The City of Austin recently used $40,000 to lure employees who work downtown to park their cars at home, carpool or take public transportation.
Four-hundred employees were eligible, but only 27 took the offer. One of those was City of Austin employee Andy Moore. He has been receiving a monthly bonus, a free Capital Metro pass and an allowance for emergency taxi rides home.
"On the bridge, as I'm riding my bike to work, I am riding by all the cars that are stuck waiting to cross. I feel like I am getting to work faster," Moore said. "I've tried to let folks know there are commute solutions for folks, and there are other ways for them to get to work without driving."
Austin’s Transportation Director Robert Spillar said many of the 27 participants were already part-time transit users. He's planning tweaks to the permanent program to free up more spaces full-time.
"We didn't attract as many people as we'd hoped to attract," Spillar said."There is the opportunity to resell those employee parking spaces to people who want to come to city hall or come downtown."
Managers of the parking garage at city hall stand to earn as much as $10 for every spot not used for official city hall business. That money is then put toward paying off the debt of the building.
The other target group in the pilot program was the downtown library. Most employees are forced to park across the street on the roof of a private parking garage.
"With the pilot, because it was short-term, we didn't try to resell those spaces,” Spillar said. “But we certainly saw where we could make it neutral from a revenue perspective."
The pilot program cost less than a fourth of what was put toward it. The city council asked that the rest of it be used to continue the pilot.
A permanent program will be rolled out next year.