Travel Reduction Program protects our air quality

Pima Association of Governments’ travel reduction program invariably has room to grow.

Currently, 207 employers in Pima County with more than 135,000 employees participate. Mary Carter, PAG’s Director of Partnerships and Development and manager of the travel reduction program, is recruiting new and existing employers and developing tools to support employers to encourage their employees to share the ride for their daily commute.

“We are recruiting employers and supporting the post-pandemic recovery by helping people find new ways to get to work,” Carter said. “Everyone can contribute to the health of our community. There’s always an opportunity to do more. Right now, transit is free through June, and with increased gas prices it’s a great time to try it or other ridesharing options.”

Travel reduction leads to fewer vehicles on the road, which leads to a reduction in vehicle emissions for cleaner air. During the pandemic, mandates to work from home demonstrated that fewer vehicles on the roads and freeways improved air quality and reduced congestion in towns and cities across the globe.

Carter said that driving a distance of 82.7 miles leads to one pound of pollution. Polluted air is linked to a variety of health concerns including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, allergies and neurological effects. By opting to carpool or vanpool, pollution reduction can quickly add up to support cleaner air.

In place since 1989, the travel reduction program is funded by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees are required by ordinance to participate in the program. Program deliverables include assigning a transportation coordinator (TC), completing an annual travel reduction Activity Inventory Report (AIR Survey), administering the annual employee survey, and distributing PAG-provided travel reduction information and materials to employees.

A few new program tools include a new flier sharing the impacts of reduced commutes for employees and for the environment, and a new high traffic area poster with a QR code for the TRP survey allowing employees to easily answer the questions from their smart mobile devices.

Participating employers are required to annually survey employees about their travel choices, including modes, distances and frequency. The average employee travels about 50 miles per day. PAG gathers this data to inform transportation and community planning and reports the data to the state about our region’s vehicle use.

Employers are recognized for achieving goals aligned with the ordinance, and PAG hosts employer resources to help employees better understand how their choices make an impact, including a commute cost calculator, information on the benefits of alternative modes of transportation, such as carpooling and vanpooling.

Find the employer resources and a new tool to make the survey even easier for your employees and coworkers. If you’re not already involved, sign up for the program and sign up to receive our e-newsletter to start helping improve the sustainability and livability in our region.