Employer-subsidised tickets are good for free rides also on free time

15.12.2022 10.53
Suvi Anttila in front of the POP Bank Centre office.
Increasing remote working has reduced commuting. Suvi Anttila commutes to the office in Leppävaara on average two days a week by bike or bus.Photo: Petja Partanen

New POP Bank Centre employees can choose a free parking space or an employer-subsidised ticket for public transport for fringe benefit. An increasing number of the employees choose a free HSL ticket – and the new employee bicycle benefit.

The 86 employees at the POP Bank Centre in Leppävaara, Espoo, manage the group operations of the 19 Finnish POP Banks from information technology to marketing.  The employees can choose between a free employer-subsidised ticket or a parking space as an employee benefit. A parking space paid for by the employer in the Sello car park is still the number one choice, but public transport is a close second. Of the employees of the bank centre with excellent transport connections, 38 have chosen the free parking space and 32 the employer-subsidised public transport ticket.  “The popularity of the employer-subsidised commuter ticket has increased over the past year,” says Minna Akola, HR Specialist at the centre.

One who chose the ticket is Scrum Master Suvi Anttila, whose eight-kilometre commute from Niittykumpu to Leppävaara is by direct bus during peak hours but usually by bicycle in the summertime.

The family also has an electric car, which the spouse uses to commute to work. The employer-subsidised ticket, valid throughout the year, also reduces the use of the family car in leisure time.  “If you are going to Helsinki, public transport is the best option for those living by the metro. It just is so easy and smooth,” says Suvi Anttila.

The IT professional mainly uses public transport or bicycle within the HSL area. “The car is used mainly to visit relatives living in the countryside,” Anttila says.

Traffic accounts for one-third of Espoo’s greenhouse gas emissions. Commuting takes place every weekday, so the emissions are significant. Workplaces help to drive sustainable mobility as outlined in the Sustainable Espoo programme. This series of stories tells about actions by Espoo employers to cut emissions from commuting.  Read the other stories in the series → Company bike to the office to get the most out of commutingCity bikes close the distance between metro stations and workplaceFull-service office building reduces mobility needs and Pastor rides a bicycle to work.

Employee-provided bicycle and cycling competition for encouragement

Emission-free commuting is also encouraged by a new fringe benefit, an employee-provided bicycle, introduced at the POP Bank Centre a year ago. Already one in ten Bank Centre employees rides a brand new company bike. Suvi Anttila also switched to a fancier leased bike in the summer after seeing the new bicycles of her co-workers.

The principle behind an employee-provided bicycle is similar to a company car. Suvi Anttila chose a €2,000 Marin gravel bike as her new ride. The employer pays for the bicycle leasing, and the taxable value of €100 per month is deducted from the employee’s salary. At the end of the leasing period, the bicycle can be redeemed. The benefit can save you 20–30% of the cost of a new bicycle, depending on your tax rate.

Suvi Anttila has also been motivated by the national Kilometrikisa(external link) competition for cyclists, where the POP Liikkuu team accumulated more than 22,000 kilometres on a bike in the summer of 2022. “It’s good to have some peer pressure to ride the bike to work.” In the morning, commuter cyclists meet at the office building’s bike storage. “For me, a good dressing room and a place to keep the bike has been a major factor promoting commuter cycling.”

Cities need the help of employers to cut emissions from traffic. How could the Bank Centre continue to help Espoo cut emissions from commuting? HR Specialist Akola says that the POP Bank Centre has initiated a Green Office certification process to save energy and reduce commuting emissions over the next year. “We discuss more environmental issues and encourage using public transport, for example.”

The conditions for public transport are good. Right next to the office building are Leppävaara station and bus terminal, and the new high-speed Jokeri Light Rail runs in front of the building from Keilaniemi to Helsinki Itäkeskus. “The number one thing in reducing emissions is the office’s location,” says Suvi Anttila.

TEXT AND PHOTO: Petja Partanen

This article is a part of the Sustainable mobility at workplaces series of stories.

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