Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Free turnpike rides? So what!

Too much hyper-ventilating on employees getting free turnpike rides. Can anyone handle the mathematics here? Take your fingers out of your mittens. You have $7.7 million worth of rides given to 7,000 people. That's $1,100 per person, over five years. That's $220 a year per person. Most offices spend that much in free coffee for their employees.

Free turnpike rides? So what!

 The Lansdale exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The Lansdale exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Too much hyper-ventilating on employees getting free turnpike rides. Can anyone handle the mathematics here? Take your fingers out of your mittens. You have $7.7 million worth of rides given to 7,000 people. That's $1,100 per person, over five years. That's $220 a year per person. Most offices spend that much in free coffee for their employees.

Pennsylvania's Auditor General Jack Wagner wants to put an end to these rides. "There has to be far greater oversight of free travel on turnpike," said Wagner, citing a 2010 scandal that led to the resignation of a Delaware River Port Authority official who gave an EZ-Pass to his daughter.

Yes, of course there are people who abuse the system, but in general,  these free rides are an extremely cheap employee benefit that has the advantage of providing real and practical help on a daily basis. Some of these workers, no doubt, use the turnpike to commute to work, or to travel between turnpike destinations in the course of a work day. Is it really worth it to sacrifice the good will that would be lost in taking away what is basically a retail benefit provided at wholesale cost?

I'd like to know how the $7.7 million is calculated. Is it based on the ticket price? Is it based on EZ-Pass price? Is there some kind of formula that estimates the wear-and-tear per mile per driver? 

These employees go to work like everyone else. This benefit is tantamount to the "family meal" served to restaurant workers, or to the free newspapers we can read while we're at work here in the Inquirer newsroom. (We pay for our home subscription at an employee discount).

All this invective smells like a publicity stunt intended to give the appearance of toughness while hurling brickbats at employees.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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