The time has never been better to try a transportation alternative. Convenient, time-saving, cheap and often free transportation alternatives can make your commute to Hacienda easier than ever. What many people do not know is that the benefits and incentives available to those commuters willing to try transit, carpooling, vanpooling, and other alternatives are increasing all the time.
Not only that, benefits and incentives available to people in the place that they live can often be coupled with benefits available at the work site for added savings and convenience.
This month in NETWORK we present an overview of commute programs by area available for your use.
We will start with some resources available to you right here in the park. Hacienda's free WHEELS pass program and New Rider program are just the ticket.
One of the key components of Hacienda's Transportation Program is the pass the park issues which allows all Hacienda employees and residents to ride the local WHEELS buses for free. WHEELS buses connect the Tri-Valley area to locations throughout Hacienda. WHEELS buses also meet each incoming ACE and BART train during the peak commute hours to shuttle Hacienda employees to their businesses, and residents to the respective stations. During off-peak commute hours, WHEELS DART service shuttles passengers to and from the BART station as well as other destinations in the WHEELS service area. In addition, WHEELS I-680 express bus service provides a direct link for people commuting between Hacienda and Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek.
Bus passes entitle the bearer to a free ride to and from work, or to and from home for residents, on all WHEELS lines. Employees and residents desiring passes are encouraged to place their order directly on Hacienda's web site. Ordering in this way will allow for the fastest delivery. Passes may also be obtained by phoning in orders to Hacienda's Transportation Hotline, (925) 734-6551, or by sending in the printed order form available at the park's main office.
If you would like to give transit a try, Hacienda has collected a number of incentives for riders new to transit. A complete listing of services is available on Hacienda's web site, as well as an order form. Printed order forms are also available at the park's main office.
Incentives to choose from include:
BART - If you would like to try BART, you may obtain a free new rider ticket. You'll receive an $8 BART ticket to try the system. BART system information and schedules can be found at www.bart.gov .
ACE - Direct access from the San Joaquin Valley is available on the ACE commuter rail system. First-time riders receive a free round-trip ticket and an opportunity to purchase the first monthly pass at half price. Train schedules and information are at www.acerail.com .
SMART - Commuters from Stockton, Manteca, and Tracy can travel to Hacienda in comfort on SMART. Free round-trip tickets are available for first-time riders. Schedule information is available at www.sj-smart.com .
Tri-Delta Transit - Commuters from Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Byron can have a relaxing ride in state-of -the-art buses to Hacienda. New riders can try a free round-trip ride and a two-for-one discount on the first monthly pass. Route information is available at www.trideltatransit.com .
To make your commute even smoother, you can order valuable resources online. These include Hacienda's Tri-Valley Transportation Guide, free WHEELS passes for tenants and residents, new rider incentive program information, free carpool and vanpool matchlists, and carpool and vanpool registration forms.
Residents and workers in Alameda County have some additional support services available for their alternative commute.
Guaranteed Ride Home - If you take transit and need to leave work early for an emergency such as an illness or family crisis, or if you are asked to work unscheduled overtime, you can receive a free ride home. You qualify if you use any alternative to driving alone to work, public transit, carpooling, vanpooling, biking or walking, on the day of the emergency.This applies even if you don't use transit every commute day. The program is for employees who can live up to 100 miles away and work in Alameda County. The program is available for all Hacienda companies, and both the employer and employee must pre-register in the program. For more information, call the hotline at (510) 433-0320, or visit www.accma.ca.gov/pages/guar.shtml .
ACE Train Guaranteed Ride Home - If you are a monthly pass holder of ACE rail train tickets, and need to leave between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for an emergency, you'll receive a free ride home. For information, contact Denise Jefferson, ACE Rail, (800) 411-RAIL, or visit www.acerail.com .
Do you live in Contra Costa County and work in Hacienda? Take advantage of a number of programs to make your commute free and easy. For more information, contact the Countywide Commuter Program (WCCTAC), (510) 215-3035 or www.traks.org
Vanpool Passengers - Save 50 percent off your vanpool fare for the first three months if you are a new vanpool rider who lives in Contra Costa County, and have not been in a registered vanpool for six months. For more information, contact Commuter Program at the City of San Ramon, (925) 973-2601 or visit www.traks.org .
Vanpool Drivers - Start a new vanpool, keep it on the road for one yearand receive $1,000. That's right. Drivers of new vanpools originating in Contra Costa County can qualify. For more information, contact Countywide Commuter Program at the City of San Ramon, (925) 973-2601 or visit www.traks.org .
Carpool Incentive Plan - Commuters who work or live in Contra Costa County and start a carpool or add another person to their existing carpool can receive $20 gas coupons that are given out over a two-month period. Commuters must carpool at least two days a week throughout the month. As least two adults must be in the carpool. For more information contact Countywide Commuter Program, "TR@KS Smart Traveler Programs," (925) 671-5247 or visit www.traks.org .
Transit Incentive Program - Commuters who live in Contra Costa County and currently drive alone, can receive complimentary transit tickets. Contact Countywide Commuter Program, "TR@KS Smart Traveler Programs," (925) 671-5246 or www.traks.org .
Napa and Solano Counties are currently developing incentive programs for vanpool drivers and passengers, bicycling incentives and a guaranteed ride home. If you live in these counties and are interested in receiving information when the programs are complete, please contact Elizabeth Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 800-53KMUTE. She will be happy to include you in her e-mail list for distribution of information as it becomes available.
San Joaquin and Stanislaus commuters can try a number of commute incentives. Vanpool benefits are featured in a number of programs. Programs are administered by Commute Connection. Contact them via their web site at www.commuteconnection.com or 1-800-52-SHARE for details.
Existing Vanpool Subsidies -Current vanpools are eligible for a subsidy, determined by the commute distance,on a month to month basis, not to exceed six months. Each month that the van has an empty seat, it may receive a subsidy. Commute Connection determines the subsidy amount.
New Vanpool Subsidies -New vanpools are eligible for the vanpool subsidy program, on a declining-scale, and on a yearly basis. In the sixth month, the new vanpool will receive a bonus. Eligibility requirements for new vanpool subsidies specify that a majority of the vanpool passengers must not have participated in a registered vanpool for at least six months. The van must be for seven passengers or more and must originate in San Joaquin or Stanislaus counties, have a daily commute of at least 30 miles one way and be 60 percent full. For subsidy information contact Steve Mayo at 1-800-52-SHARE.
Vanpools may also be subsidized up to six months.
Additional Programs - New commute incentive programs are being evaluated for implementation, including programs for new riders and new and current coordinators. Information will be available near the end of the year. For information, please contact Steve Mayo at 1-800-52-SHARE.
Commuting from the peninsula? San Mateo County has two great vanpool programs. Contact the Peninsula Congestion Relief Alliance at www.commute.org or (650) 994-7924.
Vanpool Passengers - New riders in vanpools that originate in San Mateo County can save 50 percent off their vanpool fare for the first three months.
Vanpool Drivers - Drivers of new vanpools that stay on the road for six months and that originate in San Mateo County, can receive $500.
New vanpool riders who have not been in a registered vanpool for six months and are commuting from Santa Cruz County in a participating vanpool are eligible for a $50 vanpool rider incentive. Contact Commute Solutions in Santa Cruz, (831) 429-POOL.
Another smart reason to use vanpools and carpools, is the toll-free crossing available to them on many Bay Area bridges during peak traffic hours. Save time and money on the bridges including, Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Francisco-Oakland, San Mateo-Hayward and the Golden Gate. For complete information, visit www.rides.org/main/bridges.htm .
Park and Ride lots can make your commute easier. You can also use the lots to meet carpool partners or your vanpool. Many lots have excellent transit connections. For information on park and ride lots in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano, visit www.rides.org/main/parkandridelots/htm . For additional information on San Joaquin County park and ride lots, click on www.commuteconnection.com/Parkride.htm .
RIDES for Bay Area Commuters is the premier regional commuter assistance program. A full range of programs and incentives are available for employers and employees. The RIDES representative fro Alameda and Contra Cost Counties is Jackie Peay. She can be contacted at email@example.com or (510) 273-2064.
Here's a sampling of what RIDES offers:
Transportation Program Assistance - The RIDES representative can work with you and your company to create a program to encourage employees' use of commute alternatives.
TEA21/Commuter Choice Program - With the amendments of federal tax law, employers can now more easily provide commute assistance for employees. Commuter Choice can provide benefits such as Commuter Check vouchers or WageWorks programs, for pre-tax savings on transit costs.
Marketing Materials - Posters and brochures are available to promote commute alternatives and learn about services.
Special Campaigns - These are a great way to market and enhance transportation alternatives. Use any of the RIDES' popular annual campaigns to encourage your employees to use alternatives: February, Vanpool Week; May, Bike-to-Work Week and Rideshare Week. Regional campaigns to coordinate your event are Earth Day in April, Clean Air Month in May, Spare the Air season from June to October, and Try Transit Week in September.
In addition, RIDES offers on-site events and presentations, new commute relocation services, vanpool programs start-up assistance, transportation survey assistance, and employer networks and referrals to other transportation managers.
RIDES has a brand new web site with a number of features to facilitate learning about and implementing commute alternatives. Visit them at www.rides.org .
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