April 18, 2008

Mass transit options abound for employees

Featured Image

(graphic by Medical Art Group)

Mass transit options abound for employees

Vanderbilt Medical Center is stepping up efforts to connect employees with mass transit options.

“None of us should overlook the benefits of mass transit to our environment or to our pocketbooks,” said Gary Streaty, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “And that's not to mention our institution's interest in reducing demand for campus parking, which continues to be stretched very tight.”

Between employees, patients, students and visitors, Streaty's office calculates that 25,000 vehicles arrive at VMC each day, with an estimated average distance traveled of 48 miles round trip. According to an online calculator published by the Environmental Protection Agency, that translates to 50,000 gallons of gas consumed per weekday and more than 1 million pounds of pollutants discharged per weekday into Middle Tennessee's air.

“With rush-hour traffic worsening and gas prices rising, in my opinion mass transit is primed to grow substantially in Middle Tennessee. Our hope is that the Medical Center can help lead that growth by developing programs that serve as a model for other large employers,” Streaty said.

For employee commuting, the Medical Center continues to provide free Nashville MTA bus service and steeply discounted Music City Star commuter rail service. According to Streaty, 500 Vanderbilt employees take advantage of these discounts each day, which he says equates to 1,000 gallons of gas saved per weekday and 20,000 pounds of pollution reduction per weekday. The Medical Center continues to work with transit officials to amend bus routes in ways that speed service and increase access for Vanderbilt employees. For information on these continuing programs, see the Commuter Options section of the Parking and Transportation Services Web site.

New transportation programs include vanpools and an automated ride matching system for VMC employees interested in carpooling.

New ride matching software

for carpools

Starting next Monday, April 21 — the day before Earth Day — new carpool ride match software will be available for employees through the VMC Parking and Transportation Services Web site. Registrants can view map locations of other VMC commuters and can enter their preferred proximity for prospective carpool partners. The VMC carpool program affords significant parking discounts to employees.

VMC/RTA Vanpool Program

The vanpools are subsidized by VMC and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Registration begins June 2 through the Commuter Options section of the VMC Parking and Transportation Services Web site. Software linked to the Web site will identify registrants for prospective vanpools.

The Vanpool Program program is reserved for VMC employees. RTA will buy and maintain the vans and provide driver training. VMC Parking and Transportation Services will organize riders, conduct orientation and sponsor drivers. Three 12-passenger vans are scheduled to go into service in June.

The cost for van riders varies according to the number of riders and the distance traveled. Approximate sample prices, based on 12 riders per van, include Clarksville, 100 miles round trip, $109 per month; Murfreesboro, 80 miles round trip, $87 per month; Bellevue, 35 miles round trip, $38 per month. With fewer riders, the price goes up. A minimum of eight riders is required to get a vanpool started. RTA will pay for up to four empty seats for the first three months, to allow vanpools time to add riders and reap full cost benefits.

For more information, see the VMC Parking and Transportation Services Web site or call 936-0686.

RTA Guaranteed Ride Home

The RTA subsidizes free emergency taxi fare — up to eight rides per year per person — for carpool and vanpool riders, RTA train riders and express bus riders. Registration is required. For details, see the RTA Web site, www.rta-ride.org.