A city program designed to reduce the number of trips by people driving alone to their downtown jobs is being recognized today with a Commute Smart Community Champion Award from Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Bellevue's Connect Downtown program, a partnership with the Bellevue Downtown Association and King County Metro, is one of just seven programs statewide to receive the award.
Connect Downtown was developed as part of the State Growth and Transportation Efficiency Center program, which encourages cities to develop trip reduction programs in areas of concentrated employment. Funding comes from state, federal and local resources.
More information, along with comments from participants, is available in a video about Bellevue's Connect Downtown program.
The program provides services to businesses, employees and residents. Services to employers include workshops, assistance in setting up telework programs and consulting to establish or improve commute programs for employees.
For individuals, Connect Downtown offers a walking map, personalized commute planning assistance though a storefront at the Bellevue Transit Center and ride-matching for commuters interested in forming a carpool or vanpool.
The Community Champion award "highlights the significant contributions that local governments and their partners make to improve the livability of their communities." Numbers suggest that Connect Downtown and the city's other commute reduction efforts, are having an impact:
- Nearly one-third of downtown employees now receive a subsidized or free bus pass through their employer.
- As of 2008, the latest year for which statistics are available, 39 percent of commute trips to downtown occurred by a means other than driving alone, compared with 29 percent in a 2005 survey.
- Since the City Council adopted the Connect Downtown Plan in 2008, more than 100 businesses have taken part; and 24 downtown businesses, representing 1,200 workers, have signed contracts to provide monthly bus passes to their employees.
- Another city effort, the Commute Trip Reduction program, tailored to employers with 100 or more workers, includes 62 work sites citywide and 34,000 employees.
Connect Downtown Manager Kate Johnson and other city officials will accept the Commute Smart award during a ceremony at the Governor's Mansion.
In addition to the city's award, Corkey Christensen, Human Resources Manager at LUMEDX, a downtown Bellevue employer, will receive recognition as a "Commute Smart Employee Transportation Coordinator Champion."
Choose Your Way Bellevue offers comprehensive information about travel options for workers, employers, students and others.
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