Frequently Asked Questions

  1. CTR Overview
  2. What is CTR doing for us?
  3. CTR reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  4. How does CTR work?
  5. What is WSDOTs role?
  6. What is the role of the CTR Board?
  7. Where can I find more information?
  8. Which employers are affected by the state's CTR Law?
  9. What are employers are required to do under the CTR Law?
  10. What can employers do to encourage employees to use commute alternatives?
  11. Employer liability for employee participation in Commute Trip Reduction - See RCW51.08.013
  12. What if an employer doesn't comply with its local CTR ordinance?

CTR Overview

The Washington State Legislature passed the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Law in 1991 to address traffic congestion, air pollution and petroleum fuel consumption.

In 2006 legislators passed the CTR Efficiency Act, requiring local governments in urban areas with traffic congestion to develop programs that reduce drive-alone trips and vehicle miles traveled per capita.

For over two decades, CTR has proven an effective tool for easing congestion and operating our transportation system efficiently. By encouraging people to ride the bus, vanpool, carpool, walk, bike, work from home or compress their work week; CTR makes transportation better for the entire state.

What is CTR doing for us?

CTR performed strongly from 2007 to 2016 as CTR commuters increased their use of non-drive alone choices:

  • About 565,000 employees at nearly 1,000 CTR-affected worksites statewide increased their non-drive-alone trip rate from 34.3% to 39.1%, representing a 4.8% point increase from baseline.
  • About 22,400 cars were left at home each day.  Instead commuters chose transit, vanpool, train, walking, biking or teleworking. 
  • Locally, in Spokane County, employers reduce over 6,300 trips and over 136,000 miles from being driven on our roadways each day. 

CTR is a sustainable strategy

The reduction of 7.4% of vehicle miles traveled per employee from 2007-2016 means 3.7 million fewer gallons of fuel used each year, saving commuters almost $10 million in fuel expenditures.  This also means an annual reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions of 33,500 metric tons - the equivalent of 180 rail cars of coal, or the same amount of carbon sequestered annually by about 31,500 acres of forest. 

How does CTR work?

State and local governments, transit agencies, regional transportation planning organizations and employers collaborate to make CTR programs convenient, efficient and rewarding. These partnerships develop meaningful transportation solutions that support local and state goals and leverage the state's investment. For every taxpayer dollar that goes into the program, businesses invest $22.

CTR targets workplaces with 100 or more full-time employees in the most congested areas of the state. Employers develop and manage their own programs based on locally adopted goals for reducing vehicle trips and miles traveled.

What is WSDOT's role?

WSDOT provides technical assistance to jurisdictions and employers to get their programs up and running. WSDOT maintains 17 years of CTR data that jurisdictions and other agencies use for planning. WSDOT also staffs the TDM Executive Board.

What is the role of the CTR Board?

The governor-appointed CTR Board directs overall policy and funding for the program and reports to the Legislature every two years on how the program is working. The board represents diverse perspectives of citizens, businesses, state agencies, transit agencies and jurisdictions around the state.

Where can I find more information?

The program is described in detail in the CTR Board 2017 Report to the Legislature.

Which employers are affected by the state's CTR law?

The CTR law applies to both public and private employers that have 100 or more employees who work at a single worksite, and who begin work between 6 and 9 a.m. on two or more weekdays for at least 12 continuous months. This applies only to counties defined with “Urban Growth Areas” (currently Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Whatcom and Yakima). The law also includes local jurisdictions (i.e., cities) where an affected employer is located, as well as all state agencies, even if they have fewer than 100 affected employees.

What are employers required to do under the CTR law?

An affected employer must make a good faith effort to develop and implement a CTR program. This means, at minimum, doing the following:

  • Designating an employee transportation coordinator (ETC)
  • Displaying the ETC's name and contact information where employees are likely to see it
  • Distributing information to employees about commute alternatives to driving alone
  • Implementing a set of measures geared toward achieving the CTR goals
  • Surveying employees about their commuting habits every two years
  • Reporting annually about progress toward meeting CTR goals
  • Meeting additional local requirements

What can employers do to encourage employees to use commute alternatives?

Under the CTR law, an employer must implement at least two measures to reduce commute trips to the worksite. However, ETC's are only limited by their imagination. Some of the more popular program elements include:

  • Encouraging ridesharing by matching employees for carpools and vanpools
  • Encouraging bus ridership by subsidizing bus passes or vanpool fares
  • Allowing employees to work from home one or two days per week
  • Implementing parking management programs that minimize drivealone commuting by charging employees for parking or designating preferred parking for carpools and vanpools
  • Installing showers, lockers and bicycle racks for bikers and walkers
  • Offering flexible work schedules that allow people to alter their start and quit times in order to take advantage of alternative commute options

Employer liability for employee participation in Commute Trip Reduction

Employer liability for employee participation in Commute Trip Reduction - See RCW51.08.013

What if an employer doesn't comply with its local CTR ordinance?

The CTR goals are just that, goals. As long as the employer is making a good faith effort to implement its CTR program, it cannot be penalized for failure to meet the CTR goals. Those employers that don't meet the minimum requirements of the law will be asked by their city or county to do certain things to come into compliance.

The city or county is there to work with employers to create successful programs, not to penalize those that don't succeed. However, civil penalties may be assessed against employers that fail to meet either the NDAR or VMT goals, that do not make a good faith effort to comply with the law, and that fail to work collaboratively with their local jurisdiction.


For more information please contact Commute Smart Northwest at (509) 477-7650.