Friday Transportation Seminar: Impacts of City-Level Parking Cash-Out and Commuter Benefits Ordinances

Friday, September 16, 2022, 11:30am to 12:30pm PDT
Gabby Abou-Zeid, ICF
Free and open to the public
PDH: 1 | AICP: 1

Friday Transportation Seminars at Portland State University have been a tradition since 2000. You can join us online at 11:30 AM. All presentations are recorded and shared on the event page afterwards.


For many workers, the decision to drive to work is an economically rational one that minimizes their commute costs. The vast majority of employers offer free workplace parking, with few in comparison offering benefits for transit, walking, biking, or other means of commuting. In effect, employers are incentivizing a behavior that increases roadway congestion, reduces physical activity, and increases emissions. Moreover, since lower-income households are less likely to own and have access to a private vehicle than moderate and higher-income households, free parking is a financial benefit that many lower-income employees cannot access.

Researchers from ICF and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) examined the city-level impacts of parking cash-out. Parking cash-out is a commuter benefits option where employers that provide free or subsidized parking at work also offer employees the option to take an equivalent cash payment, tax-free transit/vanpool benefit, or combination of cash payment and tax-free benefit instead of the parking subsidy. This webinar will present results from a study of five core parking cash-out scenarios applied across a sample of nine cities. The analysis shows substantial potential for reductions in VMT, congestion, emissions, and crashes. Further, the ordinances reflected in some scenarios offer benefits to a greater number of employees, or for a greater number of modes, compared to others. Differences in these offerings have additional implications for equity, which is critical to consider alongside transportation impacts. 

The work is relevant for city-level policymakers, practitioners, transportation planners, and researchers looking for effective strategies to curb VMT and emissions with safety and equity at top of mind. The topic is also timely, given the recent legislation (H.R. 8555) proposed by House Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-District 3) that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to stipulate that a parking benefit is not a qualified parking fringe benefit unless an employer offers employees the option to receive an equivalent cash benefit or alternative tax-exempt benefit in lieu of the parking benefit.


The audience will walk away with:

  • Enhanced knowledge about various parking cash-out and commuter benefits strategies to incentivize non-SOV driving
  • The magnitude of VMT, congestion, emissions, and crash reduction potential that parking cash-out and related commuter benefits policies can bring to cities
  • An understanding of how parking cash-out and related commuter benefits policies can be equity-enhancing compared to subsidized parking


Gabby Abou-Zeid, Transportation Data Specialist, ICF

Gabby Abou-Zeid is a Transportation Data Specialist at ICF, supporting local, state, and federal clients in areas of transportation demand management (TDM), transportation systems management and operations (TSMO), public transportation investments, transportation and land use intersections (especially related to parking), and sustainable mobility. She is a PSU alum (M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Transportation Emphasis, 2021) and currently resides in Tucson, AZ, where her transportation research journey began while researching walkability.


This 60-minute seminar is eligible for 1 hour of professional development credit for AICP (see our provider summary). We can provide an electronic attendance certificate for other types of certification maintenance.

Photo by Brian Brown/iStock

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and professionals through education.