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New program certifies employers as transit friendly

New program certifies employers as transit friendly

Each day, the TransLink system provides valuable connections for people and communities across Metro Vancouver — but our environmental impact is just as invaluable.

Road-based transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the region, accounting for 35 per cent of it. Yet, transit accounts for only 2.7 per cent of those emissions.

That’s not all. Customers collectively save 1.3 million kgs of GHGs by choosing transit over driving a gasoline-powered car.

This makes riding transit the easiest and most effective way to take climate action. And there’s an urgent need to act.

The United Nations warns the world’s headed for climate catastrophe as the window to enact change is rapidly closing. It inspires us all to collectively take action.

We have a part to play at TransLink to be leaders of change, so others will follow.

The Transit-Friendly Employer program

That’s why we have launched the Transit-Friendly Employer (TFE) program to recognize employers who do their part in leading the way to a more sustainable future. Our hope is they join us at TransLink in inspire others in taking climate action.

“Organizations around Metro Vancouver are saying they want climate action,” says Kevin Quinn, TransLink’s CEO. “This program enables businesses to join us as leaders in taking tangible steps to help reduce the carbon footprint of our region.”

This program, which is the first of its kind in Canada, grants businesses and organizations — who are offering their employees discounted, climate-friendly commuting options — a promotable stamp of sustainability from TransLink.

Transit-Friendly Employers recognizes leaders in corporate social responsibility who are helping to cut congestion and act on climate change.

Who are the Transit-Friendly Employers?

Cosmetics retailer Lush, technology company Intel Canada, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and YVR (Vancouver Airport Authority) are among the first employers in Metro Vancouver who have earned this designation.

Between these four employers, a total of 3,000 employees have signed up, choosing transit over driving. Had they not, those 3,000 cars would create a bumper-to-bumper line spanning 13 kilometres long. This is the same distance from the Fairmont Vancouver to Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver or Deep Cove in North Vancouver, or seven Lions Gate Bridges (single file).

“Whether we’re individuals or whether we’re businesses, we all play a role in helping to shift towards less carbon intensive modes of transport,” says Katrina Shum, Head of Sustainability at Lush Cosmetics.

"We all play a role in shifting towards less carbon intensive modes of transport" —Katrina Shum, Senior Sustainability Leader, Lush

"Encouraging transit requires more than just words. It needs investment." —Jonathan Schmidt, Intel Canada Design Engineering Manager

Jonathan Schmidt, an engineering manager at Intel Canada, adds, “Partnering with TransLink gives us the opportunity to invest in our people and to invest in the planet as well.”

To become certified in the Transit-Friendly Employer program, employers must pay at least 50 per cent of their employee’s transit passes, while the employee pays the rest.

The cost-savings is a valuable benefit that gives employers an edge in recruitment and retention. Affordability is one of the largest concerns of people in the region and transportation costs represent the second-highest household expense in B.C.

“I think a program like this absolutely helps us attract and retain people into the organization because it’s just another benefit,” says Dr. David Byres, President and CEO of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Dr. David Byres, Provincial Health Services Authority President & CEO
Dr. David Byres, President and CEO of the Provincial Health Services Authority

Transit already plays a critical role in moving people to and from work in Metro Vancouver. Around 20 per cent of work trips in the region are made by public transport — there’s room for growth.

“TransLink’s vision is to make transit the first choice for all trips to and from the workplace,” says Kevin. “To accomplish this goal, we need companies who are committed to creating more sustainable communities.”

By partnering up with organizations, big and small, around our region through the Transit-Friendly Employer program, we are helping to make employee travel easy, affordable, and climate friendly.

Not only with large employers like Intel Canada, Lush, the PHSA and YVR to help support their green initiatives, but also smaller ones that have less than 200 staff members.

How to become a Transit-Friendly Employer

To become certified, employers must pay at least 50 per cent of their employee’s transit passes, while the employee pays the remainder. Large companies need to sign up at least 10 per cent of employees, while a minimum 25 per cent of employees must sign up for small ones. They must also commit to a minimum of six months and are subject to an annual audit to maintain their certification.

Once an employer qualifies for the program, they earn an official badge of sustainability.

Organizations can also customize their involvement in the program:

  • Choose a suitable level of subsidy
  • Pay-as-you-go transit passes for employees who commute a few days per week
  • Monthly passes for frequent commuters
  • Single or multi-zone passes depending on the typical commute distance

Transit-Friendly Employer builds on TransLink For Organizations, which continues to provide sustainable travel solutions for employees in Metro Vancouver. As employee commuting often amounts to a sizable source of greenhouse gas emissions, Transit-Friendly Employer offers an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of organizations around the region.

“Having efficient, affordable transit — while doing the right thing for the planet — just makes sense,” says Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of YVR.

Tamara Vrooman, Vancouver Airport Authority President & CEO
Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO of YVR

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