At Microsoft, one of the ways in which employees can contribute directly to reducing the company’s environmental footprint is through their daily commute. We continue to find ways to encourage employees to get to work in a more sustainable way. One of the ways we help reduce the number of vehicles on the road is by providing employees access to programs like The Connector, a free Puget Sound bus service that is available to all fulltime Microsoft employees.
When this service was launched in September of 2007, there were only five routes. Today, employees enjoy access to 22 routes served by 74 buses. Each route runs several times a day, providing flexibility and convenience for employees traveling between work and home. The entire fleet of buses was recently upgraded with 4G Wi-Fi, enabling commuters to be productive and optimize commute time or to just put on a video, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Over the past six years of service, the Connector has eliminated more than 4.2 million single occupancy vehicle trips, which equates to 59 million miles of travel and 56 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduced. On top of reducing the number of cars on the road and decreasing CO2 emissions, it has saved ~$8.2 million in personal fuel expenses for employees. Employees are able to see how their use of The Connector has had a positive impact by viewing The Connector’s website.
In addition to The Connector, there are also several other commuting options and conveniences available to Microsoft employees that provide an alternative to driving alone. Puget Sound-area employees are eligible to obtain an ORCA card, which provides seamless access to buses, trains, ferries and vanpools. Microsoft also offers a Car/Van pooling program, a flexible and convenient option that only requires two people to participate. Through this program, conducted in partnership with the City of Redmond, Microsoft employees are eligible to earn cash and/or other incentives for their commitment to helping to reduce their environmental footprint.
Beyond these ride sharing options, there are several programs to support a bicycle commute. Microsoft provides a bicycle shuttle to carry cyclists across the very busy 520 bridge. Reimbursement programs for bicycle purchases, improvements, maintenance and storage, on-campus bicycle tune-up stations, and large amounts of available bicycle parking all help make commuting by bicycle a more feasible option for employees.
Once commuters get to work, there are lockers and showers provided all over campus to support those who have biked, run or walked to work. There is a Guaranteed Ride Home program to help account for any unexpected events that might occur during the work day that would require an immediate ride home, which covers up to six free cab rides home each fiscal year. There is even a Carsharing program that provides employees convenient access to carshare vehicles located on the Microsoft campus. These vehicles are intended for short term, personal travel, such as running an errand or getting to and from a medical appointment.
We understand that flexibility is important and we are working to provide the necessary conveniences to make employees choosing to leave their cars at home as easy a decision as possible. Overall, Microsoft remains committed to reducing carbon emissions throughout our operations and will continue to provide and evolve options for employees to commute to work.