Maricopa County Air Quality Department recently sent out the annual trip reduction survey and Luke Air Force Base is within the area affected by the survey.
The Trip Reduction Program began in the late 1980s as part of the State of Arizona’s response to a court ruling requiring greater efforts to reduce air pollution. One outcome was a statute that went into effect focusing on employers and schools. The 70 million commuter miles driven each weekday are a major source of air pollution.
“Luke AFB has been an integral part of the West Valley community for the past seven decades,” said Jeff Rothrock, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental chief. “It is our community responsibility to be good stewards of the environment and seek ways to reduce pollution. In fact, maintaining an effective pollution prevention program is a tenet of the Luke Air Force Base Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health policy. Luke’s participation in the survey is an important way to fulfill our own pollution prevention goals as well as be a good neighbor.”
The TRP asks employers and schools to reduce the number of single occupant vehicle trips and/or miles traveled to work by 10 percent for five years, then 5 percent for the three years after that or until the school or company reaches a 60 percent rate of SOV travel.
The results of the survey are used to develop an annual plan that commits the employer or school to implementing and documenting various strategies to reduce SOV trips or miles.
“The survey gives people the opportunity to tell us and their company or school what they want,” said a Maricopa County Air Quality Department official. “They can give feedback to alternate modes of transportation they would be willing to take. For example, students who want more bus service to their school or a student-priced pass can let us know, and we will see if it’s possible. For companies the same is true. If telecommuting or a four-day work week would help reduce the number of trips, and in turn air pollution, the company gets those results and can make decisions based on what employees said.”
According to the 2012 annual trip reduction report, more than 683,000 people participated in the survey — 72 percent of all students and employees in Maricopa County.
“The survey does several things,” Rothrock said. “It enhances awareness of air pollution and prompts employees to consider alternative means for commuting to work that would contribute to cleaner air. Secondly, the data collected tells the county how many commuting miles were reduced by participants and how many tons of pollution was not released as a result. In addition, the data collected helps the county in planning to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips. The county requires employers to achieve a minimum 60-percent participation rate.”
In the past, Luke has benefited from the survey in a number of ways.
“The Luke AFB Trip Reduction Program offers a monthly vanpool subsidy of up to $240 per month per rider,” Rothrock said. “Vanpool riders also enjoy reserved parking spaces and a drop in insurance of 15 to 20 percent. The program also guarantees a ride home in the event of an emergency. The TRP program also offers free bus cards for commuting to the base by Valley Metro bus service.”
There are currently three vanpools on Luke. For information on the routes and times, call Cris Cristoffer, trip reduction coordinator, at (623) 856-6501.