|Columns||The City||Commerce||Links||About||Contacts||Send PR here.|
|Santa Monica Grapples with Ways to Reduce Commuter Traffic|
By Jorge Casuso
June 27, 2012 -- Santa Monica officials are taking steps to get more of the city's nearly 38,000 employees to ditch their cars under a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) ordinance intended to relieve congestion during peak hour commutes.
Approved by the City Council in 2000, the law promotes strategies, such as walking, carpooling, biking, using public transit, compressing work schedules and telecommuting.
The law resulted in only a slight drop in Average Vehicle Ridership (ARV) over the past year, from 1.71 in the 2009-10 Fiscal Year to 1.71 this year, according to a report to the council last week. The ARV is arrived at by dividing the number of employees reporting to work during peak hours by the number of vehicles driven to the work site.
The drop is likely due not to fewer commuters driving their vehicles, but to some of the 669 employers with more than ten employees choosing to purchase credits instead of reducing employee trips, City officials said.
"In an effort to increase City-wide AVR and alternative commute participation by area employees, the Transportation Management Office has initiated a comprehensive outreach program," City Finance Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes wrote in the report to the council.
The program includes working with vanpool providers to "increase the number of vanpools currently operating in Santa Monica from 10 to 50," according to Decavalles-Hughes.
Transportation Management staff also will "work closely with employers, consulting with them on methods to increase AVR, create more effective plans, and solve parking problems," according to the report.
In addition, staff has begun auditing employers with between 50 and 169 employees, completing 15 of those audits in the current fiscal year. The audit includes "a complete review of the employers’ plans, and suggestions for strengthening those plans in order to achieve higher AVRs," the report said.
Fifteen audits have been completed in FY 2011-12 and more are scheduled to take place on a regular basis, according to the report.
Forty new employers with between 10 and 49 employees have already been trained at a City-sponsored TDM workshop and submitted their initial plans in April, the report found.
City officials hope that the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) -- which includes a No Net New Trips program -- will reduce peak-hour congestion, according to the report.
The City hopes to reach that goal by forming a Transportation Management Association (TMA), creating "connected mobility hubs" that include public transit and the Expo Light Rail line expected to be completed in 2016, as well as car share, bike share and EV infrastructure.
The City also hopes to reduce trips by encouraging commuters to use "trip reduction website applications," according to the report.
|Copyright 1999-2012 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.|