2006 South Florida Commuter Challenge Promises to be Bigger Than Ever

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City and business officials will lead by example and carpool or use public transportation along with South Florida commuters and sports celebrity on May 18.

In observance of Clean Air Month, as well as in response to rising gas prices and traffic congestion, South Florida Commuter Services (SFCS) is pleased to announce the second annual Commuter Challenge, May 18, 2006. The agency, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, is urging South Floridians to use alternate transportation methods, such as trains, buses, bikes, car pooling, or even walking, to get to work.

The challenge is not without incentive. SFCS is giving away a $1,000 commuter package, which may include transportation-related gifts, such as free gas, tolls, passes and more, to the winning individual. Additionally, the business with the greatest number of participants will receive a transportation demand management (TDM) package to be shared by each employee that has taken the challenge. The TDM package may include bicycle racks and transportation-related vouchers or any transportation option that the employer deems appropriate for the location.

“We are very excited about this year’s Challenge because of the number of people, businesses and municipalities that we expect to participate,” said Jim Udvardy, project director of SFCS. Municipal officials are being asked to participate, if only for a portion of May 18th, on a symbolic level by riding public transit, car pooling or walking for a portion of their commutes. “Though the event takes place for only one day, we believe it will be a catalyst to commuters’ leaving their cars behind during emergencies, occasionally or even regularly,” Udvardy went on to say. He will be using public transportation for the month of May and journaling his experience, positive or otherwise, until the end of the challenge. The journal may be viewed at the SFCS Web site at http://www.1800234ride.com.

Thus far, mayors Mara Guillianti of Hollywood, Scott Brook of Coral Springs, Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill, Don Slesnick of Coral Gables and Jim Naugle of Fort Lauderdale (who will be taking his neighborhood electric vehicle to City Hall) are on board, as well as Baptist Health South Florida, among other corporate and municipal participants. All have committed to taking the challenge toward reducing traffic on May 18th. Similarly, a major South Florida sports figure (soon to be announced – hint: belongs to the Miami Heat) will be car pooling with one lucky commuter.

The intent of the Commuter Challenge is to: a) improve South Florida traffic by reducing the number of vehicles on the road b) reduce the amount of emissions that heavy traffic generates c) lower commuter costs, such as gas, car repair and maintenance d) improve safety by reducing the number of accidents that result from bumper-to-bumper traffic e) reduce stress, and most importantly, f) reduce the number of productivity hours lost due to commuters’ being stuck in traffic.

Nationally, the EPA established May as Clean Air Month in an effort to increase public awareness and provide education on air quality issues.

South Florida Commuter Services is committed to helping reduce traffic congestion while protecting and improving air quality for the benefit of residents and visitors. Those wishing to take the Commuter Challenge may register with SFCS by visiting http://www.1800234RIDE.com, or by calling 1-800-234-RIDE (7433).

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