SAN DIEGO–San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) honored eight organizations and two individuals for their efforts to reduce traffic congestion in the San Diego region at the eighth annual Diamond Awards ceremony last Friday.
“These organizations are stepping up to the plate to help their employees – as well as to help our community and the environment,” SANDAG Board Chair Lori Holt Pfeiler said. “They are truly walking the walk when it comes to reducing congestion and cutting emissions. They all deserve our thanks.”
The Diamond Awards were presented on Friday during the SANDAG Board of Directors meeting. Nominations were open to any business, agency, or other organization in the region that has a commuter benefit program for employees. Awards were presented to organizations in five categories, as well as to two individual people. The Diamond Awards were sponsored by VPSI Inc. and Enterprise.
Below is the list of categories and honorees:
- Program Excellence: Genentech (Oceanside) – Almost 20 percent of the company’s 500 employees participate in Genentech’s commuter program, which includes monthly subsidies for transit and free shuttles. Genentech has created its own customized online commuter tool that provides ridematching and a commute calendar tool that calculates employees’ carbon dioxide emissions, vehicle miles traveled, and money and fuel savings. In 2009, Genentech employees reduced vehicle miles traveled by more than 330,000 and prevented 250,000 pounds of CO2 from being released into the air.
- Innovation: Naval Base San Diego (Barrio Logan) – The base has the largest Department of Defense Transportation Incentive Program/Rideshare Program on the West Coast, with 2,300 employees participating (1,500 on transit and 800 in vanpools). Participants receive transit subsidies as a fringe benefit, up to $230 per month. The Navy pays for the costs directly so the money is not included in taxable wages and compensation, putting more savings in the pockets of commuters.
- Innovation: Sony Electronics (Rancho Bernardo) — The company’s approach includes its own Internet ridematching service. Sony also has instituted a program in which employees form a new vanpool, then the company purchases carbon offsets for the remainder of the emissions they produce, creating “carbon-neutral” groups of commuters.
- Marketing: Science Applications International Corporation (University City) – The company provides incentives and free shuttles, as well as facilities like bike racks, showers, and special parking spaces. SAIC effectively uses the Web, special events, and other means to encourage employees to use these programs.
- Marketing: Parsons Brinckerhoff (Downtown San Diego) – The company’s marketing efforts include a commute challenge among the staff. Winners are rewarded with free ice cream and pizza parties. As a result, half the staff members participate in the commute program.
- Ongoing Commitment: VA San Diego Healthcare System (La Jolla) – Launched in 2001, the commuter program has grown to include 12 percent of the company’s 3,200 employees. The organization’s sustained effort includes annual transit fairs and new-hire orientations. The company continues to provide a wide range of services and facilities such as free shuttles, special parking for carpools, and transit subsidies.
- Ongoing Commitment: Genentech (Oceanside) – The company’s program has grown steadily since its launch in 2005. Genentech hires a third-party consultant to conduct an annual survey of its commuters and analyze developing trends, then uses the results to improve the program.
- Best New Program: Sharp HealthCare (Kearny Mesa) – With six different hospitals, 22 clinics, and 14,500 employees, Sharp did extensive groundwork before introducing commuter services. The program offers many options to employees. As a result, 15 percent of the staff use an alternative commute.
- Best New Program: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Midway) – With goals of reducing greenhouse gases and freeing up more parking, the Authority uses transit pass subsides and free shuttle services to encourage its 5,000 airport employees to use public transit.
- Individual: Debra Gutzmer – As western region facilities planning manager for Science Applications International Corporation, Gutzmer was key in the formation and implementation of the company’s commuter program in 1998, and she continues to demonstrate her on-going commitment to improving transportation in the San Diego region for her fellow employees.
- Individual: Clara Ung – As human resources specialist and the field transportation manager for VA San Diego Healthcare, Ung has worked tirelessly to help make the commuter program at VA San Diego Healthcare a success.