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Thu, Mar 24, 2011

Valley employers are successful in cutting commutes

Phoenix (Mar. 23, 2011)  — How many cars on Valley roadways have just one passenger when they could carry more, and how much pollution and traffic congestion could be alleviated if more of us share the ride?

During February’s Rideshare Month, 36 companies answered Valley Metro’s ‘Try 1 in 5’ Employer Challenge by asking their employees to help reduce pollution by taking alternative forms of transportation to work instead of driving alone. Employees stepped up to the challenge as they banded together to carpool or vanpool;  worked from home ; biked or walked to work, or rode the bus and light rail as a way to share the commute. During the one week challenge Feb. 13-19 participating employers saved 373,263 miles from being driven alone and kept an estimated 8,114 pounds of pollution (or four tons) out of the air.

According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, every 46 miles driven generates 1 pound of pollution. Challenge participants resolved to ‘Try 1 in 5’ by tracking their alternative mode usage during the week and submitting the results to Valley Metro at the end of the week.

“Imagine the difference we could make in our air quality when more of us take action,” said Dave Boggs, executive director of Valley Metro. “We’re approaching the time of year when high temperatures and vehicle emissions combine to create unhealthy ground-level ozone pollution. Can you commit to try to share a trip at least once a week?”

Winning the ‘Try 1 in 5’ challenge in the small employer category was WorldatWork, a Scottsdale-based, not-for-profit organization that provides education, conferences and research for human resource professionals. Exactly 45 percent of their 111 employees participated by carpooling, teleworking, biking and walking to work.

Winning the ‘Try 1 in 5’ challenge in the medium-size employer category was Desert Mountain Club, Inc., a private golf community in Scottsdale. Their employees vanpooled and carpooled to work, saving 54,979 miles from being driven alone.

SRP won the challenge in the large employer category, with 8 percent participation from more than 4,000 employees who carpooled, vanpooled, rode bus or light rail, biked, walked, or worked from home. That modest percentage of staff saved 40,620 miles from being driven alone.

Each winner will receive a Clean Air Campaign Award at Valley Metro’s annual awards luncheon to be held later this year. All employers participating in the challenge are part of the Maricopa County Trip Reduction Program, which asks organizations with more than 50 employees or driving-age students at a single worksite to promote alternative modes of transportation to its commuters.

Try 1 in 5 and Rideshare Month are programs of the Clean Air Campaign, which is sponsored by the Maricopa Association of Governments, Maricopa County Air Quality Department and the Arizona Departments of Environmental Quality and Transportation.

Valley Metro/RPTA provides eco-friendly public transit options to residents of greater Phoenix and Maricopa County, including a clean-fuel bus fleet, low-emissions light rail,  a bio-diesel Dial-a-Ride fleet, online carpool matching and bus trip mapping, and bicycle and telework assistance. Funding is provided by local, state and federal revenues; and administered by a board of 16 governments working to improve and regionalize the public transit system. You can follow Valley Metro RPTA on Twitter and Facebook.

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