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Xpress Secrets to a Stress Free Commute

Commuting can be extremely stressful and downright intolerable sometimes. It’s almost impossible to avoid some of the traffic congestion during peak commuting hours. At Xpress, we understand the frustration and anxiety; that’s why we invite you to take a load off and let us do the driving.

Follow these great tips to make your commute better:woman-410320_960_720

1)Ride Xpress! It’s an affordable, reliable, safe, convenient, clean, and STRESS-FREE environment.
2)While riding Xpress, catch up on your favorite reading. Get engrossed in the latest new read. (Tip: go to a library near you to let you borrow your books for FREE)
3) Rehearse for your big project or presentation you have coming up. Practice makes perfect, right? Take the time to go over your lines or your body language for the big pitch.
4) Learn a new language. It’s always important to keep your mind engaged, and learning a new language is just the perfect way.
5) Relax your eyes. We all know staring at a computer all day can really hurt your eyes. Exercise your eyes by focusing on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. Or better yet, take a nap!
6) Save money. Xpress riders save an estimated $1900 each year in fuel cost. While that’s huge savings, you can also take the time on your commute to go over your spending habits. Create a budget and stick to it.

Take Winter by Storm: Winter Emergency Checklist

With Georgia’s up and down weather, we encourage everyone to get prepared for a storm before it hits. Winter transportation can mean dealing with ice, snow, and very hazardous roads. Xpress wants to inform all of our customers of great safety items to have in case of a winter emergency.

• Cell phone, portable charger and bchecklist-41335_960_720atteries.
• Radio that is battery-powered.
• Blankets, sleeping bags, winter coats
• Portable space heaters
• Flashlights or lanterns
• Bottled water
• Canned food
• First-aid Kit
• Thermal Heat packs
• Firewood

Remember to check with Xpress before your commute during winter weather for any service alerts. Sign up for our emails here. For additional information regarding emergency weather feel free to check out the Center of Disease Control and Prevention Winter Weather Checklist.

Upgrading Your Commute 2016

The GRTA Board of Directors voted on Wednesday, August 12 to adopt the Direct Xpress Service Plan as a framework for transforming the Xpress commuter coach service over the next decade and beyond. GRTA will now move towards implementing Horizon 1, with changes anticipated to go into effect in spring of 2016. After two years of extensive analysis exploring existing and potential service (read more about the Direct Xpress project here), we’re confident that the approved service will create an Xpress that is better suited to meet the needs of metro Atlanta’s commuters. That means an Xpress that gives you more:

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The best way to stay up to date is by visiting upgradeyourcommute.com, which is a new site that will serve as a centralized location for information about upcoming Xpress service changes, including comprehensive information about each route’s anticipated changes.

More reliable. We want to be a service that you can rely on to get you to home or work on time. We’re streamlining our routing to avoid bottlenecks, tight turns and congested intersections; all of which will help us stick more closely to our schedules.

More flexible. We want to be there when you need us. We’re expanding our service hours, cutting wait times and increasing the number of trips so that you can commute when you are ready.

More intuitive. Traffic is stressful. Figuring out your commute shouldn’t be. We’re simplifying our routes and route numbering so there is less to remember. No more wondering if the bus you’re on continues to Midtown or stops at Civic Center. No more wondering if the trip you would like to take will show up since it is Friday. We are running the same, simplified service every day, every trip, for every route.

More service. Atlanta is growing and so are we. As mentioned in this August 12 article in the AJC, we’re adding three new routes into Perimeter Center and we aren’t stopping there. In the coming years, we will be adding additional service around the region. That means more trips, in more times and even expanding or building new park-and-rides. We will be tying these new park-and-rides into Georgia’s new Express Lanes systems so that we can get you on your way even faster than we are able to today. One of our most exciting upcoming opportunities is exploring ways to provide service to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

We are extremely excited to move forward with finalizing Horizon 1 changes and beginning the extensive work required for their implementation. Over the next several months, we will be working to determine specific trip times, exact stop locations, and details about fares that will require additional examination and public input before they are finalized. In coordination with our partners, we’ll also be working to mitigate concerns that our current customers have raised with some aspects of the service changes.

Guaranteed Ride Home

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from people considering riding Xpress is: “What if there’s an emergency and I have to get home quickly — won’t I be stuck in Atlanta?” When something happens — your child is sick, or you are, for example — the last thing you want is to be trapped at work without the flexibility of your own transportation.

The Guaranteed Ride Home service helps give you the freedom of flexibility when life interferes with your standard commute schedule. Xpress customers can receive up to five free rides per year for emergency uses, so that when unscheduled events require you to leave work early or stay at the office late, you’ll still be able to get home or back to your car.

Here’s how you can qualify:
  1. Fill out this form and return it by mail or fax to the Atlanta Regional Commission before you need a ride home.
  2. You’ll receive a confirmation letter from the Atlanta Regional Commission approving your participation in the program.
  3. Ride to work by carpooling, vanpooling, taking transit, walking, or biking.
  4. Work in one of the following counties (Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton)
  5. Have an unscheduled event which causes you to need the service. Click here to see what qualifies as an unexpected event.
  6. Call 1-877-433-3463 to schedule your ride.

Ready to sign up? Click here to begin your registration and learn more about the program.

Interested in saving 30% or more on your Xpress pass?

Did you know that many Xpress riders are receiving discounts of 30% or more on their Xpress passes? If you use Xpress to get to work, you can too! Just like other fringe benefits facilitated by your employer, your transit passes are eligible to be purchased using pre-tax dollars.

Many of us are familiar with having fringe benefits like a Health Savings Account or group life insurance deducted from our paychecks every month. For 2015, the IRS has announced that up to $130 of your monthly transit passes can now be deducted in the same way.

 

So how does it work?

In most cases, your employer administratively sets up the deduction just as they would any other fringe benefit. Then, each month the cost of your transit pass (up to $130) would be deducted from your gross pay before taxes are taken out. Since your employer is withholding the cost of your transit pass from your take-home pay, your employer is responsible for purchasing your pass for you.

Your employer could purchase your pass in a couple of ways.

  1. Purchase directly from the transit provider. Xpress passes are available for sale in our online store. Marta, CCT and GCT passes would have to be purchased though their respective agencies.
  2. Purchase all passes through your local Transportation Management Association (TMA). Many of metro-Atlanta’s TMAs offer one-stop transit pass shopping for companies located in within their geographic boundaries. Find your TMA here.

 

How much could you save?

How much you save depends on a couple of variables; the first of which is how much you spend a month on transit passes. Here are the fares for all Xpress routes:

Xpress fare chart

The second variable is your income tax rate which varies by your income (if you aren’t sure, 25% may be a good estimate). If you’d like to check your rate, Bankrate.com provides an easy chart or the official IRS charts can be viewed here.

In addition to your income tax, you’ll also save on FICA payroll taxes. FICA payroll taxes are 7.65% of your taxable income.

Here is the formula to calculate your potential savings:

Cost of Pass * (Income Tax Rate + .0765) = Monthly Savings

For example, if you were to purchase a 31-Day Blue Zone Xpress pass valued at $125 and you had an income tax rate of 25% and 7.65% in FICA payroll taxes, your monthly savings would be $40.81!

$125 * (.25+.0765) = $40.81

 

Not sure if your employer will set up this benefit for you?

Remind them that it helps their bottom line too! Since your transit passes are coming out of your gross income and aren’t taxable, your employer doesn’t pay payroll taxes on your deduction. If they need more information, send them to the Employers section of the Xpress blog, and let them know they can always contact us directly for additional help.

Want to learn more? Consult with your accountant and check out these official sources:

 

Introducing the online trip planner

We hear from our riders all the time that the hardest thing about commuting with Xpress is getting started.

The next hardest thing is changing your commute to accommodate new work hours, a new work location, or a new home.

That’s why we’re introducing our new trip planning tool. We hope it will help make planning your new commute a little bit easier. Check it out on the XpressGa.com home page. The trip planner harnesses the power of Google Maps to show you all the Xpress routes and trip times available for your journey. Plus, you’ll be able to see how to connect to other transit providers, including MARTA.

Have a question about using the trip planner? Read through our FAQs, or leave us a comment below.