Duke Among 'Best Workplaces for Commuters'

Designation highlights commitment to alternative transportation options

Orla Swift, left, boards Triangle Transit's Durham-Raleigh Express bus. Swift is among about 5,200 Duke community members who own a GoPass, which was a big reason Duke has been named as a "Best Workplace for Commuters." Photo by Bryan Roth

Thanks to growing incentives to use alternative transportation, Duke is now on a national list of the "Best Workplaces for Commuters."Duke is among 23 employers in North Carolina to receive the designation and is one of just 31 universities and colleges across the country, including North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Members of the nation-wide program are selected by the National Center for Transit Research at the University of South Florida. To be selected, an employer must submit a nomination form and meet certain criteria, like subsidizing employee transportation through programs like Duke's GoPass.As part of being named to the program, Duke can now post the "Best Workplaces for Commuters" logo on websites and print materials. Duke will also receive two plaques showcasing its best commuter membership - one for the university and another for the Health System.

"By seeing the logo, it'll help people recognize that driving to work in their car by themselves isn't their only option," said Brian Williams, Duke's transportation demand coordinator. "Not only that, but commuters at Duke will know there are ways to get to work each day that save a lot of money and time."Williams said a deciding factor of being admitted to the program was the creation of the GoPass, a program that gives swipe cards to Duke community members for free rides on local and regional buses. Since starting in August, about 5,200 GoPasses have been distributed - 68 percent of those passes have gone to faculty and staff, Williams said. In October - the latest month with available data for GoPass use - 2,421 Duke students and employees used the GoPass, with 860 using them for full-time commuting."I think the fact that Duke offers employees the GoPass shows that they care about us," said Cathy Watson, a staff assistant at the Duke Divinity School who takes Triangle Transit's Durham-Raleigh Express route almost daily. "I can't even begin to calculate the financial savings the GoPass has been in terms of gas usage or wear and tear on my car. My ride from to Duke is a time I look forward to even if only to wind down from a long day at work."In addition to the GoPass, Parking and Transportation Services offer other programs like the WeCar campus car-sharing service and other incentives for Duke community members to carpool, vanpool or bike as alternatives to get to campus. Benefits include up to 24 free daily parking passes, access to showers for bicyclists and savings on parking costs for car or vanpoolers.Williams said Duke will reapply each year to remain a part of the best commuter program."It's exciting to be a part of the program simply because we're offering opportunities for people to save money and help the environment," Williams said. "It's another way to show our commitment to helping Duke become carbon neutral by 2024."