Five dollars a day might not go as far as it used to, but it is keeping a number of cars from driving into Boulder. Specifically, $5 a day is providing incentive for Google employees to leave their cars at home and jump in a van or car pool or take other forms of alternative transportation.
Google in February started a cash-out program, which, with its $5-a-day incentive to encourage employees not to drive their vehicles to the Boulder campus, has prevented the equivalent of carbon emissions from nearly 200,000 passenger vehicle miles from being emitted.
From February through June, Google's incentive prevented 154,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, according to the company. The University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems estimates the average passenger vehicle emits .78 pounds of CO2 for every mile driven, so that 154,000 pounds adds up to just more than 197,435 miles not driven.
The program — which the company developed at the request of the city to reduce traffic and environmental impacts of the campus that will be home to more than 1,000 workers — is only one of two at Google campuses across the country, said Tiffany Timmons-Regan, the campus facility manager in Boulder. A smaller version of the program is in place at Google's Venice, Calif., location, but was not a stipulation of the city.
Employees receive $5 every day they do not park a car on the Boulder campus, Timmons-Regan said. Employees need to come into work to qualify; the program does not apply to employees who are sick, traveling or working from home.
To receive the benefit, employees can take the bus, bike to work, be dropped off to work by someone else or take any other method of transportation that doesn't involve parking a car in the campus lot.
"Running, biking, skipping, skateboarding, unicycling — anything," Timmons-Regan said.
More than half of employees take at least one alternative trip in every two-week pay period and employees took more than 38,000 alternative trips February through June, according to the company.
The campus has a number of incentives to encourage employees to use alternative transportation. Every employee receives an RTD EcoPass and a B-cycle membership, and there are 40-plus electric vehicle charging stations on the Boulder campus. There also are shared cars employees can reserve to run errands during the day, and there are inter-office bicycles employees can use to travel between buildings on the campus.
The campus also features B-cycle stations and bike lockers, and showers and dryers for employees who biked to work and need to freshen up or dry out from a rainstorm. Once a month a bike repair service visits the campus so employees can get their wheels tuned up at minimal cost.
In addition to the $5 a day incentives, Google offers van pools from 17 locations along the Front Range including Fort Collins, Louisville, Longmont and a number of cities in the Denver-metro area. Van pool riders do not qualify for the cash out benefit but are free to employees.