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U.S. EPA Honors Commuter Choice Employers

Controlled Energy Corporation, Emory University, and Hewlett-Packard Company were among those recently honored by the U.S. EPA for their efforts in providing employees with commute options that help improve the environment and reduce the number of cars on the road, as part of the EPA’s Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative.

"Commuter Choice Employers represent the best of environmental cooperation, showing that a healthy balance sheet and a healthy environment can go hand in hand. I hope that their leadership encourages others to take advantage of this extraordinary partnership opportunity," said EPA administrator Christie Whitman. "These efforts will ensure that the ride to work - and to a clean environment - will be smoother for generations to come."

Employers who participate in the Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative must offer their employees at least one major commuter benefit -- such as transit passes, vanpool subsidies, or cash instead of subsidized parking spaces. Commuter Choice Employers must also offer three other commuter benefits from a list, including carpool matching, bike lockers, compressed work schedules, and on-site day care. The program’s participating employers span from every business sector and region of the country: from Fortune 500 companies with over 40,000 employees to small businesses with fewer than five workers.

According to the program, 75% of all trips made to and from work in the United States are by vehicles driven alone. Nine billion gallons of gasoline is wasted in traffic jams each year.

According to Stephan Sylvan, who manages the initiative, many of the program’s nearly 300 participants have already reported successes. Walt Disney Corporation reported that its commute-options program at Disneyland Resort allowed the company to eliminate one whole level of parking spaces, resulting in savings of $2 million. Emory University has also reported having eliminated the need for a new parking deck : More than 1,500 employees and students use alternative methods to arrive on campus. The university also offers a shared-car program allowing participants to use an electric car to do errands during the day. Of the 1,200 employees at PepsiCo Headquarters in New York, 360 telecommute, 24 have a compressed work schedule, 12 carpool, 96 ride the train, and 24 ride the bus to work. An on-site credit union, a convenience store, and a fitness center allow PepsiCo employees to take care of daily needs without ever leaving the corporate campus.

The program has also inspired innovation on the part of many employees. For example, some employees at the Controlled Energy Corporation cross-country ski to work when conditions are favorable in the winter.

“If you look at auto driving, it’s one of the most central things to the environmental issue,” said Sylvan. “If half of all U.S. commuters worked for Commuter Choice Employers, air pollution and traffic would be cut by the equivalent of taking 15 million cars off the road.”

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