Going beyond corporate Pass Programs
"It just made sense to park and ride. The whole point of taking a part-time job was to have extra money to spend on the things I want and need," Irvin said. "I save at least $150 per month by riding DART."
In 2015, 21 new companies joined DART's Employer Annual Pass Program, bringing the total number of participating companies to about 200. One of the greatest benefits of the program is the ability for employers to provide workers with up to $255 per month, or $3,060 a year, in tax-free transit and vanpool benefits. Employers either can subsidize the cost or allow payment with pretax dollars. Employers and employees also can split the cost of commuter transit programs, with both groups receiving tax benefits.
The corporate office of Dallas-based Senior Care Centers signed up for the Employer Annual Pass Program in January 2015. Twenty-eight of the 125 employees chose to participate the first year. The number of participating employees increased to 59 in 2016.
The company's office is located in the Plaza of the Americas, next to Pearl/Arts District Station. Numerous bus routes also are within close proximity. The company said it seemed logical to offer transit passes to employees.
"We see this as a tremendous benefit for our team," said Katrese Sims, director of people strategy for the north division at Senior Care Centers. "We cover 100 percent of the cost so our employees do not have to pay for parking or worry about traffic."
Omnitracs LLC, a fleet management software company, relocated from San Diego to Downtown Dallas in 2014. Located in the KPMG Centre, the office is one block from St. Paul Station. The company signed up for the Employer Annual Pass Program in 2014 with 25 employees participating. In 2016, 306 employees will take advantage of the offer.
DART expanded the prepaid pass program in 2015. Apartment dwellers and employers that are too small to enter into a contract with the agency on their own can obtain discounted annual passes through participating property management companies.
"For years, workers in larger companies have been able to save thousands of dollars in commuting costs through DART's Employer Annual Pass Program," said Bob English, DART's senior manager of consumer programs. "We believe people who work at smaller companies deserve similar benefits."
Parmenter Realty Partners signed up for the prepaid pass program in June 2015. Its tenants in the Tower at Cityplace, located along Central Expressway and connected to Cityplace/Uptown Station by underground tunnel, now can access discounted DART annual passes.
"We believe it's a great benefit to provide our tenants the opportunity to cut their commuting costs," said Eric Tatro, Parmenter's assistant property manager. "We continue to educate tenants about the program through lunch-and-learns and our quarterly tenant newsletter."
English said he and his team will keep hitting the pavement in 2016, advising residential and commercial property management companies on the advantages of the prepaid pass program for their companies and tenants.
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