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Updated 4:00 PM May 18, 2004



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EPA designates U-M a best workplace for commuters

U-M is the largest university designated one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

U-M officials accepted the designation May 3 at the Big Ten and Midwestern Universities Parking and Traffic Conference at Purdue University.

The Best Workplaces for Commuters initiative was established by EPA and DOT to encourage employers to reduce emissions and traffic congestion and promote employee well-being by providing commuter benefits that prompt workers to stop traveling to their jobs alone.

David Miller, director of Parking and Transportation Services, said the University saves on parking expenses, improves employee retention, increases recruitment potential and helps the environment by participating in the initiative. He challenged other Midwestern universities at the parking conference to join the program by offering commuter benefits.

"The University of Michigan is the first and so far the only Big Ten university to make the list," Miller said.

"Organizations like the University of Michigan show us that it is beneficial both for the environment and the financial bottom line to promote commuter options so employees have choices other than driving to work alone," said EPA Region 5 Acting Administrator Bharat Mathur.

Factors contributing to U-M's recognition by the program were its subsidies for using mass transit, car and van pools, and the offering of a free shuttle bus service. The commuter benefits are offered to 27,500 employees and 39,000 students. U-M's transit services carry 4.5 million passengers a year.

EPA said as of this spring more than 1.4 million commuters are participating in the program. More than 650 workplaces are designated Best Workplaces for Commuters. EPA said if half of all U.S. employees were offered commuter benefits, it would be the same as taking 15 million cars off the road and save workers about $12 billion in fuel costs.

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