Employers in Santa Monica have been encouraging their workers during Rideshare Week to bus, ride bicycles or carpool to work in support of the environment.

Rideshare Week, which runs from Oct. 4 through 8, is an annual statewide campaign designed to encourage commuters to “green their commutes” and help reduce traffic and smog by pledging to rideshare. During this time, people throughout California will leave the solo drive behind, including hundreds of commuters who work in Santa Monica.

According to a California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) study, 60 percent of commuters who tried ridesharing for the first time during Rideshare Week continue to rideshare at least occasionally afterward.

Under municipal ordinance 1604, the city of Santa Monica requires employers of 10 or more employees to help reduce commute trips. The city regulates trips and promotes ridesharing with approximately 700 employers in the city, covering 40,000 employees. The ordinance is designed to highlight green commuting and alternatives to driving alone such as walking, carpooling, vanpooling, biking, using public transit, compressed work schedules, telecommuting and other non-polluting forms of transit.

The RAND Corp., one of the largest employers in Santa Monica with over 800 employees, is leading the way in green commuting, with a bicycle storage room, an employee vanpool that has been active for almost 10 years and a cash subsidy for employees who chose green commuting, city officials note.

Santa Monica College, another of the city’s largest employers with over 2,000 employees, is making strides towards reaching its employee commute reduction goals through a rideshare incentive program that includes telecommuting, compressed work weeks and cash subsidies for employees who chose a green commute, officials said.

The college also reduces the impact of its student trips and parking demand by offering the Any Line Any Time pass program in conjunction with Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.

Businesses in Santa Monica with a staff of 50 or more are required to conduct annual employee surveys to track progress in reducing drive-alone trips and prepare an Employee Trip Reduction Plan outlining how the employer intends to reduce morning and evening peak period travel to meet the Average Vehicle Ridership goal of 1.5 persons per vehicle. Otherwise, the businesses must purchase Mobile Source Emission Reduction Credits obtained from scrapped vehicles to offset the amount of emissions their employee commute trips generate, city officials said.

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