Bringing an inauspicious start to the weekend, unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone are predicted in a few regions across Georgia today, which could create breathing challenges for people. Smog Alerts were distributed for Atlanta, Augusta and Macon.
The Friday forecast issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for the Atlanta region indicates air quality may reach into Code Red, an indication that ozone levels could be unhealthy for everyone. If it comes to pass, this would mark the first Code Red day experienced in Atlanta in two years. The combination of sweltering heat plus tailpipe emissions and stagnant air may have an impact on a wider cross-section of the population, triggering the advisory to limit outdoor physical activity.
Atlanta may not be the only region battling unhealthy conditions, as Augusta and Macon are also each under a Code Orange advisory for today, indicating conditions are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups that include children, the elderly and those with acute respiratory illnesses. Suggestions for these groups also include limiting prolonged exertion outside.
Find helpful tips here on things you can do now to reduce air pollution. If you're planning to be outdoors, keep watch over family and friends to make sure they don't overexert themselves, and build in lots of water breaks. Stay cool and stay informed about forecasts for the next few days while we all try to find relief from this heat wave.
This past Wednesday, employees from many Atlanta area employers and property managers met to exchange ideas on how to build and find more success with commute options programs. The Best Practices seminar is part of The Clean Air Campaign’s ongoing Employer Program Education Series where attendees have earned their MBA (Master’s In Better Air) and most recently, achieved Summa Commuter Laude status at the Best Practices Seminar.
The Clean Air Campaign’s Executive Director, Tedra Cheatham, opened the workshop, and was followed by presenters Sonny Longo from Kimberly-Clark Corporation and John Plunkett with Cobb EMC. Both guest speakers spoke of the challenges that are often faced with gaining upper management support and employee education, and the innovative ways to break though those challenges.
The most beneficial aspect to the seminar was allowing the attendees to discuss and learn within their breakout groups. Some of the most popular ways of gaining employee participation within each employers commute option program that were discussed were:
- Providing information to employees at hire new orientations and benefit fairs
- Introducing their programs as an extension of their wellness program
- Offering “preferred parking” to those who carpool or vanpool
- Promoting ZipCar as a way to get to and from mid-day meetings for those who take transit to work
- Offering on-site showers for anyone who walks, runs or bikes to work
- Providing alternative work arrangements such as teleworking or compressed work weeks
Many of the employers and property managers have been inspired to implement creative approaches to promoting their programs:
- Encouraging clean commute competitions between departments or buildings by determining who logged the most clean commutes (riding transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking, biking or teleworking) over a period of time. Winners were awarded with prizes like ice cream sundae parties.
- Displaying poster sized maps showing where employees live as a springboard to get carpool and vanpool conversations started.
- A parking spot at Atlantic Station was converted into a miniature park, complete with grass, benches and even a lemonade stand. This helped show what could be in its place if as many parking spaces weren’t necessary.
- A hotel extended their shuttle schedule route and hours to run more frequently during peak rush hour times to help guests and staff get to their destinations quicker
The Clean Air Campaign can assist you in developing your commute options programs into something greater by:
- Providing incentives for those who use alternatives to driving alone
- Offering email blasts reminding employees the programs are available
- Providing educational materials and resources to explain the link between traffic and air quality
- Assisting you in planning educational events, such as Lunch and Learns, for your employees
For more information about how you can implement a commute options program or improve your current program, please contact us.
June 21st marks the 7th annual National Dump the Pump Day. Across the country, commuters are being encouraged to hang up their car keys and ride transit instead. Participants will see how transit can help make a daily commute easier and less stressful, and save money on gas and car upkeep.
According to APTA’s recent Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on average, more than $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car. The estimate is based on current gas prices, monthly parking rates and a person purchasing a 30-day Breeze Pass for MARTA.
On Wednesday the 13th, MARTA held an awareness event at the Five Points station promoting Dump the Pump Day. The Atlanta Dream mascot, Star, made an appearance, along with a prize wheel where spinners had a chance to win Breeze Cards, Atlanta Dream tickets and tons of other prizes. The event encouraged current MARTA riders to spread the word about the Dump the Pump Day.
- In 2011, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on transit
- Using transit is the quickest way to beat high gas prices
- Transit has a proven record of reducing congestion
- In 2010, U.S. transit use saved 796 million hours in travel time and 303 million gallons of fuel in 439 urban areas
- A single commuter switching his or her commute to transit can reduce a household’s carbon emission by 10%
MARTA runs 5 AM to 1:30 AM Monday through Friday and 5 AM to 12:30 AM on weekends and holidays. Click here to see the MARTA transit and which bus or rail station is most convenient for you. If MARTA doesn't work for your commute, maybe Cobb County Transit (CCT), Gwinnett County Transit (GCT) or GRTA Xpress will work for you.