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Google Saves Big By Offering Bus Passes, Specialist SaysPrint

Thriving Communities | June 26, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

Mary Sell, of getDowntown in Ann Arbor, explains how Google provides incentives to employees to leave their cars at home.
Mary Sell, of getDowntown in Ann Arbor, explains how Google provides incentives for employees to leave their cars at home. 

One of the benefits you’re offered on your first day as a Google employee in downtown Ann Arbor is a financial incentive to leave your car at home.

Earlier this month, at the Getting Transportation to Work Commuter Summit in Traverse City, Mary Sell told the audience that the tech giant offers one of the best commuter incentive packages in the city.

Google employees can choose a monthly parking pass, OR a year-round bus pass plus $50 a month for things like gasoline, car-sharing credits, coffee or baked goodies.

The bus pass, called a go!pass, is provided through Ann Arbor’s getDowntown program, which is dedicated to encouraging employees to carpool, bike, bus and walk to work. The pass provides free unlimited busing on all local routes, discounts on cab rides, as well as discounts at downtown stores and restaurants.

Companies can provide go!passes to their employees for $10 a year. The city’s parking revenues offset much of the cost of the pass.

Google pays its employees not to drive alone because they want to promote healthy lifestyles to employees, recruit and retain talent, and save money.

Since it costs the company $160 a month to provide a parking space to each employee, by offering the incentive not to drive, Google saves about $1,260 per employee, according to estimates by getDowntown.

As a result, Google has more employees using the bus than any other downtown employer.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.