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CSUSM Honored with SANDAG RideLink 2009 Diamond Awards

CSUSM Honored with SANDAG RideLink 2009 Diamond AwardsCongested freeways and stress over fuel costs or finding a parking spot do not have to be a part of life for students and staff at Cal State San Marcos thanks to the efforts of Campus Commuter Programs, a new division within the parking and commuter services department dedicated to reducing traffic and increasing alternate modes of commuting on campus. This month, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), San Diego's regional planning agency, will award CSUSM for its efforts to reduce campus traffic congestion and improve mobility with two 2009 Diamond Awards.  CSUSM will be recognized in the Best New Program category, and Commuter Services Coordinator Debora Schmidt will receive a Diamond Award in the Individual category for her personal efforts to promote green transportation.  The SANDAG's Board of Directors will present the 7th Annual Diamond Awards on Friday, March 27.The Commuter Services Program was created in July of 2007.  In March 2008 Schmidt moved into the commuter coordinator position and the programs began building momentum to increase carpooling, vanpooling, biking, and public transit use by students and employees.  A goal of the program is to reduce the traffic impact in and around the university as well as to reduce the need for parking spaces."If parking doesn't have to use revenue to build multi-million dollar parking structures, revenue can be used to enhance and encourage alternate modes of commuting, such as carsharing and neighborhood shuttle services," said Belinda Garcia, director of parking and commuter services.Currently, more than 250 students and 80 employees use registered and trackable alternate modes of transportation to Cal State San Marcos.  The program's goal is to reduce parking demand by at least 15 percent.In an effort to increase campus participation and interest in alternative commuting options, Campus Commuter Programs has implemented several incentives to reduce the amount of single occupancy vehicles on campus.  For instance, Schmidt promotes the Ridelink guaranteed ride home program. For a $3 co-pay, commuters who carpool, vanpool, bike, or use mass transit to get to campus three or more times a week are provided with a taxi or rental car in the event of an emergency or unscheduled overtime. Other incentives to encourage green commuting include complimentary passes for car and van pools and free shuttle service from the transit station on Barham Drive to campus."By decreasing the amount of single occupancy vehicles coming to campus, we are improving the quality of life not only for our students and staff but for our neighbors in the city of San Marcos," commented Schmidt.Schmidt, who is celebrating her 10-year anniversary of employment at CSUSM this March, received an individual award for her efforts to develop and promote the Commuter Services Program.  As the program's sole full-time employee, she networks with other transit agencies and organizations to keep current with industry changes and innovations.  Her membership participation with Transit Alliance for a Better North County, Association of Commuter Transportation, and involvement with SANDAG meetings, workshops, and public hearings concerning regional transportation concerns, keep her abreast of best practices in "green" transportation.For more information about CSUSM's parking and cmmuter services department, visit www.csusm.edu/parking/commuter/index.html.