Oregon DEQ may expand a Portland program that rewards alternative commutes statewide

By Jasmine Lewin (KLCC)
May 23, 2023 8:40 p.m.

The Employee Commute Options program requires larger employers to incentivize transportation methods like buses, trains and bikes.

The #4 Trimet bus runs between St. Johns and Gresham.

FILE - The TriMet No. 4 bus is pictured in 2017. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality may expand a program to encourage alternative modes of transportation like buses, in an effort to reduce car trips statewide.

Julie Sabatier / OPB

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to expand a program that tries to limit the number of auto trips to work, as part of an effort to reduce air pollution.


A fixture in Portland since 1996, the Employee Commute Options program applies to companies with over 100 workers at any given job site. Those employers must provide incentives for options like taking the bus or carpooling.

Gerik Kransky is an air quality planner with the Oregon DEQ. He said the program has had a measurable environmental impact, and that its success has prompted a proposal to expand to Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene-Springfield, Grants Pass, Medford and Salem-Keizer.

“We are still planning to develop it to be flexible and responsive to the unique needs of cities inside Oregon that aren’t Portland,” Kransky said. “Transit access isn’t quite as broad or so easily accessible in some of these other cities, so we want to make sure we’re accommodating for different transportation choices there.”

The goal is to reduce auto commute trips by 15%. Opponents to the program’s expansion say the rules could negatively affect employers.

Rep. Cyrus Javadi, R-Tillamook, said in comments submitted to DEQ that the current proposals are “unreasonable and impractical, particularly for employers in smaller communities.” He added that “it is simply not the time to add costs and regulatory burdens for employers.”