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Poll Finds Desire for Car-Pool Incentives : Transportation: Slightly more than half of workers say they would consider ride-sharing if they got a subsidy and a guaranteed lift home.

December 14, 1989|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A slim majority of employees who drive alone to work in Glendale might switch to ride-sharing if they were guaranteed a ride home in an emergency and paid a subsidy, according to a survey released last week by the Glendale Transportation Management Assn.

The survey of 5,092 employees at nine key Glendale work sites, conducted by Commuter Transportation Services, is the first comprehensive study of employee travel habits in the city.

It found that almost 77% drive alone to work. But slightly more than half those surveyed--51.6%--would consider ride-sharing, at least occasionally, if given the right incentives.

The other 48.4% said they will not car-pool no matter what incentives are offered. Most of those said that they need a car for personal use before, during or after work or that they work irregular hours.

The guaranteed ride home in the event of a family emergency or unexpected change in work hours is critical to persuading drivers to leave their cars at home, said Carol Redfern of Commuter Transportation. "People fear getting stranded."

Of those who drive alone, 38% said they would consider car-pooling if they knew they had alternative transportation, such as a voucher for taxi fare. Redfern said a similar program has boosted the success of a ride-sharing program at Warner Center in the west San Fernando Valley.

An additional 24% of the drivers said they would give up their car at least a few days a week if they were given monetary incentives by their company, such as extra pay, a discount on gasoline purchases or gift certificates.

Other incentives that drew support were reserved parking spaces in the most desirable locations and free parking for car-poolers. Only 7% said they would consider switching if they had to start paying for parking that they now get free.

More than 19% said they simply need help in finding partners.

Commuter Transportation Services operates Commuter Computer under several state and local grants that are being used to encourage development of traffic management associations, which are employer organizations formed to combat traffic problems. It conducted the two-month survey and provided recommendations on implementing a ride-sharing program at no cost to the transportation association.

The Glendale association, a consortium of public and private employers, incorporated in October and has been awarded a $60,000 state grant to initiate a program to persuade lone commuters to get out of the driver's seat and to either walk, ride with others or pedal bicycles to work, said Tom Horne, city traffic and transit administrator.

Association members include the city of Glendale and 17 other major employers, including Security Pacific Automation, Walt Disney Imagineering, Fidelity Federal, Glendale Federal Bank and the Glendale Galleria.

At the association's meeting last Thursday, Redfern urged that the group take an active role in transportation issues at the local and state level. "With the names of the companies you have in this association, you have a lot of clout," Redfern said. "You need to get into an advocacy role."

She suggested, for example, that the group could press for building code amendments that reduce the number of parking spaces required at new office buildings, forcing more employees to share rides to work by making it more difficult to find parking spaces.

The Glendale association is one of about 50 cooperative groups that have formed nationwide in recent years--partnerships between business and local government to help solve transportation problems associated with rapid urban growth, according to the Urban Transportation Monitor, a trade journal.

The Glendale group plans to mail letters within a few weeks to executives of several dozen other major employers, inviting them to take part. The cost of membership has not been determined, and an executive director must still be hired.

However, all companies with 100 or more employees have been ordered by the South Coast Air Quality Management Board to submit plans by January to encourage ride-sharing among employees. More than half of the plans submitted to date have been rejected as inadequate, according to AQMD officials.

Glendale association members hope to meet the stringent air quality standards by working together. Companies that fall short of the rules face potentially stiff fines, Redfern said.

The next meeting of the association is 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at Glendale Federal Bank, 401 N. Brand Blvd.

GETTING TO WORK

Workers were recently asked how they traveled to their jobs in Glendale. Responding to the survey were 5,092 employees.

Travel mode Number Percent Alone in car 3,895 76.5 Car pool 616 12.1 Public bus 194 3.8 Motorcycle 26 0.5 Bicycle 20 0.4 Walk or jog 163 3.2 Other 143 2.8 No response 15 0.3

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