Phoenix VA Health Care System
Phoenix VA Highlighted in Clean Air Campaign
The Phoenix VA was recently honored by the Valley Metro Clean Air Campaign for making a difference in the Valley’s air quality by promoting and using alternative modes of transportation.
Kenneth Harper, transit coordinator and human resource specialist, received the 2017 Clean Air Campaign Award for Outstanding Transportation Coordinator – more than 500 employees – for a public employer. Additionally, Judy Carman, registered nurse, and her VA Hospital Vanpool #35731 was a finalist for the 2017 Outstanding Carpooler or Vanpooler, taking 3rd place.
Harper took over the Phoenix VA’s Transit Program in 2014. He said the program was in disarray, and Vanpoolers had to wait 6 to 8 months to get their credit cards to pay for the Van lease and gas. Today, Vanpoolers who register through the program receive their cards in two weeks. The Air Force Veteran said with 33 Vans operating there are roughly 500 riders off the road, including Carman and her Van.
“We were in the top 3,” Carman said. “We actually have fun in our van. Our vanpool has six riders, so that’s six vehicles off the road.”
Carman said her vanpool has traveled more than 102,000 miles since she started riding 6 years ago, and roughly 612,000 miles of personal use on the riders’ cars has been saved along with reducing 1,273 pounds of pollution. Her East Valley vanpool commute is a daily 80-mile round trip.
“We allow an hour to get to the VA,” Carman said. “We share driving responsibilities, and we limit our conversations to not include politics, work or religion. Most of our riders have been in the vanpool for several years, so you get to know each other pretty well.”
Harper said the transit program is free for Phoenix VA employees, which also includes the funds for commuters using the bus and rail systems, but the program doesn’t include carpooling. Employees must fill out an application to join a vanpool or receive funds for a bus or rail pass. However, there are rules that apply to be a member of a vanpool. Riders must commit to missing no more than three days a month and to using the funds provided to them for the vanpool. Harper said the program is flexible and understands life happens adding the program has funding for employees who take taxis from work for emergencies or appointments.
There are many perks to joining the vanpool beside helping to save the environment and enhance air quality. The vanpool has 30 designated parking spaces in the employee parking, the program pays for the van and gas, and you can use the HOV lane during rush hour.
“I think more people should utilized the vanpool,” Carman said. “It’s nice to be able to relax before you get home and destress.”
Commuters interested in joining a Vanpool or receiving funds to purchase a bus or rail pass should contact Kenneth Harper at ext. 4459.
Vanpool #35731 riders:
• Norman Clark
• Norman Drury
• Ashley Gorman
• Marcia Green
• Joshua Seago
• Mary Turner