Updated commuter incentive program benefits student employees

The updated commuter incentive program rewards employees and students for healthy transportation methods.


Soren Iverson/THE CHIMES

Augusta McDonnell, Writer

The updated commuter incentive program gives all Biola employees, including students, a reward for using any type of transportation to get to work besides driving themselves. This includes walking, bike riding, carpooling, public transit, telecommuting or electric vehicles.


The regional Air Quality Management District requires all employers with over 50 employees to reach certain AVRs, or average vehicle ridership. Biola needs to have a 1.5 AVR mandatory, said Traci Hart, administrative assistant to the senior director of human resources. The goal is to have two cars driven to work for every three employees present. The number of cars can be reduced by carpooling, or people who use alternative means of transportation.

Biola did not meet the AVR requirement for the first time last year. The AVR is determined through a survey of all employees once a year. The university reported to AQMD they had not met the requirement but were going to encourage employees to use alternative transportation.

The plan wasn’t approved until February, and the new incentives began March 1, said Hart.

The university is fined very heavily if the AVR is not met, which increases tuition. The AQMD allows the university an opportunity to implement incentives that are less expensive and three years to make the improvements, Hart said.

Employees can claim a dollar each day they commute to work using alternative transportation or carpool, which for students includes walking from on-campus housing to an on-campus job. The incentive is added to paychecks once a month.

To report the days they used alternative transportation, employees fill out the form on my.biola.edu by going to the student financials tab and clicking on the commuter card link in the student employee box.

“We’ve had to soup it up. We’re trying to make employees more aware of the program, as well as extending the arrival time for a dollar-a-day to anytime throughout the day, Monday through Friday,” Hart said.

Any employees using alternative transportation for 19 or more days in a month get a voucher for a free lunch at the Caf, Hart said. There will also be prize drawings every three months for anyone who has commuted over 20 days in that period. Three prizes will be awarded every quarter. 

The prizes are yet to be determined. The first drawing will happen at the end of this school year.


The university is implementing strategies to reach student employees and word is slowly getting out about what is available to them in the updated program. Student employees at Biola are interested in learning more, but most are unaware of the changes.

“How do we sign up for that?” asked freshman communication disorders major Katie Grebbian. 

Sophomore biblical studies major Stefan Vandenkooy expressed interest in the new program.

“Yeah I would definitely look into it, that’s dope,” he said.

The new incentive program will hopefully benefit employees and prevent the university from having to accommodate the heavy fine.

“We’re trying to find ways to start a culture versus having people do this because they get money,” Hart said.


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