Calibre - Alexandria, VA
FAST FACTS ABOUT: Calibre - Alexandria, VA
Types of TDM: Modal Shift, Location Shift
Keywords: Transit Subsidy, Parking Management, Shuttle, Relocation, Parking Cash Out, Telework, Lease Negotiation
Employer Demographics: Located in Alexandria, VA near Washington, DC in an area well served by subway, commuter train and bus
Program: $65 transit, bike or walk subsidy, $65 parking cash out, carpool subsidy, telecommute
Cost of Program: $99,000 - $30,000- transit subsidies, $5,500 Telecommute program administration, $64,000 TeleworkVA! subsidy
Staff: 2 (Benefits Coordinator and HR Director)
Results: 2% carpool, 12% transit, 5% telework
Contact: Michelle Voisinet Caylor, Benefits Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Company on the Move
CALIBRE is an employee-owned government information technology and management services firm headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. CALIBRE’s transportation program is a reflection of company objectives to “Take Care of Our People”, “Manage Our Company” and “Be Good Citizens”. CALIBRE opened its Falls Church, Virginia office with 44 employees in 1989. Over the next seven years, the company added two offices in the Virginia area. By May of 2001, company management recognized the benefits of consolidating Metro Washington, DC area staff into one office and began searching for appropriately sized office space. To assist the company in selecting a highly accessible location, the company looked at where employees lived and estimated employee commute times. The company found that relocating corporate headquarters to the Alexandria/Springfield, Virginia area would equalize commute time.
In addition to equalizing commute time, the company wanted to relocate to an area better served by a variety of transit modes. The Metro Park area of Alexandria provides access to the Franconia-Springfield station, which serves both the DC Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express (VRE). The new facilities accommodated staff from the three Virginia offices and provided ample room for predicted growth.
In an attempt to pro-actively address
future parking demand issues, management began encouraging alternative
mode usage immediately.
The Springfield office lease included an allotment of parking spaces based on the amount of square footage leased. Although the parking allotment fully meets and exceeds CALIBRE’s present needs, the company’s continued growth will someday out pace the allocated number of parking spaces. In an attempt to pro-actively address future parking demand issues, management began encouraging alternative mode usage immediately. Through the development and implementation of an aggressive transportation benefits program, CALIBRE hopes to avoid the high cost of increased parking in the future. As a first step towards this goal, CALIBRE negotiated, in its lease, a shuttle to the Metro station that allowed for free transportation to and from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station and the office. The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), under contract to the Transportation Association of Greater Springfield (TAGS), operates the shuttle.
Pulling the Pieces Together
Prior to relocating to the Alexandria/Springfield Area, a landlord-operated shuttle to and from the Pentagon, a major CALIBRE client, was the extent of the transportation benefits program. Today, CALIBRE’s transportation benefits program is flexible towards a variety of transportation modes. All CALIBRE employees in the National Capital Area are eligible to receive subsidized parking or participate in the Metrochek program. CALIBRE’s corporate headquarters employees may also receive parking cash out benefits. Metrochek, a transit program sponsored by WMATA, provides employees with vouchers from $65-$100 for approved transit costs. The voucher can be applied to most forms of public transportation. The parking cash out program provides employees who opt out of their parking space and do not utilize transit, a subsidy of $65.00 a month. Cyclists and walkers can utilize the subsidy to defray the costs of commuting on bike or foot. CALIBRE employees who choose to carpool receive parking cash out of $32.50 a month. Additionally, employees outside the Metropolitan Washington Area may identify local transit programs for consideration in the Commuter Transit Benefit program.
CALIBRE recognized that employees did
not need to work from the office to be productive.
In addition to transit, bike and walk subsidies and the parking cash out program, CALIBRE supports both flextime and telecommuting. As a high tech company, CALIBRE recognized that employees did not need to work from the office to be productive. In June of 2002, CALIBRE began a pilot program with TeleworkVA! a public and private partnership that promotes telecommunting. TeleworkVA! assisted CALIBRE by mapping out a telework policy plan highlighting how best to work with employees that telework. CALIBRE’s telework plan requires employees interested in telework to first gain support from their supervisor and then together, submit a telework application. Employees are required to set up a home office, send in a photo of the office, pass a safety check and attend telework training with their supervisor. The training focuses on communication expectations, offers suggestions on supervising from a distance, and provides tips on avoiding telecommuting pitfalls. To provide seamless phone access, CALIBRE upgraded their phone system to allow for a telework employee’s home phone to ring when their office number is dialed. The company reimburses employee expenses incurred from telecommuting and requires the employee to come into the office at least twice a week. Although supportive of the telework concept, the inter-connectedness and teamwork qualities of the CALIBRE culture necessitate the presence of employees at least twice a week.
Marketing the Program
Prior to hiring employees, CALIBRE invites the potential hire to an offer interview at which, a Vice President explains the CALIBRE culture and employee benefits, including telework, parking cash out and subsidized transit passes. Because of the offer interview, employees are aware of the transportation benefits before they accept the job. Once at CALIBRE, employees attend a new hire orientation where the transportation benefits program is reintroduced. In addition, information on the program is always available via the company’s intranet. This has proven to be an effective marketing and outreach strategy as more new employees take advantage of the program than existing employees.
The Benefits Coordinator at CALIBRE includes the transportation program and any upcoming regional events in the monthly employee newsletter. She works with the local rideshare agency to host transportation and telecommuting fairs at the office. The Benefits Coordinator has recognized that the motivation to try transit stems primarily from an employee’s experience and frustration with a long commute. Employees who first choose parking often decide commuting via Metro and commuter rail may be more time efficient and cost effective. Therefore, the program allows employees to switch from parking to subsidized transit at any time.
CALIBRE evaluates the success of their program in a simple yet effective manner. As long as the number of transit users grows, the program is deemed successful. Upper management is concerned with stalling the parking demand issue as far into the future as possible. Continued growth in the transit pass and parking cash out programs assists CALIBRE in meeting this goal. If participation in the transportation benefits program decreases, management will re-evaluate the program’s effectiveness. At that time, a new program or a more aggressive parking management program may emerge.
After 2 years of program implementation, 2% of CALIBRE’s employee’s carpool, 12% utilize transit (bus, rail, subway) and 5% participate in the telework program. Although 81% of CALIBRE employees continue to drive alone, many of them utilize the nearby Metro to travel to and from work-related meetings and trips during the week.