When Thrivent Financial began considering building a new corporate center in downtown Minneapolis, the company had to find ways of helping employees who relied on parking lots that would be lost during construction.
Part of their answer: Promote transit.
Over the past year, the company has invited employees to six commuter education events, including bus and light rail demonstrations. Thrivent also further offset the cost of using transit by increasing its Metropass subsidy, leading to a 40 percent increase in program participation.
The efforts were undertaken in partnership with the Minneapolis-based Transportation Management Organization Move Minneapolis and with financial support from Hennepin County’s Green Partners program.
“The Thrivent workforce lives throughout the Twin Cities area, and around 50 percent of them use some sort of transit or alternative commuting method,” said John Bachhuber, vice president of HR Services at Thrivent. “We’re pleased we’ve been able to help even more of our employees learn about ways they can get to work safely, cost-effectively and efficiently using available transit resources.”
For their efforts, Thrivent was recognized as the Employer of the Year at the annual Commuter Choice Awards on Thursday, April 26. The awards recognize companies, building owners, individuals and organizations that support sustainable transportation in the Twin Cities.
Metro Transit works with area Transportation Management Organizations (TMOs) to organize and host the awards. Other Commuter Choice Award winners include:
Building Owner/Management Company: Opus Group
Opus Group’s Nic on Fifth is the definition of transit-oriented: its lobby level is fully-integrated into the Nicollet Mall Station, one of the busiest boarding locations in the Twin Cities. In addition to the Green and Blue lines, the building is served by nearly 100 bus routes. The high-rise apartment building, which opened in 2014, also offers secure tenant bicycle parking and a tenant ride-sharing program.
Commuter Benefits Coordinators: Tim Bruzek and Ericka Palmer, Sleep Number
Tim Bruzek and Ericka Palmer helped nearly 1,000 Sleep Number employees understand their commute options when the company relocated from a corporate campus in Plymouth to downtown Minneapolis. During its move, Sleep Number joined the Metropass program and began offering carpool parking to employees.
Government Entity: City of Saint Paul
City staff worked with Saint Paul Smart Trips-Transit for Livable Communities to make transit and biking more prominent feature’s of the city’s transportation webpages. The city’s website also now provides real-time parking information during large events, allowing people to make more-informed, real-time decisions about their travel choices.
Commuter Champion: Sean Hayford Oleary
Sean Hayford Oleary has led the charge for better bicycle facilities in Richfield for several years. He was the founding member of Richfield Bike Advocates and has served as a commissioner on the city’s transportation commission, where he helped advance plans for 2.5 miles of protected bike lanes on 66th Street – the longest stretch of such bike lanes in Hennepin County.
Honorable mention: Anne Schultz, Richfield Chamber of Commerce President
Organization: Native American Community Clinic
The Native American Community Clinic has been an active promoter of the Transit Assistance Program, which provides qualifying low-income residents to reduced-cost fares. More than 70 members of the Native American community have enrolled in the program with help from clinic staff.
Honorable mention: Ravoux Hi-Rise Resident Council, University of Saint Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership