New options for Penn commuters

Commuter Van

Julie McWilliams

As part of its Sustainable Transportation Initiative, Penn Transportation and Parking has developed new options for employees in order to help make their daily commute more economical and less stressful. 

Penn has joined with ADP Commuter Services, which currently manages the University’s health benefits, to develop an online commuter benefits program that employees can use to obtain SEPTA TransPasses and TrailPasses, PATCO Freedom Cards, TransitCheks or NJ Transit commuter passes. 

Under the new program, the transportation passes, rider cards and transit checks for employees using public transportation will be sent directly to their homes beginning in October, or loaded to their Freedom Card for PATCO riders. But employees must sign up by Aug. 20. If the deadline passes, their benefits will lapse for that month, and employees will need to purchase their October pass on their own.

The University is also expanding the discount it provides for commuters who use public transit. Penn currently provides employees who travel via SEPTA a 5 percent discount on their monthly passes. That discount is matched by SEPTA, for a total discount of 10 percent. Penn will now also provide a 5 percent discount to riders of NJ Transit, PATCO and Amtrak. The discounts are available to full-time faculty and staff who are not participating in the parking permit program. Payments are made pre-tax. 

The new program also allows for direct purchase from NJ Transit and PATCO, as well as 10-trip tickets for SEPTA. Participants no longer need to use transit checks to acquire these passes; only Amtrak riders, SEPTA token and weekly pass users need to order TransitCheks.

In addition, employees who do not want to drive to campus but live in areas without public transportation can now use a “vanpooling” program. Penn has joined with VPSI, a national leader in sustainable transportation, to provide this option to faculty and staff.

Currently, three vanpools are in operation and the transportation fees—also paid pre-tax—are determined by distance and the number of riders. Riders using the service convene at a central location, such as a church or mall parking lot, and are transported to campus from there. To join a vanpool, call 1-800-VAN-RIDE or visit www.vanride.com.

“The Sustainable Transportation Initiative offers benefits to the commuters, the University and the planet,” says Marie Witt, vice president of the Business Services Division. “Employees can avoid the high cost of gasoline and the hassle of driving in rush hour traffic while helping to ease traffic congestion around campus and lowering the University’s carbon footprint.”

Originally published on August 18, 2011