Online travel company wants more of its 3,000 employees out of their cars before it moves its headquarters to Seattle.

Share story

Expedia, the online giant that makes money on travel, is now experimenting with paying its employees not to make solo trips to work.

The firm is rolling out some new incentives to reduce the number of employees driving their cars to its Bellevue headquarters, hoping to change some habits long before it moves to Seattle.

The company, which has 3,000 employees and expects to grow to 4,500, set off a firestorm of commuter anxiety in the spring when it announced it bought the former Amgen campus on the Seattle waterfront and planned to move its headquarters there. The company later disclosed plans to double its footprint over 15 years on the 41-acre Seattle campus.

The prospect of thousands of Expedia workers, many of whom live on the Eastside, driving cars daily to Seattle on already congested city streets provoked visions of peak-hour traffic grinding to a halt.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Save over 90% on digital access.

So Expedia has set a goal of less than half its employees driving solo to work during peak hours by the time of its move, now delayed from 2018 into 2019. About 1,800 employees now hold passes to park in its Bellevue garages.

“We wanted to get ahead of the 2019 move and start seeing what works best for our employees,” Expedia said in a note to employees last week.

To change employees’ commuting habits, Expedia is ramping up existing incentives for employees to not drive alone to work. All headquarters employees will get an ORCA card, regardless of whether they park at work, so they can try out other transit options. The firm also is expanding to 50 the number of reserved car-pool and van-pool parking spots.

Early next year, Expedia said, it plans to test a commuter-shuttle service from a park-and-ride lot in Redmond to its Bellevue headquarters.

“The Wi-Fi enabled shuttles will be free to employees and will help inform possible future shuttle routes and services to our new Seattle campus in 2019,” the company wrote.

Employees who commute by other means and don’t park at Expedia will be entered into a drawing for five travel awards worth $500 to $1,500, the company informed staff.

To shepherd all this, Expedia is hiring a commute coordinator who starts next month.

“This coordinator will help our new and existing employees sign up for commute benefits and plan trips by walking, biking, transit, car-pooling and van-pooling. This coordinator will also be able to help employees plan their new commute to Seattle as we get closer to our move-in date,” the company said.