March 25, 2011

Valley Metro program helps employers cut commutes

During February’s Rideshare Month, 36 companies answered Phoenix-based 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, which took place from Feb. 13 to 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 one 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.

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.

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