Cleaner Air, Less Traffic Congestion
and Employee Savings!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 19, 2006

At the end of October I proposed that Bexar County provide each of its roughly 5,000 employees the opportunity to ride free to work on VIA. With support from my fellow Commissioners, Bexar County signed an agreement with VIA Metropolitan Transit to begin this privilege on November 1, 2006. Likewise, at the beginning of the New Year, jurors will be provided the same opportunity to ride free when summoned for jury duty.

We have been participating in VIA's "Big Pass" since 2000. The number of our employees using the Big Pass has risen from around 200 to about 800 each month. Our new "Transit Initiative" however, is much more inclusive---it includes all of our employees! Employees need only show their County ID cards to the VIA driver and they ride free. Bexar County reimburses VIA a set amount for the year and in return helps our employees decongest the expressways, clean the air, save daily gas, vehicle wear and tear and parking costs!

We must bear in mind that 2007 is a "make/break" year for clean air attainment with the Environmental Protection Agency. For the last two years we haven't done so well. Failure in 2007 could mean emissions-tailpipe testing and the embargoing of tens of millions in much needed federal highway dollars.

Commissioners Court is serious about this Transit Initiative so we went one step further: We issued a challenge to the top 100 employers in our County to sign similar agreements with VIA for their employees!

If all of these "Top 100" companies and agencies would commit to negotiating a deal for their employees' use of VIA, the possibility exists for almost 340,000 people to leave their cars at home and "leave the driving to VIA". But even if only 100,000 people participate through their companies or individually, 24 million annual new riders will be added to the existing annual VIA ridership of 41 million!

Increasingly too, VIA will be a more convenient option as they step up to embrace their ridership as never before! VIA will provide expanded routes and transit centers at strategic points that are secured, indoor, air-conditioned or heated according to the season and user friendly in every way.

County Judge Nelson Wolff, VIA General Manager John Milam and I issue this challenge and commit to personally contact the Chief Executive Officers of each of the "Top 100" employers, provide technical assistance in negotiating an agreement with VIA and explain just what a significant enhancement this is for their company or agency as well as all of our fellow citizens of Bexar County!

Thank you for an opportunity to make a significant difference in the quality of our lives here in Bexar County. And, may you and yours have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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