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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evaluating the effects of cashing out employer-paid parking: Eight case studies

  • Author(s): Shoup, Donald C.
  • et al.

California law requires many employers to offer commuters the option to choose cash in lieu of any parking subsidy offered. This report presents case studies of eight firms that have complied with California’s cash-out requirement. For the 1,694 employees of the eight firms, the number of solo drivers to work fell by 17 percent after cashing out. The number of carpoolers increased by 64 percent, the number of transit riders increased by 50 percent, and the number who walk or bike to work increased by 39 percent. Vehicle-miles traveled for commuting to the eight firms fell by 12 percent. Carbon dioxide emissions from commuting fell by 367 kilograms per employee per year. The eight firms’ spending for commuting subsidies rose by $2 per employee per month because payments in lieu of parking increased slightly more than spending for parking declined. Federal and state income tax revenues increased by $65 per employee per year because many commuters voluntarily traded tax-exempt parking subsidies for taxable cash. Employers praised the cash option for its simplicity and fairness, and said that it helped to recruit and retain employees. The benefit/cost ratio of the eight cash-out programs was at least 4/1. In summary, these eight case studies show that cashing out employer-paid parking can benefit commuters, employers, taxpayers, and the environment. All these benefits derive from subsidizing people, not parking.

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