Encinitas begins eco-friendly employee ‘Try Transit’ program

The City of Encinitas is encouraging its employees to be eco-friendly and have more peaceful commutes with its new “Try Transit” program.

In partnership with SANDAG’s iCommute transportation demand management program, about a dozen city employees who attended a meeting at City Hall on April 10 were given commuter passes, good for the Coaster, trolley or buses, for 30 days.

It equates to about a $165 value, according to Rachel Forseth, account executive with iCommute.

The goal is to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, Forseth said.

“We’re here to try to change a habit into a choice,” she said.

She said most people spend about 20 percent of their income on transportation, including car insurance and maintenance. The costs do not factor in gas.

The employees who choose to be part of the program must be new transit commuters, try it for at least eight working days and participate in an online program feedback survey.

About half the people who try transit stick with it, Forseth said, citing the opportunity to relax, sleep or read a book rather than sit in traffic. Oftentimes, commuting times can also be reduced, she said.

Crystal Najera, the city’s climate action plan program administrator, said most Encinitas employees commute to work.

She said interest sparked from residents at recent Climate Action Plan workshops inspired her to ask employees if they were also interested in alternate modes of transportation.

The city also started an employee bikeshare program earlier this month so people could ride bikes — donated by Encinitas-based Electra Bicycle Co. — to nearby destinations.

Several city employee attendees at the meeting said they drive as far as downtown San Diego to and from work.

Dan Foley, a parks and beach supervisor, said he lives near San Diego State University and has a 60-mile roundtrip commute.

His drive in the mornings to work can take upwards of an hour, and the drive home can be much worse.

He expressed interest in taking the train to work at the meeting.

“From Encinitas to the 805/5 [freeway] split, you’re coasting,” he said. “But once you get there, you have like an hour to go, halfway through the commute. A program like this would be great to really find a better way to get to and from work.”

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