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Best Portland employers for low-car commuters

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Creative Commons photo of downtown Portland by eyeliam.

The best Portland employers for low-car commuters offer free TriMet passes, avoid subsidizing drivers with free auto parking and offer on-site storage and support for bike commuters, among other benefits.

Portland Afoot began ranking these companies in April 2011 with a survey that included companies in downtown Portland only. The list below includes companies from across the metro area.

If your company hasn't been included and should be, make sure it gets on future versions of our list by completing the ongoing survey.

Contents

[edit] Map of the region's top 25 employers for low-car commuters

Click a dot for more information, or use the tools to zoom in. Data are also on the ranked list below. See also Portland employers that subsidize transit passes, which maps all regional employers using TriMet's discounted pass programs as of 2011.

Green dots represent employers with 180 points or more; yellow dots, employers with fewer.

If several worksites share the same address, only one is mapped.

[edit] The top 25

Every employer on the following list responded to a survey distributed on our website and by email from TriMet, the City of Portland, Metro, the City of Vancouver, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Employee Commute Options program, the Lloyd Transportation Management Association, the Swan Island Transportation Management Association, the Westside Transportation Alliance or South Waterfront Community Relations. We also directly contacted the top 20 employers on last year's list and the employers who'd been receiving BETC credits for their transportation benefits.

For an explanation of the scores in each category and how we gathered the information, see our methodology below. If an employer didn't complete the survey, it isn't listed. Benefits are ultimately self-reported. If you know of an employer that should or shouldn't be listed, please let us know in the comments below!

To sort the list by a column, click the arrows at the top of that column.

name rank transit pass auto parking telecommuting flexible hours shared vehicles personal mileage reimbursement on errands bike parking vanpools carpool info priority rideshare parking Bike Commute Challenge participation total
Stoel Rives LLP 1 100 50 10 5 10 0 15 5 5 0 10 210
Metro 1 100 50 10 5 10 10 10 0 5 0 10 210
Lloyd TMA 1 100 50 10 10 10 0 10 0 5 0 15 210
SERA 4 100 50 10 10 10 0 10 0 0 0 15 205
Elemental Technologies 5 100 50 10 5 10 0 10 0 0 0 15 200
Beth Allen Law PC 6 100 50 10 5 10 0 15 0 0 0 10 200
Bonneville Power Admin 7 100 25 10 10 10 0 10 5 5 5 10 190
Army Corps of Engineers 8 100 50 10 5 0 0 10 0 5 5 0 185
Ecova 8 100 50 10 5 0 0 10 0 0 0 10 185
Multnomah County 10 100 25 10 10 10 0 10 0 5 0 10 180
Interface Engineering 10 50 50 10 10 10 10 15 5 5 0 15 180
NW Natural 12 100 25 10 5 10 0 10 0 5 0 10 175
Avatron Software 13 100 25 15 10 0 0 15 0 5 0 0 170
Alleman Hall McCoy Russell & Tuttle 13 100 25 10 10 0 0 15 0 0 0 10 170
Pop Art 15 100 25 10 5 10 0 10 0 5 0 0 165
Portland VA Medical Center – Vancouver 15 100 0 10 0 10 10 10 15 5 5 0 165
Oregon Health & Science University 15 50 50 10 5 10 0 15 5 5 5 10 165
Vernier Software & Technology 17 100 0 10 5 10 0 10 0 5 5 15 160
Portland State University 19 50 50 10 5 10 0 10 0 5 5 10 155
ClearEdge Power 19 50 50 10 5 0 10 15 0 5 0 10 155
Westside Transportation Alliance 19 100 0 10 5 0 10 10 0 5 0 15 155
PECI 19 50 50 10 5 10 0 15 0 5 0 10 155
Dr. Martens AirWair USA 23 100 25 10 5 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 150
TriLibrium 23 100 0 15 10 0 0 10 0 0 0 15 150
Providence Health & Services 25 100 0 10 5 10 0 10 0 5 5 0 145
Washington County 25 100 0 10 5 10 0 15 0 5 0 10 145
Lewis & Clark College 25 50 25 10 5 10 10 15 0 5 5 10 145

Portland Afoot strives to keep this database as accurate as possible, and some scores have been corrected since their first publication April 11. Usually this has to do with Bike Commute Challenge participation rates, which can be difficult to properly assign to the right employers.

[edit] How we ranked them

Portland Afoot's 2012 scoring system was designed by contributor and active commuting expert Alexis Grant.

Companies that did not respond to our survey could not be ranked. It's too late to participate in our official 2012 ranking, but any employer can take the survey now to be included in an update of this page that we'll publish in a few weeks.

[edit] TriMet pass discounts: up to 100 points

The single biggest factor in our survey was the offer of free annual TriMet passes. In combination, national survey data show these are the single most important factor (other than offering telecommuting) in shaping Americans' decisions of whether to drive a car alone to work.

For offering a free TriMet pass to any downtown employee that wants one, a company earned 100 points. For offering discounted passes (including transit), a company earned 50 points.

[edit]

Because auto parking uses valuable real estate, companies that offer free auto parking to employees are offering auto commuters a benefit unavailable to non-auto commuters. We reward companies for not subsidizing auto drivers with free or cheap parking.

A company received 50 points if it either:

  • charged its own employees the market price for parking
  • let auto commuters find public parking spaces in a paid area, unaided, or
  • offered a parking cashout program, which gives extra cash to employees who walk or bike to work. This way, people aren't penalized for choosing the cheapest commute: the human-powered one.

A company received 25 points if it either:

  • charged its own employees for parking, but below market price, or
  • offered free parking to one group of people (executives, for example) but did not offer it to other workers.

Because parking is provided for free in most places outside central Portland, this measure had the secondary effect of recognizing employers who've chosen to locate in the central city, the neighborhoods easiest to get to without a car.

[edit] Bike parking: up to 15 points

A company received 15 points if its scored work site offered supervised bike parking; 10 points if it offered secure, dedicated bike parking; or 5 points if it simply let employees bring bikes into the office. Scores in this area weren't cumulative, so some employers with higher scores offer several options. This is desirable not just for security reasons but to keep bicycles dry and in good maintenance on rainy days.

[edit] On-the-job errands: up to 20 points

Many companies reward car ownership and car commuting by paying the inflated IRS rate -- 55.5 cents per mile in 2012 -- for on-the-job errands. Because this is more than twice the marginal cost of driving a mile, it gives employees an incentive to drive their own cars as much as possible, and to keep them on hand.

A company received 10 points for not offering mileage reimbursements, and another 10 points if it offered workers a shared car or company car for on-the-job errands.

[edit] Bike Commute Challenge participation: up to 15 points

This is more an indicator of an employer's culture than a benefit. The Bike Commute Challenge is a friendly contest each September, organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, to see which businesses can get the most employees to bike to work that month. Participants receive prizes, training and other rewards for giving their bikes a try.

A company received 10 points for participating in the 2011 challenge, or 15 points for seeing at least 20 percent participation among its workers. Data from the BTA were based on listed team names.

[edit] Telecommuting and flexible hours: up to 25 points

Though national survey data show that workers respond even more strongly to a universal telecommuting option than to free transit passes, it's just not an option for many jobs. Employers who could offer teleworking to every employee received 15 points, or 10 if they could offer it to some.

Flexible start and finish times are also impossible in some types of jobs, but when they're available they're a big help for people who carpool or deal with transit schedules. Employers who could offer this to every employee received 10 points, or 5 if they could offer it to some.

[edit] Ridesharing support: up to 25 points

Carpooling is more popular in the Portland area (and in most of the U.S.) than transit and bike commuting put together. The catch is that carpools are hard to organize, even with modern web tools like Drive Less Connect. We gave employers 5 points for distributing carpool information to their employees and another 5 for offering priority parking to carpools or vanpools. This increases the visibility of the option and makes carpools and vanpools easier to join.

Vanpools, which are like carpools but with a rented van, are one of the most underrated commute options and can be the cheapest ways by far to get around. Employers received 15 points for making them free to use, or 5 points for offering discounts, including pre-tax payment.

[edit] See also


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