Free Gasoline

Of particular interest with the present situation, with NewsMakers? propagating the view that gas prices will go to as much as 4.00 dollars a gallon. At the time of the creation of this page, price hovered between 3.60 to 3.90 dollars a gallon. (20080524).
Another benefit (in addition to, and more significant than, FreeCoffee, and FreeFood?), proposed a a means of helping employees by offsetting the increasingly high cost of commuting, and also to illustrate how workers can be won over to working for a corporation in a "RealOffice" in lieu of working in a much more comfortable, less wasteful and time consuming, more productive and convenient environment know as the HomeOffice. HomeOffices are and will be discovered as one way Corporations can cut costs. Sadly, many Corporations (and workers) JustDontGetIt, as is also true of those who prefer "GoingToWork?" (commuting, contributing a larger CarbonFootprint as a result, expending a significant segment of earnings to just "getting to and from the work") over working virtually. It is unlikely that the trend will be accepted on a wide spread basis at the present time, but when it can be demonstrated that "routing work to workers" is not only more acceptable to the worker, but works to a company's benefit at the bottom line, the shift to such workplaces will take place at an rapid if not exponential rate. When it does, it is my opinion that productivity figures will skyrocket and into forcing those who "don't get it" into understanding the NewLocalizedMarketplace (where local = "GloballyConnected". -- DonaldNoyes
Its all about Oil

I have observed that there are those with short-sightedness or with tunnel vision who complain about things in our society and world to be "all about oil", and yet the same people are found in one-occupant cars, commuting to work, consuming this very same "oil" and generating the very greenhouse gases about which they complain, while arguing against proposals such as this one which is meant to reduce consumption and foreign dependence. This proposal is about an effort to get companies to see it is in their interests and in the interest of society as a whole, to consider the positive benefits of routing work instead of workers. This emphasis was made in the very first post on this page. Since I began working in my HomeOffice, I can sometimes go almost a month on a tank of gas. (And I own an Explorer SUV) [My next vehicle will be the most efficient vehicle fitting my needs when my SUV wears out]. Which it still has not, passing 160,000 miles, and 15 years of use. -- DonaldNoyes 20070731 2147

Still rolling, at just above 160,000 miles, still working in my own HomeOffice (from half-a-dozen to over a dozen hours each day) Even if gasoline prices are forced beyond 5 dollars a gallon, I'll only spend about 2500 dollars a year for the covenience of going where I "need" to go "when" I need to. -- DonaldNoyes.20080324

At 190,000 miles, since I now do almost (98%) of my work from my HomeOffice, I sold it, and now spend 0 dollars a year for business related gasoline. Now I have only one car, which is used for non-business transportation. -- DonaldNoyes.20110112

Halved gas consumption (and fuel cost) by buying a a new car (first in fifteen years), while relegating the Expedition (now at 270,000 miles) to twenty-mile (errand running) per week status. -- DonaldNoyes.20141123

How much Gas

The amount which would be free would be that required to get you home and back to work each day, and would be given when you completed your FortyHourWeek in the form of a Credit to a FreeGasoline Intelligent Debit Card. (Of course, the amount would be taxable as income!)

I'm aware of no company that gives out FreeGasoline for commuting to and from work. Mileage reimbursement (intended to pay for fuel, depreciation, etc.) is commonplace for driving done while on work business; work business specifically excludes getting to and from work. Part of this has to deal with taxes; reimbursements for mileage incurred on work business, as defined by the IRS, is not considered taxable income.

Not necessarily, see: Irs Section 132. (Signed into law 20100217): What FreeGasoline is a recognition of is that transport of the worker is as much a cost of doing business as is the transport of work. While this is easily recognized economically, it is unlikely, due to long-standing conventions to be recognized as either practical or needful. When a business or the workplace is shifted, and the cost of the transport is part of the cost of business, it becomes a part of the decision as to location with regard to present as well as potential workers and work. It would make businesses more socially responsible for its location policies, including that of moving existing jobs to other cities with the attendant, if you don't go, you won't have a job strategy which has the effect of displacing people who have loyally served the company and have made a home where the company is and who also earn more than someone hired off the street at another new location. (A socially unacceptable though perfectly legal maneuver). The economics of doing business should include these realities and see loyalty as a two-way street. Many of the problems of the placement of the workplace and work become mute points if the worker does his work at the HomeOffice. -- DonaldNoyes
What about public transport and transit passes

Many companies do provide their employees with transit passes and the like for those who can take the bus/train to and from work.

Which is FreeTransportation?. But many cities which formerly had quite extensive and distributed transit systems, no longer are so organized to provide the same. While businesses in the mid-twentieth century were located DownTown?, the movement of Corporations from the Central to Decentralized and Distributed Locations has made PublicTransportation? an alternative which is not adequate for widespread use. However, a transportation system which might be modeled on a topology similar to that of DataNetworks? might be viable in a greater number of locations. The concept of Hubs and Routers particularly. But refactoring that idea, one might route the work instead of the worker? Sounds like a GoodIdea which already exists in Outsourcing of an acceptable type: the HomeOffice. -- DonaldNoyes

What if I live where public transportation doesn't exist?

Some of us live in places where either economies of scale or terrain actually prohibit PublicTransportation? in any meaningful sense. Northern Nevada comes to mind.

Under these circumstances, TeleCommuting makes more sense - except that the management is scared to death of the idea.

So we commute by car, this being the only way to cover the miles from home to office. I would be okay with a car that didn't need gasoline but, for whatever reasons, the PetroMobile? is what we have. -- GarryHamilton

You could just dress up like a tourist and sneak aboard one of those Reno-to-Tahoe shuttles; I'm sure it stops in Carson City... :)

Or more simply, don't live there.

Not all of us want to live in densely-populated cities like NewYorkCity or HongKong or whatever. Many like living in rural areas (see TurnOnTuneInDropOut). Carson City, NV (where Garry lives) is a fine place to live; especially if you like outdoor recreation (located very close to Lake Tahoe).

Unfortunately, mass transit scales poorly to sparsely-populated areas. (It might scale better in comparison, if the auto wasn't so heavily subsidized).
What about transport not related to work

[It is not as simple as a urban vs. rural split. Part of the problem is things like current suburb design, where people live miles from *anything* they need to do. Even without high density housing, it is much more efficient for the system as a whole if you live near to shopping etc., even if you don't live that near to where you work. The idea that it is perfectly sensible that people have to drive to do anything not at their house is pretty insane from a transportation system & policy point of view.]

[Yes, but this is part of the problem. The entire premise of both these 'big box' stores and subdivision zoning is predicated on the assumption that we will, as a society, keep subsidizing gasoline and car ownership. The longer this goes on, the more coupled the systems become, the more likely that prediction is to remain true. It is becoming politically dodgy to talk about transportation rationally.]
What about the environmental concerns that Gasoline Consumption raises?

FreeGasoline is a rotten idea, ecologically speaking. The cheaper transportation is (including parking), the more gasoline people consume. Home offices won't become a reality until businesses stop subsidizing parking and transportation costs. -- EricHodges

You miss the point entirely. Free Gasoline and Company-provided transportation would lessen rather than increase the amount of gasoline consumed. If the idea were to catch on, you can be sure that a natural follow up would be the company sponsoring van-pools in Company-owned vans with several workers riding in the same vehicle in a coordinated, scheduled manner. The idea of FreeGasoline is to get the Company to recognize the transport of the worker as a cost of doing business, and in doing so to sponsor as much efficiency as innovation and agreeable participation as possible. It is not a quantum leap from this stage to that of incorporating a part time, and then a nearly full time participation via the HomeOffice. -- DonaldNoyes
What FreeParking? and Van Pools?

You're ignoring the research that shows the most effective way to lower Average Vehicle Ridership is to make employees pay for their own parking. Employer sponsored van pools are much less effective. Free gasoline will not increase their effectiveness. On the contrary, reducing single auto operating cost will reduce employee incentive to participate in a van pool.
FreeGasoline works against what it is supposed to help.

Are you arguing that if employers voluntarily gave away gasoline they would become more aware of the cost of transportation, and then take steps to reduce that cost? Why wouldn't their first step be to stop giving away free gasoline?

-- EricHodges

Your argument is correct only if the company can compel employees to change transportation mechanisms.

If free gasoline were provided for transportation to work, those currently using public transport or car-pooling would have an incentive to switch to individual cars, creating an increase in car users. Whether the increase in telecommuting would provide a net decrease in car usage would require very careful study.

If the rules were that free transportation was provided, and employees were compelled to use whatever transportation mechanism the company provided, then you'd probably get an increase telecommuting without a net increase in road users. However, this would create a huge amount of discrimination based on location, especially in manual labour jobs where telecommuting would not be practical.

Proposal is about recognition of travel costs as part of the cost of doing business, whether carried by the company or the individual

I am not arguing, I am proposing... that cost of transportation to work be a part of the company's expense of doing business and that those who choose to avail themselves of this benefit would do so voluntarily. The majority of employees would, I believe, avail themselves of such a benefit. Van pools have worked and not produced problems, and in effect have made some of the participants the owners of one, rather than two cars, further decreasing gasoline usage and the ecological concerns created by greenhouse gases produced thereby. Efficiency, availability of public transport and other factors, when present, would most certainly be factored in any equitable and agreeable arrangement. Compulsion is not one of the factors I am proposing. The amount of free gasoline or transportation costs absorbed by the company would be based on an efficient automobile with reasonable fuel requirements, say 25 miles per gallon. If someone chose to use an SUV or gas guzzler, they would be responsible for the difference. SuccessOriented? folk can see that this proposal could work; those who look for ways for it not to work can find conditions and situations which would make this "discriminatory" or ecologically unsatisfactory. If your company would provide you with such a benefit, Eric, would you reject it?

More Problems

Problems with this are: It would be nice if you provided some arguments against these points, rather than just repeating yourself.

Also, I'm making the assumption that free gasoline would be legislated. The points I'm making are the ones that would stop this from ever being considered as a bill. Is this assumption correct?

Restatement of Goal of this page

Ultimate Goal of this page: the recognition of Employers of the cost of moving workers to work, instead of work to workers, and the adoption of efficient and cost effective alternatives over the opposite notion, that workers are more easily brought to work, especially if it is on their nickel.

Not legislated, but rather Recognition of costs and benefits. Free Gasoline would not be legislated; it would be recognized by forward looking and socially responsible companies as a means to an end: Happier and Healthier Employees who like where they work and for whom they work. It would be nice if you could see the point made at the top of the page, instead of arguments and propositions meant to deflect and defeat a GoodIdea.

I seem to be talking in one instance to Eric Hodges and in another to Daniel Sheppard, who seem to be in agreement that this is a bad idea. I happen to think it is a solution to a number of real and pressing problems of our society and workplace, not to mention that of matters of the use of a non-renewable resource at an alarming rate. -- DonaldNoyes

Okay, if it's not legislated, then discrimination and burdens are irrelevant. Sorry for clouding the issue.
This is how I see the flow of logic

Now, the flow of how this would work is: I would think that the last step would most likely be "Company withdraws payments". I don't see how this works without legislative or contractual backing.

Also, I think it's easy to demonstrate that companies are of the belief that telecommuting has high costs attached.

If a company hasn't hit step 3 already, I don't think they're likely to be swayed by a few dollars a week in petrol money. This won't work

This is definitely a problem that needs solving; I just don't think that this solution will lead very far. -- DanielSheppard.
What will? You of course have a solution you think would lead far?

I have only made a proposal. A solution will follow only if a proposal is agreed to. I think this is at a leading edge and will eventually be realized as a practical proposal with a high benefit to cost ratio. I tend to see things as they can be; many assume that they will always be as they are now or have been in the past. I view the Employer/Employee relationship in a healthy company to be one of healthy co-dependence and mutual respect. Sadly, many view this relationship as unhealthy and typified by mutual distrust. -- DonaldNoyes
Free gasoline could be predicated on the idea that to provide it will remove a real or (perceivedRoadblocks)
Research Indicates

The research I've seen shows the best solution right now is for employers to stop subsidizing the cost of parking. Parking lots aren't free. Any employer that provides free parking is, in effect, paying employees not to use public transportation. Your proposal increases the employer's cost and offers yet another incentive for employees to avoid public transportation. You can't get people to ride the bus by giving them free gasoline. -- EricHodges

'Free gasoline could be predicated on the situations where the availability of affordable public transportation or van pools are not available.

Infrastructure changes needed to support Public Transportation

As I try to imagine what my daily life would be like riding a bus/train/tram to and from work every day I am struck by the number of associated infrastructure changes that would be needed to support this. Currently, at lunch time, unless I bring my lunch, I am obliged to drive (nothing close enough to walk) from 1 to 3 miles each way. We have this odd concept called "zoning" which dictates what kinds of buildings and businesses are allowed in a given area. In order to eliminate the private car model, stuff would have to be condensed into much closer spaces.

Those who have lived in England, Europe, or the Eastern USA will know this model, while those in the Western US will find it more of a stretch. I've lived in both models. I like the idea of not having to live close to the industrial district where I work, but to accomplish this here (Reno and surrounding area) one is obliged to have motorized transport.

Public transport here just doesn't get the job done, at least not without substantial changes to the way urban areas are organized. And, as I mentioned above, TeleCommuting is something the company really won't entertain. It's a trust thing.
Interdependencies and the high value placed on freedom of movement

As soon as I have a chance to think it through, I'll outline the interdependencies involved. The short answer though is that flexibility and freedom of movement is so highly valued that any solution that sacrifices this will meet insurmountable resistance.

-- GarryHamilton

Not to mention the fact that, especially in western North America, many of these policy decisions (zoning, subdivision design) and associated 'renewal' plans (encouraging/allowing automotive companies to buy up competing infrastructure and destroy it) have been made with either the explicit or implicit goal of supporting the automotive and related industries at the expense of even the possibility of a rational transportation plan. Leaving us where we are now, highly dependent on the current model with all its myriad warts. This isn't going to get better quickly.

This is not about "Eliminating the Private Car Model, Creating a Rational Transportation model, Getting People to ride Public Transportation or walking (or Cycling) which are about moving people(workers). It is much more about moving work where possible to the workers locale by getting Socially Responsible and trusting Companies to adopt HomeOffices where viable. The use of FreeGasoline is just a Device providing a Segway starting from FreeCoffee to get there.
People move about to get to work and many other reasons - the distances per week are compared There are reasons for moving people for other reasons via public transport or automobiles, is another matter, see my comments above about tanks of fuel lasting 4 week and more to illustrate the impact of these matters, or view traffic patterns at rush hour (people moving to work) to that of other times (people moving). -- DonaldNoyes
You haven't explained MotivatingEmployers?, MotivatingEmployees?

But you haven't explained how free gasoline will motivate employers to adopt home offices, or how it will motivate employees to use them. -- EH

I think what is meant is that if employers are paying for gas, that will incent them to allow home offices to reduce their gas expenses. I don't quite get it either. Provide a benefit to provide yourself incentive to reduce the benefit... Why not just permit the home office from the start?

Exactly. The logic is unsound. Any employer providing free gasoline would be doing so as a form of compensation to attract talent. That won't motivate them to adopt home offices. -- EH

Being able to work out of a HomeOffice is a benefit. Companies will grant it when they feel it's in their best interests to do so. FreeGasoline has nothing to do with it ... --francis

Agreed. The resistance to home offices runs deep in many corporate cultures. -- EH

Why I stopped using Public Transportation - instance #1

Real Life Event illustrating another reason given for not using public transport or walking -- WhereFrom: CarAddiction: I walked and used public transportation. I lived and worked close to downtown, so this wasn't too difficult. Then one day in 1992 I was riding the bus and two kids called the driver fat as they disembarked. The driver reached into his pouch and produced a hand gun. He fired 2 shots at the kids (I couldn't see if he hit them). That was the day I decided to buy another car.
About parking -- Research and Anecdotes

You're ignoring the research that shows the most effective way to lower Average Vehicle Ridership is to make employees pay for their own parking.

Anecdotally, it's also a good way to decrease the chance of hiring new employees. At least in my city, where parking costs are fairly silly, a number of my colleagues have explicitly turned down job offers and taken others based at least in part on whether the employer provided parking.

Employer sponsored van pools are much less effective. Free gasoline will not increase their effectiveness. On the contrary, reducing single auto operating cost will reduce employee incentive to participate in a van pool.

Again, this is anecdotal, but a combination of employer-subsidized mass transportation vouchers and employer-subsidized van pools did a good job at a company I worked at in Seattle, to the extent that they dropped a third incentive (free dinner for two, once a month, at a nice restaurant for users of those services) because they were giving out too many of them... I don't recall employee utilization dropping as a result of that, either.
It won't work everywhere, I live somewhere different

On the other hand, employer-subsidized mass transportation wouldn't work well in my current city. They have a strict, sparse hub-and-spoke system, in that in order to get from where I live to where I work (about 5 miles' distance), I would have to take a bus 30 miles south to downtown, and another one 30 miles north to work.
More attractive alternatives are dangerous

It is far more attractive to BikeToWork, but extraordinarily dangerous due to the highways between hither and yon... AmericanCulturalAssumption. Biking, trams, and trains are the preferred method of transit in Europe and other densely populated cities around the world. Bikes have right of way in TheNetherlands, for example.
I would like to talk about HomeOffices at HomeOffice page

I think this discussion belongs on HomeOffice. You keep saying this, but you haven't explained how FreeGasoline encourages HomeOffices?. If you move this to HomeOffice we can discuss the many reasons not to let employees work from home. -- EH

And the more extensive list of reasons why it is a good idea -- DonaldNoyes
About more than FreeGasoline

This page is about many things in addition to HomeOffice, I Have moved an argument about HomeOffice there for a starting point. Feel free to begin your argument at that point. -- DonaldNoyes

As of today, it appears some companies are not only supplying FreeCoffee, but are including in compensation the travel costs of employees! Some are recognizing it as a valid substitute for the costs of FreeParking on site, or for employees cost of PublicParking for those choosing efficient and available public transit options. As companies begin to consider how sharing the burden of commuting costs will exert positive effects on morale and productivity, more of them will come realise its value. - DonaldNoyes.20100226

Travel Reimbursement Plans Including Some Commuting Expenses. More on Irs Section 132 and Tea 21 Communter Financial Incentives See CarAddiction CompanyEmployeeRelationships

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