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2600 Public Transportation

Travel Policy June 2014

Public transportation includes the following modes of travel:

  •   Airplane

  •   Rental car

  •   Train

  •   Bus

  •   Subway

  •   Mass transit

  •   Shuttle

  •   Limousine

  •   Taxi

Travelers must determine and use the most economical mode of transportation. This includes the use of a personal car when it is more economical than public transportation. When traveling to an airport, travelers should compare the costs of driving and parking a personal car to round-trip taxi fares.

Receipts are required for all types of public transportation, with the exception of inner-city buses, taxis, shuttles, mass transit and limousines. An itemized entry of each claim showing destination, date, and amounts of each trip for rented or public transportation must be shown on the travel claim in the Record of Transportation and Duties Performed section. Reimbursement for a limousine must include a justification statement explaining why it was the most economical mode of transportation.

In eTravel, the same procedures apply. Receipts must be attached to the online Travel Claim, and any additional information or justification would be entered in the Comments field of the online Travel Claim.

2610 Contracted Travel Agency

Travel Policy May 2015

The Comptroller’s TPASS secured contracts with National Travel Systems and Short’s Travel Management to provide state travelers with reservation and ticketing services for airlines, rental cars, and hotels. DFPS does not use both state contracted travel agencies. If the traveler chooses to use a travel agency, he or she must use NTS. Travelers are not required to use the contracted travel agency as they can make their travel reservations on their own, but when they do use a travel agency, it must be an agency under contract with TPASS.

Under no circumstances can an authorized traveler use any other “travel agency” to schedule and coordinate travel reservations.

There is a service fee for each transaction; therefore, the travel agency should only be used when coordination of airline, hotel, and rental car is needed.

The traveler sends an email to National Travel Systems for making business related airline, rental car, and hotel reservations on the DFPS Direct Bill Unit accounts using the contracted travel agency.

In the email the following information is required:

  •   Names of the individuals traveling

  •   If traveling with a child, the name and age of the child

  •   Email address and phone number of contact person

  •   Departure city, time, and date of departure or return

  •   Service being requested – airfare, rental car, hotel

For reservations (24/7), the traveler may:

  •   call 1-866-644-2375; or

  •   book online through NTS Travel Reservations.

For information about making reservations directly with state contracted vendors when coordination of airline, hotel, and rental car is not needed, see the following sections in this handbook:

  •   For hotels only, see 1910 Requirements for Use of State Contractors

  •   For airlines, see 2620 Airfare

  •   For rental cars, see 2630 Rental Cars

Authorized travelers are required to obtain appropriate approvals, which includes the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel if applicable, prior to making all reservations, and prior to travel. Remember to complete the TA process for each individual traveling.

2620 Airfare

Travel Policy May 2015

The state of Texas contracted airline fares are designed for last minute or fully-refundable travel requirements, or both. These city-pairs (a one-way airline flight between two cities, from origin to destination, regardless of stopovers or connections) provide maximum flexibility in traveling, as fares are not subject to restrictions or penalties on last minute, refundable tickets. However, this flexibility means the rates are not always at the lowest cost to the state.

Travelers should compare state of Texas fares to general published fares to obtain the lowest possible cost to the state. When possible, travelers should utilize 14-day advance fares for planned travel requirements. Fares in excess of the state of Texas contracted fares may be purchased by a traveler, but only the contracted rate will be reimbursed without an approved exception.

Reservations may be made by contacting the airline company directly or through DFPS’s designated travel agency, National Travel Systems (NTS). See 2610 Contracted Travel Agency for contact information and instructions.

The following are the state contracted airlines and telephone numbers:

American Airlines

1-800-433-7300 (A $25 fee is charged for ticketing reservations booked through their toll-free reservation centers; therefore it is generally less expensive to use NTS.)

JetBlue Airways

1-888-538-2583, prompt #3

Traveler or arranger is to identify themselves as representatives of the state of Texas.

Hours of operation: 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., MST; outside of this time ask to speak to Crew Support. Authorized travelers are required to obtain appropriate approvals, which includes the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel if applicable, before making all reservations, and before travel. The traveler must also complete the TA process for each individual traveling.

2621 Ticket for Required Extra Seat

Travel Policy June 2014

If purchasing a second seat is required by the airline to accommodate a traveler who cannot use a single seat without raising the arm rests, the cost of the extra ticket is reimbursable.

If the traveler uses the contracted travel agency, the agent books the flight and the extra seat as one reservation. The itinerary sent to the traveler will state the passenger name and “extra seat.” DFPS pays for the additional seat charge on the direct billing when the reservation is made with the contract travel vendor.

When booking direct without assistance from the contracted travel agency, the traveler must save the passenger receipt on the ticket, and the extra seat charge, and claim it on the travel reimbursement request. Various airlines may have different policies regarding reimbursement of the additional seat if the flight is not fully booked. The traveler should request documentation of the airline’s policy, and include a copy with the travel reimbursement request.

2622 Airline Baggage Fees

Travel Policy June 2014

If an authorized traveler uses an airline that charges baggage fees, DFPS reimburses the traveler for the first bag only. The exception to this reimbursement policy is for staff traveling away from the office for multiple consecutive weeks and do not return home over the weekend. Under this specific circumstance, DFPS reimburses for a second bag. In this instance, the traveler attaches the receipt to the travel claim. This reimbursement does not cover additional charges for excessive baggage weight (baggage over 50 lbs). Other than as noted in policy, the traveler is responsible for any additional baggage fee or cost.

Baggage used to transport state equipment or materials, and additional baggage for clients, is considered reimbursable. The traveler is responsible for choosing the most cost effective shipment method, considering all relevant factors such as timeliness of delivery. Therefore, the traveler should review all rates for UPS Ground Shipment or other methods of delivery before using an airline. The authorized traveler must document the purpose of the additional baggage fees in the Record of Transportation, and an explanation why the airline was the most cost effective shipment method. For example, if the additional baggage fee was for the transport of state equipment, the traveler must specify what equipment was transported. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

Luggage fees associated with state contracted airlines:

American Airlines - As of May 15, 2009, American Airlines no longer waives luggage fees for state employees. As of May 31, 2013 the first bag fee is $25.00, and the second bag is $35.00 (no discount for State of Texas travelers).

JetBlue Airways - JetBlue allows each customer to carry on one bag and check one bag weighing up to 50 pounds for free. The second bag is $40.00, up to 50 lbs.

2630 Rental Cars

Travel Policy May 2015

The traveler is responsible for choosing the most economical travel option available. When determining the most economical option available, an employee must consider all relevant factors such as:

  •   the number of people traveling;

  •   equipment or luggage being transported; and

  •   the number of miles to be traveled.

If the supervisor approves the TA request, the authorized traveler can make car rental reservations one of two ways:

  •   Through the state’s designated travel agency

  •   Contacting the rental car company directly

See 2610 Contracted Travel Agency for contact information and instructions.

If a traveler is flying somewhere and then picking up a rental car, the traveler may contract the travel agency to book the rental car at the same time it books the airfare. If the traveler only needs to book a rental car, then it is cheaper to contact the contracted rental car companies directly because it avoids the travel agency fee.

The size, make, and model of the rental car should also be the most economical considering all relevant factors. The traveler may not rent a more expensive car based on personal preference alone. Staff is responsible for any additional cost above the most economical means of transportation.

Example:

      A traveler is transporting two clients. The DFPS standard vehicle size is “Intermediate/Standard” at a cost of $36.50 per day. The traveler chooses a “Mid-Size” SUV from Enterprise at a rate of $56.00 per day. Based on the number of passengers and equipment being transported, the traveler is responsible for the difference of $19.50 per day plus tax and fees, as the traveler use the most cost-efficient means of transportation.

As an employee of the state of Texas, it is necessary that the traveler always reserves the appropriate size car in advance, if possible, to make sure it is available, and to make sure DFPS is using the most cost-efficient means of transportation.

Authorized travelers are requiredto fill rental cars with gas before returning them. The traveler must submit the itemized gas receipt with the travel claim on which the reimbursement is requested. Pre-paid gas receipts are not acceptable. This type of transaction does not allow for the required details of price per gallon and number of gallons purchased. Furthermore, this process allows for cash back and does not guarantee the pre-paid amount was exclusively used on gasoline.

The contracted rental car reservation telephone numbers and the DFPS direct billing account numbers are listed below. The direct billing account numbers must be provided when making the reservation.

The rental must be booked on the state contract rate. If not, the rental will not be covered under the contract provisions or with the appropriate insurance coverage.

Avis Rent-A-Car

Make reservations online

Direct billing wizard number: UW682U

Rate identifier code: F999530 is used in conjunction with the direct billing account number (AWD Number).

The traveler must provide Avis with both identifying codes (UW682U and F999530) when making reservations for authorized travel. Deviating from this procedure may prevent the charge from being direct billed and the traveler may not receive the state contracted rate.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

1-888-291-0359 or make reservations online

Direct billing account number: TX53ØX

Pre-approval for public transportation or out-of-state travel must be obtained through the TA process in eTravel before making all reservations. Out-of-country travel approval must be obtained using the Form 4186 Travel/Car Rental Authorization.

Contract information

This is not an all-inclusive list, but here are a few tips regarding contract information:

Oversold Provisions

If a contract vendor does not have the reserved vehicle type available when a traveler arrives at the rental location with a confirmed reservation, the vendor is required to:

  •   provide the traveler a free upgrade to the next higher vehicle class, if available; or

  •   acquire a comparable vehicle for the traveler from another contract vendor, if possible, or from a non-contract company.

 In either instance, the rental car vendor must pay any cost difference.

Promotional Rates

If the traveler rents a vehicle from a contract rental car vendor using a rate other than the state of Texas contract rate (such as a promotional rate), the insurance may not be included.

One-Way Rentals

Avis contract does not cover one-way rentals; therefore, the traveler will be charged additional cost.

Overtime Rentals

DFPS is charged an additional cost as follows:

  •   One to two hours = ¼ the daily rate

  •   Two to three hours = ½ the daily rate

  •   Three hours or more = full daily rate

Fueling Provision

If the traveler is given a vehicle that does not have a full tank of gas, he or she must note the gas level on the rental agreement, and return the vehicle with the same level of fuel in it.

For additional information and detail of the state contract, see:

  •   Rental Car Contract Information

Car Rental Comparison Calculator

Authorized travelers are required to use the most cost efficient travel means available. When determining whether to use a rental car or the traveler’s personal vehicle, the traveler should use one of the tools provided by DFPS on the Travel Resources page in the Rental Car section. DFPS Accounting has supplied travelers with two car rental comparison tools: one developed by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the other developed by Accounting. They are different, but each provides a means to determine whether or not it is more cost efficient to rent a car.

There is not a set mileage amount that determines when an authorized traveler must rent a car. Travelers must take into consideration:

  •   estimated mileage;

  •   car rental cost, including taxes and fees charged in various cities and airports;

  •   staff time to pick up and drop off the rented vehicle;

  •   estimated return time - if returning late, will it cost the agency an additional daily car rental charge; and

  •   gasoline cost and rental miles per gallon.

Miscellaneous Car Rental Information

Renting a car is not about convenience or personal preferences. Reasonable standards must be followed. The agency standard car rental is the “Standard” car type. Staff must use this size vehicle unless there is an agency need, such as multiple passengers or equipment being transported. In general, the following guidelines should be used:

  •   Standard/Intermediate - Driver and one to three passengers

  •   Minivan - Driver and more than three passengers

The traveler must not decide based on preference; the most efficient and economical travel cost should be the deciding factor. When a traveler requires a larger vehicle for passengers or equipment, the minivan is much more economical and cost efficient than any SUV. Furthermore, rentals are not for personal use; therefore, travelers must also consider the appropriate rental time frames.

Travelers may not keep car rentals longer than a 30 day rental period, per the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA). As previously noted, the state agency may only use the rental for work related business.

Fifteen-passenger vans do not meet Federal Bus Safety Standards. Legal has reviewed the usage of the large passenger vans and has recommended the use of smaller vans when transporting foster children due to liability issues.

When completing the travel claim, the traveler must list the point-to-point travel in the rental vehicle to justify the fuel expense. The point-to-point travel is detailed on the Record of Transportation tab of the paper travel form, and on the Trips tab in eTravel.

When submitting rental car gasoline receipts for reimbursement on a travel claim, the itemized receipt must be provided. Pre-pay gasoline receipts will not be reimbursed. The itemized receipt must show the amount of gallons purchased and the price per gallon.

2631 Allowable Rental Car Expenses

Travel Policy May 2015

Reimbursable rental car expenses include:

  •   gasoline (authorized travelers are required to fill rental cars with gas before returning them to the rental car company, and the itemized receipt is required for reimbursement);

  •   toll charges;

  •   parking fees;

  •   sales tax on rental cars; and

  •   loss damage waiver (LDW) insurance; this is included in state-contracted rates and applies to state-contracted car rental vendors.

The traveler must complete the TA process in eTravel before reserving a rental car.

2632 Unallowable Rental Car Expenses

Travel Policy June 2014

Reimbursement does not include:

  •   liability insurance supplements;

  •   personal accident insurance or safe trip insurance;

  •   personal effects insurance;

  •   traffic tickets such as illegal parking, moving violation, and so on;

  •   pre-pay gasoline receipts (see 2630 Rental Cars);

  •   no personal vehicle mileage;

  •   GPS navigational equipment; and

  •   clean-up charge for smoking in the vehicle.

For the insurance that cannot be reimbursed, employees can get coverage at their own expense. The traveler must pay added insurance out-of-pocket and not apply it to the direct billing account.

The cost to replace lost keys or keys locked in rental vehicle are the responsibility of the renter with few exceptions.

2640 Other Public Transportation Modes

2641 Chartered or State-Owned Aircraft

Travel Policy June 2014

When employees travel in groups, it may be more cost effective to utilize a state-owned aircraft or to charter an aircraft. Employees may contact the Direct Bill Unit for instructions.

2642 Trains

Travel Policy May 2015

On rare occasions, a train may the most cost effective travel means when considering all relevant circumstances. The TA process in eTravel is required to request travel by train. The traveler provides sufficient justification in the Purpose and Justification of Trip section of the TA process in eTravel to demonstrate the cost effectiveness.

Train travel is reimbursed for the actual cost. Original receipts are required and must be attached to the travel claim.

Charges for economy sleeping accommodations while traveling by train are considered part of transportation costs. The reimbursement for lodging and meals amount is reduced by the cost of sleeping accommodations over and above the price of a regular ticket.

2650 Client Travel by Bus

Travel Policy May 2015

The DFPS Direct Bill Unit makes all bus reservations. The caseworker or other DFPS representative (requestor) must contact the Greyhound Lines, Inc. at 1-800-231-2222 for general schedule information. The schedule information will be needed by the Direct Bill Unit to make the reservation. Here are the steps to follow:

  •   The requestor must contact the Direct Bill Unit at 512-929-6444 or 512-929-6450 to make the reservation.

  •   The Direct Bill Unit will e-mail a reservation request form to the requestor.

  •   The requestor fills out the reservation request form, completes the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel with supervisor approval, and e-mails or faxes the reservation request form to the Direct Bill Unit at 512-929-6444 or 512-929-6450.

  •   The Direct Bill Unit will make the reservation with Greyhound and will fax the confirmation to the requestor. The confirmation page will have instructions for ticket pick-up.

2660 Changes or Cancellations to Travel Reservations

Travel Policy May 2015

Arranged By the State Contracted Travel Agency:

If the state contracted travel agency is used to procure travel arrangements, all changes or cancellations must be made through that contracted agency unless the trip is under way and it is more practical to contact the vendor directly.

Last-Minute Changes for an Earlier or Later Airline Flight:

National Travel Systems

Send reservation changes by email to National Travel Systems.

For reservations (24/7) call 1-866-644-2375.

The travel agency is required by the airlines to arrange the new flight at least 90 minutes before the new flight time.

The traveler contacts the state contracted travel agency to change or cancel reservations as soon as he or she becomes aware of a needed change or cancellation, so the agency will not incur unnecessary costs.

If the traveler is already at an airport, he or she must go to the designated airline counter to request any changes. The traveler may ask at the counter whether there is an additional charge for the change. If there is, the traveler must pay out of pocket, obtain a receipt reflecting the additional charge, and then be reimbursed on a travel claim by attaching the receipt to the claim

The Direct Bill Unit requires the completion of the Travel Authorization (TA) process in eTravel for the travel that was changed or cancelled to pay the transaction charge that will be billed by the contracted travel agency. It should include the business related reason for the change or cancellation in the Purpose and Justification of Trip section.

Arranged By the Authorized Traveler Directly with the Vendor:

If the traveler makes reservations directly with the vendor (airline, hotel, or car rental), he or she is responsible for all changes or cancellations, which must be made in a timely manner according to the vendor’s deadlines. Charges billed to the authorized traveler due to late notification are not reimbursable without a documented business related reason.

Cancellation charges

A state agency may pay or reimburse a state employee for a cancellation charge if:

  •   the charge is incurred for a reason related to official state business or to official state business that could not be conducted because of a natural disaster or other natural occurrence; or

  •   the charge is:

  •   related to a transportation expense that was paid in advance to obtain lower rates; and

  •   incurred because the employee was unable to use the transportation because of an illness or a personal emergency.

Texas Government Code §660.015

A state agency may also pay or reimburse a state employee for a travel expense (which could include cancellation fees or exchange fees) incurred when the employee returns, before official state business is completed, from a duty point to the employee’s designated headquarters because of an illness or personal emergency.

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