Use of public transit and telecommuting increases to highest levels ever recorded
August 14, 2008 · Published By Editor
PHOENIX – An annual survey of commuter transportation habits shows that 56 percent of full-time employees now bus, bike, carpool, vanpool, or walk to work at least once a week – the highest level ever recorded in Maricopa County, according to Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority.
Also, telecommuting and working a compressed schedule is at an all-time high in the Valley with 32 percent of employed adults reporting that they do this at least one day per week. And, for the second straight year, there has been an increase in the frequency of carpooling or vanpooling throughout the work week.
“More people are using alternative forms of transportation now than at any other time in the past 15 years,” said David Boggs, executive director of Valley Metro RPTA. “Gas prices certainly are a factor, but we also are encouraged by the jump in telecommuting, which indicates a willingness on the part of our employers to accept what technology is making more and more possible. Allowing staff to work from home truly can help both traffic congestion and air quality.”
Valley Metro is responsible, not only with providing regional bus service, but also for promoting the environmental benefits of carpooling, vanpooling and telecommuting. The organization coordinates efforts with 1,200 employers in Maricopa County who are required to promote alternative modes of transportation to their staff when 50 or more employees work at the same site. For every 45 miles driven alone in a vehicle, 1 pound of pollution is added to the skies. Changing commuting habits to share the ride with someone else can greatly improve the air and reduce breathing problems caused by pollution.
Valley Metro’s latest survey also assessed the willingness of those who do not use public transportation to try it. As in the past, some residents believe that demands of their job override any potential benefits of carpooling or vanpooling, however they now indicate that saving money on gas is pushing them to reconsider. The percentage of respondents who say they use alternative modes of transportation primarily to save money on gas doubled from 16 percent in 2007 to 32 percent this year. Residents also say that work-site assistance to help them find carpool or vanpool matches would cause them to reconsider. Some employers already offer incentives such as free bus passes, free vans for vanpooling, or preferred parking for carpoolers to entice staff not to drive alone.
The report presents results of a telephone survey of employed residents between the ages of 18 and 55 who live in Maricopa County. Results are based on 402 telephone interviews conducted by WestGroup Marketing Research, Inc., during April and May of 2008. Total sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
Valley Metro/RPTA is an organization of 14 local governments that provides or funds transit services to citizens in the greater Phoenix metropolitan and surrounding areas. For more information about Valley Metro public transit services, call Transit Information at (602) 253-5000; for callers with TTY (602) 261-8208; or visit the Valley Metro website at www.ValleyMetro.org.