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Workplace programs push alternative transportation

Three Missoula businesses will be recognized Tuesday for encouraging employees to use alternative means of transportation to get to work.

As recipients of the 2003 Transportation Best Practices awards, Adventure Cycling Association, Eclipse Engineering Inc. and Morrison-Maierle Inc. each will receive $1,000 to use in their workplace transportation programs.

This is the fifth year Missoula In Motion, which works on travel solutions for everyday people, has honored businesses for enhancing their workplace transportation programs.

Program coordinator Melissa Wangler said employers and employees must continue to push for alternatives to everyone driving to work.

"Traffic congestion, parking demand and transportation-related air pollution are real problems in our community," she said.

The three businesses recognized by Missoula in Motion have come up with plans to reduce the drive time for their employees.

Adventure Cycling holds monthly prize drawings for staff who walk, bike, bus or carpool to work. It also installed bike racks to ensure adequate parking, and gave each employee a bus pass. The business also allows telecommuting and flextime to make it easier to use Mountain Line and to encourage carpooling. Employees also are taught how to maintain their bicycles.

Eclipse Engineering Inc. established an incentive program in which employees earn points according to the distance of their commute, mode of travel and other factors. Flexible scheduling also is allowed, and an employee bike rack design contest is in the offing.

Morrison-Maierle initiated the Engineering Commuter Challenge for Bike Walk Bus Week which drew five businesses and 45 employees. The company encourages commuting options by holding monthly drawings for gift certificates to the Big Dipper Ice Cream shop. Employees are encouraged to use alternative transportation when traveling to downtown meetings, and a company car is available at work for employees who don't bring their own vehicles.

"These employers are actively working toward a solution by encouraging their employees and customers to get to work without driving alone in their car," said Wangler.

The awards will be presented Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Transportation Policy Coordinating Committee meeting in Room 201 of the Missoula County Courthouse Annex.

Reporter Mick Holien can be reached at 523-5262 or at mholien@missoulian.com

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