Wilmington residents and out-of-town commuters can find themselves stuck in traffic on congested roads, especially during peak hours when many of them drive to and from work.
A new initiative by the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) and Go Coast program aims to reduce the number of cars on roads by encouraging employers to provide resources or alternatives to driving.
The initiative was approved by the WMPO board in October, said Nick Cannon, transportation demand management coordinator at WMPO, in an email.
The Go Coast Commuter Friendly Employer Program will recognize local companies and businesses that provide opportunities for employees to mitigate traffic and reduce the number of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), according to a news release.
Through the initiative, employers can apply and receive a Go Coast Commuter Friendly Employer designation.
“It was created to recognize employers that improve the way people get to and from work,” Cannon said. “They are going the extra mile to help reduce traffic congestion in the Wilmington area and support TDM (transportation demand management) alternatives. TDM, in short, focuses on the efficient movement of people rather than just vehicles.”
There are three levels of designation: bronze, silver and gold.
To receive a bronze level designation, the employer would have at least one employee who serves on the Go Coast Committee and attends half of the GO Coast Committee meetings or the employer would promote Go Coast events and services to employees.
The silver level would require the employer to meet two additional criteria such as providing priority parking for carpoolers, providing bicycle and skateboard racks and electrical vehicle stations on the worksite.
To receive a gold designation the employers would need to meet one more criterion that could be providing an alternative work schedule allowing workers to work outside typical business hours or in staggered shifts. Employers could also allow employers to work from home on designated days or provide shuttles, bikes or park-and-ride lots.
The application was posted on the WMPO website in mid-November, so no employer had been given the designation as of earlier this week, but applications have continued to come in, Cannon said.
Employers who are commuter friendly will achieve more than help reduce the number of cars on the roads, he said.
“When an employer provides commuter friendly services to employees such as bike racks, special carpooling parking spots, alternative work schedules and much more, it attracts and retains employees by enhancing the work culture,” Cannon said. “It also shows that the employer cares about their workers more than just the hours they are at work.”
Employers designated as commuter-friendly will be listed on the Go Coast website and in all Go Coast publications, Cannon said.
The Go Coast program is part of the WMPO, a federally funded organization created in 1978.
“The goal of the program is to recognize employers who are helping make traffic in Wilmington and the surrounding area less of a headache for us all; and who are investing in programs and services that minimize the time a vehicle is on the road even as the region continues to grow,” he said.