“Just Rewards” – Torrance’s $146K Gift Card Reward Program for Ridesharing
This evening the City Council approved an $80K one year contract to “Just Rewards” to administer a gift card reward program to city employees that take advantage of alternative forms of transportation such as carpooling, walking, public transit, vanpooling, and bicycling. This matter was heard under the consent calendar which is reserved for matters that are considered routine and therefore not open for discussion. I believe, however, that this use of taxpayer dollars is worthy of a conversation. According to the staff report:
“Just Rewards provides incentives in the form of gift cards from various companies…this service is necessary as utilizing Just Rewards will reduce the City staff time as the company procures, coordinates, and distributes the rideshare incentives. If the City staff were required to take on these tasks it would cause the program to be too labor intensive to manage.”
In addition to the $80K expense approved for Just Rewards, the City also hired a consultant on a $65K one year contract to help market and promote the Program to city employees. Between the two contracts, the City approved nearly $150K to encourage employees to rideshare.
I believe in ridesharing and the benefits to the environment as well as the traffic alleviation it provides. Do we really need, however, to spend this amount of money promoting ridesharing amongst city employees? The staff report included data reflecting that the current ridesharing program only has 530 employee participants. Of these, my guess is that a large percentage would likely be commuting to work under some type of ridesharing arrangement without any designed Ridesharing Program marketed by the city. Given this information, I have a hard time believing the Program couldn’t be managed within the existing pool of city employees. This is definitely a reward for those city employees willing to rideshare, but I’m not so sure it is a “Just” reward for the Torrance taxpayer.