Each year the Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds approximately 17 million dollars in transit subsidies for its employees across the country to encourage the use of mass transit for commuting purposes in order to reduce traffic congestion, dangerous greenhouse emissions and pollutants.
Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2011, USDA has programmed an average of $1.3 million dollars per month for transit fare alone (not including the funding fee, vendor charges and postage for mailing media) for approximately 9,850 of its employees- representing approximately 8% of its total workforce.
In alignment with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, USDA recently determined that approximately 78% of its 120K total workforce is eligible to participate in telework. If those employees who are eligible to telework and desire to gave up their transit subsidies just one day per week and worked from home or from an alternate worksite close to their home instead- USDA would save nearly $550 thousand per year.
Furthermore, based on a GSA report that outlined assumptions about other telework savings for the Federal government- in real estate, turnover, absenteeism and productivity- the annual savings for USDA could total more than $250 million! Global implications could mean a savings of as much as 100 thousand barrels of oil and 18 thousand tonnes of greenhouse gasses.
If this model was applied government wide, similar telework participation/transit subsidy decreases would save Agencies more than $4.5 billion per year, reduce greenhouse gases by 309 thousand tonnes and save 1.7 million barrels of oil (valued at $156 million).
Reduction in transit subsidies by increasing telework would also help to stimulate the economy by saving federal employees between $350 and $1,000 per year and would allow them to recoup up to 6 full work days per year- time they would have otherwise spent commuting back and forth to their traditional offices.