Frequently Asked Questions

What is Commute Smart?

Carpooling, vanpooling, riding the bus, bicycling, walking, working from home, and compressed work schedules are all forms of smart commuting.

What makes Commute Smart so smart?

When employees exercise their Commute Smart options, some of the ways they can benefit are:

  • Reduced cost for fuel, insurance, vehicle wear-and-tear, and maintenance expenses. See how much you could save by using the commute cost calculator.
  • Reduced stress
  • Additional time to read, relax, or talk
  • Faster commutes on freeway HOV lanes
  • Combined exercise and commute time (with walking or bicycling)
  • Stewardship of community and environment

Some of the ways PLU benefits from faculty and staff using Commute Smart options are:

  • Increased employee retention
  • Decreased employee stress which leads to higher productivity
  • Reduced demand for parking
  • Compliance with state Commute Trip Reduction goals
  • Improved air quality
  • Reduced transportation/congestion problems
  • Healthier workforce, reducing health insurance claims and absenteeism

Does working from home count as a "Commute Smart" day?

Yes, workdays on which a faculty or staff member works from home instead of coming to campus counts as a “Commute Smart” day. Work-from-home arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis and must be pre-approved by your supervisor and Human Resources.

Do scheduled days off (vacation or holidays) count as "Commute Smart" days?

No, scheduled days off do not count as Commute Smart days. However, you can count the day off from a compressed work week, such as a 4/10 work week.

How do I sign up for benefits with the Commute Smart program?

Receiving Commute Smart benefits is fast and easy! To participate in campaign drawings and potentially earn LuteBucks, simply track your commute trips on a monthly calendar online at the Pierce Trips website. Please note that these benefits are for faculty and staff only; not students.

For detailed information on PLU’s transit benefits, click here.

To request preferred carpool parking privileges, you must fill out the Application for Preferred Carpool Parking in the Campus Safety office.

For help with a Ridematch, check out Pierce County’s ridematching site or contact University Transportation Coordinator, Gretchen Howell at or 253-535-7185.

Why can't students sign up for LuteBucks Rewards and other Commute Smart prizes?

Many of the benefits of the Commute Smart program were developed as part of PLU’s mandatory compliance with Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) law (RCW 70.94.521-551). The law, passed in 1991 as part of the state’s Clean Air Act, requires affected employers (such as PLU) to establish programs that encourage employees to find alternatives to drive-alone commuting. The purpose of the CTR law is to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion, and minimize energy consumption. Because the law applies to employees, so too do many of PLU’s benefit programs.

There are programs open to commuter students. If students meet the program qualifications, they can receive PLU’s bus pass subsidy and preferred carpool parking.

Do I have to use my Commute Smart option every single day?

Choosing a Commute Smart option does not mean being locked into one mode of travel. It is not necessary to use a Commute Smart option every day to qualify for our programs.

Each program has its own set of requirements. For example, Emergency Ride Home is available anytime you use a Commute Smart option. You can qualify for LuteBucks Rewards by choosing a Commute Smart option just four days a month. Check the individual program you are interested in to find out what the requirements are for that program.

Do I qualify for the transit benefit?

For detailed information on who qualifies for PLU’s transit benefits, call the University Transportation Coordinator at 253-535-7185.

Do I qualify for carpool benefits if I carpool with a family member?

Carpooling regularly (at least three days per week) with any person who is 16 years of age or older qualifies you for carpool benefits. For detailed rules on eligibility for preferred carpool parking, see Campus Safety’s carpool web page.

Do I have to carpool with another PLU faculty or staff member to qualify for carpool benefits?

Your carpool partner can be any person 16 years of age or older. Your carpool partner does not have to be a PLU employee for you to receive the benefits of having a registered carpool. For detailed rules on eligibility for preferred carpool, see Campus Safety’s carpool webpage.

What is a compressed work week?

A compressed work week is a type of schedule the reduces the number of days that an employee works in a given period. The number of hours that an employee works does not change, however, the distribution of these hours are changed.