commuter – 511 Contra Costa

4 Ways to Find a Carpool

Think it’s difficult to find a carpool? Not only is it easy, we’ve got four ways for you to do it:

Scoop: The Scoop app arranges ride-by-ride carpools for morning and afternoon commute periods, Monday through Friday.  Indicate your origin, destination and departure time before the pre-commute deadline, and the app will match you with one or more people headed your way.

511.org’s Ridematch Page: Create an account with 511’s Ridematch Service, and it will use your commute information to match you with a regular carpool.

Waze Carpool: With the Waze Carpool app you can choose the people you want to carpool with based on detailed profiles, star ratings, and filters like same-gender & coworkers only. As with Scoop, there is no long-term commitment – each carpool is booked separately. Unlike Scoop, Waze Carpool allows you to plan more than one commute period ahead. In fact, you can arrange your carpools for the entire week.

Connect Using Nextdoor: Nextdoor is a social networking service which allows you to easily connect with the people in your neighborhood. Once you’ve created an account, it’s easy to post to Nextdoor and ask if anyone sharing a commute similar to yours would be interested in carpooling.
For more information on carpooling, including how it can qualify you for the $25 Drive Less incentive, visit the 511CC Carpool Page.

Carpool with the Scoop App – 2017 Promotion


Bay Area traffic is bad. In fact, it’s the second-worst in the nation. So why aren’t more people carpooling? Because carpooling can be difficult. With Scoop, it’s easy.
The Scoop app connects you with commuters traveling in the same direction, building your carpool for you. The app even handles directions and rider-to-driver payments. All you need to do is tell the app where you’re starting from, where you’re headed, and what time you want to leave before the deadline (9pm for the morning commute, 3:30pm for the afternoon) and it does the rest. Plus, your ride home is guaranteed.
Visit 511contracosta.org/scoop for complete details and to download Scoop.

Construction Starts Mid-May 2017: Lafayette BART Station – North Lots

Starting in mid-May 2017, construction work will begin on the northern parking lots of the Lafayette Station as part of the Station Site Improvements Project.
The work will take approximately 8 months and be completed in two phases. Phase 1 will include the temporary relocation of the ADA lot and intermodal zone. Phase 2 will include the temporary relocation of the permit lot adjacent to Happy Valley Rd.
The entrance to the north side of the Lafayette BART station will remain open during construction.
While construction is taking place, you can use County Connection bus routes 6 and 25 to get to the station. For more information go to: https://countyconnection.com/maps-schedules/
For more details about the project, visit BART’s project information page.

Final Day: 2016 Bike Commuter of the Year Nominations

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BCOY Eric Odell 2015Know someone whose go-to mode of transportation is their bicycle? Someone who’d rather ride than drive? A person who uses their bike to get to work, grab groceries or take the kids to school? If so, nominate them for Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)!
The Contra Costa BCOY award recognizes an individual’s dedication to riding their bike for everyday transportation. If you know someone who routinely chooses riding their bike over driving, nominate them now. The deadline is tonight (Monday, April 4) at midnight… so hurry!
BCOY Online Nomination Form
 

BIKE TO WORK DAY: THURSDAY MAY 12, 2016

Bike to Work Day is a promotional event to encourage the use of a bicycle instead of a car.

cal-red-02Add Bike To Work Day to your calendar:
iCalendar  •  Google Calendar  •  Outlook
 

About Bike To Work Day

On Thursday, May 12, there will be over 400 Energizer Stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where cyclists can stop by for refreshments and promotional items.
511 Contra Costa has supported cyclists and Energizer Station hosts throughout Contra Costa County since 2001 using Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation funds.

Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)

BCOY Eric Odell 2015Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY) award recipients are recognized for their dedication to riding their bike for everyday transportation. They are a testament to the many benefits of bicycle commuting: from improving their health to bringing families together. Nominations are accepted, evaluated and awarded by each county’s Bike to Work Day representative. Learn about 2015 BCOY award winners and their inspiring stories and see past winners from 2008-2014.
Nominate someone you know for Bike Commuter of the Year! The deadline for nominations is April 4.

tbc-logo team bike challenge btwdTeam Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge

Ask your friends, colleagues and neighbors to form a team with you and pedal your way to a greener, healthier and happier commute while earning points and medals! There are big prizes to be had in both Challenges, plus it’s a fun and easy way to see just how much biking does for your health, budget and the environment. 

Need help planning your route?

511 Contra Costa’s Bike Mapper is the innovative and open bicycle mapping system specially designed to find flat, most direct, or fastest routes anywhere in Contra Costa County.  Read more about the 511CC Interactive Bike Mapper here, or check out our selection of free paper and online bike maps.

Contra Costa County Energizer Station Map

Coming Soon

Contra Costa County Energizer Station List

PM hours in bold
Alamo

  • Iron Horse Trail at the Alamo Trail Head, 7:00-10:00 am, RPM Mortgage

Antioch

Brentwood

Concord

  • Monument Corridor Trail across from Mohr Ln at Monument Blvd, 7:00-10:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pmCity of Concord/AssetMark
  • Front of 1371 Detroit Ave (Meadow Homes Elementary School), 7:30-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Front of 1135 Lacey Ln (Cambridge Elementary School), 7:30-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Outside Academic Services Lobby (Cal State East Bay Concord), 7:30-9:00 am & 4:30-6:00 pmCal State East Bay Concord
  • Meadow Homes Park at the corner of Detroit Ave & Sunshine Dr, 3:30-5:30 pmMonument Impact

El Cerrito

El Sobrante

Lafayette

Martinez

  • Martinez AMTRAK, 5:15-9:30 am, Richard A.
  • Bottom of Benicia Bridge, 3:30-6:30 pm, Richard A.

Moraga

Orinda

Pittsburg

Pleasant Hill

Richmond

San Pablo

San Ramon

Walnut Creek

Contra Costa County has 33 Energizer Stations this yearWant to Host an Energizer Station?

If you are interested in volunteering for Bike to Work Day or hosting an Energizer Station in Contra Costa County, please contact us!  Find other Bay Area Energizer Station coordinator contacts here.

A big THANK YOU to our local Energizer Station hosts!

Coming Soon

Five Reasons Why You Should Change Up Your Commute (BTWD 2016)


You’ve probably noticed that traffic congestion in the Bay Area is as bad as it’s ever been, starting at 5 o’clock each morning. Congestion isn’t expected to get better anytime soon and is increasing faster than population and employment. So if you’ve been considering making the switch from commuting alone by car, now is the perfect time!
Here are 6 great reasons to make this the month you change up your commute:
#1: ‘Drive Less’ Commuter Incentive: Make the switch from driving alone to carpooling, taking transit, bicycling or walking for your commute even one day a week and 511 Contra Costa will give you a cash reward as part of the Drive Less Commuter Incentive Program. Get all the details here.
#2: Get There Faster: Transit, carpooling and vanpooling speed up your commute by granting you access to HOV lanes, while biking and walking help you bypass the backup of vehicles almost entirely.
#3: Alternative Commuters Are Healthier & Feel Better: Studies Show riding the bus or train to work is associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight. Research also shows commuting on foot or by bike is better for people’s mental health than driving.
#4: Tax Break for Taking Transit: Did you know you can set aside $255 per month in pre-tax dollars to pay for public transportation? You’ll save money by getting transit tickets & passes tax-free. Ask your employer for details on how to take advantage of this program.
Tri Delta Transit 2015 top logo#5: Free 20-ride Pass from Tri Delta Transit: The easiest way to find out if commuting by transit is for you is by giving it a try. Right now, Tri Delta Transit will let you do it for free. Let them know you want to commute by bus and they’ll send you a free 20-ride Pass, while supplies last. (Deadline to apply: February 14)
We want you to have the best possible experience while trying transit, so make sure to take advantage of all the resources available on the 511 Contra Costa website, with information on taking public transit, participating in vanpools, locating park-and-ride lots and much more. Happy commuting!

Photo: Eric Risberg, Associated Press

Apply for a Free Tri Delta Transit 20-Ride Pass (2016 Promotion)

511 Contra Costa has teamed up with Tri Delta Transit to offer East County commuters a free 20-Ride pass!

You’re eligible for the pass if you:

  • Commute to and from work
  • Are 18 years of age or older
  • Live or work in East Contra Costa
  • Have access to a car & would drive alone if Tri Delta Transit were not available, and
  • Agree to complete a follow-up survey

If you meet the requirements, requesting a free 20-Ride pass is as simple as filling out this online form. After that, Tri Delta Transit will send you a free 20-Ride pass (while supplies last).*
Time is of the essence! This offer expires February 14. Passes will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply today!

 
*Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and observe all program rules in order to receive a free pass. Ineligible or incomplete applications will not be processed. Completing the application does not guarantee receipt of a free pass. Passes not valid on paratransit buses (Dial-a-Ride).

Commuter Transit Benefit Rises to $255 a Month for 2016

LynxBusRidersAs part of a Federal spending-and-tax bill which was passed in December, this year commuters will be able to set aside up to $255 per month in pre-tax dollars to pay for public transportation.
Not only is this a substantial increase over last year’s pre-tax transit benefit ($130), but now the benefit to transit commuters is equal to the parking benefit offered to commuters who drive. The new law also guarantees that the two benefits will remain equal in the future.

California Passes E-Bike Law (2015)

In October, Governor Brown signed legislation into law which clarifies how electric bicycles (e-bikes) should be operated in the state of California.
The law, which takes effect January 1, creates three classes of e-bikes. Class 1 consists of pedal-assist e-bikes while Class 2 consists of e-bikes with throttles. Both classes are limited to motor-assisted speeds of 20 miles per hour and will be allowed to use the same lanes, paths & roadways as traditional (non-electric) bicycles.

Class 3 consists of pedal-assist bikes which can reach assisted speeds of up to 28 miles per hour. This class is restricted to roadways and bike lanes on roadways – they are not permitted on bike paths. Helmets for Class 3 e-bikes are mandatory and riders must be at least 16 years old to use them.
The new law is designed to ensure that e-bikes are treated like traditional bicycles instead of mopeds. As with traditional bicycles, no one riding an e-bike from any of the three classes will be required to have a driver’s license or license plate for their bicycle.
Visit the People for Bikes blog for more on this story.

Bike to Work Day 2015: Celebrate After Work in Concord – 5:30-8:30pm

Bike to Work Day 2015 LogoOn Bike to Work Day, reward yourself for commuting by bicycle with an after-work street party in Concord!
The Bike to Work Day Celebration will be on Salvio Street between Grant and Mount Diablo Streets from 5:30 to 8:30pm. There will be live music, games and face painting for kids, as well as educational booths about biking and safety.
At the Celebration, County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff will deliver a countywide Bike to Work Day Resolution on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. In addition, Bike Concord will provide free bike repair  and EJ Phair will generously donate 10% of food and drink proceeds when patrons mention Bike Concord or Bike East Bay.
For help mapping your bike ride to work, try using the 511CC Bike Mapper. To locate morning and afternoon Bike to Work Day Energizer Stations, click here.

Bike to Work Day 2015: Exciting Energizer Stations – Coffee, Giveaways & More

Bike to Work Day is almost here! Whether you’re already committed to riding or need a tiny bit more motivation, we’ve got the lowdown on Energizer Stations that should not be missed!
Bike to Work Day logoAntioch
• Deer Valley Rd & Wellness Way (Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center) – 6:30-9:30 am: Giving away free bike bells!
Pleasant Hill
• Contra Costa Canal Trail at Gregory Lane – 7:30-8:45 am & 4-6 pm: Raffle to win a $25 gift certificate towards a fitness or dance class with Pleasant Hill Parks & Recreation.
• Pleasant Hill BART Station (near bike racks) – 6:30-9 am: Free bike tune-ups, Peet’s Coffee, bagels & schmear and other snacks.
San Ramon
• Iron Horse Trail at Bollinger Canyon Rd – 6-10 am: East Bay Regional Park District will be giving away free bike bells!
Walnut Creek
• Walnut Creek BART Station (near fare gates) – 6-9 am: Free bike-tune ups!
• Iron Horse Trail/Canal Trail Intersection Energizer Station – 6:30-9:30 am: Free Starbucks Coffee and bike bells!
• Iron Horse Trail/Canal Trail Intersection Energizer Station – 4-7 pm: Make your own slushy on a bike-blender! (weather permitting)

BART Seeking Rider Input on January 2016 Fare Increase

BART carBART has announced a 3.4 percent regular fare increase, scheduled for January 1, 2016. The estimated $15 million in added annual revenue will fund BART’s highest priority capital needs including new rail cars, an automated train control system, and an expanded maintenance facility.
BART wants rider feedback and will be taking comments through April 28. You can send your input by email (fares@bart.gov), phone (510-464-6752), taking their online survey, or by fax or US mail. For more information, see the official BART press release.

BIKE TO WORK DAY: THURSDAY MAY 14, 2015

BTWD15_Logo
Bike to Work Day is a promotional event to encourage the use of a bicycle instead of a car.
Contra Costa County Energizer Stations
Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)
Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge
Need help planning your route?
Host an Energizer Station Next Year
Our 2015 Local Hosts

Bike to Work Day 2015 is presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, 511 and Kaiser Permanente.  Regional sponsors include the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Clear Channel Outdoor, The Canary Foundation and Challenge, Clif Bar, Bay Area Bike Share, REI and KPIX TV.
There will be over 300 Energizer Stations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area where cyclists can stop by for refreshments and promotional items.  511 Contra Costa has supported cyclists and Energizer Station hosts throughout Contra Costa County since 2001 using Bay Area Air Quality Management District funds and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation funds.

Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)

Nominate your favorite bicycle commuter as a Bike Commuter of the Year.  One winner from each of the nine Bay Area counties will be selected.  All nominations must be submitted by April 20, 2015.
Congratulations to Eric Odell.  Read how Eric Odell is Contra Costa County’s 2015 Bike Commuter of the Year Winner.

Team Bike Challenge & Company Bike Challenge

The competition begins May 1, 2015 between friends and colleagues.  

511CC Bike MapperNeed help planning your route?

511 Contra Costa’s Bike Mapper is the innovative and open bicycle mapping system specially designed to find flat, most direct, or fastest routes anywhere in Contra Costa County.  Read more about the 511CC Interactive Bike Mapper here, or check out our selection of free paper and online bike maps.

Contra Costa Energizer Station Map


See Contra Costa County Energizer Stations in a larger map
See all Bay Area Energizer Stations

Contra Costa Energizer Station List

PM hours in bold
Alamo

  • Andrew H. Young Park at Danville Blvd & Jackson Way, 7:00-9:30 am, RPM Mortgage
  • Iron Horse Trail at Stone Valley Rd West, 7:00-9:30 am, RPM Mortgage

Antioch

Brentwood

Concord

  • Front of 1371 Detroit Ave (Meadow Homes Elementary School), 7:00-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Front of 1135 Lacey Ln (Cambridge Elementary School), 7:00-8:30 am, Monument Impact
  • Near fare gates at Concord BART, 7:00-9:00 am & 4:00-6:00 pm, Bank of America/County Connection
  • Monument Corridor Trail across from Mohr Ln at Monument Blvd, 7:00-10:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pmCity of Concord/AssetMark
  • Outside Academic Services Lobby (Cal State East Bay Concord), 7:30-9:00 am & 4:30-6:00 pmCal State East Bay Concord
  • Front of 1900 Grant St (Todos Santos Plaza), 2:00-5:00 pm, Umpqua Bank
  • Monument Corridor Trail at Meadow Ln, 3:00-5:30 pmMonument Impact

Danville

El Cerrito

  • Just half way up the block from El Cerrito Plaza Bart at the New Ohlone Greenway Natural Area, 7:00-9:00 am, City of El Cerrito
  • Front of 540 Ashbury Ave (El Cerrito High School), 7:30-9:30 am, El Cerrito High School

El Sobrante

Hercules

Lafayette

Martinez

Moraga

Orinda

Pinole

Pittsburg

Pleasant Hill

Richmond

San Pablo

San Ramon

Walnut Creek

Want to Host an Energizer Station?

If you are interested in volunteering for Bike to Work Day or hosting an Energizer Station next year, please contact us!

A big thank you to our local hosts!

WestCAT Testing Double-Decker Bus on LYNX Route (2015)

If you ride WestCAT’s LYNX route, get ready to start seeing double!

Photo Courtesy WestCAT
Photo Courtesy WestCAT

AC Transit handed off a shiny, new 80-seat double-decker bus (on loan from manufacturer Alexander Dennis) to WestCAT earlier this week, and it went into active use today!

The double-decker bus will be part of the LYNX fleet for a demonstration period through March 26-April 13. In order to give everyone an opportunity to experience the new vehicle, the bus will be scheduled for use on various LYNX runs. WestCAT will use Twitter (
@wccta), Facebook (facebook.com/wccta), and their website to advise customers on which runs the bus will be traveling on a particular day.
WestCAT is testing the bus to see if double-deckers would be a useful addition to the LYNX fleet. Those who ride the double-decker bus will be asked for feedback, which will be used to help the agency determine whether to consider acquiring similar buses. If the WestCAT Board of Directors decides to purchase double-decker buses, customers could see them in service as early as 2017.
For more information about the double-decker bus demonstration, visit westcat.org or call (510) 724-3331.

Commuter Ferry Returning to Richmond (2015)

On March 5, 2015 the Water Emergency Transportation Association (WETA) Board approved the Richmond Ferry Project Agreement, signalling the return of ferry service between San Francisco and Richmond.
Richmond Ferry Terminal
The Water Authority will now order two catamaran ferry vessels — which will become part of the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet — and build the new ferry terminal at Ford Peninsula in Richmond. According to the Agreement, ferry riders can expect:

  • In the morning (6am-9am), three trips to San Francisco, with two reverse commute trips back to Richmond
  • In the evening (3pm-7pm), four trips from San Francisco to Richmond, with three reverse commute trips back to San Francisco
  • The possibillity of mid-day service being established if demand and funding are sufficient

The Agreement does not provide for service on weekends, holidays or for San Francisco Giants games. Service is expected to begin sometime in 2018. For 2018, adult fares will be $9.10 one-way, or $6.80 with a Clipper Card. The youth and senior fares will be $4.50 and children under 5 will ride free.
For more information about the Richmond Ferry Project Agreement, click here.

Overnight Highway 4 Closure (Antioch): February 25-27, 2015

The California Department of Transportation and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority are constructing two new connector ramps, one connecting westbound State Route 4 (SR-4) to northbound SR-160, and one connecting southbound State Route 160 (SR-160) to eastbound SR-4 in Contra Costa County.
Part of this construction work entails adjustment of temporary bridge supports that span over SR-4. In order to ensure crew and public safety during this work, the contractor will close all lanes of SR-4 in the eastbound and westbound directions between the SR-4/SR-160 connector ramp and Laurel Road.
These closures are scheduled to take place on the evenings of February 25, 26, and 27th from 11:59pm to 5:00 am.
The detour for this work will be as follows:

  • Eastbound motorist will be directed off the highway at the SR-160 off-ramp and redirected to return to eastbound SR-4 via the Laurel Road on-ramp.
  • Westbound motorist will be directed off the highway at Laurel Road on-ramp and redirected to westbound SR-4 via the entrance of southbound SR-160.

Full-Freeway-Closure-betwee
Motorists are advised to expect delays and allow extra time for their commute. Please drive with caution through the detours and leave safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.

New Hillcrest Park & Ride Lot is Almost Ready to Open (2014)

Old Hillcrest Park & RideCommuters catching Tri Delta Transit buses at the current Hillcrest Park & Ride on a typical weekday afternoon

Big changes are coming up for the Hillcrest Park & Ride lot located in Antioch at the corner of Hillcrest Avenue and Sunset Drive.  Starting Sunday, February 16, 2014, commuters will be parking a bit further up on Sunset Drive on Lot A of the upcoming eBART station.

Hillcrest Park&Ride Layout 2

The new parking lot will feature an additional 94 spaces for commuters.  The bus loading area will also be relocated to an area adjacent to the future eBART station.  Tri Delta Transit and other transit operators are recommending that you allow additional time to catch your bus.   In anticipation of some confusion to the new changes, signs and ambassadors will be on site Tuesday, February 18th to help commuters.

Hillcrest Park & Ride
Hillcrest Park & Ride

511 Contra Costa is excited to see that the new Hillcrest Park & Ride lot is almost ready to open to the public.  It looks like finishing touches are being put into place when staff stopped by for a preview.

By the end of 2017, all 1,000 spaces of BART’s Antioch (eBART) Station parking lot will be available for use for drivers who use Tri Delta Transit, eBART and other local public transit systems.  And what will happen to the current parking lot?  The old Hillcrest Park and Ride will be demolished to clear space for freeway onramps and offramps.

Information Source: Contra Costa TimesEast County Today, Tri Delta Transit

Visualizing Bay Area Commute Patterns

ActiveMaps
(A still of commute patterns in the East Bay. Screen grab via: Activemaps)

Data is an empowering and effective tool for better understanding our everyday lives, and when that information can be easily digested through visuals we are all the more grateful. With this in mind, a thank you is due to UC Berkeley planning Ph.D. student Fletcher Foti, who recently  compiled commute patterns in greater New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and created an interactive visualization called “Active Maps.” Active Maps shows a day of travel from recent travel surveys and can be sorted by income and zoomed to specific areas. Each circle represents a person, and the size of the circle represents the age of the person. When looking at the East Bay, it’s interesting to note regardless of income, transit and walking appear to be most prevalent  around Berkeley and Oakland whereas the surrounding parts of Alameda and Contra Costa County appear more car-dependent.
For additional coverage, visit The Atlantic City and San Francisco Streetsblog.
*(Note: the default map is for New York, though you can click on the drop-down bar to select the San Francisco Bay Area)
 

New Commuting Trend: Bike Trains

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Bike commuting– much safer and pleasant when there’s company. Photo credit: Walk Eagle Rock

Los Angeles has been making headlines in recent years because of the region’s willingness to invest in alternatives to the automobile, particularly in bringing back an efficient and convenient train system. However, it now appears that another form of commuter train has been built… bike trains!

What are bike trains? The founders of LA Bike Trains, the organization spearheading the concept, put together this concise explanation:

We provide a rolling party along select routes run by Conductors – experienced urban cyclists – to harness the safety of riding in a group while kicking it up a notch by making the ride a fun social experience.  And it’s totally free!
All you need to do is submit your email, cell phone number and the route that you’re interested in. If you don’t see a route that works for you – suggest one and if you’re interested in leading a Bike Train as a Conductor – let us know.

In essence, the bike train concept brings you together with those people you see bicycling during your bike commute, the ones you see and think to yourself , “Wouldn’t it be cool if we ride together as a group? It would be safer and more fun to ride with other people!”
At the moment, Los Angeles has ten different bike train routes scattered across the region, all of which have their own “conductor” leading particular routes with specific departure times. LA Bike Trains even offers commuter surveys to gather input to figure out what routes throughout the county are in high demand.
The hopes of the LA Bike Trains founders are that by offering a more comfortable experience, bicycling can be made more accessible by those intimidated by the thought of cycling to work, and so far, the concept has received positive feedback.
For more information on LA Bike Trains, visit their websitecheck them out on twitter (and the hashtag #LABikeTrain) or see their facebook page.

How Do You Actually Get Commuter Benefits?

Bike to Work Day at the Mid Market Energizer Station
Bike to Work Day 2010 in San Francisco. Photo credit: Bay Area Fair Trade Coalition
In an earlier post here at 511 Contra Costa we noted that commuter benefits for vanpooling and public transportation had been restored through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (HR 8) to be on par with the qualified parking benefit

For the 2013 calendar year:

  • up to $245 per employee withholding per month for vanpool and all public transportation
  • up to $245 per employee withholding per month for qualified parking, or
  • up to $490 per employee withholding per month for both public transportation and qualified parking

This is great news but how does one go about setting aside pre-tax income for a commute benefit? Here are some steps you can take to get started.
First, make sure you’re using a qualifying commute alternative. The benefit is available to commuters who commute to work in a vanpool, use public transit, or pay for qualified parking. (Carpooling does not currently qualify for pre-tax benefits.)
Next, ask your employer if commuter tax benefits are offered; typically Human Resources or Benefits department will know.  If your employer isn’t aware of the benefit, share the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits  with them.
Step three is to set up a payroll withholding for the qualified commute benefit you use. Keep in mind, your employer must have this benefit set up as a pre-tax withholding option in the payroll system.
There is also a benefit for commuting by bicycle though the process is slightly different because unlike other pre-tax commuter benefits the bicycle benefit cannot be withheld from your pay.  See the full tax code here
Note: Withe the passage of California Senate Bill 1339, employers in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Are with 50 ore more employees will be required to offer some sort of commuter benefit – one of the options is to offer employees to withhold pre-tax income for vanpooling, transit or qualified parking.  Look for more information on the roll-out of this bill in summer of  2013.  The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are developing the Rule.
 

Bikes on BART in March (2013)

Bikes on Bart Pilot Aug. 3, 2012
Bikes on BART during August’s “Bike Friday”. Photo Credit: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Remember when BART experimented with allowing bicycles on trains during Friday rush hour in August, known as “Bike Friday?” Following the mostly positive, encouraging feedback the agency received  during that test run BART is ready to try it again. A second phase of “bikes on board” testing will occur during the week of Monday, March 18 through Friday, March 22, 2012.
To clarify, during this upcoming phase bicycles will be allowed in all stations and on all trains all day during the test week. The standing policy which limits bicycle access to BART during commute hours will not be enforced.
For additional details head over to BART and see the full announcement. Or for a refresher of what Bike Friday was like, check out the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s flickr set covering that test run.

BART Proposes Capacity Improvements (2013)

BART rebuild
Proposed improvements would allow riders to board and exit on both sides of the train! Image via BART
There’s been no shortage of BART news lately here at 511 Contra Costa– from improved signage, to new (and old) extensions under construction, to experiments with allowing bikes on during rush hour and of course BART’s 40th birthday.
The latest word comes to us via the SF Gate– that BART is proposing rebuilding two of system’s busiest stations to include new tunnels, elevators and extra platforms that will accommodate projected capacity demands in the future. The SF Gate writes:

The rebuilding of the Embarcadero and Montgomery Street stations would require tearing out the existing walls, installing new platforms, boring additional tunnels for staircases, and putting in extra elevators.

For added safety, the new platforms would have automated sliding glass doors that would open when the trains arrive.

The projects, in total, could take well over five years to complete.

New Commuter Incentive Program

a perfectly squared vision of the embarcadero
Market Street, San Francisco. Photo credit: torbakhopper

Head’s up!
511CC has a new commuter incentive program page! Learn how you can partake in the Drive Less Commuter Incentive Program and get a cash reward for switching from commuting in a single-occupant motor vehicle to carpooling, transit, bicycling or walking.
Driving less really can help reduce environmental impacts and relieve traffic congestion for all, even if you only ditch the car once a week for your work commute. So if you need an incentive to join the growing number of people saying good-bye to gridlock and leaving the car at home when commuting, be sure to check out the commuter incentive program.
And who knows, it might permanently change your commuting habits once you realize the many things you can get done – like catching up on reading, get exercise, or check email – when not driving. You might even decide to ditch the car for shorter trips too!

Mobile Phone Bike Mounts

A couple days ago we posted about nifty mobile phone apps for commuters and bike enthusiasts. GPS maps, speed and heart rate stats, music… all great and awesome, but how are you supposed to handle all of that while still using two hands to ride your bike? Here are a couple of mobile phone bike mounts that’ll solve your problems. Unfortunately, most of the bike mounts out there are still only compatible with the iPhone. Users with other phones might have to do a bit of manual modifications!
TIP: Be very careful on your first ride out with these mounts! Make sure everything has been attached and fitted properly, and even then, there’s no guarantee that your phone will be 100% protected from falling out and breaking. Just use your smarts and be careful!

1. Dahon Biologic

  • Weatherproof : welded touch-sensitive membrane prevents water ingress
  • 360 degree pivot option: portrait or landscape mode, it’s your choice
  • Weather protected openings for camera, headphones and charge cable
  • Compatible with iPhone
  • $53.95 from Amazon

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