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Ticket to Ride

Nadia Ferguson, Development Assistant, hosting a booth about the transit subsidy program at the 2024 Providence Sustainability Fair.

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PHC’s new Transit Discount Program encourages sustainable commuting habits

The most recent Transit Service Performance Review by TransLink reports that transit ridership is back to pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, there were over 390 million rides taken on the system, and according to 2019 data, approximately a quarter of Vancouver-area workers commute using public transit, including health care workers.

Nadia Ferguson, Development Assistant, and Ankita Desai, Project Employee, are part of the team supporting Providence’s Transit Subsidy Program.

Last year, Providence Health Care (PHC) launched a Transit Discount Program (TDP) for employees, making it more attractive to commute sustainably via TransLink. Eligible employees (regular full-/part-time) can receive a 50% subsidy on monthly TransLink 1-, 2- or 3-zone passes or stored value of either $25 or $50 per month.

In the first five months of the program, over 2,000 PHC employees enrolled. This near-instant popularity can be attributed to the significant savings the new program offers. Previously, eligible staff could enroll in a 15% transit subsidy. Now, with the subsidy increased to 50%, enrollments have quadrupled compared to the same time last year.

By increasing the transit subsidy, Providence Health Care has qualified as a TransLink “Transit Friendly Employer.” Debbie Pratt, Wellness Manager, sees this new designation as a magnet for talent, demonstrating PHC’s foundational commitment to sustainability and employee wellness.

Staff enrolled in the program benefit from significant cost savings, making transit a more attractive option over driving, sparing them fuel and parking expenses. Plus, the simple act of walking to a bus stop weaves exercise and a bit of stress relief into their daily lives. Debbie highlights how the move not only eases traffic in the Lower Mainland but also combats climate change and improves local air quality. Fewer cars mean healthier communities.

The launch of the TDP owes much to the dedicated individuals working behind the scenes, so that the program is easy for staff to use. Spearheading the program are administrators in the Occupational Health & Safety’s Wellness Team, who oversee every facet of the program’s execution and work closely with the HR Data Analytics team for data integration, automation, and analysis. The Payroll Team at PHSA handles all payroll deductions, and TransLink loads Compass Cards of participating employees to ensure their subsidies are received without delay. To get to this point, a Project Manager from the Office of Strategy & Results also guided the program’s development and implementation.

Developing the program’s technical infrastructure required meticulous planning and collaboration across various departments. Integrating systems and ensuring data accuracy were notable hurdles to overcome. However, collaborative problem solving resulted in “a great learning experience,” says Debbie.

As more employees opt into Providence’s transit discount program, more health care workers can come along for the ride to a future where sustainable transportation is the norm.

For more information on PHC’s Transit Discount Program, visit PHC Connect.