Located Next to the Train, Survey Monkey HQ Minimizes Car Commuting

While Apple gets ready to break ground on its suburban spaceship campus, Palo Alto-based Survey Monkey is showing there’s a better way to locate. Adina Levin at Network blog Peninsula Transportation Alternatives says that less than a third of Survey Monkey employees drive to work — thanks, quite simply, to a transit-friendly site:

Less than a third of Survey Monkey employees at 101 Lytton Avenue, across the street from a Caltrain station, drive to work.

The developer of online survey tools allows its employees to choose from a Caltrain GoPass, cash on a Clipper card usable on multiple transit services, a bike voucher good for bicycle commuting gear and maintenance expenses, or a parking pass. Cantieri says that the location near Caltrain and the transportation benefits help attract employees in a competitive recruiting market. The location across the street from Caltrain was a major requirement in choosing a new headquarters location for the company (which also has employees in Portland and Seattle).

Last Spring, Palo Alto City Council approved a controversial 52,000 square foot office building at 101 Lytton, with 173 parking spaces, plus in-lieu fees for the city to construct 22 additional parking spaces. Residents of nearby neighborhoods expressed serious concerns about the amount of parking, since there has been an increasing influx of downtown workers parking on nearby neighborhood streets. The development got a 20% credit on required parking because of the location near Caltrain.

Fortunately for the neighbors, the building found a tenant that seems unlikely to cause parking overflow problems any time soon, since only 60 workers — less than a third — have parking passes. Given Palo Alto’s current policies, though, the success of SurveyMonkey is largely a matter of luck. Palo Alto does require developments to provide Transportation Demand Management programs to reduce vehicle trips. But there have not been requirements to report on the performance, to see if tenants are actually reducing trips, or any consequences if the goals aren’t met.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Streets.mn discusses the pros and cons of Minneapolis’s famous skyway system. Half-Mile Circles looks at an Australian study that shows why transit should be considered a mode of active transportation. And This Big City shares an infographic that explains all the benefits transit provides in the Kansas City region.

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