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Mid-Hudson Region Launches Best Workplaces for Commuters;IBM Named to EPA National Corporate Honor Roll

Release Date: 10/22/2003
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(#03129) IBM, Armonk, NY -- At a press conference here today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, together with elected officials from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland Counties, representatives of the Department of Transportation, MetroPool, Inc., Westchester Smart Commute Group, Rockland Smart Commute Group, and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, launched Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm), a program that publicly recognizes employers whose commuter benefits reach a national standard of excellence. IBM was recognized today as among the first in the region to be named one of the nation's Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm). The event launched an initiative to identify other companies who might qualify for this designation and be included in the region-wide list that will be released in May. It is also featured on an Internet webcast at

Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) is a nationwide effort that recognizes employers that offer employees commuter benefits such as tax-free commute benefits, transit passes, van and carpool subsidies, ride-matching, telecommuting and compressed work schedules. Providing commuter benefits helps employers address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention, and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting. Companies earn the designation Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) a mark of excellence for environmentally and employee-friendly organizations based on their commitment to improving their employees' commutes.

IBM is teamed with MetroPool, a NYSDOT-supported, non-profit, regional transportation management company, to improve the commute for employees and to expand the company's transportation-oriented benefit offerings. While IBM seeks ways to improve its employees' travel experience to and from work, the company also views the commuter mobility program as part of its contribution as a corporate citizen. "At any given time about half of IBM's employees are working remotely using high-speed Internet links and phones to stay connected," said Denise Milde, IBM HR Director, Research Division. "In many situations IBMers can work more productively at a customer site or from home than from a traditional office environment. This reduces drive-alone time, improves the quality of life for our employees and helps reduce pollution and congestion."

"IBM's choice to become one of the region's Best Workplaces for Commuters is an important step to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "If half of the employees in the U.S. worked for Best Workplaces employers, it would be equivalent to taking 15 million cars off the road every year. We urge other companies in the region to join this important program, and look forward to recognizing their efforts in the spring."

The impact of reducing the number of employees who commute in single occupant vehicles can be significant, particularly to a company such as IBM with thousands of employees at a number of regional locations. While IBM seeks ways to improve its employees' travel experience to and from work, the company also views the commuter mobility program as part of its contribution as a corporate citizen.

New York State Department of Transportation Region 8 Regional Director, Robert A. Dennison, said, "Under Governor Pataki's leadership, the State Department of Transportation continues to provide innovative programs that support our transportation infrastructure and protect our environment. Services that improve commuting in the Hudson Valley and across the state help companies attract and retain employees."

"The New York Metropolitan Region is expected to grow by 2.66 million people by 2020," said Tom Schulze, Executive Director, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. "And our roads are already congested. Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) companies are helping the region take important steps toward reducing congestion and improving the quality of the air we breathe."

"This initiative to recognize our regions' companies for their commitment to improving commuting in Westchester County will also help companies in Westchester County attract and retain employees," said Andrew Spano, Westchester County Executive. "The program offered at the Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) companies provide a host of benefits to commuters and it helps preserve the economic vitality of the important I-287 corridor.

"Employer-based commuter mobility programs provide a region-wide, long-term, environmentally-sustainable solution to improve the commute and preserve the economic viability of the region," said Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Executive. "It offers a low-cost/high-value benefit to commuters who live in the Mid-Hudson region."

"The goal of this program is to improve the quality of life in our area by providing emissions reduction benefits for the region and improving the commuter's experience," said Robert Bondi, Putnam County Executive."Offering commuter benefits makes good business sense and good environmental sense."

"Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) companies demonstrate that a healthy balance sheet and a healthy environment can go hand in hand," said John Lyons, MetroPool President. "We want Mid-Hudson employers to know that offering commuter benefits makes good business sense. The return on a small investment is more satisfied, productive workers, improved tax benefits and cleaner air."

Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) is a recognition program for employers that identifies companies who provide commuter benefits, services and support to their employees. Companies self-nominate and are chosen for the list based on stringent eligibility standards that include such factors as level of financial commitment, range of services offered, vanpools or train station shuttles, percentage of participating employees, and others. Lists have already been released in other areas of the country including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Houston. The Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) initiative is sponsored nationally by the EPA and the US Department of Transportation and locally by a coalition of state, county and city departments of transportation, business organizations, and transportation service organizations.

An announcement by EPA of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region's Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) will take place in May 2004. Employers are encouraged to review their current commuter mobility programs, work with MetroPool, Westchester Smart Commute Group and Rockland Smart Commute Group to review their programs for eligibility, and apply for a place on the Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm) list.

MetroPool, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization that provides free commuter services with support from the New York and Connecticut Departments of Transportation. Founded in 1980, MetroPool also receives private contributions from area companies. MetroPool works directly with employers, municipalities and commuters in Orange, Putnam, Dutchess and Ulster Counties in New York, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, and with the Westchester and Rockland Smart Commute Groups to provide services and support on those two counties. MetroPool delivers transportation demand management solutions to improve mobility and ease the movement of people, improving workforce effectiveness, economic well-being and quality of life.

For information on how to become a Westchester, Rockland, Putnam or Connecticut Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm), contact MetroPool at 1-800-346-3743 or, or visit