Evaluating Commuter Benefits Reforms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

TitleEvaluating Commuter Benefits Reforms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAdam Rosenfield, John Attanucci, Jinhua Zhao
Conference NameTransportation Research Board 98th Annual Meeting
Conference LocationWashington, D.C.

In 2016, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) introduced a series of commuter benefits reforms for its ten thousand employees. Motivated by aging parking facilities and pressures for alternative land uses, as well as the Institute's climate goals, MIT sought to reduce parking demand by ten percent through a series of enhanced benefits. Branded as AccessMIT, the program included providing each employee with a fully subsidized local transit pass built into their MIT ID card, paid for by MIT on a per- use basis to the transit agency. For drivers, monthly and annual parking permits were replaced with daily, pay-as-you-park pricing. Subsidies for commuter rail were increased, and a new 50% subsidy on parking fees at transit stations was introduced to encourage last-mile transit commuting. An online commuter dashboard was launched with incentives and gamification to aid with program outreach.
The net result was an eight percent reduction in parking demand in the first year, at a net cost to MIT of about $200 per employee. Transit agency revenue increased as ridership among MIT employees rose approximately ten percent, and the overall single-occupant vehicle mode share declined to 25% while overall employee satisfaction increased. The program helped allow MIT to manage the closure of a 372- space garage in 2017 without denying parking to any employee drivers, and will help accommodate future parking supply reductions. The program serves as a successful case study of how transit-oriented employer benefits can effect a mode shift away from drive-alone commuting in a cost-effective manner.