The university’s award-winning efforts to get people out of their cars is working.
When Jill Danseco got the call saying that her 2-year-old son had broken his leg at a daycare in Seattle, the first thing she thought of was how she was going to get there. Danseco, who works in the Public Relations office, is an avid bus rider and carpooler. She did not have a car on campus.
“I was absolutely panicked,” Danseco says. “My little boy was seriously injured, and I wasn’t able to get there without help.” She called the university’s employee transportation coordinator, who told her to take a cab to Seattle and the university would reimburse her.
“Getting that cab ride — and knowing I’d be reimbursed for it later — really helped me calm down, and I was able to get to the emergency room in time to hold his hand for the X-ray,” Danseco says.
Jennifer Burley coordinates UW Tacoma’s efforts to decrease its carbon footprint by getting employees out of their cars. She used to be one of those employees who drive alone to work. But now she’s a woman on a mission.
“If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be riding the bus to work, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she says. “That seemed like a crazy idea at the time.”
Now she relishes the experience. She catches up on her reading and likes how it makes her feel. “There’s a sense of community. You recognize people you ride with and talk with them. I got to know more about Tacoma. And I feel like I’m making a positive impact on the environment and teaching the importance of this to my daughter.” Burley’s efforts are paying off — and being recognized.
Single-occupancy vehicle trips by UW Tacoma faculty and staff decreased by 18 percent and the number of vehicle miles traveled went down 20 percent between 2006 and 2009.
Burley was named the Pierce County Employee Transportation Coordinator of the Year.
The state awarded UW Tacoma the 2008 Governor’s Commute Smart Award, and UW Tacoma received a Leadership Award from the city of Tacoma and Pierce Transit, citing the university’s outstanding efforts toward reducing single-occupant commute trips.
Burley ticks off the reasons that it’s important to get people out of their cars. Topping the list: driving alone contributes carbon dioxide emissions, which create greenhouse gases. Also, it’s less expensive to ride the bus, carpool or vanpool, Burley says, when you consider the cost of gas, parking and wear and tear on your car. Riding the bus or carpooling is also less stressful because you don’t have to combat traffic or drive in bad weather or troll for a parking space.
“It’s a good feeling to know that you’re making a difference and not contributing to congestion,” Burley says.
John Burkhardt, Associate Director of Communications, email@example.com or 253-692-4536