Today at Berkeley Lab Berkeley Lab logo US Dept. of Energy logoBerkeley Lab logo
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Staff Unaware of Lab Mass Transit Programs, Says Survey

bus— By Lyn Hunter

The Lab has less staff driving to work alone in their cars, and more motorcycle riders, walkers, and BART and AC Transit riders than Alta Bates Hospital or Kaiser Oakland, according to the recently tabulated results of a survey on commuting that was administered last fall.

Though the Lab is somewhat ahead of the curve with regards to alternate transportation, as compared to these two other large employers, finding additional incentives for staff to leave their cars at home is crucial, as parking on the Hill is impacted by construction, fuel prices rise, and environmental impacts mount, say survey organizers.

However, more than half of the survey’s respondents said they didn’t know about the alternative transportation incentive programs that were available through the Lab.

These programs include WageWorks, in which the cost of purchasing mass-transit tickets, such as BART and AC Transit, can be paid with pre-tax dollars. Staff interested in signing up for WageWorks can contact them via e-mail or by calling 877-924-3967.

Another option is the 511 vanpool service, which can match staff with riders commuting to Berkeley from the same area, or assist with those who want to start a vanpool. Go here for more information.

The Guaranteed Ride Home service, also offered through 511, is another incentive to take mass transit. The program provides commuters who regularly carpool, vanpool, bike, walk or take transit to work, with a reliable and free ride home — usually in a taxi or rental car — when unexpected emergencies arise.

Also, staff who regularly carpool to the Lab should be aware that if any member of the carpool has a blue triangle pass, any carpool vehicle can park in a blue triangle spot, as long as the permit holder is onsite that day. Just show the carpool member’s permit to the security-gate guard and a special blue triangle permit will be issued for the vehicle being used that day.

Questions about the Lab’s mass transit and parking programs should be directed to Sam Houston, head of the Site Access Office (x4855).

When asked what would encourage staff to not drive alone to work, an improved shuttle bus service was among the top answers. About 43 percent said they want more frequent shuttles, followed by newer shuttles (26 percent). Other comments included a desire for better bus routes (including South Berkeley coverage) and transportation at night.

The Lab’s Transportation group launched an enhanced bus service on March 16. Improvements included reduced wait times, the addition of the NEXTbus program, which provides approximate bus arrival times via phone, computer and, most recently, LCD displays at key bus stops, and the LabPorter service, which provides onsite rides for business appointments.

Nearly 700 staff responded to the commuter survey, which represents about 19 percent of Lab’s 3,674 fulltime equivalent employees.

Today at Berkeley Lab is produced by Public Affairs' Communications Department