Alternative transportation is an important priority for the City. The City is encouraging the use of alternative transportation modes including walking, biking and the use of shuttles, buses and trains as important components of efforts to reduce the noise and pollution associated with traffic congestion and to increase safety for all who use our City streets.
An employee coming to Palo Alto, commuting from Palo Alto to a work site outside of the City or even commuting to work within Palo Alto has many options. Driving alone, taking public transit or free local shuttles, riding in a carpool or vanpool and bicycling and walking are the most popular methods of commuting.
Many of Palo Alto's employment centers are served by public transit or are within easy bicycling or walking distance of busy transit hubs. City of Palo Alto staff are committed to helping find ways to reduce the number of single occupant vehicle (SOV) trips within the City of Palo Alto. Reducing trips has the effect of lessening traffic congestion and helping to keep the air cleaner for the residents and visitors to our City. The City of Palo Alto Way2Go Alternative Transportation program administered through the Transportation Division strives to work on reducing auto trips.
The City of Palo Alto works closely with the schools, employers and with special events to find alternatives to the SOV. Bicycling, walking and carpool programs, as well as the Palo Alto Shuttle and public transit help to reduce auto trips to our area schools.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) hosts a web site that includes all regional transit options and a handy trip planning application that will map out a transit trip anywhere in the Bay Area. Commuters can register on www.511.org to find a carpool partner, learn how a vanpool might work for their commute, plan a bicycling route or have a transit trip planned.
Locally, Palo Alto provides bicycle commuter assistance and route planning, rents bicycle lockers throughout the City of Palo Alto for secure bicycle storage and can assist with hands on assistance for commute trip planning, working with employers and employee groups and helping to find options for special events. The Bikestation, that will re-open in end of September 2006, will assist commuters to the University Avenue Caltrain station by providing secure bicycle parking and renting bicycles to visitors to Palo Alto.
Events Each year the City of Palo Alto Transportation Division coordinates or partners with local groups to sponsor events that highlight alternative transportation. These Way2Go events are great fun and get the community out walking, bicycling and taking transit.
Walk to School Day Each year in early October International Walk to School Day takes place. Palo Alto joins students from around the world who are walking in Walk to School events all over the globe. Activities such as Walking School Busses and Art Contests raise awareness about the viability of walking for transportation. In many cases after walking to school on Walk to School Day families will continue the tradition and make it regular event. Bicycling, skating, scootering, carpooling and transit are all encouraged to help reduce the number of cars around schools.
Bike to School Day Every May is Bike Month and the middle and high schools in Palo Alto participate by encouraging students to Bike to School. Gunn High School promoted a Pedaling for Prizes promotion where students could win prizes including the grand prize of a bicycle. Palo Alto High School also sponsored energizer stations and students who bicycled got treats at the lunch break.
Bike to Work Day During Bike Month the City of Palo Alto sponsors 4 Energizer Stations in Palo Alto. Stanford University and Hewlett Packard also sponsor energizer stations bringing he total in Palo Alto to ten most years. Bicycle commuters are encouraged to try bicycling to work if they don't normally and join the many bicycle commuters who already enjoy bicycling as a form of transport in Palo Alto. Bike to Work Day is normally the third Thursday in May.
Mayor's Bicycle Rides and Special Events Each year elected officials in Palo Alto celebrate the bicycle by participating in events such as walk and bike days, new facility openings, dedications and in some cases bicycle rides throughout the City.
Bicycle Friendly Community In 2003 Palo Alto was designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. This three-year designation ranks Palo Alto with only three other cities as being Gold Level communities (Portland, Or, Corvallis, OR and Boulder, CO). Factors included in the bicycle friendly community designation include facilities, programs, education and bicycle planning.
Senior Transit Tours In 2003 and 2004, the City of Palo Alto Transportation Division partnered with Avenidas Senior Center to offer public transportation tours and lectures that taught seniors how to ride busses, trains, light rail and local shuttles in the area. Transit trips included learning how to read a schedule, buying passes en route and navigating transfers from one type of transit to another. Trips taken included Palo Alto Shuttle and Marguerite Shuttle rides, VTA bus to Mountain View and Caltrain back to Palo Alto. The final trip which included a stop at the San Jose Museum of Art included bus to light rail to shuttle to Caltrain for a loop to and from San Jose. The lecture series dealt with paratransit, local transit services and concluded with a panel of experts who discussed the tough question of when to give up a driver's license. For more information on Transit Tours contact Transportation Division at 650-329-2520.
Case Studies Palo Alto Medical Association (The Palo Alto Medical Association recruits employees from all around the Bay Area.) The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) recently received a Certificate of Recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency for the Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative. PAMF has locations in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Redwood Shores, Portola Valley and Fremont and employs nearly 1,500 staff members and physicians. Employee commuter benefits include the sale of monthly and ten-ride transit passes onsite at a 50 percent discount. A guaranteed ride home for employees is offered to ensure that employees who use an alternative commute to get to their worksite have a way to get home in an emergency. PAMF also offers a $10 monthly reimbursement for carpoolers, walkers, bicyclists, rollerbladers or "try another way" commuters. There are bicycle lockers available onsite in Palo Alto for people who ride to work. Assistance is also available to their employees at their main campus for transit planning and carpool and vanpool matching. PAMF conducts special promotions and recognition events throughout the year. A bicycle supply and repair discount program for bicycle commuters at local bicycle shops is an extra incentive for bicycle commuters.
The City of Palo Alto has an Employee Commute Program that offers incentives for employees who commute to work using transit, vanpools, carpools, bicycling and who walk to work. Employees that are eligible for City benefits programs may enroll in the commute program. Approximately 15 percent of eligible employees participate in this program. The incentives for employees to use an alternate commute include Commuter Checks for employees who ride transit or are in a vanpool, and a taxable cash incentive of $30 for employees who carpool and $20 for employees who walk or bicycle to work. Employees must turn in a log each month and must take transit, ride in a vanpool or carpool, and must bicycle or walk at least 60 percent of their scheduled work days to be eligible. The City also offers a guaranteed ride home for employees who must get home in an emergency.
Bicycle parking is also available for employees at the different worksites throughout the City and in many locations changing and/or shower facilities for employees. The City also provides Compressed Natural Gas fueled fleet vehicles for around town business use. The City includes a transportation element encouraging participation in the Employee Commute Program at New Hire Orientation and at all benefits fairs. The City of Palo Alto participates in the Spare the Air program and the Way2Go trip reduction program was named after the City of Palo Alto Employee Commute program that was started in 1990.
The City of Palo Alto recently received a Certificate of Recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency for the Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative.
Genencor has successfully raised awareness and commitment among its employees as demonstrated by its 33 percent participation rate via public transportation. This is a key factor in Genencor obtaining one of the lowest turnover rates in the biotechnology industry (8.5 percent vs. 22 percent industry average). As part of its commute benefits package, Genencor offers options such as its CarLink II program, which makes cars available for employee use during the day for medical appointments, to run errands or for emergencies. Genencor also offers the Eco Pass, Go Pass and Commuter Checks. The Eco Pass gives the employee free rides on Valley Transportation Authority, and Dumbarton Express . Commuter Checks are given to employees participating in vanpools, or for modes of transportation that do not fall under the Eco Pass umbrella. Genencor provides employees onsite bicycles for local transportation during the workday as well as onsite bike lockers and bike racks. The company also holds onsite transportation fairs and offers public transportation maps and information to keep employees up-to-date on company-sponsored commute benefits. Genencor recently received a Certificate of Recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency for the Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative.