By Ms. Sandra Arnold (USACE)September 19, 2013
GALVESTON, Texas (Sept. 19, 2013) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District was recognized as a 2013 Clean Air Champion by the Houston-Galveston Area Council for its Vanpool Program, which offers commuting alternatives to employees.
"The Vanpool Program is part of the Department of the Army's Mass Transportation Benefit Program," said Kathy Adams, the USACE Galveston District's Vanpool Program coordinator. "It's a terrific program that not only reduces commuting costs, but more importantly, federal employees' contribution to traffic congestion and air pollution."
With more than 70 employees using the program daily, the Vanpooling Program supports the Corps' Sustainability Program efforts to use less energy, water and petroleum and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its missions, equipment and facilities.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to the environmental advantages, vanpool programs can result in substantial benefits for employees, including increased comfort, reduced stress, time savings and a reduction in commuting costs.
"The benefits of vanpooling make it a great option for our employees; they save money on gas, there's less wear and tear on their vehicles and they get to relax while commuting," said Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander. "Vanpooling is a safe alternative to driving and our employees can save a lot of money over the long term."
The 2012 American Automobile Association's "Your Driving Costs" study revealed the average cost to drive a sedan was 59.6 cents per mile while SUV costs rose to 75.7 cents per mile (based on 15,000 miles of annual driving and including gasoline, oil, maintenance, tires and depreciation).
Adams explained that vanpooling remains a good value alternative to driving personal vehicles and is safer too.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, vanpooling is the safest form of public transportation with the least amount of reported accidents and is recognized as being safer than most commute methods, including personal vehicle usage.
"The purpose of the Houston-Galveston Area Council's Clean Air Champion Program is to recognize companies for their outstanding leadership and contributions in improving the region's transportation and air quality," said Shelley Whitworth, Air Quality Program manager of the Houston-Galveston Area Council. "We realize that it is essential for all of us to work together for the betterment of our environment."
With nearly 25 percent of the district's workforce participating in the program, Adams says she remains committed to increasing participation in the program for 2014, to support the Corps' efforts to the educate the workforce about the importance of incorporating sustainability measures when possible.
For more information concerning the Department of the Army's Mass Transportation Benefit Program visit http://asafm.army.mil/offices/ASA/MassTrans.aspx?OfficeCode=1000 or the USACE Sustainability Program visit http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Sustainability.aspx. For news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.