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Cash for (Sustainable) Commuting

Program Offers Financial Incentive for Ditching the Car

By Liam Farrell

Commuting illustration

Illustration by Valerie Morgan

The first 75 eligible UMD employees who give up their parking passes for sustainable commuting options in the 2019-2020 academic year will receive $450.

Take a hike, hop on your bike or let someone else do the driving—if you are one of the first Terps who trades in a parking permit for a more environmentally friendly commute next week, you can help out the planet and your wallet at the same time.

The Department of Transportation Services’ “Parking Cash Out” program opens on Monday, showering the first 75 eligible UMD employees who give up their parking pass for the 2019-2020 academic year with $450 in green for going green. The program, which aims to free up parking spots as well as get closer to UMD’s carbon-neutral goal, also offers $300 to 25 eligible graduate students.

Under a pilot version last year, 50 faculty and staff members made the switch, saving an estimated 272 metric tons of CO2 emissions—about equal to the annual output of five homes.

“This is really to put our money where our mouth is,” said Anna McLaughlin, DOTS assistant director of sustainability. “It has a direct and measurable impact.”

Meg Smolinski, outreach coordinator for the University of Maryland Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, last year began taking the bus every day from her home in Takoma Park and plans to do the same again. In addition to spending less on gas and car maintenance, she enjoyed the peace of mind of letting a professional navigate traffic jams and construction zones.

“If I’m on the bus listening to my podcast, it is far less stressful,” she said.

Eligible participants are UMD employees or graduate students with active faculty/staff or student commuter parking registration for the 2018–19 academic year. Terps who enroll will have to primarily commute using sustainable transportation and log their trips into UMD’s Smart Commute digital platform. They will also receive a bundle pack that allows 10 days of parking on campus in designated lots and registration in the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides free transportation home in emergencies.

Sign-ups will be available here and in person at the DOTS office in the Regents Drive Garage between 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5 and 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.

For more information, visit the program website or contact

Cash for (Sustainable) Commuting

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