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Local Transportation While Traveling

Employees traveling on behalf of the University should be aware of the allowable types of charges that may be incurred while on the trip.  For local ground transportation at the travel destination, rental cars and taxis may be used in the appropriate situations, and with thorough explanation of the business need.  The UNM Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual, Policy 4030 “Travel”, addresses this:

Per section 9.1 “Rental”:

“Travelers are encouraged to use cost effective public transportation when available, but are authorized to rent automobiles when necessary.  The business need for the rental car must be fully explained in the reimbursement request.”  (Emphasis added)

There must be a valid business need for a rental car.  Lacking a valid business reason, documentation must be provided to show that the total cost for renting the car (rental fees, fuel, parking, tolls, etc.) is less than public transportation such as shuttles or taxis when available.  Also, when necessary for a documented business need, travelers should whenever possible use the services of those vendors with which the University has contracted for favorable terms.  This information is available on the Purchasing website:  Price Agreements

Generally, a rental car will be allowable if the nature of the trip requires multiple trips in and around the local area, for business reasons.  Consideration should be given, however, as to whether other options are more cost effective (taxi, for instance).  If there is just a single business “side trip”, it may be more cost effective to utilize a taxi for that side trip, rather than incurring the cost of a rental car for the entire duration of the travel.  If the business reason for the travel consists of a conference or similar event at a single location, with no additional local business travel, taxi or shuttle, whichever is available and most cost effective, should be used for travel from and back to the airport.  Renting a car for purposes of traveling to restaurants, or other places of personal interest, is not appropriate.  Employees may, of course, rent a car at their own expense for any of these purposes.

When renting a car for University business purposes, travelers should be aware of the types of charges that are and aren’t allowable:

  • Charges for Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are NOT allowed, unless ADVANCE approval in writing is obtained from the Dean, Director or Department Head.  Documentation of this approval must be included with the Travel Report in Chrome River in order for any charges to be allowed. 

  • Travelers should not incur any “fuel service” option charges from the rental car company.  Allowing the rental car company to charge for fuel is often much more costly.  Travelers are responsible for knowing what the status of the fuel tank should be upon return of the vehicle (empty, full, same level, etc.) in order to avoid these charges.

  • Insurance charges are included in the rate when renting from UNM’s contracted rental car vendors, Enterprise and National.  Therefore additional insurance should be declined when using these vendors.  See the Price Agreements on the Purchasing website, and excerpts from the Travel Policy, below.

Section 9.2 “Rental Car Insurance”, subsection 9.2.1 states in part:

“The CDW and LDW coverage should be declined when picking up an Enterprise or National rental vehicle because the coverage is already included in the UNM rates.”

When renting a vehicle from other than Enterprise or National, the State of New Mexico’s Risk Management Division insurance coverage applies, therefore it is unnecessary to purchase additional insurance.  However, although it would be unnecessary, purchasing insurance while on business travel out-of-state may be allowed when approved by the department head, as per section 9.2.2 of the Travel Policy:

“If travelers do not make reservations under the University’s agreement with Enterprise and National and use another rental car vendor, then the State of New Mexico Risk Management Division coverage would apply in the event of an incident.  The Risk Management Department treats rental cars rented by University travelers for official University business as if they were UNM vehicles….”, and “Upon approval of the renting department’s dean, director, department head, or delegate, travelers may be allowed to purchase additional CDW or LDW insurance if they are on UNM business travel out of state."

Per section 9.5 “Taxi Fares”:

“Taxi fares may be reimbursed for travel to and from a business destination such as airport, hotel, conference site, or other location necessitated by the business trip.  Taxi fares for travel to restaurants for personal meals or other locations of personal interest are not

When using taxis for local travel while on a business trip, consideration should be given as to whether alternatives, such as shuttles, are more cost effective.  Generally, if shuttles are available and more cost effective, any reimbursement for taxi will be limited to the cost of the shuttle.  Many hotels offer free shuttle service to and from airports.  Travelers or those preparing reimbursement requests should provide comparative cost information in order to determine the allowable amount.  As noted in the policy, taxi fares incurred for traveling to restaurants or other locations of personal interest are not reimbursable.  An exception would be if a business meeting was being held at a site, such as a restaurant, away from the main site of the business event.  As in all cases, a thorough description of a meeting such as this should be provided.

This information is being provided as general guidelines in regard to policy interpretation.  All instances in which the guidelines are not followed should be thoroughly explained in order to justify a valid business need for the deviation.