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Make D.C.'s Hospitals and Universities Sustainable
Georgetown University is the District's second-largest employer. Photo by Kyle Rush.

Georgetown University is the District's second-largest employer. Photo by Kyle Rush.

Walking out of Union Station this morning, I received a little flyer to go to www.commuternation.com/dc from a few guys standing outside. I was told that I could save up to 40% on my commute! Of course, I took these helpful advertisers advice and went to the website, where an overly long video explained that I should convince my employer to sign up for the commuter benefits program. It was, of course, sponsored by Accor, the company that administers the commuter benefits program. My employer already does, so that’s moot, but it did get me thinking.

The transportation community puts a lot of time and effort into thinking about how to make individuals want to do something other than drive to work. There is much less effort put into incentivizing businesses into making individuals want not to drive to work. This is important because businesses are very, very good at getting their employees to do what they want. Convince a few large employers that it’s worth their while to get their employees out of cars and it will happen, separate from improvements in infrastructure entirely.

The fifteen largest non-governmental employers in the District are: The George Washington University, Georgetown University, Washington Hospital Center, Howard University, Fannie Mae, Children’s National Medical Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Howard University Hospital, American University, Providence Hospital, The Washington Post, Catholic University of America, Marriott Hotel Services, Sibley Memorial Hospital and the George Washington University Hospital. Why isn’t there a push to convince the collective universities and hospitals of the District—a group more sympathetic to the environment, public health, and public pressure than average—that they should offer a small bonus to those who don’t drive or some similar policy? It’s a great way to drive lots of change very quickly.

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