Traffic congestion, parking problems and an effort to be more environmentally friendly has prompted the University of Miami to begin offering discounted and free transit passes to full-time staff and faculty beginning June 1.
Under what’s being called the Public Transit Program, university employees making $35,000 or less can receive a Miami-Dade Metropass and a Tri-Rail pass at no cost, while those making more than $35,000 can purchase the passes at half price.
The Miller School of Medicine, one of the university’s largest employers, has seen participation in the transit program grow from 1,100 in June to 2,785 this month. “It’s been an incredibly powerful program,” said Paul Hudgins, associate vice president of human resources for the medical school. “You can see it from how the numbers have dramatically increased in the past month.”
Hudgins said the program responds to employee concerns about the costs of parking and fuel, as well as the stress of commuting in heavy traffic. “When we stepped back and looked at their concerns, we realized that the program would be fulfilling several of their needs, including work-life balance,” he said.
Because of the limitation of the transit system, Hudgins said the program, which is subsidized by the medical school through the University of Miami, doesn’t serve the needs of all medical center employees. “We’re going to look for ways to serve the others, through carpooling and working with the county on opening up routes that serve high concentrations of our employees,” he said. “This is an evolving program that we hope will benefit our recruitment and retention.”