Officials of the South Coast Air Quality Management District said this week that they have approved a traffic reduction plan for city of Glendale employees, commending it for its "innovative and creative" ideas.
The plan, among the first approved by the AQMD, offers incentives, including bonuses, for city employees who pool or take public transportation, and guarantees rides at city expense should those employees have to work late, leave because of an emergency or otherwise miss their usual transportation.
John Dunlap, AQMD district transportation manager, praised the Glendale plan as a workable program to persuade workers to leave their cars at home and to either walk, ride or pedal to work.
"The overall mix of incentives they brought forward seems to be well thought out," Dunlap said. "They spent some time on this. It's serious. We think it will work."
Glendale's plan was among the first batch of more than 200 proposals submitted by the Southland's largest employers--including governments and businesses--under a state mandate to reduce air pollution.
Eventually, about 8,000 employers in four counties--Los Angeles, Orange and parts of Riverside and San Bernardino--will be required to develop programs to reduce the number of vehicle trips taken by employees.
Dunlap said he was impressed with the scope of Glendale's plan, which includes extensive research on travel practices among city employees and a wide variety of alternatives and incentives designed to get them to change their habits.
Fleet-Rate Gas Prices
Among the incentives he cited, in addition to pay bonuses and guaranteed rides, are proposals to permit drivers of pool vehicles to fill their gas tanks at city pumps, thus taking advantage of the city's fleet-rate prices, and concerted promotion and recognition campaigns.
The goal of the plan is to persuade almost 300 of the 878 city workers who drive solo to work to find other means of transportation. While much of the program relies on incentives, the city also plans to put some clout into enforcement by charging parking fees and limiting the amount of parking space available to those who do not cooperate. Executives who do not pool might have to give up their privileged parking spaces to car-poolers once a week.
The cost of the program is estimated at $262,000 for the first year.
Glendale officials have already started implementing the plan, which they expect to be fully operational within a year. Fares on the downtown Beeline shuttle service, for instance, were reduced in November from a quarter to nothing and ridership has already increased 43%, officials said.
Apart from the traffic reduction plan for city employees, Glendale officials said they hope to integrate the program with local businesses and adjoining cities.
Last week, more than 150 Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena officials and business leaders met for the first of what may become many sessions to deal with the tri-cities' growing transportation woes.
At the symposium held Jan. 12 at the Burbank Airport Hilton, Glendale Mayor Carl Raggio called on the three cities to put aside their "friendly rivalries" and start working together to resolve problems. "You cannot live alone in a city," Raggio said. "I don't think we can beg the issue any longer."
He said the cities along the Foothill Freeway and Ventura Freeway need to persuade the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission that development of light rail and other public transportation alternatives are vital to solving regional problems.
The commission so far has given low priority to the transportation needs of Glendale and the surrounding community. At best, funds raised by the 1980 Proposition A transit tax will not be available for construction of a rail network linking Glendale and the foothill communities--an area with a combined population larger than that of Atlanta--to one another and to downtown Los Angeles for at least 20 to 30 years, according to officials of the Transportation Commission.
"The only thing we can do to make people understand there is an east out there is to work together," Raggio said. "We have to do it. We don't have any more choices."
As a result of the symposium, Raggio said this week that preliminary steps have been taken to form a tri-city transportation committee. He said plans are also under way to launch a consortium of 11 cities along the Foothill and Ventura freeway corridors. That meeting is expected to be scheduled for late February.