Pilot Clean Commute Incentive Program
During the first round of Strategic Plan funding awards, the Board allocated $150,000 in funding to start a pilot Employee Incentive Program to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation to commute to work. Permanent County employees will be eligible for up to $40 per month if they ride the train, bus, carpool, bike or walk to work a certain number of days in a given period.
There will be two ways for employees to be eligible:
Option 1: Bus, Carpool, Bike and Walking
The County will provide a taxable, lump sum payment of $240 if an employee has taken the bus, carpooled, biked, or walked to work at least 48 days within a 6-month reporting period. Those 48 days can be achieved through a combination of any of those modes. Employees must use the Online Trip Tracker to log their bus, carpool, bike, and walk, trips in order to be eligible for this incentive. Telework is not an eligible mode for this incentive.
The 6-month reporting periods for Option 1 are from January 1st through June 30th and July 1st through December 31st.
Audits of the Bus, Carpool, Bike and Walking incentive will be conducted to ensure compliance with program requirements.
Option 2: My Commuter Check Purchases
The County will match purchases made through the County’s pre-tax commuter benefit platform, My Commuter Check, up to $40 per month. This includes purchases of SMART passes, eCash, and other Clipper products.
This is considered a pre-tax subsidy, as long as the total My Commuter Check purchase is below $250 per month. This incentive cannot be combined with the Bus, Carpool, Bike, and Walk incentive, even if the mon thly match is below $40.
Please see the Pre-Tax Benefit page for more information on your pre-tax transportation benefits and how to create an account and make purchases using My Commuter Check. Keep in mind that monthly elections are due in advance by the 10th of the month for the following benefit month. For instance, January 10th for February benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will this pilot Incentive Program last?
The Pilot Program will go as long as funding is available, which is expected to be 12-18 months. We will be continuously evaluating program participation levels to determine if ongoing funding should be assigned to the program.
What employees are eligible to participate in the Incentive Program?
Full-Time and Part-Time County employees are eligible for the incentive. For questions about eligibility, please contact HR Benefits at email@example.com or (707) 565-2900.
How do I log my trips on the Online Trip Tracker?
Please use these Step-By-Step Instructions to log your trips, and refer to the Online Trip Tracker page for FAQs.
What qualifies as a Carpool under this incentive program?
A Carpool is defined as two or more people, where at least one person is a County employee, commuting to a worksite in the same vehicle. Carpooling with members of your household is not eligible, i.e. dropping kids off at school or dropping spouse/partner off at work, unless you are both County employees traveling to work together.
I take the SMART train and carpool, am I eligible for both incentives?
No, the lump sum incentive for Bus, Carpool, Bike and Walking (Option 1) cannot be combined with the My Commuter Check pre-tax matching program (Option 2), even if the My Commuter Check match payments are below $40.
I used multiple alternative commute modes in one day (i.e. I walked to the bus stop, took the bus to work, and then joined a carpool to get home). Does that count as one or three days towards the 48-day requirement?
Even if multiple modes are used are in a day, it only counts as one day towards the 48.
How will the Bus, Carpool, Bike and Walking (Option 1) lump sum payments be paid out to employees?
This incentive would be paid out twice a year, in the employee’s paycheck, for a maximum of $480 per year. At the end of each 6-month period, the Clean Commute Program Manager will run a report out of the Online Trip Tracker showing which employees are eligible for the lump sum payments and will provide a list to Payroll. Depending on the time of year and Payroll’s workload, it may take one or two pay periods before the lump sum payments are paid out to employees.
How will the My Commuter Check (Option 2) match payments be paid?
Purchases made through My Commuter Check will automatically receive a subsidy each month of up to $40. The County’s match will be deducted from the pre-tax amount removed from your paycheck, and the total value of your purchase will be added to your Clipper Card. For instance, if you purchase a SMART 31-Day Pass for $135, the County will contribute $40 and your paycheck will be deducted the remaining $95. Purchases below $80 will receive a subsidy of the half the value. For instance, if you elect to put $40 of eCash on a Clipper Card, the County will contribute $20 and your paycheck will be deducted the remaining $20.
What if I qualify for a lump sum (Option 1) or My Commuter Check match (Option 2) payment, but I do not wish to receive a benefit?
The pilot Clean Commute Incentive Program is entirely optional. If you qualify to receive a benefit, but do not wish to receive payment, you can opt out of the program by emailing HR Benefits at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I currently participate in the free Santa Rosa CityBus monthly pass program and/or ride Sonoma County Transit buses for free. Am I still eligible for the lump sum incentive?
Yes, bus trips on Santa Rosa CityBus and/or Sonoma County Transit to commute to a County worksite are eligible towards the 48-day requirement.
Will the incentive payments impact my pension?
No, both forms of the incentives (Option 1 and Option 2) are not pensionable.
I have recently terminated my employment with the County but have met the eligibility requirements for the lump sum incentive prior to the 6-month reporting period ending. Do I still qualify to receive the benefit?
Yes, you are still eligible to receive the lump sum payment and Payroll will mail a check to you at the address they have on file.