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UMass Medical School and WRTA Pair Up for Employee Transit Program

Program aims to reduce employee vehicle trips and carbon emissions

Hybrid WRTA BusUMMS Fair

The WRTA Hybrid Bus onsite at the UMMS Earth Day Festival; schedules and additional info also available.

WORCESTER — The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have joined together to offer UMMS employees the opportunity to save money and help the environment. Through a pilot program developed to help reduce the number of commuter vehicle trips to campus, UMMS employees who live within a quarter mile (approximately a 15-minute walk) of one of the WRTA’s many city bus stops can turn in their University Campus parking pass for a free monthly bus pass from the WRTA.

The launch of this partnership program coincides with International Earth Day, a day designed to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. UMMS will be hosting its Fifth Annual Earth Day Festival in the Medical School Lobby on Thursday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The WRTA will also be part of the festival and will have onsite one of its new hybrid buses.

“About 18 months ago, we began looking for ways to partner with the WRTA on a ‘green’ program aimed at reducing the amount of carbon emissions generated by car trips to the Medical School’s University Campus on Lake Avenue North, adjacent to Lake Quinsigamond,” said Bill Tsaknopoulos, director of Auxiliary Services for UMMS. “The employee bus pass program is the result of that partnership.”

UMMS worked with the WRTA to identify University Campus employees who live within a quarter mile of a bus stop in Worcester. “We’ll be mailing these employees a bus schedule and information about the program,” Tsaknopoulos said. “Enrollment in the program is entirely voluntary, but we hope that by offering employees the potential for financial savings in the form of reduced gas, car maintenance and parking expenses, we’ll achieve the added benefit of reducing our carbon footprint.”

Tsaknopoulos said the targeted audience for this pilot program totals 1,662 employees, but over the next six to 12 months, UMMS officials will explore whether to expand the program to the employees who live beyond the quarter mile threshold identified in this initial rollout.

WRTA Administrator Stephen O’Neil said this program is a model for other companies to emulate.

“We’re excited that the University of Massachusetts Medical School has decided to partner with the WRTA in such an innovative way. This will not only help the environment by reducing the school’s overall carbon footprint, but this partnership will also help Medical School employees save money,” O’Neil said. “The WRTA is committed to helping preserve the environment for future generations, and this is one more step toward that goal.”

For more information contact Jim Fessenden, UMass Medical School, Office of Public Affairs at 508-856-2000 or james.fessenden@umassmed.edu. For WRTA schedule information, visit www.therta.com.

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