Dec. 3, 2009
Emory Sets the Pace as Best Workplace for Commuters
From Emory Report
Five years ago, Linda King remembers hearing about Emory's fledgling vanpool program. But what really piqued her interest was following one of the Emory vanpools on the highway as she drove home.
"The vanpool and I were making the same trip and it dawned on me that I didn't need to be behind the wheel twice daily for my 35-mile commute," says King, director of events and project administration at the School of Law. "I was paying dearly in dollars and time for driving my car."
Neeta Shenvi, a Rollins School of Public Health researcher, drives to the Park-n-Ride lot at North DeKalb Mall, then parks for free and rides the Cliff shuttle for the final three congested miles to campus.
King and Shenvi are not alone and today thousands of Emory's employees use alternative transportation programs when traveling to campus. The success of these programs was the reason the University was recognized on Nov. 10 with a 2009 PACE Award from the Clean Air Campaign for Emory's efforts to reduce traffic and improve air quality.
Emory was one of four local employers honored for its longstanding efforts to promote transportation programs that include a shuttle service that carries 2.5 million riders annually and is fueled in part on biodiesel from Emory's cooking oil; bike and car sharing programs; and successful carpool/vanpool programs. The University was previously recognized with a PACE Award in 2004.
"This has been a challenging year for employers," says Kevin Green, executive director of the Clean Air Campaign. "The recession has forced companies to do more with less, but the field of contenders for this year's PACE Awards was as strong as ever. That's a signal that the business community is succeeding at using commute options programs as a cost-effective way to increase employee productivity and morale, even in a down economy."
"Ridership remains high, and during a period of tightening budgets across Emory, the University remains committed to these programs," says Lisa Underwood, associate vice president for transportation and parking services. "Employees use these programs for a variety of reasons, and we view it as a competitive benefit offered by Emory."
For Ted Gillespie, an Emory College junior, living on the Clairmont campus means that Cliff shuttle service is easily the best means for getting from his apartment to main campus. "I commute on the C-route literally several times a day, and use the shuttle to reach my work-study job at 1762 Clifton Road." According to Gillespie, the GPS service that tracks Cliff shuttle buses in real-time is most helpful. "I can see where the bus is on my cell phone and head to the bus stop before it arrives."
While the PACE Award provides Emory with accolades, it is the commuters who use the programs that reap the biggest awards. "I avoid 70-miles of travel on my car each day, plus fuel, extra insurance fees and the cost of a parking pass," says King. "In the morning, I even get a nap during the ride to work."