Safe Bicycling in San Mateo County click here. To receive a copy of the print edition by mail, please email your name and mailing address to: alliance"AT"commute.org or call us at (650) 588-8170.

On September 22, 2016, California’s Governor signed into law SB 1128, making permanent a pilot that provides employees in the Bay Area with tax-free transit benefits. Under the program, employers in the Bay Area with at least 50 full-time employees must provide their workers with the option of tax-free transit and vanpool benefits. The original pilot had a sunset date of January 1, 2017. The new legislation removes the sunset clause from the program.

The Air District and MTC jointly developed the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program in response to Senate Bill 1339, which was signed into law by Governor Brown in September 2012. The program is designed to give employers various options for compliance, including simply offering their employees the ability to pay for transit or vanpooling with pre-tax dollars, which can save both employers and employees money through lower taxes. The program was modeled on commuter benefit ordinances established in 2009 in San Francisco, Berkeley and Richmond, as well as at San Francisco International Airport.

Research shows that employees are more likely to consider alternatives to driving alone if they are encouraged by their employer. Employers can reduce vehicle trips to worksites by promoting alternative commute modes, such as transit, carpooling, bicycling, walking and telecommuting. As of August 31, nearly 4,100 employers were enrolled in the program and approximately 1.3 million employees were receiving commuter benefits, primarily via pre-tax dollars. Close to 57 percent of enrolled employers had offered no commuter benefits to their employees prior to the program’s existence.

“MTC is grateful for the legislature and administration’s support of our regional commuter benefits program, the first such program nationwide,” said Randy Rentschler, MTC Director of Legislation and Public Affairs. “This program is a true partnership with employers, recognizing the critical role they can play in helping to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions in our vibrant region. At a time when residents are struggling with ever-growing housing costs, it also plays a key role in lowering transportation costs.”

The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program gives employers the flexibility to offer one or more of the following commuter benefit options to their employees:

  • Option 1: pre-tax benefit - Allow employees to exclude up to $255 of their transit or vanpooling expenses each month from taxable income.
  • Option 2: employer-provided subsidy - Provide a subsidy to reduce or cover employees’ monthly transit or vanpool costs, up to $75 per month.
  • Option 3: employer-provided transit - Provide a free or low-cost transit service for employees, such as a bus, shuttle or vanpool service.
  • Option 4: alternative commuter benefit - Provide an alternative commuter benefit that is as effective in reducing single-occupancy commute trips as options 1, 2 or 3.

When employees choose the pre-tax benefit option, the reduction in taxable income allows employers to reduce their Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. Employees can save as much as 40 percent on the cost of their monthly transit or vanpool expenses by setting the funds aside pre-tax.

Employers subject to the Commuter Benefits Program will be notified by the Air District and must register at 511.org. Assistance is available through MTC’s 511 Regional Rideshare Program to help employers comply with the program. Employers can visit 511.org and click on Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program to get more information or call 511 and say “commuter benefits” at the first prompt to connect to employer outreach staff. Detailed information about the Commuter Benefits Program and employer requirements can also be found in the “Employer Guide” at 511.org.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (www.baaqmd.gov) is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.Employers with 50 or more full-time employees within the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) geographic boundaries are required to register and offer commuter benefits to their employees. The original deadline was September 30, 2014 in order to comply with Air District Regulation 14, Rule 1, the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program. Employers that have not yet registered are still required to do so as soon as possible. Qualifying employers must offer their employees one of four Commuter Benefit options in order to comply with Air District Regulation 14, Rule 1.

Commute.org is working with MTC and BAAQMD to provide support and guidance to businesses in San Mateo County. We encourage employers to read the information about the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program provided on the 511.org web site.

If you have questions about the Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program, please contact us at Commute.org and we will guide you through the process.

New Video Encourages Commuters to Rethink Their Commute

The team at Commute.org invites you to watch our short video that encourages people who commute to, from or through San Mateo County to use alternatives to get to and from work.
Please share the video with your colleagues and family members. Even using an alternative once a week makes a difference!

csmConnect San Mateo Launches

The City of San Mateo and their project partner, Commute.org, officially launched Connect San Mateo today, highlighting alternative transportation solutions for those who live and work in the City of San Mateo.  The program encourages residents, commuters, and visitors to take advantage of a variety of options to get around town and avoid driving alone.

The Connect San Mateo pilot program was introduced by the City of San Mateo to increase awareness of transportation options and to encourage alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, thereby reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. This program is modeled after the successful Connect, Redwood City! pilot program launched in 2013.

Residents, visitors, and commuters who need to travel around the City of San Mateo now have an easy one-stop source to find all of the options available to them,” said Joe Goethals, the Mayor of San Mateo, “Through the Connect San Mateo campaign, we hope to remind people how easy it is to leave their cars at home and use alternatives to get around town.”

For those who live and work in the City of San Mateo, Caltrain and SamTrans are comfortable and cost-effective options for traveling up and down the Peninsula. Once in the City of San Mateo, they can easily take advantage of free local shuttles, the brand new Bay Bikes bike sharing system, or Zipcar. These options allow flexibility when riding transit or when people need an additional transportation throughout the day.

The Bay Bikes bike sharing service launched on May 12, 2016, and is a network of bikes housed in hubs throughout San Mateo. Anyone may become a member and rent a bike on an hourly basis from one of several convenient bike share stations. Once the trip is completed, the bikes can be returned at any bike share station within city boundaries. Bay Bikes are available at all three Caltrain stations within San Mateo as well as other key destinations around town.

The Connect San Mateo program is a partnership between the City of San Mateo and Commute.org and is funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Climate Initiatives Program. The Connect San Mateo program includes a targeted marketing campaign and user-friendly website for residents and employees to explore the myriad alternative transportation options available within the City of San Mateo.

For more information, please visit connectsanmateo.org.

Toolkit CoverTelework & Flex-Schedules Toolkit

The County of San Mateo's Office of Sustainability recently published a comprehensive resource of lessons learned and strategies for implementing successful telework and flex-schedule programs. The toolkit was funded by the Connect, Redwood City! program and is available for download by clicking on the image to the left.

The toolkit is a resource for other local governments and businesses interested in exploring telework and alternate work schedules.

A one-page summary is available by clicking here. To download the full 106-page document, please click here.