The U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Public Transit Association have signed up for a new Metro program in which employers will sell transit passes and subway farecards to their employes.
The program, named Metro Pool, was announced by Metro General Manager Richard S. Page. He said he hopes to encourage employers to actually subsidize their employes' transit fares the way many employes now subsidize employe parking.
Page, who came to Metro last May with a strong background in marketing and transit operations, said that many private companies had expressed "genuine interest" in the program.
He also released letters from the public transit association, which employs 48 people downtown, and U.S. Transportation Secretary $99;[Text omitted FROM SOURCE] Goldschmidt, who has 8,500 employes in Washington, pledging to participate.
Both agencies said they would offer Metro passes or Farecards through payroll deduction plans. Metro would deliver the required number of cards and passes to the employers, who would distribute them.
The same technique could be used by companies that want to subsidize their employes' transit costs, Page said.
Such a subsidy would be a tax deduction for the employer, he noted, and, under current fares, it would cost between $320 and $470 less a year to pay an employes' entire transit costs than to pay for a $720 parking space.
The last employer parking survey by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, conducted in 1974, estimated that in the downtown area alone there were 16,000 to 18,000 parking spaces that were subsidized by private companies for their employes.
Congressional Quarterly, a Washington magazine, recently became the first private business to announce that it would partially subsidize its employes' transit fares. Arlington County also has a subsidy program for its employes.
Metro offers three kinds of transit passes that are good for two weeks of unlimited bus rides in various parts of the metropolitan area plus a limited number of rail rides. The Metro board has expressed interest in increasing the kinds of passes available, a move Page has opposed because, he told board members, it would make his Metro Pool program more difficult to market.